Frequently Asked Questions
Decades of experience in one spot, where Bayard answers common questions about personal injury attorneys and cases
How much will it cost?
Personal injury cases are taken on a contingent fee basis. This means that unless there is a recovery, the client pays nothing. The contingent fee for an adult is usually one third. Costs are in addition to the fees. Costs include such expenses as copying, obtaining medical records, deposition costs, filing fees, and other miscellaneous expenses. Such expenses are in addition to fees. Thus, for example, if a case settles for $10,000, the fee is $3,333.33, plus costs. In the case of minors, the fee is 25%.
How long does it take?
Pinpointing how long a case will take is difficult. Much depends on the seriousness of the injuries and length of treatment. If a person recovers from his or her injuries in just a few months, we may be able to settle the case shortly after the recovery. However, more serious injuries take more time. Also, doctors are usually unwilling to determine that an injury is permanent until one year after the injury.
Most cases are ripe for settlement within a year. If settlement does not occur, due to liability or evaluation issues, then the case must be filed in court. Once the case is filed, service of process can take months. After service of process is completed and the defense has answered the complaint, we enter what is called a discovery period. This means that interrogatories must be answered and depositions must be taken. The discovery period is usually from 6-9 months. When discovery is complete, there is usually a mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful, then the case will go to trial. The total time from filing a case to when a trial begins is usually about a year and a half. However, it can be longer.
Why should I chose you over other attorneys?
In truth, there are many fine personal injury lawyers in Delaware. We give each case personal attention and are not a mill operation. I believe each client deserves our honesty and the proper respect.
I have been helping people with their personal legal problems for over 36 years, from the time I was a legal assistance officer in the United States Army, until present. I have tried many cases in the courts from the simple to the very complex. I have settled thousands of cases, knowing how to deal with cagey insurance adjustors and lawyers. In addition to a law degree, I have a Ph.D degree in law. Over the years, I have taught law related courses at the University of Delaware, Wilmington College, and Widener Law School. I have taught many seminars for other lawyers, mostly in personal injury and court procedures. Most importantly, I always put the interest of the client first.
What is the first thing I should do after I am in an automobile accident?
In any automobile accident case, you should made sure that the police are called to the accident scene. If you know you are injured, you should make sure you get treatment right away. If there is any doubt in your mind, don’t be stoic and say, “I am not injured,” to the police. This may harm your case later when you feel the pain and suffering coming on shortly after the accident.
After an automobile accident, should I speak to my own insurance company?
You are obligated to cooperate with your own insurance company after an accident. The insurance company will probably ask for a recorded statement and you should be very careful in how you answer that recorded statement. Make sure your answers are accurate. If you do not feel mentally up to giving a recording statement, you should let the adjustor for the insurance company know that. You should then call an attorney.
Should I speak with the insurance company of the driver that caused the accident?
You should never speak to the insurance company of the other driver without consulting with an attorney. Adjustors are clever in taking statements in a way that may make you look liable for the accident. The simple answer is, “no, call my attorney, Bayard Marin at 302-658-4200.”
Are cases usually settled without trial?
Most cases are settled without filing a lawsuit. Even after a lawsuit is filed the parties often settle. Many cases are settled at the mediation stage.
What is mediation?
A mediation is an informal meeting conducted by a mediator. The purpose of a mediation is an attempt to arrive at a compromise to resolve all the issues in a case. The mediator is a trained expert who tries to bring both sides together to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion of the case.
If I am in an accident, how do my medical bills get paid?
The primary coverage for payment of medical bills and lost wages is the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance on your vehicle. If the PIP insurance on your vehicle is exhausted, you will then need to use whatever insurance you have available such as health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare. If you have no insurance at all, sometimes doctors will accept letters of protection. This means that once your case is settled the doctor will expect to get paid out of your settlement. The insurance company for the driver who caused the accident will seldom pay any expenses prior to final settlement of the case.
What is PIP?
In an auto accident case, the personal injury protection (PIP) insurance on your vehicle applies. This is no fault that applies even if you caused the accident. In Delaware, there is a minimum of $15,000 per person coverage. This coverage allows for reimbursement of accident related medical bills and your net loss wages up to the automobile’s PIP policy agreement. PIP applies for two years from the date of the accident. Unfortunately, when injuries are serious, $15,000 will not begin to cover the cost of the injuries.
Why should I have to find a way to pay my medical bills if the other party caused the accident?
The simple answer is that that is what the PIP statue says in Delaware. As a practical matter, insurance companies will not pay for any medical expenses or lost wages until there is a final determination of the case. This is why it is so important to have an attorney handle the matter.
What should I do about property damage to my vehicle?
Sometimes the insurance company of the party who caused the accident will pay for repairs or total loss. More often than not, that insurance company will not agree at least for several weeks. In the meantime, you may be left without a vehicle. Thus, in most cases, it is probably best to go through your own insurance company to get the collision damages repaired or to replace the vehicle. Most insurance companies handle property damage apparently. However, we can help you if this gets off the tracks.
Will you stay in touch with me while my case is pending?
We pride ourselves on communicating with our clients as soon as reasonably possible. A paralegal or a legal assistant will be assigned to your case and that person will be of assistance to you during the course of the claim. While I try to return all calls personally as soon as possible I am not always available and the paralegal or legal assistant may call you back. You should be aware there may be lulls while we gather information including medical bills, medical reports and other evidence supporting the claim. It is a good idea to call us about once a month just to update us on the status of your injuries and treatment. You should always feel free to call us at any time.
What is a lien?
A lien is an amount of money owed to an insurance company or other entity who has paid for your medical bills or lost wages. It is important to give us your Medicare, Medicaid, or health insurance information at the beginning of the case so that we can coordinate your benefits and pay any liens that may be due at the end of your case. We review any Medicare and Medicaid liens to make sure that only charges for accident related billings are included in the lien. With private insurance companies we are sometimes able to negotiate the liens down.
What is a service of process?
Service of process is the procedure through which the plaintiff in a lawsuit informs the defendant of the lawsuit. In an accident case in which you are injured, you will be the plaintiff and the person that caused the accident is the defendant. The sheriff or the process server serves the defendant. After the defendant is served, the defendant should turn the matter over to his or her own insurance company who would then turn it over to a defense lawyer. The defense lawyer will file an answer.