Below you will read questions we are asked often by our clients and those interested in hiring a lawyer.
If I'm injured, does that mean I can sue?
Just because you were hurt doesn't mean you're entitled to compensation. Your injury must have been caused by someone else's negligence. If both injury and negligence exist, you may have a valid complaint.
What if I'm partly to blame for my injury?
People should be responsible for their actions, whether they injure themselves or someone else. If you helped cause your own injury, the money awarded to you will probably be reduced proportionately. For example, if 50% of your losses from a car accident caused by someone else are due to your failure to wear a seat belt, your award may be cut in half. However, you may be entitled to Workers Compensation benefits, regardless of any negligence on your part.
Are injury lawsuits always tried before a jury?
Not always. Unless the suit involves a catastrophic injury or wrongful death, the chances are greater than ever that it will not go to a jury. Arbitration is now frequently used, in hopes of settling the case without the expense, time and risk of a jury trial. Social Security disability and Workers Compensation claims are tried before a judge, not a jury.
If one person's negligence takes the life of another, money is the only remedy that our civil laws have to offer. Money isn't a substitute for a life, but it can help the survivors endure life that no longer includes their loved one. Further, one person's lawsuit may also benefit society. Being forced to pay a monetary penalty may cause defendants to correct their negligent practices and help avoid similar tragedies in the future.
Why would someone sue for wrongful death?
What does it mean to charge a contingency fee?
In a contingency fee arrangement, the plaintiff and his or her attorney agree that the fees to be paid to the attorney will be determined by the amount of the settlement or the amount of the judgment granted in the plaintiff's favor. In general:
You agree to pay your attorney a percentage of the total sum collected as a result of your claim.
If you collect no award or settlement, you owe no fee.
Win or lose, you are responsible for costs incurred in pursuing your claim. Costs may include medical reports, court reporters, investigation services, expert witnesses, court costs, and so on.
Any unpaid costs will be deducted from your share of the award or settlement.
Why should I have to give my attorney a share of the money that is rightfully mine?
Paying a contingency fee to your attorney only if you win is an attractive alternative to paying him by the hour even if you lose. The contingency fee option offers you other important advantages over the hourly method:
If you can't afford to pay an attorney by the hour, the contingency fee is your best, and perhaps only, access to the courtroom and to just compensation for your losses.
If an attorney decides to represent you, he does so because he thinks that our claim has merit and that he can win for you.
If your only option was to pay by the hour, some attorneys might take your case, winnable or not, simply because you have the ability to pay.
If you had to pay by the hour, the defendant's attorneys could use delays and other tactics to try to exhaust your funds before you could pursue the matter to the end.
Since contingency fees are based on the size of the award or settlement, you can hire the best attorney for the same cost as a less qualified attorney, and expect better results.
Most important, because neither you nor your attorney is "watching the clock," you can take the time to open up to your attorney and develop a good working relationship.
An honest and experienced attorney can often gauge how much time and expense must go into your case. If he feels that he can achieve just compensation for you with a minimal effort, you should expect him to adjust his percentage accordingly.
In personal injury cases, we receive 33% of the settlement or award, plus reimbursement of any costs that we advance on your behalf. In Social Security disability cases, we receive 25% plus costs. In Workers Compensation cases, we receive 20% plus costs.
What kinds of losses might be included in a claim? There are three basic types of damages:
Special damages are your actual monetary losses — past, present and future — incurred as a result of the injury.
Intangible losses are not easily measured. They include disability, pain, suffering, embarrassment and anxiety suffered by the injured party, and loss of intimacy or consortium experienced by the injured party and the spouse.
Punitive damages are the least common category. They are intended to punish the negligent party for his actions, but only when the jury finds that the defendant, in addition to being negligent, also acted with an "evil mind." That standard may be met if the jury finds that the defendant (a) intended to hurt you, (b) was motivated by ill will, or (c) committed his negligent actions despite knowing that his actions might hurt you.
What percentage of the settlement or award do you receive?
The best way to help yourself is to keep good records.
Take photographs of your injuries.
If your case involves an auto accident, take photographs of your damaged vehicle before it is repaired.
If your case involves an auto accident, visit the scene of the accident. Familiarize yourself with the directions in which the vehicles were traveling, the time of the accident, and relevant distances.
Make daily written notes of the hours and days your injury keeps you away from work; the ways in which your injuries restrict your activities; how your pains disrupt your everyday life; and the medication and medical treatment you receive.
Keep track of your travel miles to and from the hospital or your doctor's office.
Record the costs of babysitters and domestic help.
Keep all itemized statements and receipts of your ambulance, doctor, nursing, hospital and medicine costs.
Make a list of friends and relatives who are familiar with your activities before and after your injury.