Personal Injury – Some Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do I have a case?
A. Generally, you have a case if you were injured and someone else is at least partially at fault for your injuries. Any time you have been seriously injured in a manner where you suspect you are not 100% at fault, you should check with one of our personal injury attorneys to review the facts.
Q. What is my case worth?
A. That depends on the nature and extent of your injuries and any aggravating factors concerning the person responsible for your injuries. Obviously, the more serious your injuries are, the more your case is worth. If you are injured by someone who meant to do you harm or who intentionally undertook action that posed a serious risk of injury to others and disregarded that risk, they may be liable for punitive damages. The ultimate question of what your case is worth could be determined by an arbitrator, judge or jury. We prefer to prepare a case as though it is going to jury trial, but work out a reasonable settlement before trial if necessary, keeping in mind that the only way that can be done is to be prepared for trial.
Q. Do I need a lawyer?
A. You will need a lawyer in any case where there are serious and debilitating injuries. In cases where the injuries are minor, it may not be worthwhile for you to have a lawyer involved. We can certainly recognize those types of cases and give you advice that will enable you to settle your case with the responsible parties without the involvement of attorneys.
Q. How long will it take?
A. The process can take anywhere from six months to two years, and in some cases longer. Cases where it is clear who is responsible and the injuries are relatively minor are settled much more quickly than cases where the relative responsibility of all parties who may be responsible is unclear or where the damages are very serious or you’re not medically stable. We try to conclude cases as quickly as possible. On the other hand, we take as much time as is needed to fully protect our client and get the maximum recovery.
Q. How can I afford to pay a good lawyer?
A. The contingency fee was originated to give everyone who had a good case access to the best lawyers available. With the contingency fee, we agree to take a percentage of the recovery as our fee and, if there is no recovery, there is no fee. The percentage can vary anywhere from 25% to 50% depending on the case, and adjustments are made for how difficult the liability will be to prove and how serious the damages are. The more difficult the liability is to prove, the higher the fee, and the more serious the injuries are, the lower the fee. It usually works out to be around one-third.
Q. What will I have to do?
A. You will have to be involved in your case from beginning to end. You have to make sure you stay in constant communication with your attorney and you will have to keep good records of your medical bills and treatments. You will also be asked to answer numerous written questions (interrogatories) and to appear before a court reporter to have the other lawyer ask you questions about the case under oath (deposition). If trial is necessary, you will have to spend a lot of time preparing for court and you will have to be in court for your entire trial.
Q. If I’m injured at work, what can I do?
A. If it is the fault solely of your employer or a co-employee, your recovery is usually limited to workers’ compensation unless your employer has done something to intentionally harm you. Many times, however, it is at least partly the responsibility of some third party or possibly a defective product; so, if you have been injured severely at work, you should contact an attorney to review the facts in detail.