Warhawk Legal

Oklahoma City Personal Injury Firm

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405.938.3076

Frequently Asked Questions

Because you have been injured does not mean that you automatically receive money damages.  What you do have the right to do is (1) make a claim and (2) have an opportunity to prove by admissible evidence that the incident was caused by the negligence of others and that said negligence was the direct cause of the injuries and damages you sustained.

For “fender benders” and routine car accident claims with no personal injuries, you may not need to hire a lawyer. But if you have been injured, you should hire an attorney immediately.  Here are a few things to think about before deciding whether or not you should try to handle your own claim:

  1. Is fault contested in your case or does the other driver and insurance company admit fault? If there is a dispute over who caused the accident and you cannot prove the other driver is at fault, it may be best to retain an attorney. The stakes could be high and you could recover nothing.

  2. How much are your out-of-pocket expenses for medical bills and lost wages? You must decide at what point your case is too big to handle yourself and when it is time to hire a lawyer.

  3. How badly were you injured and how long did it take you to recover? If you have a serious injury or one that is permanent, you have a potentially large claim and should hire a lawyer who can present it in a professional manner. 

  4. Are you going to court? If you are unable to resolve the situation outside of court, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer who knows the rules, can protect your legal rights and give you a fighting chance at winning.

  5. How much time do you want to devote to the case? These types of cases can be confusing, time consuming, and costly.  You are better off spending your time doing something you like to do or earning a living and letting someone else that handles these types of cases daily to worry about your case.

The sooner a lawyer can get started working for you the better. Remember, in almost every situation when you are injured or have property damage, you have only a certain amount of time to file a claim. The longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to obtain the evidence you need to support your case. Furthermore, if you have submitted your claim to an insurance company, the insurance adjuster you are dealing with may have settled hundreds of cases in the past year alone. He or she is highly trained at negotiation. It is important to be very cautious in talking with an insurance adjuster; they are trained to save the insurance company money.  If they can beat your case they will try.  They will use your own words against you.  Be careful what you say to the trained professionals.

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Bring everything that might be relevant! The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for an attorney to determine if your claim will be successful. 

You should supply any documents that may have a bearing on your case. Be overly prepared when deciding what to bring to your initial meeting with your attorney. While the documents you need to bring depends on the nature of the case, it is generally a good idea to bring any papers relating to the incident or the parties involved. Law suit papers, incident reports, photographs, medical records, medical bills, written statements, repair estimates, and invoices are all examples of items that may be important to your case and, therefore, will need to be shown to your lawyer. Information about the other driver’s insurance is extremely helpful.  It is also a prudent idea to bring a list of the names and contact information of anyone involved with the incident as well as all witness information. 

Prior to the first meeting, doing a timeline of important events relating to the incident can be helpful in terms of jogging your memory and assisting the attorney in understanding when and how things occurred. Remember, it’s better to be over prepared than under prepared. If you haven’t collected any documents prior to meeting with the lawyer, do not worry, the lawyer will be able to direct you in the right direction in obtaining the document you may need.

Tell your story and receive a free assessment. You will be asked to complete some simple intake forms much like going to a doctor’s office. Most of the time the lawyer should be able to tell you whether you have a legal claim that has merit. If it does, you should discuss the terms of the lawyer’s representation. 

If you have decided to choose that particular lawyer, he or she may ask you to sign a retainer agreement. A lawyer cannot represent you without a written retainer agreement. Once that agreement has been signed, your attorney will then start gathering information he or she will need to try your case. 

No competent lawyer should tell you what your case is worth at the first visit unless it is a very simple case. To arrive at a figure for damages, your lawyer will need to examine the extent of your injures, your pain and suffering, disability, and disfigurement, the cost of medical treatment, and lost wages.

It increases your chances for optimal results! 

Unfortunately, car accidents happen every day. Many of them result in minor vehicle damage and can generally be handled alone by contacting the insurance company. However, car accidents involving physical injury, fatality, or other significant damage may warrant the legal representation of an experienced car accident attorney. 

Many times, in these types of serious accidents, you can sustain injuries that don’t manifest themselves until later. If you settle with your insurance company you may realize that in the future what you settled for didn’t properly take into account future complications. While certain matters, such as a minor fender bender, may not require an attorney’s help, there are many instances where retaining an attorney would be beneficial to your case. First of all, a lawyer is able to navigate the complexities of the law as well as the legal jargon that may stump you and cause you to misinterpret the situation thereby hindering your case. 

Having a lawyer on your side can help you avoid problems as opposed to fixing them once they arise. Money is most always a consideration for potential clients, so, it is important to note that hiring an attorney can actually save you money. In fact, most lawyers provide a free initial consultation and many civil lawyers do not collect a dime unless they win your case. Remember an experienced lawyer has probably seen cases similar to yours or at least knows enough to make an educated guess about how it might resolve at trial. 

Sometimes a settlement is the best choice and an attorney can help you fairly negotiate with the opposing party. Most importantly, a lawyer should be able to take some of the burden and stress of handling a case from you and will ensure it is properly handled.

Plan and execute a winning strategy. 

Our firm will make every effort to settle your claim without the necessity of litigation. Initially, we will notify the person or entity that may be at fault as well as their insurance company. At that time, we will begin investigating the claim and preparing the claim to submit to the insurance companies. The insurance companies will also be investigating the claim. 

During this time, we may ask for periodic medical reports so we can follow the progress of your medical treatment. You may also be asked to give a statement to us, an insurance adjuster or an attorney for the insurance company concerning the facts surrounding your claim. An attorney with our firm will be with you if you are required to give a statement and we will explain this to you in further detail if your statement is necessary

Simple cases are short. Major cases take longer. Be patient

The legal process, like an old horse, has a pace of its own and cannot be hurried. Your case will not be submitted for settlement until it is ready for settlement. That does not mean that we will not be doing anything. In fact, we will be getting it ready to submit. Cases like yours are many times affected by events outside the control of any attorney. Possible delays in resolution of your case are too many to list but include such things as delayed medical treatment, failure of a client in communicating with the attorney, sickness of a party or adjuster, judge being out of town, and failure of an insurance company to conduct a meaningful and timely investigation. 

The more complex your case, the longer it will likely take to get it resolved. We want to get your case resolved as soon as possible and will pursue your claim with all diligence. Generally, it is our desire to move your case as quickly as possible.  However, sometimes the wisest course is not always the fastest. Remember, we don’t get paid until you get paid. 

The money won helps pay for your legal services.

When you hire our firm for your car or truck wreck you will pay for the attorneys fees only if you recover funds for your injuries. This is called a contingent fee agreement. The percentage paid to the attorney will differ based on the type of case as well as the complexity of the case and the probability of success. For example a complex and/or difficult case the attorney might charge 50% while a simple car wreck case the attorney might only charge 1/3 of the recovery. 

It is important to note that costs are different then fees. For example, when you hire our firm, we will incur costs associated with your case. We will have to pay for such things as filing fees, medical records and police reports, and we will spend money on postage, copies, experts, investigators, etc… Every firm treats costs different. We will usually front most costs and be paid back at the time of settlement from the client’s portion of the settlement.

Not necessarily.  Most cases settle before trial. The majority of cases resolve themselves prior to trial. Ultimately the decision to go to trial will be yours. We will never tell you that you have to go to trial. We will tell you the pros and cons as well as the risks and potential rewards of proceeding to trial. The ultimate decision as to whether or not you go to trial is yours and yours alone.

Your case would go trial because the insurance company has not made an acceptable settlement offer.

It’s not in their interest to be fair. The insurance company is not in the business of insurance to pay claims or being fair. The more money the insurance company pays out, the less money the insurance company makes.

No. In most situations you are prohibited by the laws of the State of Oklahoma from naming an insurance carrier as a party Defendant.

You must sue the responsible party, not their insurance carrier. In fact, in Oklahoma you are prohibited from even mentioning insurance at trial. If you mention insurance at trial it is possible that a judge will grant a mistrial and you could be responsible for the other side’s attorney fees and costs.

The Oklahoma legislature has said that whether or not a person carries insurance is not relevant to the facts of the underlined case. This hurts the Plaintiff in most situations. For example, the jury may feel sorry for the Defendant thinking that the Defendant has to pay out of their own pocket. In most circumstances a Defendant will never have to pay anything. In fact, if a Plaintiff gets an excess verdict, over and above a Defendants insurance policy, it is likely that the Defendant’s insurance carrier will pay the entire verdict even if the judgment is more than the policy limits of the Defendant.

No. In Oklahoma, a jury is not permitted to hear whether or not the defendant has insurance. Business and insurance companies have done an excellent job of lobbying Congress and getting judges to rule that insurance is not relevant at trial. Hardly ever does a Defendant have to pay money out of their own pocket. However, the jury is not privy to this information. The jury for all we know believe that the Defendant has to pay this money out of their own pocket. That is not so. We would hardly ever consider taking a case to trial unless there was insurance. The reasons for that is because of the time, effort and expense it takes to take a case to trial.

We have to weigh whether or not there is a chance or a likelihood that they will recover those costs, attorney fees and expenses. If there is no insurance it is more likely that not all of the time and expense put into a case would never be recouped. Rarely would a Defendant have to pay anything out of their own pocket. In fact, if a Defendant ever has to pay something out of their own pocket it is quite possible they may have a lawsuit against their own insurance carrier for what is called bad faith, for not settling the case within their policy limits.

Probably not. Most people are judgment proof. What that means is if someone causes harm to you and if they do not have insurance it is likely that you will never see a penny from them. Most assets that average individuals have are exempt by attachment from the judgment. What that means is if there is not any insurance then it is likely that we will not take your case. If a case goes to trial, it is more likely that not, there is an insurance policy to pay for the damages the jury awards.

If you collect money from the Defendant then you will probably have to pay your health insurance carrier back.

The Defendant’s insurance carrier pays for the lawyer representing the Defendant. Sometimes the lawyer representing the Defendant is even an employee of the Defendant’s insurance carrier. The jury will never know this information. The jury is likely to believe that the Defendant is paying for that lawyer out of his own pocket. This is not so. In all reality the Defendant is not charged anything for his defense.

The type of case it is and the complexity of the case determines how much it will cost to take your case to trial. If your case is a simple rear end collision car wreck case it is likely that we will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000-$15,000 preparing your case for trial. If your case is a trucking wreck, product liability, medical malpractice, or complex case it is likely that we will spend an excess of $150,000-$200,000 preparing your case for trial.

More likely than not it will be a doctor who has been hired by the insurance company or the defense attorney. There are certain doctors that are hired to perform these functions. Most doctors will not do this. These doctors make a living by writing reports for the insurance company that help reduce the amount of money that the insurance company has to pay a Plaintiff.

These doctors are biased and they are prejudice. They will say whatever it takes in order to win a case. These doctors are professional testifiers. They can handle the courtroom. They have testified hundreds and thousands of times across the state of Oklahoma. They get paid to minimize the amount the insurance company has to pay a Plaintiff.

A deposition is a statement given under oath, usually taken in a lawyer’s office, before a court reporter. Witnesses called to testify in a deposition answer questions posed by the attorneys representing both parties in a case. The court reporter produces a written transcript of everything said at the deposition and the witnesses read and sign the transcript swearing it to be an accurate statement of the evidence given under oath.

The lawyer gets paid only if they win.

A fee is contingent when it is conditioned upon your attorney’s successfully resolution of your case. It is often referred to as: “No fee unless you win.” However, the client is generally responsible for the “out-of-pocket” costs of litigation. A Contingent Fee is paid as a percentage of your monetary recovery (either settlement or court award.)

No.  The more significant your injuries, the more important it is to seek legal counsel before talking to an insurance company.  The insurance company may try to diminish the significance of your injuries or talk you into taking a settlement below what you deserve.  It would be detrimental to provide an incomplete statement early in the process until you and your attorney know the details and severity of your injuries.  You should have your attorney present if you give a statement to an insurance adjuster or lawyer for the insurance company.  This will ensure that you are properly protected and there are no improper questions asked.

The primary difference between accidents that cause injury and personal injury cases is that the latter is caused by negligence of another party. This can be a driver not paying attention, doctor’s failure to properly diagnose a disease, a product manufacturer’s forgetting to place a warning label on a product, a property owner’s inadequacy to maintain safety standards, etc.

You may still have a case even if you do not feel hurt at the scene. The biological response to a traumatic situation, like an accident, sends a rush of adrenaline through the body, which can temporarily reduce sensations of pain. You may start feeling significant pain or developing other symptoms later. It is wise to consult a doctor even if you do not feel immediate, excruciating pain, since some of the most serious conditions emerge over time; sometimes, even days or weeks after an event.

No. Auto accidents are the most common type of Personal Injury recognized by the general public. Along with auto accidents, Personal Injury law also includes big truck wrecks, home accidents, boat accidents, airplane crashes, dog bites, defective products, failure to provide adequate security, and malpractice, including the failure to diagnose to name a few.

Do not speak with the adjuster. Refer the adjuster to your attorney. Also, do not speak with the attorney for the “at-fault” driver.  These are highly trained individuals that are trying to talk to you to either beat your case or minimize what their employer has to pay you.  They may even be recording you without your knowledge.

Some claims may be settled quickly whereas others can be open for a prolonged period.

There is no set answer. All cases are different. The more complex the case, the longer it takes to settle. If you have substantial injuries, the longer it will take. The more money there is at stake for the insurance company, the longer it will take. In most cases, the settlement process starts when your doctor releases you from treatment.

Assuming your attorney has all of your accident-related records, your claim could be filed with the insurance company in five to ten business days. It may take the adjuster two to four weeks to evaluate your claim and make an initial offer. At this point, it’s a matter of both sides negotiating a dollar amount that is reasonable for your case and acceptable to you. If you receive medical treatment for two to four months, it is possible that your claim could be settled within six months.  Most of the time, for a simple clear liability case it will take between 6 to 12 months to settle your case.  However, the more complex you case or if there is disputes as to liability it could take years to complete your case.

The duty of the insurance company for the “at-fault” driver is put you back in the place you were in immediately before the accident. You are entitled to have your car repaired to its pre-accident condition or receive its “fair market value.”

If your vehicle is totaled, the question then becomes what is its fair market value.  The insurance companies spend a ton of money on computer programs that are designed to minimize what they have to pay.  You may have to talk to a used car dealership to determine if their “fair market value” is really the fair market value.  If your vehicle is not totaled (ie. it’s repairable) the insurance company must pay for the repairs.

Do not post anything about your case on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.…) Many cases have been lost or severely damaged as a result of a client posting about their case on social media. Many don’t understand how a defense attorney could twist their statements or intent from social media posts.

I advise all clients to be very careful with what they post.  Before you post something ask yourself whether or not it would embarrass you if it were posted on the front page of the local paper.  Another example of how this can hurt you is if you claim to be injured as a result of your claim and you post a picture of you doing a handstand, water skiing, running a marathon, etc.…Photos like these examples will ultimately kill your case.  Make sure your profile is set to private and additional privacy settings are engaged.

No, but an experienced attorney will share his/her honest assessment on your case’s chances. 

There are never any guarantees whether you will win or lose your claim. We cannot and will not guarantee that the result we achieve will be the result you may desire.  The only promises we can give you are that we will work hard for you, be honest with you, and properly prepare your case.  To predict what a judge or jury may do with your case is virtually impossible.

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Statement

Out of caution and for the safety of our staff and clients, we are currently working remotely and not accepting in person appointments. Our team is readily available through phone, email and digital conferencing.

IF YOU NEED LEGAL HELP and would like to schedule a virtual visit, contact Warhawk legal today.

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