Q. What do I do if I’ve been in a motor vehicle accident with my child and I fear my child is injured due to the other driver’s negligence or recklessness?
A. Stop at the scene or as close to the scene as possible. Do your best to keep your child comforted and at ease but do everything in your power not to move your child because that may worsen their condition if their head, neck or spine has been injured or if they have suffered fractured or broken bones. Ask if they can move their limbs and do your best to assess their mental awareness by asking easy questions they know the answers to. Write down or record a list of all of your immediate injuries and complaints. If your child is able to explain, do the same for them. Keep these lists handy because new complaints caused by the accident may arise at a later date. Call police/911 at the scene-even if the at-fault driver tries to convince you otherwise. Call a family member or friend who can come and help you immediately. Write down the other driver’s full name, address, phone number and the color, make and model of their vehicle as well as the license plate number. Write down their insurance company contact information and policy number. Get the names and contact information of people who observed the accident. Take a variety of pictures of the scene or have your family member or friend do so. Make sure you get pictures of the entire scene and surrounding area. Do not delay seeking medical attention for yourself and your child. Either have an ambulance transport or get to the ER or clinic, with a pediatrician on staff. Contact the driver’s insurance company to open a claim and only give them your name and contact information and state that you are concerned you and/or your child have been injured. Then say thank you and goodbye and that you have other matters that need your attention. If they want to record the conversation or ask you more questions about the accident tell them you need to speak with them at another time and after you’ve spoken with your child injury attorney.
Q. In any injury case, am I required to comply with whatever the insurance company asks me to do?
A. Your attorney will ensure you are complying with what you need to comply with while also protecting and preserving your legal rights. Do not sign any releases for the insurance company on your behalf or on your child’s behalf. Do not agree to have your conversation recorded. Your attorney will ensure the proper documentation is provided and nothing more than necessary. Ask the insurance company if they will provide you with the same things they are requesting of you — transcript of any recorded conversations they have related to the claim and if their insured will be signing releases for you. I would be surprised if you get the information in a timely manner — or at all.
Q. Do I need to reveal my previous personal health information or previous accident history to my attorney and medical providers?
A. Only if you want to have any chance at winning the verdict you need and deserve. You can lose your case for not disclosing this information. Your credibility, your lawyer’s credibility and your medical expert’s credibility will disappear if you do not disclose and do misrepresent this type of information. Your attorney needs this information so she can decide the best strategy for dealing with it during trial.
Q. The insurance company of the person who injured my child seems to be working with me and has accepted responsibility, how do I know I really need to hire an attorney?
A. Although it is a good thing that they have accepted responsibility, they are likely trying to convince you to agree to an award that is substantially less than you and your child need and deserve–especially if they are trying to get things done “quickly” and before you know the extent of the injuries and new complaints develop. Always speak to your personal injury attorney before you make any decision about your personal injury matter.
Q. How soon should I consult with a child injury attorney after my child has been injured?
A. As soon as possible after your child is seen for medical treatment. The only conversation you should have with an insurance provider is to begin a claim and state that you and their insured have been involved in a collision and that you are concerned about the extent of injuries to you and your child. Provide contact information and then end the call. It is not necessary to agree to a recorded conversation about the injury at that time. The insurer should investigate the claim. Your priority is your child and family and ensuring your and your child’s injuries are assessed and monitored and that your legal rights are protected. The insurance company’s priorities are not the same as yours are and that is why you need to consult with a child injury attorney.
Q. How much do you charge?
A. In any type of litigation, there are fees associated with the work the attorney does as well as costs related to the litigation process itself. If you need help with a child injury or wrongful death case, the attorney fee may be a percentage of your settlement or winning verdict at trial. However, you are ultimately responsible for any costs in your case such as investigation, medical reports and testimony. Depending on your finances, The Children’s Law Offices may advance these costs on your behalf and may deduct them from your settlement or verdict. There is an hourly fee option or hybrid of a discounted hourly rate plus a reduced percentage of a contingency fee. It is critically important for you and the attorney you chose to go over the fee options available and the fee and cost agreement with you thoroughly so that you fully understand your options and financial obligations. If you are seeking other services unrelated to a child injury or wrongful death case, there will be an hourly fee with a requested retainer or a flat fee. The amount will depend on what services you need and want. Hourly rates are reasonable and very competitive.
Q. Do you accept every child injury case?
A. No, this is a small law practice and the commitment to the limited number of injured clients accepted is timely and responsive individual attention to you from the attorney personally handling your case – every time. Gabriela Sandoval at The Children’s Law Offices will personally consult with you so that each of us can determine if it is a good fit and how to proceed. She will then personally oversee every aspect of your case through trial.
Q. The bills are piling up and I’m considering filing for bankruptcy. Can you help me with that?
A. Always talk to your personal injury lawyer before you file for bankruptcy with a bankruptcy attorney because filing bankruptcy can have a substantial impact on the personal injury amount awarded to you. The Children’s Law Offices can assist with other methods to help you with your financial concerns due to your child’s injury or wrongful death. Be sure to consider credit counseling if you haven’t already.
Q. Will I have to prepare for trial?
A. Yes. And so will I. Litigation can be an exhausting and frustrating process for litigants. Often, the insurance company and their attorney takes advantage of that and tries to wear you down so you are more inclined to accept a low-ball settlement offer. The Children’s Law Offices does make every effort to obtain the settlement you and your child need and deserve. However, we also assume your case will go to trial and so, we prepare your case so we are both ready. In the event of settlement, the trial date will be vacated.
Q. How long will it take for my issue or court case to be resolved?
A. This really depends on your issue and the time it takes to investigate your case, fully evaluate the injuries suffered, and carry it through to either settlement or trial. It will also depend on the county the court is in, some are a bit quicker to set cases than others.
Q. My native language is Spanish. Do you speak Spanish?
A. Gabriela Sandoval at The Children’s Law Offices can correspond with you in your native language. However, most, if not all, documents will be drafted in English.
Q. Where are you located?
A. My office, your office, and in some circumstances, house calls may be made for your convenience. My office is located in downtown Denver in the Dominion Plaza Building on the corner of 17th and Welton.
600 17th Street, Suite 2800 South
Denver, Colorado 80202
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More important FAQs to come!