From the moment we take on your case, we begin preparing for your trial. This is so even though the majority of cases settle before trial. It is very difficult to predict which cases will resolve before trial and which cases will go to trial. For this reason, every case is prepared for trial. Throughout the course of your case, we will be gathering information regarding the two parts of every case. The first part deals with proving fault or responsibility against the person or entity that we feel caused the problem, and the second part deals with proving what happened to you both physically and emotionally as a result of someone else's carelessness.
We will be in regular contact with you, and it is very important that we are kept abreast of new developments in your medical care and treatment, e.g., doctor appointments, medical procedures. Some cases resolve before we even have to file a claim in court. However, many times, we have to file a lawsuit in court. If this happens, then you will be officially called "the plaintiff" - the person who brings the case to court. The "defendant" is the name given to the person who is being sued.
Once the case is filed in court, we begin the "discovery phase". Simply put, this means that both sides seek information from the other side in an official manner. During this phase of the case, you may be required to answer "interrogatories", which are legal questions that you will review with your attorney. You may also have to provide sworn testimony in a proceeding called a "deposition". You will be accompanied to any such proceeding by your attorney. You may also be required to attend a "pretrial" on your case. This means that the court schedules a meeting to discuss your case in hopes of resolving it. You will not be part of the private meeting between the lawyers and judge but your attendance is sometimes required in court in order to discuss potential settlement offers. Oftentimes, the case does not settle at the pretrial. However, you should know that your case can settle at any time: before you file a lawsuit, after a pretrial, or even during the actual trial. It is very important that you let us know how we can get in touch with you. We need to know about your recent moves, a change of your address or telephone number, or even a lengthy vacation that you may be planning. We want to make sure that we can always get a hold of you easily and quickly.
- We will be gathering information for two parts of your case:
- Proving fault or responsibility against the person/entity that is believed to have caused the problem.
- Proving what happened to you both physically and emotionally as a result of someone else's carelessness.
- It is important that you inform us of new developments in your medical care, such as doctor appointments and medical procedures, and inform us of any changes in your contact information so we can reach you easily for any questions.
- If your case is filed in court, we will begin the "discovery phase", where both sides gather information from each other.
You may have to:
- Answer "interrogatories", which are legal questions to be reviewed with your attorney.
- Provide sworn testimony in a deposition.
- Attend a pretrial to discuss your case.
- 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 upon 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 insurance carrier fairly evaluate your case. Typically, if a case does not settle, it takes about two years from the time that a case is filed in court to be reached for trial.
- 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’s 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 33-1/3% of the first $300,000 of recovery, 25% of the next $300,000, 20% on the next $300,000, 15% on the next $300,000, and 10% 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 non-economic. 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. Non-economic 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.
- What is the difference between criminal and civil cases? Is there a different burden of proof?