Automobile Dealer Fraud
The overwhelming majority of automobile dealers are honest people, simply trying to make a living, just like you and I. It only takes a few bad apples to ruin the reputation of the whole lot. Although highly regulated in virtually every state, a few dealers attempt to bend the rules and a few others engage in downright dishonest practices to consummate a deal. We aggressively pursue the dishonest dealers on behalf of our clients and feel pleased and honored to do so.
The tactics that a dishonest dealer might use to take advantage of a consumer are many and varied, sometimes sophisticated and other times obvious. A few of the more common tactics are:
- Swallowing down payments and trade-ins simply not accounting for the total down payment or a trade-in by not including them in the
- Making promises that are not in writing with no intention of honoring them;
- Selling useless extended service warranties the warranties supposedly kick in sometime after the car is sold (usually two weeks), leaving the consumer with no recourse if the car breaks down before then;
- Violating the Truth in Lending Act by not properly disclosing the true cost of borrowing to finance the vehicle;
- Failing to provide titles and titling documents as required;
- Using terms of financing as a means of obtaining leverage for better terms later;
- Misrepresenting the number of miles on a vehicle (odometer fraud).
This list is not all-inclusive and as we stated earlier, most dealers don’t engage in these practices. If you are the victim of a car deal gone bad, in most cases, you should seek legal advice immediately. Local bar associations are equipped and will be happy to provide you with a referral to an attorney who practices in this area.
Almost every state has a new car “lemon law” that allows the owner a refund or replacement when a new vehicle has a substantial problem that is not fixed within a reasonable number of attempts. Many specify a refund or replacement when a substantial problem is not fixed in four repair attempts or the car has been out of service for 30 days within the first 12,000 miles/12 months. If you believe that your car is a lemon:
1.contact your state or local consumer protection office for information on the laws in your state and the steps you must take to resolve the situation;
2.give the dealer a list of symptoms every time you bring it in for repairs; keep copies for your records;
3.get copies of the repair orders showing the reported problems, the repairs performed and the dates that the car was in the shop; and
4.contact the manufacturer, as well as the dealer, to report the problem. Some state laws require that you do so to give the manufacturer a chance to fix the problem. Your owner’s manual will list an address for the manufacturer.
Virginia Lemon Law
Virginia State Statutes
This chapter may be cited as the Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act.
(1984, c. 773.)
The General Assembly recognizes that a motor vehicle is a major consumer purchase, and there is no doubt that a defective motor vehicle creates a hardship for the consumer. It is the intent of the General Assembly that a good faith motor vehicle warranty complaint by a consumer should be resolved by the manufacturer, or its agent, within a specified period of time. It is further the intent of the General Assembly to provide the statutory procedures whereby a consumer may receive a replacement motor vehicle, or a full refund, for a motor vehicle which cannot be brought into conformity with the express warranty issued by the manufacturer. However, nothing in this chapter shall in any way limit the rights or remedies which are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.
- 59.1-207.11. Definitions.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
“Collateral charges” means any sales-related or lease-related charges including but not limited to sales tax, license fees, registration fees, title fees, finance charges and interest, transportation charges, dealer preparation charges or any other charges for service contracts, undercoating, rust proofing or installed options, not recoverable from a third party. If a refund involves a lease, “collateral charges” means, in addition to any of the above, capitalized cost reductions, credits and allowances for any trade-in vehicles, fees to another to obtain the lease, and insurance or other costs expended by the lessor for the benefit of the lessee.
“Comparable motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle that is identical or reasonably equivalent to the motor vehicle to be replaced, as the motor vehicle to be replaced existed at the time of purchase or lease with an offset from this value for a reasonable allowance for its use.
“Consumer” means the purchaser, other than for purposes of resale, or the lessee, of a motor vehicle used in substantial part for personal, family, or household purposes, and any person to whom such motor vehicle is transferred for the same purposes during the duration of any warranty applicable to such motor vehicle, and any other person entitled by the terms of such warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty.
“Incidental damages” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 8.2-715.
“Lemon law rights period” means the period ending eighteen months after the date of the original delivery to the consumer of a new motor vehicle. This shall be the period during which the consumer can report any nonconformity to the manufacturer and pursue any rights provided for under this chapter.
“Lien” means a security interest in a motor vehicle.
“Lienholder” means a person, partnership, association, corporation or entity with a security interest in a motor vehicle pursuant to a lien.
“Manufacturer” means a person, partnership, association, corporation or entity engaged in the business of manufacturing or assembling motor vehicles, or of distributing motor vehicles to motor vehicle dealers.
“Manufacturer’s express warranty” means the written warranty, so labeled, of the manufacturer of a new automobile, including any terms or conditions precedent to the enforcement of obligations under that warranty.
“Motor vehicle” means only passenger cars, pickup or panel trucks, motorcycles, self-propelled motorized chassis of motor homes and mopeds as those terms are defined in § 46.2-100 and demonstrators or leased vehicles with which a warranty was issued.
“Motor vehicle dealer” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 46.2-1500.
“Nonconformity” means a failure to conform with a warranty, a defect or a condition, including those that do not affect the driveability of the vehicle, which significantly impairs the use, market value, or safety of a motor vehicle.
“Notify” or “notification” means that the manufacturer shall be deemed to have been notified under this chapter if a written complaint of the defect or defects has been mailed to it or it has responded to the consumer in writing regarding a complaint, or a factory representative has either inspected the vehicle or met with the consumer or an authorized dealer regarding the nonconformity.
“Reasonable allowance for use” shall not exceed one-half of the amount allowed per mile by the Internal Revenue Service, as provided by regulation, revenue procedure, or revenue ruling promulgated pursuant to § 162 of the Internal Revenue Code, for use of a personal vehicle for business purposes, plus an amount to account for any loss to the fair market value of the vehicle resulting from damage beyond normal wear and tear, unless the damage resulted from nonconformity to any warranty.
“Serious safety defect” means a life-threatening malfunction or nonconformity that impedes the consumer’s ability to control or operate the new motor vehicle for ordinary use or reasonable intended purposes or creates a risk of fire or explosion.
“Significant impairment” means to render the new motor vehicle unfit, unreliable or unsafe for ordinary use or reasonable intended purposes.
“Warranty” means any implied warranty or any written warranty of the manufacturer, or any affirmations of fact or promise made by the manufacturer in connection with the sale or lease of a motor vehicle that become part of the basis of the bargain. The term “warranty” pertains to the obligations of the manufacturer in relation to materials, workmanship, and fitness of a motor vehicle for ordinary use or reasonable intended purposes throughout the duration of the lemon law rights period as defined under this section.
(1984, c. 773; 1988, c. 603; 1990, c. 772; 1998, c. 671.)
- 59.1-207.12. Conformity to all warranties.
If a new motor vehicle does not conform to all warranties, and the consumer reports the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agents, or its authorized dealer during the manufacturer’s warranty period, the manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer shall make such repairs as are necessary to conform the vehicle to such warranties, notwithstanding the fact that such repairs are made after the expiration of such manufacturer’s warranty period.
(1984, c. 773; 1988, c. 603.)
- 59.1-207.13. Nonconformity of motor vehicles.
- If the manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealers do not conform the motor vehicle to any applicable warranty by repairing or correcting any defect or condition, including those that do not affect the driveability of the vehicle, which significantly impairs the use, market value, or safety of the motor vehicle to the consumer after a reasonable number of attempts during the lemon law rights period, the manufacturer shall:
- Replace the motor vehicle with a comparable motor vehicle acceptable to the consumer, or
- Accept return of the motor vehicle and refund to the consumer, lessor, and any lienholder as their interest may appear the full contract price, including all collateral charges, incidental damages, less a reasonable allowance for the consumer’s use of the vehicle up to the date of the first notice of nonconformity that is given to the manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealer. Refunds or replacements shall be made to the consumer, lessor or lienholder, if any, as their interests may appear. The consumer shall have the unconditional right to choose a refund rather than a replacement vehicle and to drive the motor vehicle until he receives either the replacement vehicle or the refund. The subtraction of a reasonable allowance for use shall apply to either a replacement or refund of the motor vehicle. Mileage, expenses, and reasonable loss of use necessitated by attempts to conform such motor vehicle to the express warranty may be recovered by the consumer.
A1. In the case of a replacement of or refund for a leased vehicle, in addition to any other damages provided in this chapter, the motor vehicle shall be returned to the manufacturer and the consumer’s written lease shall be terminated by the lessor without penalty to the consumer. The lessor shall transfer title to the manufacturer as necessary to effectuate the consumer’s rights pursuant to this chapter, whether the consumer chooses vehicle replacement or a refund.
- It shall be presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform a motor vehicle to any warranty and that the motor vehicle is significantly impaired if during the period of eighteen months following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to the consumer either:
- The same nonconformity has been subject to repair three or more times by the manufacturer, its agents or its authorized dealers and the same nonconformity continues to exist;
- The nonconformity is a serious safety defect and has been subject to repair one or more times by the manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer and the same nonconformity continues to exist; or
- The motor vehicle is out of service due to repair for a cumulative total of thirty calendar days, unless such repairs could not be performed because of conditions beyond the control of the manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealers, including war, invasion, strike, fire, flood or other natural disasters.
- The lemon law rights period shall be extended if the manufacturer has been notified but the nonconformity has not been effectively repaired by the manufacturer, or its agent, by the expiration of the lemon law rights period.
- The manufacturer shall clearly and conspicuously disclose to the consumer, in the warranty or owner’s manual, that written notification of the nonconformity to the manufacturer is required before the consumer may be eligible for a refund or replacement of the vehicle under this chapter. The manufacturer shall include with the warranty or owner’s manual the name and address to which the consumer shall send such written notification.
- It shall be the responsibility of the consumer, or his representative, prior to availing himself of the provisions of this section, to notify the manufacturer of the need for the correction or repair of the nonconformity, unless the manufacturer has been notified as defined in § 59.1-207.11. If the manufacturer or factory representative has not been notified of the conditions set forth in subsection B of this section and any of the conditions set forth in subsection B of this section already exists, the manufacturer shall be given an additional opportunity, not to exceed fifteen days, to correct or repair the nonconformity. If notification shall be mailed to an authorized dealer, the authorized dealer shall upon receipt forward such notification to the manufacturer.
- Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit or impair the rights and remedies of a consumer under any other law.
- It is an affirmative defense to any claim under this chapter that:
- An alleged nonconformity does not significantly impair the use, market value, or safety of the motor vehicle; or
- A nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification or alteration of a motor vehicle by a consumer.
(1984, c. 773; 1987, c. 607; 1988, c. 603; 1990, c. 772; 1998, c. 671.)
- 59.1-207.14. Action to enforce provisions of chapter.
Any consumer who suffers loss by reason of a violation of any provision of this chapter may bring a civil action to enforce such provision. Any consumer who is successful in such an action or any defendant in any frivolous action brought by a consumer shall recover reasonable attorney’s fees, expert witness fees and court costs incurred by bringing such actions.
(1984, c. 773; 1988, c. 603.)
- 59.1-207.15. Informal dispute settlement procedure.
- If a manufacturer provides an informal dispute settlement procedure, it shall be the consumer’s choice whether or not to use it prior to availing himself of his rights under this chapter.
- If a dispute settlement procedure is resorted to by the consumer and the decision is for a refund or a comparable motor vehicle, the manufacturer shall have forty days from its receipt of the consumer’s acceptance of the decision or from the date of a court order to comply with the terms of the decision.
- In any action brought because of the manufacturer’s failure to comply with the decision, within the scope of the procedure’s authority, rendered as a result of a dispute resolution proceeding or a court order, the court may triple the value of the award stipulated in the decision as provided for in this chapter, plus award other equitable relief the court deems appropriate, including additional attorney’s fees.
(1988, c. 603; 1990, c. 772.)
- 59.1-207.16. Action to be brought within certain time.
Any action brought under this chapter shall be commenced within eighteen months following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to the consumer. However, any consumer whose good faith attempts to settle the dispute pursuant to the informal dispute settlement provisions of § 59.1-207.15 have not resulted in the satisfactory resolution of the matter shall have (i) twelve months from the date of the final action taken by the manufacturer in its dispute settlement procedure, if such procedure was resorted to within eighteen months of delivery, or (ii) the original eighteen-month period, whichever is longer, to file an action in the proper court.
(1988, c. 603; 1990, c. 772; 1999, c. 387.)
- 59.1-207.16:1. Disclosure of returned vehicles; penalty.
- If a motor vehicle that is returned to the manufacturer or distributor either under this chapter or by judgment, decree, or arbitration award in this or any other state and is then transferred by a manufacturer or distributor to a dealer, licensed under Chapter 15 (§ 46.2-1500 et seq.) of Title 46.2, in Virginia, the manufacturer or distributor shall disclose this information to the Virginia dealer.
- If the returned vehicle is then made available for resale or for another lease, the manufacturer shall, prior to sale or lease, disclose in writing in a clear and conspicuous manner, on a separate piece of paper in ten-point capital type, to the Virginia dealer that this motor vehicle was returned to the manufacturer, distributor or factory branch, the nature of the defect which resulted in the return, and the condition of the motor vehicle at the time of transfer to the Virginia dealer. It shall be the responsibility of the dealer that receives this disclosure to give notice of its contents to any prospective purchaser or lessee prior to sale or lease, and to transfer the disclosure, or a copy thereof, to the next purchaser or lessee. A dealer’s responsibility under this section shall cease upon the sale or lease of the affected motor vehicle to the first purchaser or lessee not for resale or lease.
- Any manufacturer or distributor who violates this section of the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
(1994, c. 578; 1998, c. 671.)
MARYLAND’S LEMON LAW
A Guide to Consumer Rights and Remedies When a New Car Turns Out to be Defective
Prepared by the Department of Legislative Reference Annapolis, Maryland
In 1984 the General Assembly enacted the Maryland Automotive Warranty Enforcement Act more commonly known as “The Lemon Law.” This law provides consumers with a number of rights and remedies to aid in the enforcement of manufacturer’s warranties on new cars.
Every new automobile sold by a dealership in the United States comes with a manufacturer’s warranty. The warranty may be of little comfort when the car dealer or manufacturer does not satisfy the guarantees made in the warranty or when the new car must be returned for repairs again and again. If this happens, the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) is the first place to turn for help.
The MVA licenses car dealers and may be helpful in resolving a warranty complaint. If the MVA is unable to resolve the dispute, several private legal remedies are available. Maryland’s Lemon Law is intended to aid in enforcing a new car warranty.
Applicability of the Lemon Law
The Lemon Law applies to the sale of all new cars, small trucks, and multipurpose vehicles in Maryland. It does not apply to motor homes.
The benefits of the Lemon Law are available not only if the vehicle that was purchased from a dealer was new, but also if it was transferred to another person during the vehicle’s warranty period. That warranty period is 15 months after the car was originally delivered by the dealer or 15,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Under the law, a car is considered a lemon if, during the 15-month/15,000 mile warranty period, a defect or condition that substantially impairs the use and market value of the car cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. A “reasonable number of attempts” means once, in the case of the braking or steering system, and four times in the case of other defects.
Alternatively, the “reasonable number of attempts” requirement is satisfied if the car is out of service for repair of defects for a total of 30 or more days during the warranty period.
A car is not considered a lemon, however, if the defect is the result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications of the car.
How the Process Works
The Lemon Law imposes certain requirements on the consumer, the car dealer, and the manufacturer. If the dealer and manufacturer do not comply with these requirements, they may be subject to several different penalties under the law. If the consumer does not fulfill the consumer’s obligations, the right to take advantage of the Lemon Law may be lost.
If there is a problem with a new car during the warranty period, the dealer or the manufacturer must be given an opportunity to repair the defect. Also, the consumer must send a written notice of the defect to the manufacturer by certified mail, return receipt requested, during the warranty period. The manufacturer or dealer must correct the defect, at no charge to the consumer, within 30 days after receiving notice of the defect. If the car is returned to the dealer four times to repair the same defect or if it is out of service for more than a total of 20 days because of defects, the dealer must notify the manufacturer of the defect and send a copy of the notice to the Motor Vehicle Administration. However, failure of the dealer to give the required notice does not affect the consumer’s rights under the Lemon Law. If the consumer is not satisfied with the way the dealer or manufacturer is handling the new car’s defect or if the consumer is unable to reach an agreement as to an appropriate remedy, the consumer may submit the dispute to the manufacturer’s informal arbitration procedure, if one exists. The consumer is not required to submit to arbitration, however, and even if arbitration is chosen, it is not binding on the consumer. Legal action in the courts before, during, or after an arbitration proceeding is always an option. The only limitation is that a legal action under the Lemon Law must be filed in court within three years after the date of original delivery of the vehicle to the consumer.
If the dealer or manufacturer is unable to repair the consumer’s car after a reasonable number of attempts (as described above), the manufacturer is required to do one of two things. At the consumer’s option, the manufacturer must either: (1) Replace the car with another that is acceptable to the consumer; or (2) Accept return of the car and refund the full purchase price, less a reasonable allowance for the use of the vehicle.
There are other remedies available to a consumer under the Lemon Law. If the consumer cannot settle a dispute with the manufacturer out of court, the court may require the manufacturer to pay part or all of the consumer’s attorney’s fees if the consumer prevails in court. If the court finds that the manufacturer has acted in bad faith in failing to fulfill its obligations under the Lemon Law, the manufacturer may be ordered to pay the consumer up to $10,000, in addition to any other remedies ordered by the court. Furthermore, a violation of the Lemon Law by a car dealer or manufacturer is considered an “unfair and deceptive trade practice” and may subject the dealer or manufacturer to certain penalties under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.
In addition to the Lemon Law, other areas of the law may help the consumer in a dispute concerning a new car. For example, under the Maryland Uniform Commercial Code, the consumer may be entitled to the benefit of certain implied warranties which are not contained in a written warranty.
District of Columbia Lemon Law
Lemon qualification: Three unsuccessful repairs or 30 calendar days out of service or 1 unsuccessful repair of a safety-related defect within 2 years or 18,000 miles, whichever is shorter.
Notification requirement: Certified mail to manufacturer, agent, or dealer documenting each defect.
State-run arbitration? Yes
For more info, call: Contact the Center for Auto Safety at 2001 S St., N.W., Washington, DC 20009
Leased cars covered?: Yes
Automobile/Mobile Home Repossessions
When you borrow money to buy a car, you should know that:
1.The lender can repossess if you miss a payment or for any default (a violation of the contract).
2.The lender can repossess without advance notice.
3.After repossession, the lender might be able to accelerate, meaning the lender can require the borrower to pay off the entire balance of the loan in order for the borrower to get the vehicle back.
4.The lender can sell the vehicle at auction.
5.The lender might be able to sue the borrower for the deficiency if it sells the car for less than the borrower owes. This is true even in voluntary repossessions.
6.The lender cannot commit a “breach of the peace,” for example, breaking into a home or physically threatening someone, in the course of a repossession.
If you know you’re going to be late with a payment, talk to the lender to try to work things out. If the lender agrees to a delay or to modify the contract, be sure you get the agreement in writing.
Fair Debt Collection
1.What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
2.What debts are covered?
3.Who is a debt collector?
4.How may a debt collector contact you?
5.Can you stop a debt collector from contacting you?
6.May a debt collector contact any person other than you concerning your debt?
7.What is the debt collector required to tell you about the debt?
8.May a debt collector continue to contact you if you believe you do not owe money?
9.What types of debt collection practices are prohibited?
10.What control do you have over payment of debts?
11.What can you do if you believe a debt collector violated the law?
What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly by prohibiting certain methods of debt collection.
Who is a debt collector?
Personal, family, and household debts are covered under the Act. This includes money owed for the purchase of an automobile, for medical care, or for charge accounts.
How may a debt collector contact you?
A debt collector is any person, other than the creditor, who regularly collects debts owed to others. Under a 1986 amendment to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, this includes attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis.
Can you stop a debt collector from contacting you?
A collector may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or FAX. However, a debt collector may not contact you at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree. A debt collector also may not contact you at work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves.
May a debt collector contact any person other than you concerning your debt?
You may stop a collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection agency telling them to stop. Once the agency receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact. Another exception is that the agency may notify you if the debt collector or creditor intends to take some specific action.
What is the debt collector required to tell you about the debt?
If you have an attorney, the debt collector may not contact anyone other than your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, a collector may contact other people, but only to find out where you live and work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting such permissible third parties more than one. In most cases, the collector is not permitted to tell anyone other than you and your attorney that you owe money.
May a debt collector continue to contact you if you believe you do not owe money?
Within five days after you are first contacted, the collector must send you a written notice telling you the money you owe; the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money; and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money.
May a debt collector continue to contact you if you believe you do not owe money?
A collector may not contact you if, within 30 days after you are first contacted, you send the collection agency a letter stating you do not owe money. However, a collector can renew collection activities if you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed.
What types of debt collection practices are prohibited?
Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse any person. For example, debt collectors may not falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives, falsely imply that you have committed a crime, falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau, misrepresent the amount of your debt, misrepresent the involvement of an attorney in collecting a debt, indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not or indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are. Debt collectors also may not state that you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt or they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or credit intends to do so, and it is legal to do so (garnishment is currently prohibited in South Carolina for the collection of most debts) actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, which legally may not be taken, or which they do not intend to take. Debt collectors may not give false credit information about you to anyone, send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not or use a false name. Unfair practices. Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices in attempting to collect a debt. For example, collectors may not collect any amount greater than your debt, unless allowed by law, deposit a post-dated check prematurely, make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams, take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally or contact you by postcard.
What control do you have over payment of debts?
If you owe more than one debt, any payment you make must be applied to the debt you indicate. A debt collector may not apply a payment to any debt you believe you do not owe.
What can you do if you believe a debt collector violated the law?
You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date you believe the law was violated. If your win, you may recover money for the damages you suffered. Court costs and attorney’s fees also can be recovered. A group of people also may sue a debt collector and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or one percent of the collector’s net worth, whichever is less.
Personal Injury Law
What do you do if you believe you have a personal injury claim against another person or corporation? A few personal injury claims are caused by the intentional acts of others. These involve issues of assault and/or battery. While the criminal courts are often involved in these actions, there is a civil claim for money damages that may be made against a person who intentionally injures another.
Most personal injury claims, however, deal with negligence. Negligence is defined as a failure to use reasonable care. In other words doing something a reasonably careful person would not do or failing to do something a reasonably careful person would do. One party can only be liable for another party’s personal injury if that person was at fault and that fault was the cause of the other person’s injury. Most personal injury claims involve automobile accidents; bus, plane or train accidents; premises liability or professional negligence. Premises liability cases may include slip and falls, building defects, failure to provide adequate security, or the like.
An individual can resolve his or her own personal injury claim either with the at-fault individual or with an insurance representative of the at-fault individual. In a minor injury with no permanent disability, it may be economically advantageous to handle the claim without an attorney. However, where there is a dispute as to fault, or a dispute as to the extent of the injury, use of an experienced attorney is recommended. If you have a claim that you believe requires the use of an attorney, you should employ an attorney early. You should not give statements or make commitments to a representative of the other party without legal advice.
Often times the total extent of an injury cannot be determined for some length of time. This is particularly true with injuries to children, injuries that cause psychological problems and injuries which aggravate pre-existing conditions. In the final analysis, the amount of money that you receive to compensate you for your personal injuries is dependent on the fault of the two parties and the extent of the personal injuries.
You should immediately notify all insurance carriers of your personal injury claim. If it is an automobile claim, you should not only notify the other parties’ insurance carrier, but also your own automobile insurance carrier. Different benefits are dependent upon the type of accident and the type of insurance coverage held by the different parties. If you are employing an attorney, it is important for you to bring to that attorney all of your insurance policies including automobile, health, and disability. Caution should be used in resolving these claims early.
In a personal injury claim, a person may bring a claim for their out-of-pocket medical expenses, wages lost because of being disabled, their inability to earn wages in the future, pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability and inability to lead the same life one led before the incident. If the claim is for the death of an individual, most state legislatures have established who may make a claim for that wrongful death and what damages each person may claim.
The Law Offices of E. F. Robinson handles most personal injury cases based on a contingency fee, which means the lawyer takes as a fee a percentage of the recovery. Fee agreements with us are in writing. The fee agreement must state a method by which the fee is to be determined including the percentage or percentages that shall go to the lawyer in the event of a settlement, trial or appeal. If we would like to associate another attorney from another law firm to assist, the contract must be agreed to and signed by all attorneys as well as yourself. A copy of the statement signed by both the client and the lawyer shall be given to the client to keep and the lawyer shall retain a copy in the client’s file.