Personal injury attorneys hear many questions every day. Over years of representing victims of negligence, certain questions arise more often than others. Attorneys who hear these frequently asked questions are best positioned to determine what you should know as a prospective client.
Frequently Asked Questions You May Pose to a Personal Injury Lawyer
Some of the questions we hear often and their answers are listed below.
I’ve Been Injured—What Should I Do Now?
It’s a common response to unexpected injuries, illness, or death: What should I do now? The appropriate response to this question depends on your specific circumstances. In every case, though, you may:
- Seek medical attention: Regardless of whether any injuries are visible or you’re in pain, seek medical attention. If you do have injuries, it’s important to receive the necessary care. It will also be important to connect any injuries you have to the incident that caused them (like nursing home abuse, a birth injury, or medical malpractice).
- Retain a personal injury attorney: An attorney can explain everything you need to know. Their prior experience may be a much-needed guide during uncertain, overwhelming times.
There are other steps to take for most victims of negligence. An attorney will advise you on all necessary steps, from reporting injuries to documenting a medical error.
Should I Hire an Attorney (Even for a Minor Event or Loss)?
Hiring an attorney is the right decision for many victims of negligence. We know this because countless victims choose to hire a personal injury attorney. Many of those victims receive compensation for the losses they’ve experienced.
Even if you believe an event or loss is minor, hiring an attorney can protect you. In such circumstances, you may:
- Later discover injuries or losses that are not minor, but instead quite serious
- Preserve all possible courses of action by hiring an attorney, rather than settling quickly and losing your right to seek greater compensation
- Let an attorney determine whether your losses are minor, rather than making a rash, hasty assumption
Accidents, mistreatment, and other harmful circumstances are not always as they first appear. While your losses may appear minor, there is no reason to rush into a decision. By hiring an attorney, you will cover all your bases.
For many victims, settling too quickly can be the greatest mistake. An attorney will identify your losses, determine their value, and then help you decide how to proceed.
What does a Personal Injury Attorney Do?
A personal injury attorney will tailor their service to your needs as a client. There are several responsibilities that a personal injury attorney can handle for you, including:
- Investigation: A lawyer from our team will investigate the circumstances that led to you or a loved one suffering harm. Whether those circumstances are mistreatment in an elder care facility, medical malpractice, or a birth injury, we’ll gather all relevant information. We may visit locations relevant to your case, speak with witnesses, and take other investigative measures.
- Evidence collection: This is a critical piece of every personal injury case. We may collect witness accounts, photographs, video footage, physical evidence, and other types of evidence.
- Determination of liability: Our team will determine who is liable for your losses. We generally use the negligence standard to establish liability, though other standards may also apply.
- Identification of your losses: We will identify every loss that entitles you to compensation. You may deserve coverage not only for existing losses, but future damages, too.
- Documentation of your losses: We’ll pursue documentation to prove your losses exist and stem from another party’s negligence.
- Valuation of your losses: Each of your damages has a monetary value—even non-economic damages like pain and suffering. We will determine the monetary cost of each of your damages.
- Negotiations: We will negotiate with those who owe you compensation, such as an insurance company, a liable individual, a liable organization, or another party. We may negotiate with attorneys for liable parties, seeking a fair settlement.
- Trial: Trials are not common in civil cases, but are necessary in some cases. Our team goes willingly to trial when doing so is in your interests.
An attorney from our team will also protect your rights. We will communicate with insurance companies and other involved parties on your behalf.
Hiring an attorney not only protects you, but also does much more. By having a lawyer handle your case, you’ll have all the time you need to rebound from your injuries or losses.
How Do I Choose the Right Attorney?
Choosing the right attorney is a personal process. Though you may ultimately choose the firm that feels right, you can also use objective standards. You may base your choice of a personal injury attorney upon:
- A lawyer’s case results, as well as the case results of the firm as a whole
- Client testimonials for an attorney and their law firm
- The positive reviews or critiques that your friends, family, or colleagues have of a lawyer or firm
- The firm’s practices areas, as you should hire an attorney with experience handling your case type
- The size of the law firm, as you may prefer a firm with substantial resources for your case
- The background and accolades of the attorney
- The firm’s fee structure
- The firm’s location (is it a local firm or a national firm that will hand the case off to someone local)
- Other criteria that are important to you
Such objective criteria are important, but so are your instincts. Free consultations are a valuable resource for everyone considering hiring an attorney. During your consultation, you’ll have the chance to interact directly with a representative from the firm. During your consultation, you can:
- Ask any specific questions you have about the firm
- Ask which attorney will be handling your case, what that attorney’s background is, and whether you’ll have direct access to them
- Address any concerns you have about the firm or the civil process more generally
- Gauge your comfort level with the firm
Take full advantage of a free consultation. You want to choose the right attorney, and consultations can be a key step in making your decision.
How Much does it Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
For many firms (including ours), there is no direct cost to hire a personal injury attorney. Rather than charging clients by the hour or a flat fee, our attorneys work on contingency. This means that our attorneys’ fees are contingent (or conditional) upon us securing compensation for you.
Here is how our fee structure works:
- We review your case and offer to represent you.
- You agree to let us represent you and sign an agreement stating that we will receive a certain percentage of any judgment or settlement we secure on your behalf.
- Our firm completes your case, paying all case-related expenses along the way.
- We may secure a judgment or settlement for you, in which case we’ll receive the percentage we previously agreed to.
- If we do not secure compensation for you, you pay us nothing.
Our goal is to win for our clients in every case, and we work tirelessly towards this goal. However, under no circumstances will you pay out of pocket for our representation.
Am I Eligible to Bring a Lawsuit?
The consultation process will tell if you should bring a lawsuit. Our firm handles more than lawsuits. If an insurance claim is a better option for you, we can help you with the claims process.
The more appropriate question may be: Am I owed compensation for my losses?
If someone owes you compensation, we can help you. Victims of negligence may be entitled to compensation. You may be a victim of negligence if:
- Someone, or an organization, owed you a duty of care: The duty of care requires someone (or some organization) to act reasonably and not cause harm to others.
- The person or organization breached its duty of care: Any unreasonable act is generally a breach of duty of care. Breaches of duty of care are especially noteworthy when they cause harm to others, whether it is an injury, death, or another form of harm.
- We can establish the breach of duty of care as the cause of your harm: Proving that one’s breach of duty of care caused harm is a key step in any personal injury case.
- We can prove your damages: Proving damages is the final step in cases involving negligence.
Some other legal standards may apply in your case. Our firm will make the necessary legal arguments as we seek coverage for your losses.
Who Is Responsible for My Losses?
Negligent parties may be liable for the damages they cause. In some cases, other parties may also be liable for harm caused by the negligent party. Employers, business owners, governments, and other parties may have liability for their employees and properties.
In a medical malpractice or birth injury case, a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional may be liable. In a nursing home abuse or neglect case, a nursing home employee or the company that runs the nursing home may be responsible. The liable party or parties in your situation will depend on your case’s unique circumstances.
Our team will review all of the relevant facts in your case to determine liability.
What Are Recoverable Losses in a Personal Injury Case?
Recoverable damages vary from case to case. No two clients of ours have the same damages, even if they receive similar financial recoveries. Our team will identify all of your recoverable damages, which may include:
- Healthcare expenses: Healthcare costs generally apply in both personal injury and wrongful death cases. In cases where a victim has long-term or lifelong disabilities (like birth injury cases), medical expenses can be substantial.
- Pain and suffering: Civil courts in Maryland allow victims to recover compensation for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering can include physical pain, psychological and emotional anguish, lost sleep, lost quality of life, and other types of damages.
- Losses specific to a wrongful death case: Wrongful deaths may cause loss of companionship, loss of parental guidance, burial costs, substantial pain and suffering, and other losses.
A lawyer should always provide highly personalized care. They should understand precisely what you have lost because of another party’s negligence. By creating a detailed, thorough list of your losses, our team seeks nothing less than you deserve.
How Much Compensation Can I Receive?
We can inform you of how much compensation you deserve after reviewing your case. Any attorney who values your case without gathering the facts should trigger red flags. Our team will make an honest, detailed assessment of your case. We may then determine the proper value of any settlement you deserve.
We may speak with you, your doctors, certain loved ones, and experts to determine the value of your case.
How Long do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
In Maryland, the time limit for filing a lawsuit, also known as the statute of limitations, varies depending on the type of lawsuit you are filing.
- Personal injury cases: Three years from the date of injury (Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-101)
- Wrongful death cases: Three years from the date of death (Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-904)
- Medical malpractice cases: Three years from the date you discovered medical malpractice or five years from the date the malpractice occurred, whichever is shorter (Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-109)
- Nursing home abuse cases: Three years from the date you discovered medical malpractice or five years from the date the malpractice occurred, whichever is shorter (Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-109)
There may be some exceptions to these time limits. Your lawyer can explain the specific time limit you have in your situation.
Call Brown & Barron Today for Legal Help
If you or a loved one has suffered harm in the Baltimore area, our team at Brown & Barron wants to hear from you. We may be able to serve you, especially if your case relates to:
- Abuse, neglect, or mistreatment in a nursing home or assisted-living facility
- A birth injury
- A medical error or another form of medical malpractice
- Dangerous drugs
- Defective medical devices
- A wrongful death due to nursing home abuse or medical malpractice
Do not hesitate to contact us if you face any of these circumstances. We may be able to help. Contact Brown & Barron today for a FREE consultation. You can review our client testimonials to learn how we’ve served others in Baltimore.