Common Questions

We want you to feel as comfortable and informed as possible about your legal rights, the legal process, and working with us.

If you don't find answers to your questions here, please call us.

General Personal Injury

Medical Malpractice & Nursing Home Abuse

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Workplace Injuries

Sexual Abuse & Church Abuse

Legal Malpractice

General Personal Injury

How do I know if I have a personal injury case?

  • If you are injured because of the fault or wrongful conduct of another person or entity, you may have the right to bring a lawsuit to recover money damages for your losses. Some examples of the types of incidents that give rise to personal injury claims include: car accidents, motorcycle accidents, falls, sexual abuse, workplace injuries, defective products, medical malpractice, legal malpractice and nursing home negligence. You should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible after your injury to determine whether or not you have a case.

How long do I have to file a personal injury claim or case?

  • Under the law, you generally have two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit that is based on the negligent conduct of another person or entity. The time limitation for filing a lawsuit varies, however, depending upon the nature of the claim. With certain types of claims, there are also notice requirements that must be met before you file suit. It is therefore always wise to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible after your injury to make certain that your case is not time-barred.

How long will my personal injury case take?

  • How long a personal injury case takes depends upon a number of factors, including how long you are required to be treated for your injuries, whether the responsible party contests how the accident happened or whether it caused your injuries, and whether the responsible party and his or her insurance carrier fairly evaluate your case. Typically, if a case does not settle, a case reaches trial approximately two years from the time that it is filed in court.

How much of my time will be required?

  • Unless your case goes to trial, the actual amount of time that will require your personal involvement in a personal injury case is relatively minimal. The initial office conference to discuss your claim usually takes about one hour. Follow-up conferences to check on your medical progress and to update you on your case generally take less time and can be done in the office or by phone. If a lawsuit is filed, you would likely need to come into the office to review and sign certain papers required under our court rules. You may also be required to answer questions under oath at a deposition, undergo a medical examination by a doctor selected by the other party and attend a pretrial conference at court.

How much will it cost to go forward with a personal injury case?

  • Under the law, attorney fees in personal injury cases are paid on a contingency fee* basis. This means the fee is paid at the end of the case and is calculated on the amount of the final settlement or judgment. The fee is 33.33 percent of the first $300,000 of recovery, 25 percent of the next $300,000, 20 percent on the next $300,000, 15 percent on the next $300,000, and 10 percent on any recovery over $1.2 million. In addition, any costs incurred for medical records, court filing fees, depositions, expert fees, etc., are deducted at the end of the case from the settlement or court judgment.

*Contingency fee is defined as payment to an attorney for legal services that depends, or is contingent, upon there being some recovery or award in the case. The payment is then a percentage of the amount recovered. You pay nothing unless payment/recovery is received.

What damages am I entitled to claim in a personal injury case?

  • In Connecticut, you are entitled to claim two types of damages: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are intended to compensate you for past and future out-of-pocket losses. These damages may include compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and loss of earning capacity. Noneconomic damages are intended to compensate you for the past and future effects of the injuries on your life. These damages may include payment for your pain and suffering, permanent disability and loss of enjoyment of your normal activities of daily living.

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Medical Malpractice & Nursing Home Abuse

How can I be assured of good medical care while in the hospital?

  • When you are in a hospital, demand specific information:
    1. You and a trusted family member should always know the diagnosis and potential procedure.
    2. Question each procedure before it is started.
    3. Before taking medication, ask what it is for and who prescribed it.
    4. Insist that you know the doctor who is in charge of your case overall.
    5. Before going into the operating room, find out who they think you are, as well as what operation they expect to perform and where upon your body.
    6. You and your family members should not be afraid to complain if you feel the patient is having a problem that is being ignored.
    7. Repeat over and over again any allergies or reactions you may have.
    8. If your instincts say something is wrong, demand to see the doctor in charge.
    9. Never hesitate to ask for and obtain a second opinion.

How long does it take to determine whether I have a medical negligence case?

  • The investigation to determine whether a medical malpractice case exists can take several months and sometimes over a year. This is why it is very important that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible if you feel that you or a family member has been harmed by medical treatment. Before we can decide whether you have a case, we must obtain copies of all your relevant medical records and reports, including at times x-ray and MRI scans. Typically, these records are provided to an out-of-state medical provider in order to determine whether medical rules and standards have been broken. Sometimes we have to consult with doctors in several different medical specialties before we can make a decision on whether we can bring a case for you.

How much time do I have to bring a case against a medical provider, hospital or nursing home for harm caused to me or a family member?

  • Under the law, you generally have two years from the date of malpractice or from when you knew or should have known of the malpractice in which to bring a claim in a court of proper jurisdiction. The maximum amount of time for bringing a claim under any circumstances is three years from the date of malpractice. In order to determine the specific limitation that may apply in your case, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. You can also request a 90-day automatic extension of time in which to file suit, which must be filed before the applicable limitation has expired.

How to survive a Connecticut hospital stay

  • To reduce problems during a Connecticut hospital stay, demand specific information. Some guidelines are mentioned below:
    • You and a trusted family member should always know the diagnosis and potential procedures.
    • Question each procedure that someone is to perform before it is started.
    • Before taking medication, ask what it is for and who prescribed it.
    • Insist that you know the doctor who is in charge of your case overall.
    • Before going into the operating room, find out who they think you are, as well as what operation they expect to perform and where upon your body.
    • You and your family members should not be afraid to complain if you feel the patient is having a problem that is being ignored.
    • Repeat over and over again any allergies or reactions you may have.
    • If your instincts say something is wrong, demand to see the doctor in charge.
    • Never hesitate to ask for and obtain a second opinion.

If a patient tragically dies as a result of careless medical care and treatment, can a case still be brought?

  • Yes. In the tragic situation where careless medical care and treatment result in a patient's death, a lawsuit can be brought by the administrator of the estate of the person who died, whether or not the person had a will.

What is required under the law in order to bring a case against a medical provider, hospital or nursing home for harm caused to me or a family member?

  • Under the law, in order to file a medical negligence claim against a medical provider, hospital or nursing home, we must obtain the written and signed opinion of a similar health care provider stating that there have been violations of the medical rules or standards in the care and treatment provided to a patient and the statement must also give a detailed basis for the opinions. The statement must be filed with the lawsuit. In addition, the attorney must also attach a certificate of probable cause that there is a good faith belief that grounds exist for a lawsuit.

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Motor Vehicle Accidents

How do I know if I have the proper auto insurance?

  • Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney repeatedly reminds and educates our clients regarding the importance of having appropriate auto insurance coverage. Over and over again, we see clients who are left unprotected with inadequate insurance. Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney would like to share with you the seven do's and don'ts for selecting the best auto insurance protection for your family as set

1.  DO understand your policy. Can you answer the following questions?

  1. What is the amount of my bodily injury/liability (BI) coverage?
  2. What is the amount of my uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage?
  3. What can I do to obtain conversion coverage or double UM?

2. DO increase your UM/UIM coverage, if possible.

  • We always hear people tell us that they have purchased umbrella insurance coverage, yet they do not know their UM/UIM limits. While umbrella, excess and BI coverage protect you if you cause an accident, they afford no protection if an uninsured or underinsured motorist injures you. The only way to protect yourself is to increase your UM/UIM coverage and request double coverage. Example: If you have $300,000 BI and $300,000 UM, request double UM coverage and increase your UM limits to $600,000.

3. DO purchase underinsured motorist conversion (UIMC) coverage.

  • UIMC coverage guarantees that you and your family will be afforded the full extent of the coverage you purchased, no matter how much is recovered from the driver who caused the collision. Otherwise, the amount that you receive from the other driver will be deducted from your coverage. Example: At-fault driver pays out to injured person his $20,000 limited policy. Injured person has limited $50,000 without conversion. Injured person can only make claim for remaining $30,000 in coverage (50,000-20,000 = 30,000). With conversion coverage, injured person can make a claim for $50,000. If the injured person had double UM, he will have $100,000 of coverage in addition to the $20,000 received.

4. DON'T be cheap - be smart.

  • A few dollars saved can result in inadequate coverage, which basically is no coverage at all. Although the law only requires limits of $20,000 worth of coverage per person and $40,000 worth of coverage per accident, such limits are woefully insufficient to cover the costs resulting from serious injury. Remember to purchase the maximum amount of insurance that you can afford as it is money well spent.

5. DON'T "write down" your UM/UIM motorist coverage.

  • Always reject any offer to reduce your UM/UIM coverage to below the amount of your BI coverage.

6. DON'T be left without medical coverage.

  • The law no longer requires you to purchase no fault or medical benefit coverage. However, if you do not have health insurance coverage, you should still purchase this optional coverage in order to protect yourself. If you do have health insurance, the premium for this coverage may be better spent increasing your UM/UIM limits.

7. DON'T think "It won't happen to me."

  • Unfortunately, Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney has seen many situations where clients have been injured by uninsured or underinsured drivers and these clients have had inadequate UM/UIM coverage. Hopefully, you will never need it, but be smart and protect yourself.

Workplace Injuries

How do I know if I have a workplace injury case?

  • If you are injured at work, or develop symptoms of an occupational disease because of your job, you may have the right to file a workers' compensation claim against your employer. If your spouse or parent dies as a result of a work injury or an occupational disease, you may also have the right to file a workers' compensation claim as a dependent of that person. In order to determine whether you do or do not have a case, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible after your injury.

How long do I have to file a workers' compensation claim?

  • Under the law, written notice of a claim for workers' compensation must be given within one year from the date of the accident or within three years from the first manifestation of a symptom of an occupational disease. If death occurs within two years from the date of the injury or first manifestation of a symptom of an occupational disease, written notice is required within the two-year period or within one year of the date of death, whichever is later.

How long will my workers' compensation case take?

  • How long a workers' compensation case takes to process depends upon a number of factors, including how and when your injury occurred, whether the injury is causally related to your work, the severity of your injury, whether you need surgery, how long you are out of work and the extent of any permanent disability that you incur. Typically, a workers' compensation case takes less than one year to complete.

How much will it cost me to pursue a workers' compensation claim?

  • Attorney fees in workers' compensation cases in Connecticut are handled on a contingency fee basis* and are subject to the approval of the commissioner. The usual fee that is charged is 20 percent of any contested benefit, disability award or final settlement, plus any costs incurred for medical reports, deposition fees, etc. These fees and costs are not deducted unless and until there is an award or settlement.

*Contingency fee is defined as payment to an attorney for legal services that depends, or is contingent, upon there being some recovery or award in the case. The payment is then a percentage of the amount recovered. You pay nothing unless payment/recovery is received.

What benefits am I entitled to receive?

  • If you are injured in a work-related accident, you are entitled to receive benefits, calculated on the basis of 75 percent of your average weekly after-tax earnings, for the time that you are medically unable to work. If your injury results in a permanent impairment, you are also entitled to recover benefits for that permanent loss, based upon a statutory table. In addition, if your injury prevents you from earning the same amount that you were able to earn before your injury, you may be able to recover workers' compensation benefits for a portion of that loss.

What is the Heart and Hypertension Act?

  • If you are a uniformed member of a paid municipal fire department or a regular member of a paid municipal police department who was hired before July 1, 1996, you may qualify for benefits under Connecticut's Heart and Hypertension Act (C.G.S. Sec. 7-433c).

Under this act, firefighters or police officers who successfully pass a pre-employment physical examination that fails to reveal any evidence of hypertension (high blood pressure) or heart disease and later become disabled by one of these conditions, are presumed to have suffered that condition in the performance of their duties, whether or not it happened on the job.

Once these eligibility requirements are met, you are entitled to two separate and distinct benefits:

    1. Compensation benefits and medical care in the same amount and manner as that provided under the Workers' Compensation Act.
    2. Retirement or survivor benefits from the municipal or state retirement system.

You must file a claim for benefits under the Heart and Hypertension Act within one year. Claims for heart disease usually have a clear date from which to file, e.g., a heart attack. Claims for hypertension, however, are not as clear as there is not a specific event that triggers the onset of that condition. Generally, if you are diagnosed by your physician with hypertension, are placed on medication for hypertension or have repeated high blood pressure readings, you should file a claim as soon as possible.

Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney has a proven track record of successfully representing firefighters and police officers on Heart and Hypertension Act claims and has collected millions of dollars for them. Please do not hesitate to contact attorney Robert Sheldon with any questions or concerns about whether you qualify for benefits under this law.

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Sexual Abuse & Church Abuse

I do not want my identity revealed. Is there a way that I can file a claim and remain anonymous?

  • You can ask permission from the court to file your case under a pseudonym (e.g., Jane Doe or John Doe). It is up to the judge to grant or deny your request.

If there is a criminal case presently pending against the perpetrator, can I still file a civil suit?

  • Yes. The two cases can proceed at the same time, but there may be reasons to wait, if possible, until the criminal case concludes.

What is the difference between criminal and civil cases? Is there a different burden of proof?

  • Many people know that the burden of proof (or evidence needed to prove the case) in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal cases require a very high standard because being found guilty of a crime is at stake as well as the potential to go to jail. In a civil case, no one is accused of a crime and cannot be found guilty. Instead, the question in a civil case is whether a person was negligent and responsible for damages to another. The burden of proof in a civil case is lower (easier to prove) than in a criminal case. The standard to win a case is "more likely than not" that the person was at fault, or proof of just over 50 percent responsible.

The perpetrator is now dead. Can I still file a claim?

  • Yes. A claim can be filed against the estate of the perpetrator. However, there are very strict and short time restrictions for doing so.

What is the statute of limitations with regard to filing a sexual abuse claim?

  • Under current Connecticut law, any person who claims damages as a result of being sexually abused, sexually assaulted or sexually exploited as a child has until 30 years past the age of majority (typically until age 48) in which to file a claim in court. However, if you claim damages as a result of being sexually assaulted as an adult, then you have a much shorter time period in which to file a lawsuit. Typically you have three years from the date of the assault to file against the perpetrator for his or her intentional acts and two years from the date of the assault to file against any other person or entity (e.g., perpetrator's employer) who may have been negligent in allowing the perpetrator to have contact with you.

Who are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse?

  • Under Connecticut law, the following people are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse: doctors; nurses; medical examiners; dentists; dental hygienists; psychologists; coaches; school teachers; school principals; school guidance counselors; school paraprofessionals; social workers; police officers; juvenile or adult probation and parole officers; members of the clergy; pharmacists; physical therapists; optometrists; chiropractors; podiatrists; mental health professionals; physician's assistants; certified EMT providers; certified drug and alcohol counselors; licensed marital and family therapists; sexual assault and battered women's counselors; paid child care providers in public or private facilities; child day care centers; licensed group and family day care centers; employees of the Department of Children and Families or the Department of Public Health if responsible for licensing day care centers, homes, or youth camps; and employees of the Office of the Child Advocate, including designated Child Advocates.

Any person so identified who in the course of his or her employment or profession has reasonable cause to believe or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or has been inflicted with non-accidental injuries or is at imminent risk of serious harm must report or cause a report to be made in accordance with state law. Violation of the law will result in a monetary fine and required participation in an educational and training program. See Connecticut General Statutes Sections 17-101(b); 17a-101a.

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Legal Malpractice

How do I know if I have a legal malpractice case?

  • If you are harmed because of the fault or wrongful conduct of an attorney, you may have the right to bring a lawsuit to recover money damages for your losses. Some examples of the type of conduct that may justify a legal malpractice claim include the failure to file a case in court within the statute of limitations - the time limit set by law for bringing a particular type of case; the failure to timely file notice of a claim against a municipality or the state for injury due to a defective highway or sidewalk; and the failure to timely file notice of an underinsured motorist claim for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident.

How long do I have to file a legal malpractice case?

  • Under Connecticut law, you generally have three years from the date of the negligent act or omission of the attorney to file a legal malpractice lawsuit against that attorney. The time limitation for filing a legal malpractice lawsuit may vary, however, depending upon the particular facts of the case. It is therefore a good idea to consult with a legal malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to determine if you have a case and to make certain that your case is not time-barred.

What am I required to prove in a legal malpractice case?

  • In a legal malpractice case, you first need to prove that the attorney violated the standard of care, that is, that he or she failed to do what a competent attorney would have done in similar circumstances. This is generally done through the expert testimony of another attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in the same area of the law. You also must prove all of the necessary elements of the underlying case. For example, if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident and your attorney failed to timely file your personal injury case within two years, as required by Connecticut law, you would need to prove through expert testimony that the attorney's conduct violated the applicable standard of care. You would also be required to prove that you were injured as a result of the negligence of another party or entity and that, as a result, you suffered economic and/or noneconomic damages.

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