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Although auto accidents and other serious accidents are common, usually they only happen once. Although it does happen from time to time, it is extremely rare for any one person to get into more than one major accident in a lifetime. This means that for almost everyone involved in a major accident, it is their first time experiencing it.

Without any previous experience with major personal injuries, most people don’t know anything about what to do after a wreck or what the law says about personal injury and auto accident claims.

Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about personal injury claims:

How much does a personal injury claim cost?

In almost any normal personal injury claim, it should cost you nothing out of pocket. The vast majority of personal injury attorneys take claims on contingency, which means that their payment is based on a percentage of the amount they win for you in your case, either through a settlement or jury verdict. Therefore, you should not expect to pay any attorney fees through the duration of your case.

How long does it take?

Every case is different. In general, your case could take anywhere from a couple months to a couple of years, depending on a few factors.

In some cases, the defendant and their insurance company are willing to make a decent settlement offer right from the start, which can result in an extremely speedy case. Other times, they dig their heels in and fight to the very end, which will increase the time it takes to resolve the matter. Also, some cases take longer because they are more complicated or because the civil courts are backlogged.

Why didn’t insurance cover the injury?

Insurance companies are legally obligated to cover certain events specified in insurance policies. However, there is a lot of gray area in terms of what the insurance company has to cover. And, of course, insurance companies are for-profit enterprises. Every penny they pay out is one less penny on their profit sheet, so they have strong incentive to minimize and avoid paying out on claims whenever possible.

In most cases, it takes a strong legal fight to get the compensation you deserve from the insurance company.

Do I have to go to court?

Not necessarily. Again, this depends on the case itself and on the type of settlement offer the other side brings. If it’s a good offer, you can avoid the courtroom. But if the offer is too low to truly cover your losses and medical expenses, you should consider taking the case to trial to get the compensation you deserve.

Ultimately, it is your choice whether or not to take a case to court. If you would rather take a short settlement and move on, you are entitled to do so. The best thing to do if you have been in a serious accident is talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can give you sound counsel regarding your rights and options.