Common Questions & Answers

GENERAL PERSONAL INJURY QUESTIONS

How much will it cost to hire the Fine Law Firm?
What is my case worth?
Will you give me a preliminary evaluation before you are retained?
How long will it take to resolve my case?
How long do I have to take legal action?
When should I contact a lawyer?
Should I be talking with an insurance adjuster before I contact a lawyer?
How can I get medical attention if I don't have insurance?
What should I tell the doctor when I am seen?
What damages am I entitled to?
Can victims of crimes recover damages?

AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT QUESTIONS

What if both myself and the other driver are at fault?
Am I able to recover damages if the person who caused the accident has neither insurance nor significant property?
If I am a victim of a hit and run driver or if I am struck by an unidentified automobile as a pedestrian, do I have insurance coverage?
Can I recover damages against a drunk driver in addition to the usual damages?

WRONGFUL DEATH

What is a wrongful death case?
Who receives the money recovered from a wrongful death case?

MEDICAL AND NURSING HOME MALPRACTICE

What type of proof is usually needed in a medical malpractice case?
Is an action for medical malpractice permitted if I have a bad surgical result?
Can nursing homes be liable for negligence?

GOVERNMENT LIABILITY

How long do I have to file a case against the government?

SLIP AND FALL

Is the store responsible if I slip and hurt myself?
If I slip and hurt myself at a store and the store is at fault, what should I do?

GENERAL PERSONAL INJURY QUESTIONS

How much will it cost to hire the Fine Law Firm?

Some lawyers work on an hourly rate; others, including Fine Law Firm, do not charge on an hourly basis in accident cases. Instead, we charge a contingent fee. Although costs of litigation are extra, it costs nothing up front to hire the law firm and we are compensated only if we are successful in recovering for you. Regardless of the time we put into a case, if we do not recover for you, you will not have to pay us attorney's fees. In addition, unlike many other firms, the Fine Law Firm does not charge the client for long distance calls, photocopying, and postage. In select cases, we will reduce our fee to a one-fourth fee as opposed to a one-third fee.

What is my case worth?

There is no standard value for what an injury is worth. Rather each case is unique and must be valued individually. Factors that affect the value of a case include the nature and extent of the injuries, the length of treatment and recovery time, lost wages, whether there is a permanent impairment, whether there is comparative fault, and whether punitive damages are appropriate.

Will you give me a preliminary evaluation before you are retained?

At no charge, we will be glad to give you a preliminary evaluation regarding liability and damages. However, such an evaluation is somewhat limited in that as the case develops, we will become more aware of additional facts.

How long will it take to resolve my case?

The answer to this question depends greatly on the injuries and amount of treatment necessary for you to heal. In exchange for settling with an insurance company a plaintiff must sign a release or paper that states they will no longer attempt to recover money from the insurance company or defendant. It is important to be certain of your injuries and necessary treatment before signing the release. Resolving a case prematurely often results in a smaller recovery.

How long do I have to take legal action?

The amount of time you have to file a lawsuit depends greatly on the facts of your case. Sometimes action must be taken immediately while in other situations there may be years to take legal action.

Failure to file a lawsuit within the time specified by the statute of limitations may result in your ability to recover damages being forever lost.

When should I contact a lawyer?

If you are planning on pursuing a case, or wish to discuss it, it is important to contact a lawyer immediately. Although it may seem as if there is plenty of time before a lawsuit must be filed, there are other reasons to begin working on your case quickly. Depending on your case, there may be crucial deadlines that pass only ninety days from the date of your injury or accident.

In addition, our attorneys may need to take action within days of an accident to protect your case. It may be necessary to act fast in order to preserve important evidence, locate a witness, or investigate the scene of the accident or injury.

Should I be talking with an insurance adjuster before I contact a lawyer?

No. Many insurance adjusters are trying to reduce the amount of money they must pay to resolve your case. Occasionally an adjuster will ask to speak with you about your case and may attempt to record your conversation. Such statements with adjusters may be used against you in the future.

If you would like to speak with an adjuster, one of our attorneys will discuss with you how to handle such statements, what to avoid and appropriate cautions.

How can I get medical attention if I don't have insurance?

If you have medical insurance, it is best to use it to get medical attention. However, if you have no medical insurance there still may be ways of getting looked at by a doctor. If you were involved in an automobile accident and have car insurance, check with your insurance agent to see if your policy has medical coverage. Such coverage pays for you doctor bills up to a specified amount and may enable you to get medical attention quickly.

Similarly, depending on how you were injured, there may be other insurance policies in effect that would cover the cost of your medical care. If necessary our attorneys can also recommend reputable doctors who may be able to see you in absence of insurance. The physician will waive payment until the case is settled. You can contact our office and we will discuss the best options for getting you the medical attention you need.

What should I tell the doctor when I am seen?

It is important to be truthful and honest with your doctor. You should describe all symptoms even if you feel they may be insignificant.

It is also important to remember not to exaggerate and contrive symptoms. Such exaggeration not only will make it more difficult for the doctor to diagnose your injuries, but will also have a harmful effect on your case and may even be considered fraud.

What damages am I entitled to?

The nature of your recovery depends on the facts of your case. Common damages which you might be entitled to receive are past medical bills, future medical bills, permanent impairment, pain and suffering, lost wages, disfigurement, loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment of life.

In addition, depending on how your injuries occurred you may be entitled to punitive damages.

Can victims of crimes recover damages?

Yes, drive-by shootings are, surprisingly, often covered by uninsured motorist coverage; victims of other crimes should consider legal action if the perpetrator has insurance or significant assets.

AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT QUESTIONS

What if both myself and the other driver are at fault?

In New Mexico, each driver is responsible for his or her own fault. Therefore, if each of you is 50% at fault, you can recover 50% of your total damages.

Am I able to recover damages if the person who caused the accident has neither insurance nor significant property?

If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your vehicle, or any relative with whom you reside has such coverage, it is likely that you will be able to recover. Uninsured motorist coverage provides that if a motorist who causes a collision with you is uninsured, your insurance company will provide coverage subject to the deductible. Because there are many uninsured motorists in New Mexico, we recommend that you carry uninsured motorist coverage.

If I am a victim of a hit and run driver or if I am struck by an unidentified automobile as a pedestrian, do I have insurance coverage?

Most uninsured motorist policies provide that an insured or family member living with an insured is covered in these situations.

Can I recover damages against a drunk driver in addition to the usual damages?

You can argue punitive damages against a drunk driver. Such damages serve to punish a person whose conduct deserves punishment and can be very substantial. While punitive damages are usually limited to intentional acts, they may also be recovered against drunk drivers.

WRONGFUL DEATH

What is a wrongful death case?

If the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another, the personal representative of the estate can recover damages for the wrongful death. These damages include pain and suffering, funeral expenses, medical bills, and the value of the deceased's life, including the money likely to be earned during his or her lifetime less the deductions permitted by law, loss of the enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium regarding a spouse or child.

Who receives the money recovered from a wrongful death case?

Beneficiaries, or those entitled to receive the proceeds from a wrongful death case are based on statutes. The decedent's relatives including children, spouse, or parents may have claims for all, or part, of the proceeds.

MEDICAL AND NURSING HOME MALPRACTICE

What type of proof is usually needed in a medical malpractice case?

It is usually necessary to hire another doctor who will testify that the person whom you are suing was negligent.

Is an action for medical malpractice permitted if I have a bad surgical result?

Not necessarily. People often think that a bad result equals medical malpractice. However, a doctor must be at fault before you can recover. Many people have poor medical results when the doctor is not at fault. Medical malpractice is based upon the fault of the doctor, that is, he or she must either have failed to do something that a reasonable, qualified doctor would have done or have done something wrongly.

Can nursing homes be liable for negligence?

Nursing homes can be held responsible for substandard care which causes injury or death of a resident.

GOVERNMENT LIABILITY

How long do I have to file a case against the government?

Occasionally cases against the government require the satisfaction of two deadlines. Just like most other cases, any case against the government must be filed with a specified period of time otherwise the ability to recover may be forever lost. However, these cases often have a second deadline separate from the statute of limitations that requires the appropriate branch of the government be placed on notice within a specified period of time. Because of the numerous deadlines that determine when legal action should be taken, if you believe you have a claim against the government we encourage you to contact an attorney immediately to discuss these issues.

SLIP AND FALL

Is the store responsible if I slip and hurt myself?

The store is only responsible if it is at fault. If the store staff caused a dangerous condition that caused your injuries, or knew or should have known of a dangerous condition before an accident and did not take proper steps to fix it, the store may be responsible.

If I slip and hurt myself at a store and the store is at fault, what should I do?

It would be a good idea for you to record the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses; ask the manager of the store if you can submit a report; and, if necessary, seek medical attention and call an attorney.

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