Frequently Asked Questions
The simple answer to this question is no. There are times when you will be able to resolve a legal dispute without a lawyer. Unfortunately there rarely are simple cases. When you are a victim of an accident that was caused by the negligence of another, it is extremely important to consult with an attorney to know your legal rights. It is certainly possible that after discussing your case with an attorney that you will decide that you do not need the services of the lawyer. But most times, you will need a lawyer to make sure your rights are protected and that you receive all the compensation that is available to you under the law.
When you are a victim of an accident and sustain a serious injury due to the negligence of another, whether it be an individual or a corporate entity, you can be rest assured that the person who caused the accident has retained a lawyer who is experienced in handling this type of case and whose job it is to limit the amount of compensation that you get. Doing the same and hiring an experienced attorney who has handled the type of case that you have will best serve your interests.
Most lawyers who handle injury cases handle them on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not have to pay any money to the lawyer at the beginning. If the case is resolved successfully, then the attorney gets a percentage of the recovery.
Selecting an attorney is a personal decision. You should spend time researching the lawyers you are considering. Some of the questions you should ask are, does the lawyer have experience with your type of case, has the lawyer taken the time to speak with you either by phone or in person, has the lawyer fully explained what your rights are, will he be handling the case personally or working with another law firm.
Simply put, it is the failure to use reasonable care. It is doing something which a reasonably prudent person would not do or failing to do that which a reasonably prudent person would do.
There are many factors that can affect how long it will take to get your settlement proceeds. Every state has its own rules as to the timing of the payout of a settlement and some states have special rules if the defendant is a governmental entity. For instance, in New York, the law requires that the party agreeing to pay the settlement has 21 days to make payment. If the party agreeing to pay the settlement is a governmental entity then the time frame to pay is longer. The lawyer handling your case should explain the settlement details which should include the time frame in which you will receive your settlement proceeds.
Yes. If you wish to change lawyers, you are permitted to do so. Your case does not belong to your lawyer. Just like you can choose any lawyer you wish, you have the choice to change lawyers if you wish. If you choose to change lawyers, you will be asked to sign certain documents by your new lawyer which will allow for the change. Most importantly, it will not affect the attorney’s fees that you are charged.
Most law firms will front the costs and expenses necessary in order to handle the case. These costs and expenses are recovered at the end of the case. Some states allow for expenses to be recovered prior to the calculation of the attorneys fees and some take their attorneys fees prior to the deduction of expenses. For example, in New York, the attorneys fee is calculated after the deduction of the costs and expenses. In New York, the contingency fee is 33 1/3%. If the case settles for $10,000 and the costs are $1,000 then the costs would be subtracted first and then the attorneys fee would be calculated from the $9,000 resulting in a recovery of $6,000 and attorneys fees of $3,000.
A class action is a lawsuit that allows a large number of people with a common or identical interest to sue. Class actions allow individuals to bring suit together where the matter in controversy may not be economically feasible to bring as an individual. Class actions usually require common questions of law and fact amongst the class members, the class must be so numerous as to make individual suits impractical, the claims of the class members must be typical and the class representatives must adequately protect the interests of the class.
Many class actions are brought in federal court and are now subject to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. This Act reduced the ability of some class actions to be brought and remain in state court and allows the defendants that are being sued to move or remove state class actions to federal court depending on various factors.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which the legal authority can be given to another to act on your behalf. This is typically used when you are unable or unavailable to take care of your affairs. If you are giving the authority for someone to act on your behalf, then you are the “Principal”. If you are being given the authority to act on someone’s behalf, then you are considered the “Agent” or “Attorney-in-Fact”. The agent or attorney-in-fact does not have to be an attorney.
There are certain types of power of attorney. Typically, a power of attorney can be general or specific. A general power of attorney gives broad powers to manage your affairs. A specific power of attorney gives specific or limited powers. Some of the specific powers listed in many power of attorney forms are: banking transactions, insurance transactions, real estate transactions, powers involving clams and litigation and tax matters.
There is also a “durable” power of attorney. This type of power of attorney is only permissible in some states. A durable power of attorney remains effective even if the principal becomes mentally incompetent or incapable of handling any of their affairs.
Some states allow for a “springing” power of attorney. A springing power of attorney only becomes effective upon a disability.
There is also something called a “health care” power of attorney. A health care power of attorney give the authority to make medical decisions when you are unable to.
When considering a power of attorney it is important for you to understand what your needs are. You need to determine if you are looking to allow your agent to have broad powers covering all types of transactions or only to have your agent act in specific situations.
Choosing an agent will be one of the most difficult decisions during this process. Trust and reliability will just two of the attributes to look for when choosing an agent.
A power of attorney does not need to be permanent. A power of attorney can be revoked at any time. If you change your mind or become uncomfortable with your decision, then you may revoke the power of attorney. Any revocation should be done in writing and should be sent to the agent you appointed in the original power of attorney.
A power of attorney does not survive the death of the principal. If the principal passes away, then probate of administration proceedings need to be commenced to deal with the affairs of the deceased.
As with preparing any legal document, you consult an attorney to ensure that your wishes are being implemented properly.
If you still have questions, call us at 800-403-6191 and we will be happy to help.
As medical malpractice lawyers, we take calls every day from potential clients who describe stories about how they or a loved one were mistreated by doctors, hospitals or other medical care providers. Some are just terrible stories. But what we do is explain to our clients that there is a difference between bad treatment, bad results and medical malpractice. Bad treatment or a bad result does not necessarily mean that the medical provider has committed malpractice. Typically, medical malpractice is treatment or lack of treatment that departs from accepted practice in the medical community and which causes injury. What constitutes a departure from accepted practice in the medical community varies from state to state so it is important to speak to an attorney who can properly analyze the facts of your case.
That is a personal decision. You should pick a firm that you are comfortable with, a firm that you trust, a firm that has the experience to get you the compensation that you deserve. We combine the big firm experience with the small firm attention. We know how to take care of our clients, take the time with them to explain what their rights are and ensure that you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve.
This unfortunately depends on the law firm. Our experience tells us that many lawyers do not talk to their clients and leave that to their paralegals. We communicate regularly with our clients. There will be times we will be unable to take a call from one of our clients, but we always call our clients back.
You are the boss. You must approve any settlement that is reached. We will take the time to explain the pros and cons of your case.
Very few cases go to trial. That doesn’t mean your case shouldn’t be handled as if it will go to trial. When cases are prepared to go to trial, it increases your chances that even if the case doesn’t end up being tried, that the settlement you obtain is maximized.