Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I choose Haicken Law?

At Haicken Law your case will be handled by Matthew Haicken, an experienced and aggressive personal injury lawyer who cares deeply about helping people who have been injured. Mr. Haicken has a lengthy career dealing with personal injury law, both as an attorney and working an insurance company, so he has a complete understanding of the process from both sides.  He has a long and consistent record of obtaining great results for clients.

If I'm injured in an accident, what should I do first?

If you refused medical care at the accident scene, see your family doctor as soon as possible for a complete check-up.  Frequently, symptoms do not appear until a few days after the accident.  Make sure that you do not ignore any pain or discomfort, hoping it will go away.  What appears to be a minor bump or bruise might turn out to be a far more serious injury requiring significant medical treatment.

When should I contact a lawyer?

Right away.  Do not talk with or give a statement to an insurance adjuster, even one from your own company, until you consult an experienced personal injury attorney.  Waiting to contact a lawyer can seriously compromise your case.  The things you might say in good faith to a trained insurance adjuster can be distorted, misquoted or taken out of context and used against you. If you are hospitalized and unable to call an attorney, ask a family member or friend to make the call for you.  Call 212 363 HURT or email matthew.haicken@haickenlaw.com for a free consultation. We can determine very quickly whether you have a case and help protect your rights. We can meet with you or family members at the hospital or at your home.

How much is my case worth?

This is a hard question for a plaintiff’s attorney to answer.  Determining the worth of your personal injury claim will depend on the severity of your injuries, the details of the case, laws in your jurisdiction, insurance limits and the identity of the defendant.  If the liability issue is straightforward, the case’s value is based on these five factors:

 

  • Past medical bills
  • Future medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering

A case’s value is determined based on evidence, such as whether there are discrepancies in the testimony, medical records, or other facts that may detract from the integrity of the injured party’s case.  Based on our experience, we can usually estimate the value of your case once we have gathered all medical records and statements and have an idea as to whether the client’s physical and mental state has improved or worsened from the date of injury. These are some of the factors that we consider when determining the amount of compensation owed for your injuries: the severity of your injuries, the details of your accident, your degree of fault, your employment history, your ability to work and your life expectancy. The manner in which you obtain medical treatment, as well as your lifestyle and your litigation history will also be considered.

This question is addressed in more detail in a blog post on the site.

How long will my personal injury lawsuit take?

Each case is unique, so no general timetable can be established for personal injury cases. Your suit may settle in a few months without the need for a trial, while others can take years to complete.  Based on the facts of your case, a Haicken Law personal injury attorney can make an assessment of how long it will take us to settle your case.

What questions will be asked during deposition?

Questions that may be asked during a deposition can include these:

 

  • What illnesses and injuries have you suffered during your life?
  • Have you been involved in any other lawsuits or legal claims such as workers compensation?
  • Were there any witnesses to the accident?
  • Have you filed an insurance claim?
  • What is the nature of your injury?
  • What is your employment history?
  • How has your injury affected your life?
  • When was your last treatment for your injury?

A Haicken Law personal injury attorney can help you get ready for a deposition by reviewing documents, such as police reports or medical records, which are related to your personal injury claim.  He or she will also prepare you for questions that you may be asked during the deposition and will be there during the questioning to assist you.

How much does a lawyer cost?

At Haicken Law, we abide by our contingency fee contract. This means that we will collect only if the case is successful. We accept a fixed percentage, typically one-third, of the recovery.

How soon should I file a lawsuit?

Be sure to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following your accident. Injury victims have a limited time to file a claim. Failure to file within this time period, known as the statute of limitations, can permanently bar the victim from receiving any compensation for her injuries.

What is negligence?

To have a viable personal injury claim, the victim must have been injured from the negligence of another individual or entity. Negligence occurs when an individual fails to exercise a reasonable level of care for the safety of others. If a person fails to act as a reasonable person would, he or she may be liable for resulting damages.

Can I still pursue compensation if I was partially at fault for my injuries?

It depends on your jurisdiction. In some areas, individuals cannot recover compensation if their negligence partially contributed to their injuries. However, most jurisdictions maintain that victims can still receive compensation if they were partially at fault for their injuries. In these cases, the amount of compensation awarded to the victim may be decreased in accordance with the victim’s degree of negligence.

Who can be held liable for a catastrophic injury?

To determine liability, it’s important to contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. More than one person may be responsible for your injuries. Depending on your type of personal injury, the liability may rest on a hospital, doctor, motor vehicle driver, truck driver, employer or drug manufacturer.

Should I sign a release?

Before signing anything, contact a personal injury lawyer such as Haicken Law to ensure that your rights are protected. If you sign a release, you may be unable to recover future damages. In some instances, the insurer may offer an early settlement, which may not fully compensate the victim because he or she may still be unaware of the extent and future costs of injuries that have been sustained.

What is a letter of protection used for?

Often, people lack insurance coverage, or their PIP benefits have been depleted. When this happens, medical facilities and doctors will sometimes accept a “letter of protection,” which is a document allowing you to continue treatment without having to pay for it until some later date.  Normally, there is no reimbursement made until you reach full recovery. It is essential to understand that if the case is not resolved in your favor, a letter of protection on file does not provide you exemption from paying your medical bills.

Why am I not being compensated when I have full insurance coverage?

Many drivers believe they have full coverage, but are not insured under certain circumstances. There are different types of insurance coverage, and failing to have a particular one may limit your recovery. In many cases, our clients can find that although they believe they have “full coverage,” they may not have underinsured or uninsured coverage, which covers you in the event of an accident where the other party cannot pay.  Contact your insurance company and review the coverage that you have, when the coverage is applicable, and, if necessary, hire an attorney if you believe your insurance company may be trying to avoid paying a valid claim.

 

Even if you do have full insurance coverage, you may not be satisfactorily compensated because your insurance company wants to minimize payouts. There are often disagreements about specific language in your insurance contract, how much a claim is worth, and whether any other parties are involved who may be responsible. If other insurance or health insurance companies are involved, there may be disagreements over who is responsible for payment. These issues can cause lengthy delays in receiving compensation.

What is MMI?

When your treatments for an injury with a doctor is concluded, we request a final narrative.  At this time, the physician has determined that you have reached maximum medical improvement, or MMI.  That is, you have recovered to be as healthy as you can be, possibly not in the condition that you had prior to the accident, but your health has stabilized.  The doctor may assign you a permanent impairment rating according to American Medical Association guidelines. Insurance companies may request access to the permanent impairment rating as part of their case evaluation.

Why do I have to pay the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) deductible?

When choosing a plan, you have the option of paying a higher monthly premium with no deductible, should you be in an accident. You also have the option of purchasing PIP insurance with deductibles ranging from $250 up to $2000. If you have a deductible, your premium will higher for lower deductibles.  If you choose to have a deductible, you are agreeing to pay that amount up front in the event of an accident before the PIP insurance will begin coverage.

What does it mean to “file suit,” and why do we do it?

The act of filing legal papers at the courthouse is called filing suit. The client gives the authorization to file suit after all other options have been exhausted during pre-suit. Over the last decade, the insurance industry has stepped up its aggressive defense of these cases, and the number of clients we are undertaking is steadily increasing. When a case is filed with the court, it does not necessarily mean you will be accompanying your lawyer to court. Most cases are resolved before trials begin, but some still reach the courtroom.