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Personal Injury FAQ.

Q: How do I know if I have a personal injury case?

A: You must have suffered an injury to your person or property. Additionally, you should consider whether your injury was caused by someone else's fault. If you have suffered an injury due to someone else’s actions, you may have a personal injury case.  Personal injury cases are typically based upon another individual’s negligent or purposeful actions which cause someone else damage.

 

Q: How soon after I am injured do I have to file a lawsuit?

A: Every state has certain time limits (called statutes of limitations) which govern the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. The time limit can vary by the type of claim and the parties involved.  If you miss the deadline for filing your case, you will lose your legal right to file a suit and pursue damages for your injury. It is important to talk with an attorney as soon as you suffer or discover an injury, to learn which limits apply to your situation.

Q: Do I need an attorney?

A:  Only you can decide whether you need the assistance of an attorney.  There are many factors to be taken into consideration when handling a personal injury claim. There are various types of insurance coverage that may be involved in a claim. Additionally, insurance companies use a variety of methods to evaluate liability claims. Numerous time limits are also prescribed by the law, which if not properly followed can prevent you from bringing a claim.

 

Q: What will it cost if I retain an attorney and how will the attorney be paid?

A: Most often, a client injured in a personal injury matter is usually represented by an attorney under a contingency fee arrangement. Under this type of arrangement, the attorney receives a percentage of the amount collected through a settlement or judgment. If the client does not receive a recovery, no attorney fee is collected. The contingency fee charged by most attorneys is one-third (1/3), or thirty-three and 33/100 percent (33.33%), of the gross recovery before the deduction of costs.

It is important to remember that most contingency fee arrangements take into account the expenses incurred to process a claim.  While it is true that there will be no attorney fee if a recovery is not made, you may still be required to pay for the expenses incurred to process your claim.  These expenses may include paying for medical records, court filing fees, the cost of taking depositions, attending mediation, and expenses incurred in conducting a jury trial. These expenses are deducted from any settlement and the client may be required to pay some expenses in advance.

 

Q: What should I bring with me for my meeting with an attorney?

A: You should provide your attorney with information that might be related to your case. Insurance information of the person who caused the injury and your own insurance information will be necessary.  Medical bills and records will allow the attorney to determine the extent and nature of your injuries. Any photographs you have of the accident scene, your property damage, and your injury will also be of use.

The more information you are able to bring to the initial meeting, the better an attorney can evaluate your claim. If you don’t have all of the above listed documents or information at the time of your first meeting, however, don't worry; your attorney will usually be able to obtain this information in their investigation of your claim.

 

Q: What is “negligence?”

A: A person has been negligent if they had a duty to act in a certain way, then failed to do so causing another person harm.  The critical issue in many personal injury cases is just how a “reasonable person" was expected to act in the particular situation that caused the injury. A person is negligent when he or she fails to act like an "ordinary reasonable person" would have acted when they had a duty to do so. Fault is also apportioned between the parties involved.

 

Q:  What are the types of damages in a negligence claim?

A:  Attorneys categorize damages under two (2) broad categories: special damages and general damages.  Special damages are damages that can be calculated, such as medical expenses for injuries suffered in a collision and income lost due to such injuries. General damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

 

Q: Will my case go to trial?

A: The majority of claims settle prior to the filing of a lawsuit. If a lawsuit is filed, most lawsuits of this type settle at mediation before trial.

 

Q: How much is my case worth?

A: The "value" of a personal injury claim depends on many factors, such as the extent of injury, the amount of medical bills, and whether a person has permanent injuries.  The value of a claim may include property damage, lost wages, and expenses for future treatment. The evaluation also involves the ability of the other party to pay a judgment, and whether you played any role in causing the accident. We strive to give you a fair assessment of the outcome of your case based on our experience, the individual facts of your claim, and jury verdicts which have been achieved in similar cases.

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