Q:

I was in an automobile accident. What is the first thing I should do?

A:

First, call the police, by dialing 911. At the scene of the accident, if you are able and it is safe, take some pictures of the vehicles and the scene of the accident – both close-up and at a distance. Still photos are better than movies. Be sure to obtain the name, address, license number, and insurance information from the other drivers involved, as well as all witnesses. If you are injured in an accident, it is important to seek treatment immediately. Sometimes serious injuries do not cause immediate pain. If you experience even minor pain after an accident, you should see your doctor immediately.

Q:

I was injured at work or while on the job. What is the first thing I should do?

A:

Notify your employer immediately and request medical care. If your employer has designated a medical provider, you will select a doctor from a designated list. That doctor becomes your authorized treating physician for purposes of this injury. By law, you must notify your employer in writing within 4 working days of an injury, even if you have reported it verbally. Failure to report in writing timely can result in penalties up to one day's compensation, for each day's delay. If you are physically or mentally unable to file a written report within the specified timeframe, it may be filed on your behalf by another person who has notice of your injury. An appeal is possible if a deadline is missed. Once we are retained, we will provide proper notice or insure that it was adequately provided. Call us for advice on handling your worker's compensation case. We are here to help.

Q:

An insurance adjuster for the other driver just called me, and asked me to give a tape-recorded statement about the accident. Whose side are they on?

A:

Not yours. The other driver's insurance company wants to protect the interests of their customer, the driver who caused the accident, by limiting liability and the amount of insurance money they owe. The adjuster is graded on how little the company pays. They want to pay you as little money as possible.

Q:

Should I give a recorded statement?

A:

Although the insurance adjuster for the other driver may give you the impression that you are obligated to give a statement, you are under no obligation to give a statement. If you were injured, or if you are partially or totally at fault in the accident, you should contact a lawyer prior to deciding whether or not it is in your best interest to give a statement to the other driver's insurance company. But do know, that you have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company. This means you must work with your insurance company and provide information they request from you.

Q:

I have been injured. Who will pay my medical bills?

A:

If you have medical payments or personal injury protection coverage in your auto insurance policy, you will be able to have your bills paid under that coverage. If you have health insurance, the health insurance should also pay for your bills. Your health insurance may file a lien on your case, so that you may be required to pay these liens from your settlement. Your attorney can help to negotiate these liens.

Q:

Who will pay for the damage to my car?

A:

Initially, the at-fault driver's insurance should pay if liability is clear and they accept responsibility. If not and you have your own insurance, your insurance company will pay to have your car fixed or will pay you the value of the vehicle as a total loss. If you are not at fault in the accident, your insurance company will seek to be reimbursed by the insurer of the driver at fault.

If you do not have collision insurance, and you are not at fault, the insurer of the driver at fault should pay for your property damage.

Q:

What if the driver who crashed into me has no or not enough insurance?

A:

In Colorado, this is very common. Many drivers do not carry insurance even though it is required by law. If they are uninsured and they crash into you, we will help you recover on any uninsured motorist coverage you may have. If they do not have enough insurance to cover all of the people hurt in the collision, we will help you recover on any underinsured motorist coverage you may have. Call us at no charge or email us a copy of your current automobile insurance policy and we can review it to see how best to proceed.

Q:

What should I look for when selecting an injury lawyer?

A:

You want a lawyer who only handles personal injury matters. Downs, McDonough & Cowan, LLC is a full time, local personal injury law firm. We do not handle anything but serious injury and death cases. You also want your lawyer to be local. You want to be able to meet your attorney face to face and ask questions. You will have decisions through the life of the claims handling process and important decisions along the way how best to handle and maximize your recovery. Downs, McDonough & Cowan, LLC knows the Four Corners area well and our attorneys will meet with you personally on your case. While our office is headquartered in Durango, we are able to meet in your home or hospital through the southwest Colorado area.

Q:

Do I have to pay any money to meet with you to start my case?

A:

There is absolutely no charge to sit and visit with us about your potential case. If you are satisfied that Downs, McDonough & Cowan, LLC is the right law firm for your loss, we will proceed with your case on a contingency fee. That means we only collect a fee from a recovery from the person at fault. No recovery – No fee! If there are court costs and case expenses needed to properly prepare your case, we will pay those up front and then take them out of any later recovery we obtain.

Q:

What happens when you take my case?

A:

Once we take your case, the first thing we do is stop the insurance companies from calling or writing to you about your case. The last thing you need while you are injured is some unknown insurance adjuster pestering you and asking questions to try and confuse you about your rights. In car wreck cases, we generally let our clients talk to the insurance company if it is about getting their car repaired, a rental car, or a check for their totaled vehicle, but only if they feel comfortable doing so. But, we will not let the adjuster ask you about your current health, work status, or medical bills. Your job is to get better!!! Downs, McDonough & Cowan, LLC will work on getting your case ready while you are healing. Once we know that you are better or at a point where you are ready to proceed with valuing your case, we will then make a demand on the insurance company for your loss which covers several elements of damages such as: pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical bills, disfigurement, impairment, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium and lost wages. Each case is different and we are personally available for any questions you have at any time!

Q:

Will you win my case?

A:

Each case has its own facts and applicable law. Downs, McDonough & Cowan, LLC are a group of experienced injury lawyers. We will do our absolute best to represent you. While we are aggressive, confident and experienced, in the prosecution of personal injury claims, there are no guarantees of how your case will turn out. However, that is why you pay your personal injury attorney on a contingency or percentage basis . . . we don't get paid unless you get paid!!!

Q:

What Do I Do When I Have A Question?

A:

You call us personally. If your attorney is not immediately available, because they are in a courtroom, a meeting, or out of the office, you can visit with one of our other lawyers or our legal assistants who know general answers about your case. Specific questions are best answered by your handling attorney, and we make it a point to call our clients back when they have questions and make certain they are answered. 

Q:

Can You Lend Me Money?

A:

Colorado has specific laws that make it illegal for an attorney to lend money to a client. We are allowed to advance the costs incurred in getting your case ready for settlement or trial. Stay away from law firms that try and lend you money – it is unethical and illegal. If you are having problems with creditors and medical collection departments, call us. We will be happy to call or write them and explain your situation and that you have a personal injury matter pending. Often we can get the collection agencies to give you more time to pay your bills or to even wait until you get a settlement or judgment.

Q:

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A:

Depending on the type of personal injury claim, you have certain limited time to bring a lawsuit against the negligent person or entity. If you miss the time period, your case is over and you lose your rights to ever bring the claim or suit. As soon as you are injured or discover you are injured call us immediately to get answers. Generally, automobile accidents have a three year statute of limitations. Slip and fall or premises cases generally have a two year limitations. Defective product cases generally have a two year limitations. Medical malpractice claims are extremely tricky! They have a strict two year limitations with certain exceptions. Worker compensation claims in Colorado have strict and sometimes short deadlines. – if you do not report your injury to your employer in writing within 4 working days, you may be penalized and lose up to one day's compensation for each day's delay. If you have a workman's compensation claim and lose more than 3 days at work, the work comp insurer has 20 days to notify you whether the claim is accepted and benefits will be paid. If it is denied, an appeal must be filed within 45 days. When your limitations period begins and how it is calculated, can also be confusing because there are facts than can change the way the limitations period is calculated. Call Downs, McDonough & Cowan, LLC as soon as you believe you have been wronged to discuss your rights.