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Personal Injury in
Rule One - Never talk to the other side’s insurance company before you have talked to a lawyer. No matter how nice or helpful their insurance person sounds, their job is to limit your claims against them as quickly as possible. Do NOT fill out any forms, sign anything, or accept any check without consulting your own attorney. If the other side’s insurance company is willing to offer you anything without being pressed, chances are they are hoping you don’t realize that you could actually be entitled to much more. Accepting a settlement usually closes the door on being able to collect any more, no matter how much worse your injuries turn out to be over time.
An attorney can help you assess what you can realistically expect for your injury, and help you decide whether to pursue it or not.
“Personal Injuries” are sometimes actual physical injuries, such as:
And sometimes they are mental or emotional. If careless or malicious actions by someone else have caused significant measurable distress in your life resulting in:
you may have grounds for a personal injury suit.
In any personal injury claim, you must be able to prove that you were harmed because of the negligent or malicious actions or omissions of another person, company, or corporation.
If you are injured, get the names and contact information for any witnesses and everyone involved, and write down an account of what happened while it is fresh in your memory. If you have a phone that takes pictures, or quick access to a camera, take pictures. Then call us for an attorney.
Have your facts ready.
Legal Terms and Definitions Related to Personal Injury
Conflict of Interest – One of the first things an attorney must determine when you ask for assistance suing someone is if the attorney or anyone in the same firm has ever represented the other side, or if they have any professional or personal relationship with the other side that might appear to prejudice their work for you. If they have, then they are ethically required not to take your case and will let you know that they “have a conflict.”
Contingent Fee Agreement – This is the arrangement most people think of when they think of personal injury cases, as advertised with slogans such as “we don’t collect unless you win.” These fees are negotiable, but are commonly one-third to 40% of the money won. Understandably, attorneys are unlikely to take a case “on contingency” unless they believe that there is an good chance that they can win, and that the damages awarded will be enough to make it worth while for both the attorney and the client. Even under contingency agreements, a client may be required to invest money to conduct the case. These expenses are separate from the attorneys’ fees, and may include research, payment for expert witnesses, filing fees, travel, material preparation and other costs.
Negligence – A legal assessment that someone did not take reasonable care regarding actions or property under their responsibility, resulting in unintentional harm to someone else.
Vicarious Liability – Legal liability of an entity, such as a store or school, for the actions or omissions of its employees while undertaking their duties.
Statute of Limitations (SOL) – In
Special Damages – The amount of money a person may be awarded for expenses directly caused by the injury, including hospital and ambulance bills. This is a specific amount tallied from actual bills and expenses.
General Damages – The amount of money a person may be awarded for current and future effects of an injury, which can range from shortened life span and inability to perform certain acts, to pain, suffering, humiliation, and mental anguish.
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