Personal injury attorneys represent individuals who have been injured because of the negligence or recklessness of someone else. With all of the stress and worry that being injured can lead to, it makes sense to let your attorney guide you through the legal process and assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve. With every personal injury case comes some very common questions. What is my case worth? How long will it take to get to trial? How much does an attorney charge? This article will answer some of those common questions.
What is my case worth?
While this might be the most common question, it certainly is not the easiest one to answer. Determining how much a personal injury case is worth depends on many factors. The value of your claim is based on past and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. There is no set formula for determining this value, however. The true value is based on the evidence that can be proven in each case. Your personal injury attorney may be able to estimate the value of your claim. But no guarantee can be given as to the compensation you may obtain.
What is MMI?
When your treating physician has released you from care, the physician will likely determine that you have reached MMI, or maximum medical improvement. This means that you have reached a point where you are as healthy as you can be. Although you may not be in the same condition you were in, prior to the accident, but your medical condition has stabilized. It is easier to value a case after you have reached MMI.
How long does a personal injury claim take?
The first thing to understand is that each case is unique. There is no general timetable that can be followed. The circumstances surrounding the injury, the damages that resulted, and the proof of liability, are different to each and every client. The reality is, a personal injury case could settle in a few months without the need for a trial, or it could take years to resolve after litigation and trial.
How much do personal injury attorneys charge?
The majority of personal injury attorneys handle these types of cases on a contingency fee basis. That means the attorney will not collect a fee unless the case is resolved successfully. If that is the case, the attorney would receive a previously agreed upon percentage of the amount recovered for the client.
When does a lawsuit need to be filed?
The most important thing to do is contact your personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident or injury. Every legal case has a time limit for filing suit, referred to as the “statute of limitations” period. If you do not file your lawsuit within this period of time, you could be barred from recovering at all. Missouri’s statute of limitations period for personal injury claims is five years and in Arkansas it is three.
Is it alright to sign a release?
First, before you sign anything while litigation is pending, contact your attorney to make sure all of your rights are protected. When you sign a release, you are signing away your right to recover damages in the future. It is not uncommon for an insurance carrier to offer early settlement that does not fully compensate you for your damages. If you accept that settlement you will be required to sign a release. If you do, you will not be able to pursue the remaining compensation to which you may be entitled.
What if I am partially at fault for my injuries?
Whether or not you can still recover in a personal injury case, if you are partially at fault, depends on which state you live in. In some states, you cannot recover if your negligence partially contributed to your injuries. However, in most jurisdictions you can still receive compensation, though it may be limited based on the degree of your own negligence. Both Arkansas and Missouri follow fault-based liability laws. Missouri is a comparative fault state, which means each driver can only be compensated for the percent of the damages they did NOT cause. Arkansas, on the other hand, is a modified comparative fault state. That means, a driver can only recovery for injuries or damages resulting from the accident if that driver is less than 50% at fault.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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