Elko Personal Injury & Workers' Compensation FAQ

What is Personal Injury? What is Workers' Compensation? How are they different?


Contingency Fees


Costs


How does the insurance company pay claims?

WHAT IS PERSONAL INJURY? WHAT IS WORKERS COMPENSATION? HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT?

How do I know if I have a personal injury?
A personal injury is a physical injury to you or a loved one caused by the negligent actions of another. For example, a motor vehicle accident, a slip-and-fall in a store, dog bite, or any other injury that is not your fault is a personal injury, and you probably have the right to be compensated for the injury.

How do I know if I have a workers compensation claim?
A workers compensation claim is essentially a personal injury that occurs on the job, and it is related somehow to your work. Sometimes the injury can occur over time. (Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of an injury that could be a workers compensation claim that has occurred over time.) If you believe you have an on-the-job injury, you should speak with an attorney. Workers compensation insurance companies many times deny claims that should receive compensation, and the rules for acceptance of a claim are complex.

Is it possible to have both a workers compensation claim and a personal injury claim?
Yes, and it happens all the time. Letís say an individual is driving the company pickup, and another driver negligently runs a red light, hits the pickup, and causes injury to the employee. The injured worker can collect workers compensation and still has the right to make a personal injury claim against the driver that caused the injury. Another example would be where an individual is injured in a mine because a piece of mining equipment is unreasonably dangerous and caused the injury. In this case, the injured worker can collect workers compensation and possibly sue the manufacturer of the machinery for causing the injury.

Can the workers compensation insurance company claim any of the money I obtain through my personal injury claim?
Yes. This area of the law is fairly complex, and you should speak to an attorney that is experienced in both personal injury and workers compensation. Beckett, Yott, McCarty & Spann have extensive experience in both areas of the law.

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CONTINGENCY FEES

Why is a contingency fee desirable?
Lawsuits can be expensive, and most injured people do not have the money to finance a lawsuit. Insurance companies view their job as protecting their insured, not paying claims. So, a lawyer that takes a case on a contingency fee is making a judgment that he or she can win your case. This allows people with limited financial resources access to justice, since the payoff comes at the end of the case for both the injured person and the lawyer.

How does a contingency fee work?
At our law office, a contingency fee is a contract arrangement where we work on a case for no fee until the case is settled or proceeds to judgment in a court of law, where there is a winner and a loser. This means, of course, that we only take cases we believe we can win.

Do I ever have to pay money up-front?
Not at the Law Office of Beckett, Yott, McCarty & Spann. When we take a case on a contingency basis, it means we believe in your case. You pay no money. You pay no retainer fee

Are contingency fees available for workerís compensation cases?
Yes. In workerís compensation cases, the recovery is somewhat different than in a personal injury case. In a workerís compensation case, we charge only for money that is recovered for you. In workerís compensation cases, many of the controversies between the injured worker and the insurance company concern the right to see a medical specialist or collecting travel reimbursement, and any number of other issues that do not involve compensation (money) benefits. We will help you obtain all of the benefits you deserve without any additional charge. Our fee for workers compensation is never more than one-third of any recovery plus our costs. If no monies are recovered, the client owes us nothing.

Are there any other possible contingency fee arrangements?
Yes. Fees are a matter for frank and honest discussion.

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COSTS

What are "costs"?
"Costs" are the costs of financing your case. ďCostsĒ may include obtaining your medical records, the court filing fees if we file a lawsuit, or an expertís review of your case. We consider the payment of costs as a part of doing business and never seek reimbursement regardless of how the case turns out.

Do I ever have to pay the other side's attorney's fees and costs?
This can happen. If the case goes to trial, and you lose, you may be ordered to pay some or all of the other side's attorney fees and costs. The Nevada Supreme Court requires lawyers to tell prospective clients this when they offer a contingency fee agreement. Supreme Court Rule 196(8) requires all lawyers to offer the following disclaimer if a contingency fee is offered: You may have to pay the opposing party's attorney fees and costs in the event of a loss.

Does the other side ever have to pay my attorney's fees and costs?
Yes, because the rules work both ways. The "winner" can, under certain circumstances, force the "loser" to pay their attorney's fees and costs. The rules governing when this happens are complicated. We can explain this in detail with you. It is not automatic.

Is this true of my worker's compensation case?
Generally, no. It is true of personal injury cases, but no one pays the other side's attorney's fees and costs in a worker's compensation case except in very specific and unusual circumstances. That means you can't win them from the insurance company, either. The rules always work both ways.

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HOW DOES THE INSURANCE COMPANY PAY CLAIMS?

If I have "full coverage" insurance, does this mean I will be compensated if someone injures me in an accident?
It depends on what you mean by "full coverage." In Nevada, drivers are required to carry a minimum of $15,000.00/25,000.00 worth of insurance. This is called liability insurance. If you are the victim of an accident, and the driver that causes the accident only has $15,000.00 worth of insurance, that is all the money you can get from that person's insurance company.

What does it mean when someone has $15,000/25,000 or $50,000/100,000 and so on?
Insurance companies sell insurance in amounts that allow a set amount to be recovered per person and a set amount per accident. For example, if a driver carries liability insurance in the amount of $50,000/100,000, this means that an individual can collect up to $50,000.00 on that policy, but in no event will the insurance company pay more than $100,000.00 per accident.

What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?
Let's say that three people are injured, each has injuries exceeding $15,000, and the person at fault has a policy for $15,000/$25,000. Obviously, there isn't enough money to go around. If the victims of the accident carry underinsured/uninsured (UIM) insurance, they can collect from their own policies. It is unfair that you have to buy insurance to cover yourself for injuries you suffer in an accident that is not your fault. But it is far more unfair to be injured and there isn't enough insurance to take care of your injuries.

I checked my policy, and I don't see UIM coverage listed. Why?
You probably waived the coverage. Check with your insurance company. The insurance companies are required by law to offer UIM coverage, but the coverage can be waived. This insurance protects you, and you can use it when the accident is not your fault. It is inexpensive to purchase, and you really should not waive this coverage. And here's another great thing about UIM coverage: This insurance applies when you are a passenger in another person's car. It may even pay if you are injured as a pedestrian.

What is "med-pay"?
Med-pay is an amount of insurance money available to help pay medical bills while your case proceeds to some sort of resolution. You can purchase varying amounts, and you should not waive this form of coverage.

I was in an accident, it wasn't my fault, and the person who injured me does not have enough insurance. Can't I just sue him?
Of course you can sue. The problem comes when the person you are suing doesn't own anything. If there are assets to compensate you, our law firm looks for them. We also find insurance where you might think there is none.

I've been injured, but the insurance company is offering barely enough to cover my medical bills. What can I do?
You need to talk to a lawyer.

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