Frequently Asked Questions
Answers From an Experienced Rio Rancho Personal Injury Attorney
Suddenly being faced with a legal matter can be overwhelming. Many people
can get confused and disoriented when trying to deal with filing a lawsuit
after an injury. Because it can be so difficult, Goodwin Law Office has
provided information that can help to clear up some confusion!
How Much is My Case Worth?
Deciding how much your New Mexico personal injury case is worth is a very
important job to be performed by your personal injury lawyer.
It's important that your case is not undervalued because you might
accept a settlement offer that's less than fair. It's also important
not to overvalue your case because then you might turn down a fair settlement
offer, go to trial, and end up getting less money overall.
Your best bet is to consult with an
experienced New Mexico personal injury lawyer who has handled hundreds of
personal injury cases in Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, and other cities throughout the state.
Some of the factors we use to determine the value of a personal injury
case in New Mexico are:
- The amount of medical bills
- The amount of lost wages
- The amount of pain and suffering
- How long the injury lasts
- The intensity of pain
- Whether the injury is permanent
- The impact of the injury on activities and enjoyment of life
- The amount of future medical bills and pain, if any
- Any permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Ability to earn a living in the future
What if I Don't live in Albuquerque or Rio Rancho? Can I Still Consult
with Mr. Goodwin?
Yes. Goodwin Law Office represents clients all over the state of New Mexico.
Attorney Goodwin takes pride in his rapid response service to clients.
In serious cases, he will travel to your town or city to meet with you,
and to collect evidence if necessary. Over the years, Rio Rancho personal
injury attorney Brad Goodwin has represented personal injury clients in
almost every county of New Mexico.
What Will This Cost Me?
Personal injury lawyers generally take cases on contingency fees. This
means you pay nothing up front, you don't pay a retainer, and you
don't pay by the hour. Instead, you pay the personal injury lawyer
a fee out of the final settlement or recovery at the end of the case.
If no compensation is recovered, you pay no legal fees.
At Goodwin Law Office, the usual personal injury fee is one-third of the gross settlement or
recovery, although this can be adjusted!
Use of contingency fees helps level the playing field in our legal system.
It gives equal access to our courts for
all people, even those who couldn't normally afford to pay for an experienced
personal injury lawyer.
Are There Any Hidden Costs?
In addition to the contingency fee, the client also pays for expenses and
costs. However, the majority of personal injury lawyers in Rio Rancho
and Albuquerque pay for many of the costs as they arise. Common costs
in personal injury cases are expenses paid to healthcare providers for
medical records and payments to police departments to get accident reports.
These costs are typically less than $100.00 to $300.00 in most cases.
Costs are much greater to file personal injury lawsuits, hire expert witnesses,
and go to court. The costs hinge on the level of complexity of the case.
At the end of the case, the client reimburses the attorney for these expenses
from the final settlement or recovery.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer?
Yes. Retaining the services of a qualified personal injury lawyer is a
great advantage, and it also helps to work with an attorney with extensive
trial and litigation experience. You will also need an experienced personal
injury lawyer to file a lawsuit and go to court in New Mexico.
A lawyer can help with:
- Giving legal advice before you make statements to adjusters.
- Gathering and preserving evidence before it disappears.
- Making sure your medical bills get paid.
- Making sure your injuries and losses are properly documented.
There is also something to be said for the peace of mind you get when you
hire an experienced accident lawyer to handle your case. At Goodwin Law
Office, clients are confident knowing that a lawyer with over
25 years of experience is on their side.
How Long Does a Case Take?
This largely depends on whether your case settles or goes to trial.
You should not even try to settle a case until after you have fully recovered
from your injury, or until you have recovered as much as possible. The
reason for this is that once you settle, your case is closed forever and
you can't go back and get more money. So to be sure you get paid for
all your losses, it is recommended that you wait to settle your case until
after you know the full extent of your expenses. The duration of your
personal injury case will first depend on how long it takes you to recover
from your personal injury. There are exceptions to this, but this is the
When your case is ready for settlement, it can then take anywhere from
a few weeks to several months to finish settlement negotiations with the
adjuster. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, a personal injury lawsuit
is filed. During this, your case will to go to court. In New Mexico, it
usually takes one to three years for a case to get to trial after a personal
injury lawsuit is filed.
However, even after filing a personal injury lawsuit, it's common for
the insurance company to offer a settlement before trial.
How Do I Pay For My Medical Bills?
The at-fault party's insurance company must pay your medical bills,
but the insurance company won't pay anything until you're ready
to accept a lump sum settlement to settle your entire claim. This means
the insurance company will pay your medical bills, but not until the end
of the case.
You must therefore find ways to pay your medical bills while you wait for
your final personal injury settlement or court verdict.
There are 3 possible ways we can get your bills paid while waiting to settle
your personal injury case in New Mexico:
Health insurance - This includes any group health plan you have at work, private health
insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. It is best to be aware of exactly what
your health insurance will cover and to what extent they will cover it.
Medical payments coverage - In car accident, motorcycle accident, or truck accident cases in New
Mexico, you may have full coverage on your personal auto insurance policy
to pay some of your medical bills. In a slip and fall accident, the property
owner may have medical payments coverage on their premises insurance policy
to pay for some of your medical bills.
Letter of Protection - A New Mexico personal injury lawyer can give a letter of guarantee to
your doctor promising to pay medical bills from the final settlement.
Many healthcare providers will take a letter of guarantee from a personal
injury lawyer, and hold the bills until the end.
Does the Insurance Company Have to Pay My Lost Wages?
Yes. The law requires that insurance companies pay lost income in personal
injury cases. However, you must be able to prove that your injury prevents
you from doing your job. It is helpful to get a report from your doctor
confirming your disability.
However, the insurance company won't agree to pay anything, including
lost wages, until you are ready to accept a final lump sum settlement
of the entire personal injury case. Therefore, although they pay lost
wages, you may not get this money for a long while, sometimes even years.
This delay is very difficult in cases of serious personal injury with
a sudden drop in family income.
Does the Insurance Company Have to Pay "Punitive Damages"?
Although you hear a lot about punitive damages on the news and in public
reports, the truth is that punitive damages are usually not paid in personal
injury cases. Punitive damages are different than most items of compensation.
Most items of compensation are payments to you for your losses, such as
payments for your medical expenses, your lost wages, and your pain and
Under New Mexico law, punitive damages are extra payments that the at-fault
person must pay as punishment for behavior that is unusually dangerous,
reckless, immoral, or intentional. The amount of punitive damages depends
on how bad the behavior was. So punitive damages are only paid when the
defendant's behavior was more than simple carelessness or negligence;
the behavior must be highly reckless, immoral, or intentional to support
an award of punitive damages. An example of a personal injury case where
you can get punitive damages is if you were injured by a drunk driver
in a car accident, motorcycle accident, or truck accident.
How Much is Pain and Suffering Worth?
There is no direct answer to this in any law book. In the end, pain and
suffering is worth whatever your judge or jury decide at trial, and every
case is different. So, before trial, when a personal injury lawyer puts
a value on pain and suffering, this is just prediction of what a court
Brad Goodwin is experienced Rio Rancho personal injury lawyer who has seen
thousands of cases settle or go to trial. Because of this, he has particular
skill with predicting what a judge or jury might award for pain and suffering.
How Do I Pay For Expert Witnesses?
Expert witnesses in New Mexico personal injury cases can be very expensive,
but they are required in many personal injury cases. Common examples are
accident reconstruction experts in
auto accident cases, and doctors in medical malpractice cases.
Personal injury lawyers sometimes advance the costs for paying expert
witnesses. The client then reimburses the attorney out of the final settlement
or court verdict. Because these costs can be very high, lawyers must be
careful to take only cases they feel they can win, and then aggressively
pursue the case to victory.
If the trail is won, the losing party is usually required to repay many
of the litigation costs, so not all of the costs are repaid by the client.
What is a Wrongful Death Case?
wrongful death case in occurs when someone's life is lost due to a safety violation or
negligence committed by someone else. Wrongful death cases can arise from
pedestrian accidents, and even
slip and falls. In New Mexico, wrongful death cases are filed by surviving family members
who must be appointed as personal representatives in order to file.
The at-fault person must pay the following items of compensation in a New
Mexico wrongful death case:
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Medical bills, if any, incurred after the injury but before death.
- Pain and suffering, if any, experienced by the deceased before death.
- Loss of the deceased's future income.
- The value of the deceased's life apart from earnings capacity.
- Emotional distress to surviving family members caused by the loss of the
companionship and guidance of the deceased.
The money which is received in a New Mexico wrongful death case goes to
the surviving family members who are named in wrongful death statute.
When a child dies, it is common for the natural parents to be the beneficiaries.
When a parent or spouse dies, it is common for surviving children or surviving
spouses to be the beneficiaries. The determination of who the beneficiaries
are can be complicated depending on the situation.
If a Minor Child is Seriously Injured, Who Gets the Money if We Win?
The personal injury settlement money for a minor child must go to the child,
and cannot be used by parents for household or personal needs. In cases
where a minor receives a substantial amount of money in a personal injury
or wrongful death case in, a personal injury lawyer will often create
special trust accounts to make sure the money is protected for the exclusive
use of the child.
In this case, the money is properly invested for the child's future
needs, such as college expenses.
How Long Do I Have to File My Lawsuit?
The deadline for filing a lawsuit in New Mexico is called the "statute
of limitations." If you fail to file your personal injury or wrongful
death lawsuit within the statute of limitations you automatically lose
The statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in New Mexico
is three years. But this is not always the case, so it is very important
that you ask a qualified lawyer what the statute of limitations is for
One exception to the three-year statute of limitations is for claims against
the city, county, or the state. These claims usually have a two-year statute
of limitations under New Mexico law, and there is also a separate deadline
in these cases requiring that you give notice of your claim within 90
days after the injury or within six months if there is a death. There
are also separate deadlines for cases against federal agencies and federal
employees, and there are different statutes of limitations when the injured
person is a minor.
If you want to know what the statute of limitations is for your case, you
should call Brad Goodwin, a Rio Rancho personal injury lawyer.
What Should I Do if I'm Ready to Seek Legal Advice From a Lawyer?
If you're ready to contact a Rio Rancho personal injury lawyer, call
Brad Goodwin at (505) 340-2223 for a personal injury consultation. Mr.
Goodwin can answer all your questions over the phone or in a face-to-face
meeting at his Rio Rancho or Albuquerque locations. All personal injury
consultations are free!
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