Monthly Archives

June 2018

Common Mistakes Made by Personal Injury Victims

By | Bike Accidents, Car Accidents, Class Action, Personal Injury, Uncategorized | No Comments

Life is full of mistakes and this article will talk about common mistakes made by personal injury victims. The first mistake people make after they have been injured is believing the insurance adjuster and their claims. The reason you can’t believe the insurance adjuster is they have a duty to their insured. That duty means that they represent the person who caused the accident. They have to do what is in their client’s best interest. Put simply, it is in the best interest of the insured to pay as little as that as possible. If they can get you to accept $200,000 then that’s what’s best for their insured but not for you. Remember, it’s not that the adjuster is a bad person but our judicial system is adversarial. We believe that two sides competing to present their best information is going to get us closest to the truth.

The Second common mistake made by personal injury victims is believing the insurance company when they say that their insured did nothing wrong. Often times people hear this and decide to no longer pursue their cause of action. Remember who the adjuster owes a duty to, it for sure isn’t you. First and foremost it should be to their insureds. Second they have a duty to the insurance company and their shareholders. You don’t make the list.

The third common mistake made by personal injury victims is asking for too little in their initial demand. Your initial demand is going to set the ceiling for your recovery. It is likely not what the insurance is going to pay. In some cases your initial demand will be your cap and often times can hurt you in the long run. Through form 95 in the FTCA your initial demand is the cap that you can receive from a jury. You need room to negotiate with the insurance company. A low demand or a demand on where you think the case will settle for will eventually handicap you.

The fourth mistake people make is not getting an expert involved early enough in the case. Now experts are expensive but the majority of time your attorney will front the cost of the expert and will settle for being reimbursed the cost when the case closes. Experts are a key component of proving any case. The earlier you get an expert involved the more information you will have and the better odds you have of meeting your burden of proving your claim. Involving experts early will also allow them to investigate the scene of the accident before anything changes and gets them a much better idea of what actually happened the day the accident occurred.

Finally, the last mistake people make is not checking for all the available insurance coverages available to their client. Often times there are several different insurances that can apply to a case and even some defendants that you may not initially think should be involved. The most common mistake in car accidents is not looking into the insurance coverages that the injured individual has access to. Insurance like UIM coverage require technical knowledge to access that insurance and not every case applies but when it does it can be a very good avenue of insurance for the injured party.

 

What is the Lawsuit Discovery Process?

By | Car Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Uncategorized | No Comments

What is the lawsuit discovery process?

Cases are won and lost during the discovery process. Once we start on a case, we get all the records and we look into the facts of every witness. Once a lawsuit gets filed that’s when the official discovery process begins. Written discovery such as initial disclosures, requests for admissions and interrogatories make up written discovery.

In the lawsuit discovery process, initial disclosures are a list of witnesses, copies of medical records and other documents that will be used at trial. Requests for admissions are essentially a list of facts that the opposing side wants you to admit to. Interrogatories are a fancy way of asking questions of the other side before depositions.

Every case is different and because every case is different the number of documents largely vary. Even in simple cases, it is common to have several hundred pages worth of documents to review. In large cases, discovery documents can reach over a million pages. Needless to say, document review can be quite demanding during the discovery process. Document review is usually the biggest  contributing factors in delaying the case.

Depositions are the sworn testimony of fact and expert witnesses. People who have knowledge of the disputed event will have to answer questions under oath. Every deposition will be taken with the threat of perjury penalties attached to their testimonies. Most depositions I take will be videoed. As much as the words of the witness will tell a story, their facial expressions will also tell a story. With video you are able to see who these people really are, and how they will present themselves to a jury. Depositions are also an opportunity to explore if there are other documents that may not have been disclosed which should have been.

Expert witnesses are largely determined by what is found in the reviewed documents and what type of case it is. Medical malpractice cases usually involve more expert witnesses. This is largely due to the underlying dispute being complicated, and the negligent standard being so hard to overcome. We may need a medical expert to testify of pre-existing conditions that may or may not have contributed to the patients pain as well as someone who can credibly testify of what should have happened during the surgery. Economists and forensic accountants are also commonly used to determine damages as well as a way to bolster or counter each other’s assertions.

In all phases of the discovery process it is imperative to understand that the devil is in the details and your attorney should be equally committed to each of the phases discussed above.

What are the Steps in a Lawsuit

By | Car Accidents, Dog Bites, FAQ, Uncategorized | No Comments

What are the steps in a lawsuit? The start of every lawsuit begins with the complaint and having it served to the defendant. A complaint is usually filed in the county where the injury occurred. The complaint can also be filed where the defendant lives. The next step in every case depends on the exchange of information. The exchange of information is the discovery process. The discovery process includes the exchange of medical bills, photos, depositions and other documents relevant to the case.

the attorney will handle most of the discovery with little input from the client. However, the client is a crucial person in answering interrogatories and requests for admissions. Depositions are when each lawyer has the opportunity to ask questions of the respective parties and any other fact witnesses that may have information concerning the events at issue. Depositions take place at one of the lawyer’s offices and are usually a determining factor in the case. After the fact witnesses are deposed it is then time for expert discovery. Expert discovery usually is limited to reports but can also include depositions. Common expert witnesses are doctors, economists, forensic accountants, and or life planners.

After fact and expert discovery is concluded then there is usually a period of time where each side attempts to settle the case. This usually takes place in a mediation. Mediation is where the parties get together and have a mediator help resolve the dispute. Often times mediators are retired judges or attorneys that have substantial experience in a particular practice area. Mediators can help the parties see pitfalls and strengths in each other’s cases. Client participation is key during mediation because it allows the mediator to see the affected party. It allows the mediator to talk to you and to get a sense of how the case can be settled. Mediation is also a good opportunity for the client to really hear the defense’s side and what they may present at trial.

The final phase of every case is trial and while it is very rare that a civil case goes to trial, it is probably the part of the litigation process that most people are familiar with. However, trial is not simply going to the courthouse, trial will include weeks of preparation with your attorney. They will need to prepare your testimony as well as all the other witnesses. The trial takes place in the county where the complaint was filed and usually most cases take around a year and a half from the time the case is filed to the time of trial.