Personal Injury & Accident Law – Frequently Asked Questions
Why hire a personal injury attorney?
People hire attorneys for the same reasons that they hire surgeons: it takes specific knowledge, experience, and skill to successfully perform a surgery. Similarly, a personal injury attorney has the knowledge, experience, and skill to win and maximize the value of the lawsuit. Lawyers, like doctors, undertake a rigorous course of study to understand the basics; however, the educational process does not stop after graduation. The law is continuously changing and ever-evolving. A lawyer must continue to research, attend seminars, and be involved in professional associations to stay ahead of the changes and developments in the law.
Filing a lawsuit, especially a personal injury lawsuit, is a very complex and time-consuming task. It involves making claims against all the appropriate defendants; building the case by collecting medical records and witness statements, possibly hiring experts, and gathering other legal evidence.
Filing a lawsuit requires knowledge of several different areas of the law, including personal injury, the rules of evidence, and state and local procedural rules. A person must know how to file a lawsuit, where to file it, who must be served, what must be contained in the lawsuit, and when the deadline for filing a lawsuit is. These are not easy questions, and any mistakes could be detrimental to your case.
Not only does a lawyer have superior knowledge of the law, but attorneys have experience in negotiating with the insurance companies to maximize the value of your case. Therefore, what you are getting is not just superior legal knowledge, but superior negotiating experience, which can prove equally valuable.
How much do you charge for a personal injury case?
Personal injury fees are based on a contingency fee and not an hourly rate. This means that the attorney does not get paid unless the client wins at trial or the case is settled. The standard fee is one-third or 33.3% plus litigation costs. This will never be higher; however, depending on the case, it could be lower.
What are the costs of filing a lawsuit?
Because a personal injury case is charged based on a contingency, the client does not pay a penny for the costs of filing and maintaining a lawsuit unless the client wins. Therefore, the entire risk is on the attorney, not the client.
There are a number of costs in building a case, filing a lawsuit, and preparing for trial. Typical examples of costs are the filing fees required by the court, investigative fees, ordering medical records, and expenses for depositions, including payment of the hourly rate for expert witnesses, if an expert witness is involved. The more complex the case, the higher the costs are for filing and maintaining the lawsuit.
What happens during a personal injury lawsuit?
Normally, the case starts with an initial investigation to gather the basic facts of the case. Then, the attorney will work with the client to determine the best course of action and to obtain the best result for the client. Usually, this involves making an initial demand settlement on the defendant, and if that is rejected, then the attorney will file a complaint to start the litigation process. The majority of cases are settled outside of court. Therefore, there is very little time invested on the part of the client, which is another benefit to hiring an attorney.
What is negligence?
Negligence is the failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in similar circumstances.
How is negligence determined?
Negligence is made up of four elements. In order to win a lawsuit for negligence, the client must prove all four elements. The elements are:
- The party had a duty of care towards the client;
- The other party breached that duty of care;
- The breach was the actual and proximate cause of the client’s injuries;
- The injury caused the client some amount of damages, including physical injury, damage to property, lost wages, or any combination of the three.
What is pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering is compensation for the physical and emotional pain that is related to an injury caused by another person’s negligence. This is in addition to medical bills and lost wages. This is probably the single most difficult aspect on which to place a value because there is no scientific formula to use. It is simply what the jury subjectively believes a client is entitled to.
What is the statute of limitation for a personal injury case?
Statute of limitations is the time in which a lawsuit must be filed by the client or the client forfeits the ability to bring a suit for damages. The length of time the client has depends on how the client was injured; however, it is usually two years from the date of the accident. In certain situations, however, the statute of limitations may be less than a year, for example, in transportation liability cases. Therefore, it is important to move quickly in filing your case and to consult with a competent attorney at the earliest possible convenience.
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