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FAQ’s

Your Case & Settlement

Do I have a case?

In determining whether you have a case, the first thing that we have to consider is liability. Liability means figuring out which party was responsible for causing the accident. We have to make sure you have a strong case from a liability standpoint before we can move forward.

After we have evaluated liability, and determined that another party was more than likely at fault, then we have to consider your injuries. The severity of your injuries will play a large role in determining the approximate value of your case. In general, the more severe your injuries are, the higher the value of your case.

One important issue to consider, however, is that it takes time to determine the extent of most injuries. And every person’s body reacts differently to an accident. As such, your injuries may not be fully known until you are finished receiving treatment from your doctor.

In short, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Claggett & Sykes can give you a good idea about whether you have a case relatively early, but we may not know the full value of your case until after you have received the appropriate medical treatment to get healthy again.

How long will it take for my case to be resolved?

Obviously, every case is unique and there is no magic number as to how long your case might last. It depends a great deal on the types of injuries you’ve sustained and how well you respond to treatment. At Claggett & Sykes, we will not resolve your case until what we call “maximum medical improvement” is achieved. This means that you’ve either completely done with treatment or it’s been determined that your injury is permanent and there’s nothing more that can be done medically to resolve it. This allows us to ensure that you’re properly compensated for your injuries and treatment. Under Nevada law, however, you must file your complaint within two years of the date of the accident. This is called the statute of limitations.

What is settlement based on?

Settlement is based on many factors, some of which are: the types of injuries sustained; prior injuries; history of injuries; type of treatment; and cost of treatment. We will also have to determine whether there will be future treatments or surgeries. Has the injured person lost wages as a result of the accident? Was there permanent scarring? What limitations will the individual have in the future as a result of injuries and how much pain is involved? At Claggett & Sykes, we ask all those questions and more to make sure that you receive fair compensation from the insurance company.

Can I settle a case on my own?

The insurance companies would love for you to settle your own case. They’re in the business of paying out as little as possible, regardless of the extent of your injuries. They know that you’re unaware of the true value of your case and all the factors that determine your compensation. Oftentimes, if you don’t have an attorney, they will offer people less and less as the process progresses and then give a take-it-or-leave-it, low-ball offer, which the person feels obligated to accept. It’s like putting a guy off the street up against a Randy Johnson fastball. You want a professional in the batter’s box. You want an attorney to take your case.

Why do I need an attorney?

First of all, an attorney will take away all the stress, hassles, and worries of dealing with the insurance company. We have extensive experience in dealing with insurance adjusters, evaluating claims, and ensuring that you receive a fair settlement. I would equate it with asking yourself whether you need a doctor when you have a broken leg. You could try to set it yourself and hope for the best, or you could head to the hospital and get the best care possible. That’s precisely what we’re doing at Claggett & Sykes — giving you, and your case, the best care possible.

Insurance companies look to make individuals feel guilty for seeing a doctor, and try to get you to take the easiest — and least expensive way out. In hiring an attorney, you’re leaving the negotiation and worries to us, while you’re left to simply work toward getting better.

Is there a maximum amount I can collect from an accident?

Much of this depends on what the at-fault party is able to pay. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend time and money going to trial if there’s no ability to collect. So, generally we look at the coverage policy limits to see what is available to us. Additionally, if you’ve sustained severe injuries, we want to make sure there’s no umbrella policy. An umbrella policy is one that covers any negligence and damages that are beyond the person’s car insurance policy. Oftentimes, when you see, say, a million dollar umbrella policy, it’s because the person has assets that they want to protect and don’t want to expose to a jury verdict. The amount to which you’d be limited would be the policy limit, combined with your un- or underinsured motorist coverage, and in rare cases, the possibility that the person in questions has substantial assets to collect against.

Do I still have a claim if I’ve been in prior accidents?

If you’ve been in prior accidents, you still have a case, depending on your condition before and after the most recent accident. Of course, an insurance company will make an issue of past accidents, which is all the more reason you need an attorney. We will evaluate your prior injuries, determine if they have been exacerbated, and evaluate your new injuries, to make sure that you’re compensated appropriately. You shouldn’t be penalized because you had an accident sometime in your past. Obviously, if your prior injury is not worse after the most recent accident, then there is no new damage. But, if your injury is worse after the most recent accident, then you are most definitely entitled to compensation.

About Claggett & Sykes

What happens after I retain a lawyer?

Your first priority after being injured in an accident and retaining a lawyer is simple: get better. It’s important that you seek medical treatment for any injuries so that we can learn the extent of those injuries. Do exactly what your doctors ask of you, and let us handle the rest.

What does Claggett & Sykes have to offer

Do I have to pay any money upfront or pay any costs to hire Claggett & Sykes?

Claggett & Sykes works strictly on a contingency basis, meaning that no money comes out of your pocket and we cover all costs necessary to the prosecution of your case. When you retain Claggett & Sykes, all you need to worry about is getting better, as we handle your case to its resolution.

Who will be answering my questions?

Unlike many law firms, at Claggett & Sykes, you will be speaking with an attorney. Your initial consultation will always be with an attorney. Any questions needed to be answered by an attorney will be answered by an attorney. We understand how difficult and confusing this process can be, which is why our attorneys and staff are uncommonly dedicated to making you as comfortable as possible. If, at any time, you would like to have a conference with an attorney, we would be delighted to schedule one. We believe it’s of utmost importance that every client keeps an open line of communication with the attorney so that we’re up-to-date on all medical treatments and case progress

What is the process of the typical personal injury case, from accident to settlement?

Generally speaking, after your accident, you’ll file a report with a police officer or be transported to the hospital. You will then want to seek counsel and contact your insurance company. At that point, we will send a letter of representation to your insurance company and all communication will then be between the company and your attorney.

Now, your only responsibility is to get better and continuously update your attorney on the progress of your treatment. Once your treatment is complete, we will order all of your medical records for analysis and draft what is called a “settlement demand.” This will be used as our basis for negotiating out your claim.

When we negotiate out a claim, we take all factors into consideration and determine if we can settle your case. Once you — and this decision is yours alone — say that the settlement is okay, we will proceed with the settlement.

If you’re not satisfied with the settlement, we will proceed with a lawsuit, depending on the value of the case. In the state of Nevada, there’s what’s called a “mandatory arbitration” process, during which any that has a value less than 50,000 dollars, but more than 10,000 goes into a non-binding arbitration process where the discovery, depositions and interrogatories are done, as are requests for admissions, requests for production of documents, and expert disclosures.

We then present that information to an arbitrator, who will determine an award. If either side is not satisfied with the arbitration award, they have a right to a trial de novo, in which the information collected is presented before a jury. If your case is worth less than 50,000 dollars, your case will be put into a short trial program, a one-day, three-person jury trial where each side gets three hours to present their case. If your case is worth more than 50,000 dollars, we would present that case before an eight-person jury, in a trial that can last for days. Generally speaking, the waiting period for a short trial can be anywhere from six to 12 months, while the waiting period for a longer trial is 18 to 36 months.

If you do go to trial and an award is granted, either side can appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, which could take several years.

Timeframe, Statute of Limitations

In Nevada, the statute of limitations allows you to file within two years of the date of the car accident. This is the only mandatory time line. As far as injuries, everyone heals differently and treatment varies.

Out of State Clients

Las Vegas is the number one travel destination in the United States for adults. The attorneys at Claggett and Associates have many years of experience dealing with out of state clients. In fact, the personal injury claim process is still the same as if our client lives in Las Vegas. All records, reports etc. can be handled through email so there is instant communication

Why Claggett & Sykes is different

Before & After

How should I be prepared in case of an accident?

If you’re driving, you should always carry your license and your proof of insurance. Even if you’re not at fault in an accident, police can — and will — ticket you for not having these crucial items. If you email me your name and address, my office will mail you a special holder for those documents.

Additionally, you should always wear your seat belt. In California, the driver at fault is not held responsible for injuries that are caused by lack of seat belt use. While this is not yet the case in Nevada, it goes without saying that your injuries could be much more severe if you’re not wearing one.

What should I do immediately after a car accident?

First, you obviously want to make sure everyone is okay. Second, you need to contact the police, and if possible, leave your car exactly where it is. This will allow the officers to make a better determination of cause and fault. Oftentimes, people make the mistake of moving their car in an effort to be courteous to other drivers. Also, you shouldn’t make any statements to anyone, until the police arrive. Remember, any statement you make at the scene can later be used against you.

Insurance

What kind of Insurance should I have?

At a bare minimum, you are required by the state of Nevada to carry liability insurance in the amount of 15,000 to 30,000 dollars. This means that the maximum amount that a single person can receive from this policy for their injuries in 15,000 dollars and the maximum that all parties in the vehicle can receive is 30,000 dollars. For example, if there’re five people in a car, all with relatively equal injuries, each person would receive a maximum of 6,000 dollars.

Now, one of the major misconceptions about insurance is the meaning of “full coverage.” Full coverage means that not only do you have liability and collision coverage, but uninsured and underinsured coverage as well. This means that if someone hits you and has no insurance or their coverage limit is not high enough to cover your damage and injuries, your insurance will make up the difference, up to whatever your limit is.

Of course, Nevada allows for lots of different coverages that you may want to add to your policy. Some of the more valuable ones are Med Pay, rental car coverage and gap insurance.

Ranging in values, Med Pay is relatively inexpensive and covers any medical treatments you may undergo in relation to your accident, no questions asked.

Rental car coverage will pick up the cost of a rental while your vehicle is being repaired.
Gap insurance covers the difference between what the insurance company is willing to pay for a car that is beyond repair and what you actually owe on the vehicle.

What should I do if an insurance adjuster contacts me?

If you’ve retained the services of Claggett & Sykes or any other law firm, you won’t be contacted by the insurance adjuster, as they will deal directly with the attorney. That’s one of the great benefits of hiring a lawyer, as their first priority is to settle with you for the least amount of money possible and keep you from getting costly treatment.

Our first concern, on the other hand, is whether or not the insurance company is being fair to our client. Sometimes, when the vehicle in question is a complete loss, the company will not want to pay fair market value. Fortunately, there are clauses within most insurance policies that allow for an independent appraisal by both the client and the insurance company. That said, Claggett & Associates will not take any fee on property damage, because we want you to be able to fix your car first.

Incidentally, if an adjuster does contact you, you should take down their name, date, the time of the call, and the nature of the phone call. Absolutely do not make any statements to the adjuster, as the call will be recorded.

Should I use my medical insurance?

This is an individual decision that depends on what kind of health insurance you have and what types of doctors are on your provider list. If you’ve sustained severe injuries that require special treatment, you may want to go outside your provider list and pursue the option of a doctor’s lien.

What are “policy limits?

Policy limits refer to the limits determined by your insurance coverage. At a bare minimum, you are required by the state of Nevada to carry liability insurance with policy limits of at least 15,000 to 30,000 dollars. This means that the maximum amount that a single person can receive from this policy for their injuries in 15,000 dollars and the maximum that all parties in the vehicle can receive is 30,000 dollars. For example, if there’re five people in a car, all with relatively equal injuries, each person would receive a maximum of 6,000 dollars.

What’s a HIPAA form?

A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) form allows your attorney to request all of your medical records for the treatment that you have received in relation to your accident.

Enacted on April 14, 2003, HIPAA requires, among other things, the safeguarding of patients’ individual information by restricting access to it and seeking patient permission to disclose it in certain circumstances.

What happens if the person who hit me has the same insurance that I do?

If the person who hit you has the same insurance as you, there’s no difference than if they didn’t. While the insurance company has an obligation to treat the accident as if there were two separate companies, they will often try to devalue the claim, as it is going to cost them money regardless. This is all the more reason why you need an attorney.

Can I talk to the insurance company and answer their questions or give them a statement?

You can, of course, talk to the insurance company, but as your attorney, we’d advise against it. We ask that you leave all communication with the company to us, so that we can best protect you and your interests. Insurance companies are looking to save themselves money and will seek out any and every angle to lessen their responsibility to you. As such, every time you try to be helpful to the insurance company, you may very well be hurting your own case

Finding good doctors in Las Vegas

Claggett & Associates will help you find quality doctors in Las Vegas who are experienced with personal injuries and the recovery process of car accident victims

Medical Treatment

How do I know if I need treatment for car accident injuries?

While every individual reacts differently to automobile accidents and each person has a different pain threshold, it’s very common for people to wake up the day after an accident in more pain than they were in immediately after. That’s why it’s a good idea to seek treatment if you’re in any kind of pain at all. Insurance companies only value claims based on treatment received. If you don’t see a doctor and the injury gets worse, you may not be able to claim that the injury — whether soft tissue, muscular, or skeletal — was sustained during the accident in question.

How do I pay for medical treatment?

If you have health insurance, you can obviously pay through your existing coverage. Unfortunately, however, in these tough economic times, you may not have coverage. If that’s the case, you can still seek treatment, as many of the outstanding doctors in the Las Vegas Valley are willing to treat injuries on what’s called an “attorney’s lien basis.” This is basically a situation where the client and I agree to sign a contract, under which the doctor will give treatment in exchange for money to be collected later in the case. Under this agreement, the doctor will be paid before any compensation is paid out to the client.

Should I go to the hospital?

As it happens, you may not have a choice of whether or not you go to the hospital, depending on the severity of your injuries. However, even if you’re not transported from the accident scene by ambulance, it’s usually a good idea. Even if you’re feeling fine immediately after the accident, you may later experience headaches, stiffening of the neck, or any of a number of other symptoms. In this case, you definitely want to head to the hospital, or at the very least, to your primary care physician.

Do I still have a claim if I don’t seek injury treatment right away?

It’s not uncommon for someone to be in an accident and at first believe they can just “shake off” the pain. Oftentimes, however, people find themselves still in pain several weeks later and in need of medical care. The longer you delay treatment, though, the more difficult it becomes to claim compensation for your injuries, as it becomes an issue to tie the time of the injury to the accident. As a general rule, you should see a doctor sooner, rather than later.

Do gaps in treatment devalue a claim?

Gaps in treatment can greatly devalue a case, as insurance companies can point to these gaps as proof that you’re not really as injured as you claim to be. That’s why it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions and to keep a journal of your treatments and activities in relation to your case. Oftentimes, a gap in treatment can be something as simple as going out of town for a few days or skipping treatments as a result of illness. Keeping your attorney informed of everything in regard to your case and keeping a journal of treatments can help explain gaps later.

Property Damage

How do I pay for property damage or a rental car?

If you get into an accident, there’s generally two ways your car is going to be paid for, as long as you or the person at fault have sufficient insurance. First, obviously, the insurance belonging to the other driver would cover your car. That being said, insurance companies often will want to see a police report first, so you may be waiting as long as ten days. In that case, you can have your insurance company cover your car until fault is determined. If you are at fault, you will have to go through your own insurance company after paying a deductible. While deductibles can be as little as 250 dollars or as much as 5,000 dollars, the average is 500. This means you will have to pay the first 500 dollars of the bill, while your insurance would pick up the remainder.

Miscellaneous

What is the difference between a doctor’s lien and a subrogation lien?

A doctor’s lien is a situation where a doctor agrees to provide medical treatment with the understanding that you will pay for that treatment out of the proceeds from your injury case, after the case in resolved. A subrogation lien is where your health insurance pays for your treatment, but is reimbursed for that payment from the resolution of your injury case. This ensures that the injured person isn’t allowed to double collect.

What can I do about lost wages as a result of my injuries?

It’s crucial that you document all work you’ve missed as a result of your injuries. This includes not only time missed because you were physically unable to work, but also time you spent receiving minor treatments. While some companies will track this time for you, Claggett & Sykes recommends that you keep a journal of all treatments and time away from work. It’s important to note that this time must be documented. For example, if you’re a realtor, it’s not enough to say you missed sales because of your injuries. We must be able to prove you had a sale pending that was lost as a result of those injuries.

What if I’ve suffered a disability as a result of my accident?

Disabilities can take many forms. Sometimes it’s the loss of an arm or leg. Sometimes it’s the inability to sit for long periods of time. The important thing to remember is that if you have a job that you’re no longer able to do because of your injuries, you have a disability.

That’s why it’s important to have an attorney who understands your disability. With an open line of communication with the right lawyer, you’ll have the option of vocation relocation, further rehabilitation, or compensation for lost wages.

What are PPDs?

Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are payable for the permanent functional loss of use of the body based upon a disability schedule and help insurance adjusters or juries determine compensation for injuries. PPD ratings are assigned as a percentage of disability to the body as a whole and there are rules (usually called the PPD schedule) that are required to be used when determining the rating. The total percentage rating is multiplied by a specific dollar amount or a number of weeks to determine the benefits that are payable. Ratings cannot exceed 100 percent of the whole body for any one injury.

What is a mediation?

Mediation is what we call an alternative dispute resolution, and can oftentimes come in pre-litigation or during the settlement phase of a case. It can also come into play once we have begun litigation, at any point until trial. Mediations are often very successful in bringing two sides to together, as very experienced attorneys or judges act as a neutral evaluator of the case and try to determine what the case is worth. One of the benefits of mediation is that it gives each side a chance to each side to get to agree upon a settlement without the risks and delays of trial. And if you do end up going to trial, mediation can provide a benchmark for your case. Mediation is also useful in cases where the defense appeals a case, delaying it for an extended time.

What are some of the liability issues?

First and foremost, we have to establish who was responsible for your accident — and this is not always a clear-cut issue. Every case has two parts that you have to establish to win. First, we have to establish that the other driver was responsible for the accident. Second, we have to establish that this accident was the cause of your injuries. Once those two factors are determined, we can then calculate damages.

In establishing liability, it’s important that you call the police, file a report, and gather as much information about the accident as possible. While a police report isn’t necessarily admissible at trial for purposes of settlement it’s a very helpful tool for the insurance adjuster and your attorney in determining how the accident happened and who was responsible. It’s also helpful if you take photos of all involved vehicles and their positioning. Even then, however, not every case is a slam dunk. There are times when it’s ultimately decided that one driver was 80 percent responsible and the other driver 20 percent responsible. In that case, your award would be offset by the appropriate percentage.

Can my pregnancy affect my claim?

If you’re pregnant at the time of your accident, it can greatly affect your claim, depending on how far along your pregnancy is and whether or not your injuries affect your unborn child. As you would expect, there are a great many technical and complex issues regarding this sort of case, so you would absolutely want to consult an attorney.