Taking the Confusion Out of Common Injury and Estate Planning Worries: Answers to Your Frequent Questions
The most important job for any attorney is making sure that his client understands every aspect of her case. Although some lawyers are comfortable keeping their clients in the dark, we feel that you deserve more. You deserve to have all of your questions and concerns addressed in order to pursue your own case confidently and successfully. This is why we take the initiative to answer common questions that you may have even before you even step into our office. If you don't see your question answered below, please contact our office at 855-522-5291.
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Why do attorneys hire outside experts for injury cases?
If you are filing an injury lawsuit against someone, then the burden of proving that person’s negligence rests on you. After your attorney examines the evidence and details of your injury case, he or she will decide whether an outside professional should present certain information in court. The purpose of hiring these expert witnesses is to bolster your case and get you an amount that adequately compensates you for your losses.
The Role of Expert Witnesses in a Personal Injury Case
Expert witnesses offer a professional opinion of certain aspects of your injury. The types of experts who may be called to testify will depend on the nature of the case, but commonly include mechanics, economists, and medical professionals. A good expert witness will have demonstrated expertise in a particular field, have a reliable opinion on relevant facts, and be able to present information clearly. The better an expert witness is at explaining disputed details, the more likely it is that you will receive an acceptable settlement offer, since the defendant will not want to take the chance of losing at trial.
An expert witness may be used to conclusively prove:
- The cause of the accident. Insurance companies will often try to underpay or deny injury claims in any way they can, especially if a large amount of compensation is at stake. One of the most common ways is to deny liability, shifting the blame onto another party or the victim himself. An accident reconstructionist can evaluate the accident scene and recreate it, demonstrating the relevant factors using diagrams and court exhibits.
- The extent of your injuries. Doctors who specialize in certain injuries (such as neck and back injuries) may give their opinions on what types of treatment may be needed, possible lifting and movement restrictions, and the effects your injury may have over the rest of your life.
- The amount of your income losses. If your injury has resulted in disability, vocational experts may be needed to estimate the full value of your occupational losses. These professionals can describe how likely you are to earn a sustainable living, calculate the amount of past wages and bonuses you have lost, and show how your financial life is likely to be impacted in the future.
Our attorneys represent individuals throughout Illinois and Missouri who have suffered serious personal injuries, including those caused by commercial trucks. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to schedule an appointment for a free consultation.
What does it mean when a lawyer offers a free consultation?
Attorneys usually want to schedule an initial consultation with a plaintiff before deciding whether or not to take a particular case. Many injury attorneys who take contingency fees offer free consultations to victims, since their goal is to lighten the victim’s financial burden. No matter what kind of case you have, the purpose of the first consultation is the same: to determine whether you and the attorney can work together.
What to Look for in a Free Consultation With an Attorney
Free consultations offer many benefits to injury victims, such as allowing the victim to learn more about the case without paying out of pocket and without the obligation of hiring the lawyer at the end of the meeting. In essence, the consultation is like a job interview—you ask questions to see if he or she is a good fit for the job.
Here are a few things to expect during your injury consultation:
- Undivided attention. An attorney should listen to your problems and concerns without distractions, such as answering calls or reading emails.
- Courtesy. An attorney and his or her staff should treat you with respect, no matter if you are visiting the office in person or speaking over the phone.
- Honesty. Even if the answers you get may not be what you wanted to hear, a good lawyer will be honest rather than give you false expectations.
- A brief overview. The consult is an opportunity to get some initial thoughts about your case, not a complete legal strategy. The attorney will be able to give more definitive answers once he or she has been hired and can dig into the specifics of the case.
- Next steps. At the end of the meeting, the attorney should lay out your options for what to do next, whether or not you hire the firm. If you decide to hire the lawyer, he or she should explain any fees and conditions before you sign an agreement.
- Referral options. In some cases, an attorney will decide that he or she cannot help you with your problem. If this happens, the attorney should be prepared to refer you to a lawyer who may be able to help.
If you have been injured due to someone else's negligence, our attorneys can provide perspective on your case at no cost to you. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to schedule an appointment, or download your FREE copy of one of our books: When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases or The Missouri Car Crash Guide: Don't Wreck Your Car Crash Case!.
When should I consider hiring an injury attorney?
Some people will know right from the start that their case requires an attorney, but many attempt to cope with the aftermath of an injury on their own, only seeking out a lawyer when it becomes clear that an insurer will not pay their claim. If you have been involved in an accident, there are a few factors you can use to determine whether you should hire a personal injury attorney.
How Victims Can Tell When an Injury Case Requires a Lawyer
In general, it is best to consult a lawyer as soon as possible after an injury. A fast response allows important evidence to be preserved and ensures that the victim can file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. Involving a lawyer early on also allows the attorney to protect you at each phase of the claim.
You may benefit from an attorney’s representation if:
- Your injury has changed how you live your life. If your injury required hospitalization, surgery, time away from work, or resulted in permanent scarring or disability, you will likely need an attorney to get you the full value of your claim. You should also seek an attorney’s advice if the accident resulted in someone’s death or involved extensive property damage.
- Someone else could be responsible for your injury. If someone’s actions directly led to your injury, a personal injury attorney can walk you through the legal steps to establish negligence in an injury case.
- An insurance company is refusing to pay. If your insurer is denying payment for your injury costs, has offered a low settlement, or is unreasonably delaying payment of your claim, an attorney can act on your behalf throughout the claims process.
- An insurance representative has requested more information. Insurance companies often use underhanded tactics to deny or undervalue injury claims, including getting victims to supply evidence that can be used against them. If your insurer has requested access to your medical records or asked you to give a recorded statement, it is likely that you have a valid injury claim—and you should speak to a lawyer before responding to an insurer’s requests.
- You are not comfortable representing yourself. Victims who represent themselves may be asked to supply evidence, calculate the value of their losses, negotiate their own settlement amounts, and perform other legally-binding duties to resolve their claims. An attorney can ensure that this is done correctly, getting you the compensation you need now as well as in the future.
Our lawyers take injury cases on a contingency basis and offer free consultations to victims—so there really is no downside to getting an attorney’s advice soon after an accident. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to schedule an appointment, or download your FREE copy of our book, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases.
What does an attorney do for me?
Most victims are overwhelmed by questions after an accident, and many wonder where they can turn for reliable advice. Some have even considered asking a lawyer for help, but are afraid of incurring additional costs. In order to help injury victims, we want to explain a little about the role of an attorney in an accident case.
An Attorney’s Responsibilities in a Personal Injury Case
The majority of attorneys who represent injury clients take cases on a contingency-fee basis and offer free initial consultations. Since you will not have to pay anything up front and will walk away with many questions answered, it is virtually risk-free to speak to a lawyer after an injury.
Attorneys can also benefit your case by:
- Protecting your rights. Injury laws are complicated, and people without any legal training are at a disadvantage after an accident. Victims who share blame for an accident may not know that they can still collect payment for an injury, denying them the compensation they need. Your attorney can examine your position and tell you what to expect given your circumstances, and can protect your rights against the defendant or the defendant’s lawyers.
- Using their experience and connections. Attorneys have years of experience gathering evidence, ensuring that all evidence and statements are legally obtained, and hiring experts to testify on their clients’ behalf.
- Taking over the legal battle so you can heal. Victims not only need to prove the extent of their losses by gathering evidence and contacting witnesses, they also need to meet filing deadlines and follow court procedures. Your attorney can ensure that all legal documents have been filled out and filed correctly, maintain correspondence with third parties, and meet deadlines while you are incapacitated by your injury.
- Negotiating on your behalf. An experienced lawyer is likely to have seen cases similar to yours, and knows how they will play out if they go to court. This can be invaluable in settlement negotiations, determining whether the amount offered is fair, or knowing when to take your case to trial.
Our injury lawyers have offices in Illinois and Missouri to help victims who have suffered a variety of accidents. We can help you gather the necessary evidence to support your claim, maximize the amount of available compensation, and we don’t collect a dime from you unless we win your case. Contact the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm via our online contact form to schedule an appointment.
What does it cost to hire an attorney?
One of the most frequent questions I receive when approached by a client with a potential personal injury claim is “how much is this going to cost me?”
Understanding Attorney Contingency Fees
The simple answer is that for a personal injury client, we don’t have to charge you anything at all up front in most circumstances. That’s because our firm believes that personal injury claims should have what is called a “contingency fee contract.”
A contingency fee contract allows your attorneys to represent you without charging an hourly rate and without paying a large retainer. The way it works is that we will only get paid if you get paid based upon a certain percentage.
In most cases, this percentage is 33% of the total recovery.
So, for example, if your personal injury motor vehicle case is resolved for $30,000.00, our fee, no matter how much time and effort we put into your case, will not exceed $10,000.00. A contingency fee contract is beneficial for a number of ways.
- First, there is no upfront cost, which can be especially difficult right after you suffer a major injury and may be off work for a period of time.
- Second, you don’t have to worry about calling us whenever you have a question because you won’t be running up any bill. We represent you, and always want to answer your questions and because of the contingency fee, we don’t have to worry about how much it will cost to have a conversation with you.
- Last, and most importantly, our interest is making sure you get the best outcome for your case possible. In a contingency fee contract, you don’t need to worry about us dragging your case out in order to collect more fees. You also don’t have to worry about us taking a discount in order to get your case resolved because the more money we put into your pocket, the more money we make as well. When we work together on the same team, it creates a positive incentive to maximize the amount we share.
Common Additional Fees To Be Aware Of
It is important to note, that there are additional expenses sometimes that we charge in addition to the contingency fee contract. For example, filing fees paid to the Court to begin your lawsuit, or paying for court reporters at a deposition, or paying hospitals for your medical records. However, these additional fees typically work out to be a very small portion of the overall claim.
Contingency fee contracts are a wonderful way for us to represent clients in personal injury cases because it allows our interests to be aligned, and for our clients to feel connected to their attorney’s without having to pay an arm and a leg to get superior service.
Contact Our Experienced Personal Injury Law Firm
If you ever have any questions about a personal injury claim, please feel free to contact us at 855-522-5291 to discuss how we can assist you in getting you through this difficult time.
How long will it take to settle my case?
I am sorry to answer this question with an “it depends.”
Whether and when a case settles or not depends on many factors but two are particularly important: first, the nature and extent of your injuries and, second, the amount insurance coverage that is available to address your injuries.
Amount of Insurance Coverage
For instance, in many unfortunate circumstances, there are very significant injuries and very little coverage to compensate for those injuries. In those cases, the settlement can occur very quickly, but be less than satisfying.
Significant Injuries and Sufficient Coverage
On the other hand, where the damages or injuries are significant and there is also significant insurance coverage to address those damages, the case can tend to take some time. There are financial reasons why that is the case. if your case is worth a significant amount of money, the insurance company will delay settlement so as to maintain those funds in their account. There is little financial incentive for them to rush the settlement. Our job as your attorney is to push them and force the issue as aggressively as possible.
What Can My Attorney Do For Me?
One of the key questions you should ask about your attorney is: “will my attorney push my case?”
There are things that the attorney can control in the process and things that are beyond your attorney’s control. For instance, the initial investigation and follow-up consultation with you are entirely within the attorney’s control. Is your attorney moving quickly to gather medical bills, to assist you in submitting those bills, to gather police reports, 911 tapes, and witness information? Has your attorney kept you informed of progress and consulted with you on your settlement options? If not, you may have the wrong the attorney.
Speed of a Typical Accident Case
One issue that your attorney cannot control is the pace of your recovery.
Your recovery may delay the settlement process. While a full recovery is not necessary to settle a case, it can be important to understand your prognosis in evaluating the proper scope of damages.
Should I see a doctor after a crash or fall even if I'm not sure I'm hurt?
If you are injured in crash, or fall or some other way, it is very important that you seek medical treatment. Seeking medical treatment is important for any claim that you might have because the claim won't be very valuable without a doctor's opinion regarding the injuries. Seeking medical attention after an injury is also very important for your health. If you have a family doctor that you see regularly, go see him/her for your injuries. Your family doctor will refer you to a specialist if you need it.
It is important that you be honest and complete but don't exaggerate your injuries.
I often hear from clients that they don’t seek medical attention because it is too difficult to get off work or school. In addition, sometimes there are financial considerations that make it impossible to go to the doctor. I tell my clients - do your very best to get treatment.
Regarding school/work restrictions, try to talk to the administration at the school or your boss ahead of time. Perhaps you can develop a plan for you to take off to get treatment and make up the school work or the work time later.
If you have to miss work or school, we will ask for that lost time to be compensated as part of your claim.
This is true even if you didn’t lose money but instead had to use vacation or sick time at work. Regarding the financial considerations, it is important that if you have medical insurance, you use your insurance to seek treatment. If you are not fortunate enough to hold medical insurance, you will want to contact your car insurance company to find out if you had MedPay coverage as part of your insurance.
MedPay will cover some of your bills up to a certain amount and can provide the means for you to seek treatment after an injury.
If you weren’t carrying MedPay at the time of the crash, ask your doctor for names of docs who treat on “lien” - this means the doctor will hold your bill until the end of your case. As always, if you have questions about this process, you should consult with your attorney.