Personal Injury

Q: Do I have a strong case?

Whether or not you have a strong case depends on a variety of factors, including the nature and extent of your injuries or property damage, who is at fault and whether the defendant has sizable assets or adequate insurance coverage, and how long ago the accident or injury occurred. An attorney can evaluate your case in light of these and other factors, and give you a realistic assessment of what you can expect.

 

Q: I have fully recovered from my injuries. Do I still have a case?

Absolutely. Even if you have fully recovered from your injuries, you are still entitled to compensation for injuries caused by another’s negligence.

 

Q: How does my attorney get paid?

Most personal injury attorneys work on “contingency,” which means that if they agree to take you case, they will take a percentage of the recovery, whether by settlement or a trial verdict. Many advance the court fees and other related expenses, while others expect the client to cover some or all of the costs. If the attorney advances costs, those are reimbursed from your eventual recovery.

 

Q: How long will my lawsuit take?

This, too, depends on many factors. Most cases settle prior to trial, but if a settlement is not reached, your case will progress through discovery and trial which can take a year or longer in many jurisdictions. Additionally, you may not want to resolve your case too quickly if you are still seeking medical treatment and all of the related expenses have not yet been calculated.

 

Q: What is my role in the lawsuit?

Your attorney will take care of all of the legal aspects of your case. You may be asked to participate in discovery by answering written questions or giving oral testimony in a deposition. If your case goes to trial, you will likely be expected to appear in court. Throughout the duration of your case, you must obtain appropriate medical care and make your doctor, physical therapy, or other appointments.

 

Q: What should I do if I’m in a car accident?

If you are involved in a car accident, you should seek necessary medical treatment immediately. Even if you are not injured, it is important that you call the police and file a formal police report which can later assist with insurance claims and any lawsuits which may follow.

During this time, you will be required to show your driver’s license and documentation of your insurance coverage. It is important that you obtain this information from the other driver as well. If you have a camera, you should take a photo of the scene or soon after to show any damage to your vehicle. You should also contact your insurance carrier as soon as possible so they can instruct you on the necessary steps to file your claim.

To ensure that you receive the greatest settlement possible, contact a personal injury attorney who can initiate an investigation before witnesses forget their testimonials and evidence is lost.

 

Q: I was in a minor accident and the other driver and I just exchanged insurance information without calling the police. My insurance company is now giving me a hard time for not having a report. Is a police report necessary for all car accidents?

It is always a good idea to call the police at the time of an automobile accident. Although all insurance carriers have different policies regarding the necessity of a police report when filing a claim, many will accept an auto insurance claim without one. Nonetheless, police reports are helpful in determining the involved parties and documenting who was at fault. This information will assist your insurance company in their investigation and may expedite the resolution of the claim.

 

Q: I was in a car accident and the other motorist’s insurance company just called me for a statement. Am I required to provide one?

No! More often than not, the other driver’s insurance company is calling to obtain information which may be used against you as you seek to recover losses. Respectfully decline their request and inform them that if they would like a copy of your statement, they may contact your insurance carrier directly.

 

Q: Who is responsible for my medical treatment and expenses?

In most cases, the party at-fault (or his respective insurance company) is responsible for paying for medical treatment and other related expenses such as lost work and compensation for vehicle damage. The extent of liability for an injury resulting from a car accident can vary based on jurisdiction. As a result, it is crucial that you hire a personal injury attorney who can help determine fault and recover any financial losses you’ve incurred.

 

Q: I tripped and fell over an uneven sidewalk outside of my neighbor’s home. I sustained a back injury which kept me out of work for two weeks. He is aware of my injury but says it is my fault because I was talking on my cell phone and not paying attention at the time I fell. Do I have any liability?

Your neighbor and all property owners have the responsibility to take reasonable steps to provide for the safety of visitors. However, the injured party must also show that he or she was exercising reasonable caution. If your neighbor can prove that you were being careless at the time of the accident, it may hinder your claim. To fully evaluate the situation and determine who is responsible and to what extent, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney.

 

Q: What should I do if I am injured on someone else’s property?

If you are injured on someone else’s property, take note of the surroundings and the hazard which caused you to fall. If you have a camera or mobile phone with photo capturing ability, try to take photos of the hazard as this may serve as evidence of the condition of the property at the time of injury. If there are any witnesses, ask for their contact information or a written statement of the accident from their perspective. If you are in a business setting, the business will probably require that you submit an accident report at the time of the incident. Be sure to retain a copy of this report for your records. In the upcoming days and weeks, keep clear records of any medical treatment needed and document any missed work which occurred as a result of you injury. Most importantly, contact a personal injury attorney who can review your case and inform you of the best course of action to receive compensation for your suffering and lost wages.

 

Q: As a homeowner, what am I required to do to ensure that I am not liable for damages should someone slip and fall on my property?

As a property owner, it is your responsibility to maintain a safe environment for all visitors to your property. If there is a defective condition, you must warn individuals of the hazard and correct it in a timely manner. Regular maintenance will ensure that you are aware of any unsafe condition and are able to fix it to avoid injury to others. The extent of liability, if any, can vary depending on each situation, so it is best to consult a qualified personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the specific laws of your local jurisdiction.

 

Q: What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional such as a doctor, nurse or technician treats a patient in a manner which departs from a standard of care provided by those with similar training and experience, resulting in injury, ailment or death.

 

Q: Can you file malpractice case against someone other than a doctor?

A medical malpractice suit can be initiated against any professional or facility that provides health care. This includes doctors, nurses, technicians, hospitals and nursing homes.

 

Q: Can misdiagnosis be considered malpractice?

Yes! In fact, misdiagnosis is one of the primary reasons why medical malpractice cases are filed. A patient can suffer significant injuries or even death when a doctor fails to properly diagnose an injury or ailment, delays diagnosis or fails to provide any diagnosis at all.

 

Q: What is “informed consent”?

Informed consent refers to the consent a patient gives to the doctor to proceed with a medical procedure based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications and future consequences of such procedure.

 

Q: What is a statute of limitations?

A statute of limitations refers to the period of time during which a potential medical malpractice victim can initiate a lawsuit. Depending on the state and the procedure in question, this period can start from the time at which the malpractice occurs or alternatively, from the time which the victim discovers that malpractice was the cause of his or her injury. Determining the exact period of statute of limitations can be complex depending on your particular circumstance so it is important to consult a qualified medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to protect and maximize your interests.

Employment Issues

Q: I feel discriminated against at work. Is this illegal?

Discrimination is illegal if you belong to a protected class as outlined by federal or state law. These legally protected categories include age, disability, gender, pregnancy, race, national origin, military status and religion. Several states also define sexual orientation as a protected category. Favoritism or nepotism in the workplace may be unfair but treatment of this sort is not necessarily illegal.

 

Q: I am caring for an elderly parent and would like to take time off from work to do so. Am I entitled to this leave by law?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) enables eligible employees to take a leave of absence for up to 12 weeks per year for one or more of the following reasons:

  • medical leave if an employee is unable to work due to a serious illness
  • for the birth and care of a newborn child
  • recent adoption of a child by the employee
  • to care for an immediate family member including a spouse, child or parent

In addition to this federal statute, many states have separate family leave regulations which allow individuals time away from the office to care for their loved ones.

These laws can be very complex and there are many exceptions and restrictions on the right to take medical and family leave. For example, individuals working for businesses with less than 50 employees are not eligible for unpaid leave under the FMLA. However, they may be eligible under their state’s laws. If you are considering taking leave from your job, you should consult an attorney who can determine your eligibility and explain your rights under federal and state employment laws.

 

Q: I was just offered a job with a local computer software company but before starting, my future employer asked that I sign a non-compete agreement. What does this mean and should I sign the contract?

A non-compete agreement prohibits an employee from working for a competitor for a specified period of time after leaving the company. Employers often ask their employees to sign such contracts to ensure that they don’t lose trade secrets or other confidential information which may harm their competitive advantage. These agreements are usually made with a benefit being offered to the employee, such as a job offer, raise or promotion so it is typical that employees will be asked to enter into an agreement of this nature when accepting a job offer.

Before entering into a non-compete agreement, all individuals should ensure that the terms of the contract are reasonable. The length of the non-compete agreement should not last too long; although there is no set rule on these limits, most non-compete agreements last from six months to two years. Also, the agreement cannot span too wide of a geographic area as this may limit all possibility of employment should you leave the company. While most states, with the exception of California, acknowledge these agreements, the laws which govern them vary. Before signing any non-compete agreement, it is important to consult a lawyer who can evaluate the terms of the agreement.

 

Q: I have worked for the same company for over 20 years. Last month, I was laid off due to downsizing. Am I entitled to a severance package by law?

Unless your employment contract or company policy specifies the presence of a severance package in the event of discharge, you are probably not entitled to a severance package. In many instances, employers offer a severance package in exchange for your agreement to a confidentiality or noncompetition contract, or to secure release of any employment-related claims you may make. Before signing any severance agreement, it is important that you contact an employment attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

 

Q: Can companies monitor the internet usage of their employees?

The courts have ruled that employees have few privacy rights when using their employers’ computer systems. All websites visited by workers may be tracked and non-work related sites may be blocked. All employers should have an acceptable use policy which outlines internet use in the workplace and any sites which may not be visited. If an employee knowingly violates this policy, he or she may be disciplined accordingly.