If you were hurt in an accident I can help you. My peers have awarded me Martindale-Hubbell's preeminent AV rating in personal injury, I'm rated a perfect 10 by Avvo, and I have collected millions of dollars in compensation for people injured in accidents.
I fight every day to achieve extraordinary results for my clients. That means when you sign up with Pandullo Law, my outstanding team will begin working for you immediately. We will make sure you get medical help, a rental car—whatever you need to get back on track. We will also contact the insurance company on your behalf and negotiate with your assigned claims adjuster as you continue to get medical treatment. Ultimately, the goal of an accident case is to get you as big a settlement as possible to pay for your medical bills and compensate you for your injuries, and our team is very good at getting our clients paid.
If you're ready to retain us and get started, contact me now. But if you'd like to read about the step-by-step process of what will happen in your injury case and what we do to get you as much money as we can, read below.
Initial Consultation: Do You Have a Case
This is where you tell me about your case. This can be by phone, email, text, or in person. A consultation is always free. The purpose of a consultation is to get to know each other and so we can figure out if you have a case.
So how do we know if you have a case? You need 2 things for a successful accident case: (1) injury and (2) liability. Let's discuss those briefly.
Injury: This just means you're actually hurt in some way. You don't need to have broken bones or herniated discs to have a good accident case, but you have to be injured to some degree, and the greater the injury the greater the potential compensation. You also need to get treatment for your injuries, but we'll cover that later.
Liability: You don't have a case unless someone else is to blame for the accident—if you're at fault we can't help you. In many cases, liability is clear. This means it's obvious that the accident is someone else's fault. For instance, if you were rear-ended by another car, the other person is going to be at fault just about 100% of the time. Vice versa if you rear-end someone else. Other cases are not so clear—for instance, if you're the second car in a 3 car accident. Sometimes we may get a police report for your accident at our own expense so we can figure out what's going on. We'll usually do this the same day as our initial consultation—we don't want to waste any time.
Next let's talk briefly about what you need to do when you retain our firm.
Retaining Our Firm: No Fees Until We Win
If you are injured and the accident is someone else's fault, we can represent you. You don't need to pay us anything because our fee is a percentage that we take from your overall settlement. This is called a "contingency fee." We take the same percentage as most firms: 33.3% if the case settles out of court, and 40% if we have to file a lawsuit. The increase in percentage is because fighting in court is a lot more work than settling a case. Believe me: we want to settle your case out of court, and our team is very good at doing just that.
If you currently have a lawyer but are dissatisfied with the progress made on your case, we can substitute in and take your case over. This doesn't cost you anything. If we substitute in, your prior attorney gets paid for the work he's done up to that point, but that portion comes out of our fee when we settle the case, so it doesn't cost you anything.
Next let's talk about what we do once you've retained our firm.
Getting started: Filing the Claim and Fixing Property Damage
If you haven't contacted the insurance company already, we'll do it for you. We'll send a letter of representation the same day you sign up with us. From that point on, you don't have to worry about talking to an insurance adjuster. We will also determine the extent of the available insurance, which helps with the negotiation and settlement process, which we discuss later.
Sometimes there is more than one insurance adjuster to talk to—for instance, if you have underinsured motorist insurance. But let us worry about that.
At this point we'll also be helping you get your car fixed (assuming your case is a car accident case). We'll work with the insurance company to get an estimate for the damage and then get your car fixed at a body shop. We'll also help you get a rental car through your insurance while you're waiting for the damage to get repaired, since that can take weeks.
These initial steps happen very quickly. The next step, getting medical treatment, also starts right away, but can last quite a bit longer depending upon the extent of your injuries.
Many accident victims who we represent have already started treatment by the time they sign up with us. But if you haven't, we will refer you to one or more medical professionals, including chiropractors and pain management specialists, who can assess your injuries and devise a treatment plan.
If you don't have medical insurance, you can still get medical treatment through the use of a medical lien. This means the doctor agrees to treat you on the basis that you have a good case and will eventually pay for medical treatment from your settlement.
Medical treatment can easily last several months depending upon the extent of your injuries. It is important that you follow the treatment plan. Although there are many legitimate reasons people have for missing doctor's appointments, if you regularly miss your appointments or stop treating before you finish the treatment plan, this can look like your injuries are not very serious and hurt your case.
Negotiations and Settlement
It is only when you are done treating that we will understand the full extent of your damages and the value of your case. This can be fairly quick or take several months. But once we know what your damages are, we can begin to negotiate with the insurance company.
How much is your case worth? Under the law, of course you are entitled to have your medical bills paid for, but you are also entitled to be compensated for your pain and suffering. But what is pain and suffering worth? There is no easy answer to this question, because different people have different ideas about what pain and suffering might be worth. Think of it this way: if someone wanted to pay you to have your arm broken, how much money would they have to pay you before you'd agree to let them break your arm? Whatever the number, there are people out there who might ask for more—or less. So the value of pain and suffering is highly subjective depending on who you ask. But as stated above, the overall value of your case is related to the seriousness of your injuries, and a good rule of thumb is that your case is worth about 3 times your medical damages. But again, this is not a rule but a simple way to roughly estimate the settlement value of your case.
The value of your case is also affected by policy limits—or how much insurance money is available. When you sue someone for personal injury, the insurance company has to pay for the damage their insured has caused. However, the insurance company has limited liability, and the limit of that liability is the value of the policy, which can vary. In Nevada, drivers are required to be insured, but the law only requires a driver to carry insurance in the amount of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. This means that if you are injured in a car accident by yourself and the defendant has a minimum liability policy (sometimes called a "15/30 policy"), you can get $15,000 at most from the insurance company. If you and a passenger are injured together, you each can recover $15,000 (for a total of $30,000). If your injuries are greater than the policy limit can justly compensate, the rest of your settlement would have to come out of the pocket of the person who caused the accident—or out of your own insurance if you have underinsured motorist insurance. Obviously, finding out the amount of available insurance is very important in settling your case.
Negotiating with insurance adjusters is an art, and one I am proud to say our team excels at. Negotiation is a complicated topic, but ultimately we get the best possible settlement for our clients by convincing the insurance company that a lawsuit might end up costing them a lot more money than offering us a reasonable settlement. But what if the insurance company won't offer a fair settlement? Read below.
Filing a Lawsuit and Going to Trial
If settlement negotiations fail, that means we are going to litigation—filing a lawsuit and possibly even going to trial eventually. A lawsuit is time-consuming and costly for both sides, so we don't want to go to litigation and neither does the insurance company. But at Pandullo Law we are trial lawyers. We can go to trial and win your case. Ironically, our willingness to go to trial and ability to win can help in settling your case before we have to go to litigation!
By Michael Pandullo