Personal injury law can be very complicated, and looking for the right lawyer can be a daunting task. That’s why we are sharing the most frequently asked questions prospective clients have. The best lawyer for you is someone who not only knows the law but connects with you and takes the time to answer your questions and to address your concerns. At Quirk Reed, LLP, our personal injury lawyers always want to make sure our clients understand the process and options so we can make the best decisions together.
1. What kind of cases do you take?
At Quirk Reed, LLP, we specialize in personal injury cases. These include motor vehicle-related accidents — cars, trucks, motorcycles, scooters, and even Uber and Lyft — as well as other negligence-based accidents, such as slip-and-falls, nursing home neglect, wrongful deaths, animal/pet bites, and traumatic brain injuries. Find out what areas of law we practice.
2. Who do you represent?
Most of our clients are regular people who have been injured in an accident — some through no fault of their own. Some of our clients are the ones being sued. Not every situation is black and white. Sometimes, there is nothing that could have been done to prevent the accident; other times, it was purely preventable. Regardless of what position you are in, the steps your law firm will take are similar: interviewing witnesses, fact-finding, filing paperwork, negotiating, and where the case goes to trial — representing you in court.
3. What kind of experience do you have?
At Quirk Reed, LLP, we live and breathe personal injury law. We have represented clients from all walks of life and who have been involved in all different types of accident — whether it’s because a business didn’t take care of its property, a pet owner wasn’t acting responsibly, a nursing home didn’t take adequate careof its residents, or because a driver wasn’t paying enough attention to the road. Read up about us to see what sorts of cases we have taken on and what we specialize in.
4. How much will my case cost?
There are many factors to consider when calculating how many legal fees will cost — the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and whether we will have to get access to particular records, just to name a few. For personal injury cases, when a client is an injured party and should be entitled to compensation, we will likely work on a contingency fee. This means that we would get a percentage of the monetary reward. This also means that we do not get paid until we reach a successful conclusion to your case, because our costs will come out of the money rewarded to you. At our initial (free) consultation, we will go over all the cost factors and scenarios with you so you fully understand that process.
5. What if you don’t win the case?
If you are being charged a contingency fee, it means that apart from any expenses we have specifically raised with you, you don’t pay us a cent.
6. What is a good outcome for my case?
Not every case goes to trial. In fact, more than 90 percent of cases end in a settlement. When parties settle a case, they agree on an amount to be paid out and they will no longer go to trial on that issue. Settlements can be excellent outcomes because not only will there be compensation for injured parties, but they can save so much time and money. Litigating is very expensive. Someone can win at trial but receive less because the costs of taking the matter to trial are higher than taking a settlement resulting from negotiations. There is also no guarantee of winning at trial, even if the case seems really strong. Don’t worry — we will be keeping you apprised of your best options at every stage of your case.
7. How long will it take to go to trial?
How long it takes for a court to hear your case depends on a number of things. Complicated cases with multiple defendants (and lawyers) take much more time than simple cases. Whether or not the parties agree on certain facts — such as the nature of injuries and circumstances of the accident — will also affect the length of the trial. Something you think is “obvious” may still have to be proved in court. Where there is expert evidence, especially where the different sides present their own experts to support their version of events, more time will be needed. Most trials take one to two weeks, but some have gone on for months, even years.
8. When do cases settle?
Cases can settle at any time before the end of the trial. If you are lucky, the other side in your case will be reasonable and will want to work things out earlier in the process. In some cases, the other side will be more difficult and want to “play hardball.” They could be dragging out the proceedings because they are gathering supporting evidence and seeking favorable expert opinions to gain a stronger position for negotiations, or just to see if you will “fold” or accept less money the longer you have to wait for a good result. Some cases settle on the eve of trial because the parties are playing “chicken.” Some have even settled during trial (but before the verdict) because what has happened in court has convinced a party that it is in their best interest to settle the case.
9. Can you settle with one party and take another party to trial?
Yes. Let’s say that P1 and P2 are both responsible or liable for your injuries. It is possible to reach a settlement with one party but not the other. In that case, because you and that other party have not agreed to end the litigation, your case can still go to court. This is called a “partial settlement.” Whether a partial settlement is likely and whether it is the best option for your case is something we will be discussing with you throughout the process.
10. How much can I get paid for my injury or injuries?
This may seem like a simple question, but there are so many different variables that can affect the amount you are paid out, including:
- what type of injury or injuries you sustained;
- whether you were partly at fault for what happened;
- how your injury or injuries have impacted your ability to work;
- what rules are applicable in that particular area of law; and
- whether you settle or go to trial.
Each case is different, which is why it is best to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer to assess the merits of your case and figure out a ballpark figure.
11. If I win or settle, will I get a lump sum and when will I be paid?
In most cases that settle, the money will come as a lump sum payment within several weeks from the settlement date. It is possible, however, for a plaintiff to have the money paid over time (a “structured settlement”) if the amount is big enough and the parties agree. If you win at trial, the court will set a payment date that will depend on the parties’ financial circumstances and abilities to pay.
12. Who do I sue?
In general, if you are hurt because someone hurt you intentionally or their “negligence” caused you to get hurt, that person is liable to pay you compensation for your injury or injuries. This includes, in the case of a motor vehicle, the driver of the vehicle you were in as a passenger. “Negligence” means that the person was either doing something they shouldn’t have been doing or not doing something the law required them to do. If there is more than one party responsible for your injuries, a court will determine each party’s proportion of the fault, and they will pay that proportion of the monetary award.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be other parties to add as defendants, even if they weren’t the specific people who may have caused the accident itself. For example, in motor vehicle accidents, where the driver is different from the vehicle owner, the vehicle owner is also considered liable. In slip-and-fall and similar cases — caused by an employee’s negligence in not mopping up a wet floor, for example — you tend to sue the business owner because they are responsible for the employee’s actions or conduct. Who you are able to sue will depend on your case, which is why you should talk to an experienced lawyer to find out from whom you should seek compensation.
13. What if I caused the accident?
If you are 100 percent responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you will not be granted any compensation by a court. If, however, there was anyone else at fault as well as you, the court will assess how much each of you was at fault and adjust the monetary award accordingly. For example, if the monetary award would have been $1 million but you were found 40 percent at fault, you would be granted $600,000 ($1 million minus your portion of fault, or $400,000). This is called “contributory negligence,” since your negligence contributed to your own injury or injuries.
14. Are there time limits as to when I can file the lawsuit?
Yes. You have a limited time period in which you can bring a lawsuit (also known as the “statute of limitations”). In most cases against private individuals or companies, it is a two-year limitation period, after which you will not be allowed to start a claim in court. There are some circumstances in which a court may grant an extension, however. If you were unable to discover your injury or the cause of this injury for a long time after the accident, the court may agree that the “clock” on the two year period should start when the discovery was made. As you may appreciate, this is an extremely rare scenario, so it is best to seek legal advice — and subsequently file your claim
— as early after the accident as possible.
When it comes to suing the government or a government agency, however, you only have six months from the date of the accident. This is why you should see a lawyer as soon as you can. The statute of limitation applies whether or not you are aware of how long you have to file a claim, and you may not even know until you see a lawyer that there is a government entity you need to make a defendant. Missing a statute of limitations is a horrible way to miss out on compensation.
15. Do I really need to hire a lawyer for a personal injury case?
Technically, you are under no obligation to hire a lawyer to represent you at any time, just as you are not technically obligated to see a doctor to treat a wound you have suffered. Law is often highly technical, with a number of rules that may not make sense to someone who is not legally trained. Going to court without a lawyer’s assistance and expertise, especially for something as important as your health or livelihood, would be like going onto a battlefield without a weapon and armor. Even before you actually see a courtroom, there are many steps leading up to the trial, where your chances are greatly improved with the know-how of a lawyer. There are negotiations (normally, multiple rounds) and civil discovery procedures — such as admissions, document and evidence exchange, witness interviews, depositions, and pre-trial motions. The other side will likely have retained a lawyer, especially if it’s a company or a government entity you are using, so you want to make sure you have a fighting chance at a good result.
At Quirk Reed, LLP, we encourage you to take advantage of our initial free consultation. Find out what you’re up against, what your next steps are (and should be), and the best way to get the compensation you absolutely deserve. You will quickly come to see why our clients trust us to get them the best results. Contact us today, and give yourself the fighting chance.