YOUR GUIDE TO PERSONAL INJURY
Table of Contents
PERSONAL INJURY GUIDEBOOK
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What is Personal Injury?
Personal injury is defined as any injury to the body, emotional state or mind.
These cases are filed against the person that caused harm because of his or her negligence, intentional misconduct, strict liability or reckless conduct.
There may be a variety of damages awarded, such as:
- Payment for medical bills
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
Past, present and future damages may be awarded if the evidence justifies them.
In order for a party to be legally liable for damages, these must be proved:
- The party breached the duty
- The party’s breach of duty caused the victim to be harmed
- The party had a duty to act reasonably
- The victim suffered monetary damages due to the harm suffered
The amount of compensation depends on the severity of the injury. Serious injuries that cause physical pain and suffering (like brain damage, broken bones and severed limbs), receive the highest settlements or jury verdicts.
Common Types of Personal Injury Cases
- Car accident cases
- Truck accident cases
- Motorcycle accident cases
- Drunk driving accident cases
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Product Liability
- Work-related accident cases
Other personal injury cases include:
- Brain injuries
- Catastrophic injuries/accidental death
- Class action lawsuits
- Fires and explosions
- Intentional torts
- Motocycle Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Plan crashes
- Professional Negligence
- Railroad Crossing Accidents
Do I need a lawyer? To determine if you or a loved one have a personal injury case, ask yourself:
- Did you suffer a personal injury and not property damage?
- Were your injuries caused by conduct and actions of another person?
- Do you have recoverable damages (the amount of money a plaintiff is entitled)?
- Have you suffered from personal or financial harms that can be alleviated by monetary damages?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, you may attain compensation for your injuries by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal Injury Myths
There are many myths and misconceptions about personal injury law:
- MYTH ONE: It is going to cost me a lot of money to talk to a personal injury lawyer and even more to hire one.
- MYTH TWO: My insurance will cover all of my costs if I am injured.
- MYTH THREE: The person responsible for my injuries will have to pay out of pocket.
- MYTH FOUR: I only have minor injuries; it isn’t worth talking to a lawyer.
- MYTH FIVE: Personal injury cases are long and drawn out.
- MYTH SIX: I am guaranteed compensation to cover my losses.
- MYTH SEVEN: The police will determine who is at fault.
“I thought I was going to be stuck and lose what I worked so hard for to support my family. Jim never gave up. He continually helped me.”
– Daniel Castleberry
Car Accident Cases
Auto accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury.
Serious accidents result in substantial pain, emotional distress, lost wages, medical expenses and property damage.
Insurance companies try to settle cases in as little time as possible — and for as little money as possible. As a result, this doesn’t allow you to fully assess the severity of your injuries, the necessary course of treatment or the wages you’ll lose.
Immediately After an Accident:
It’s important to know what information you need to collect after an accident and who you need to call. Thorough documentation will be crucial if you decide to sue the other driver in a car accident.
- Providing you aren’t injured, you need to exchange information with the other driver. Even if you feel overwhelmed and are struggling to process what happened, don’t apologize to the other driver — stick to the facts, and do your best to stay calm.
- Saying things like “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t see you” can imply your fault in the accident. Be cautious about your language, especially if you’re unsure about what happened.
- Call the police to the scene.
- While you are waiting, take photos of both vehicles before they are moved. If it’s safe to do so, get photos from multiple angles.
Get full insurance information from the other driver, including the company name and policy information. Additionally, make sure you know:
- The other driver’s full name and address
- Contact information and statements from any witnesses (the police should handle the statements)
A qualified personal injury attorney will always advise against talking to the insurance company without legal representation. An experienced lawyer can help you:
- Establish liability by preserving evidence and interviewing witnesses
- Ensure you have insurance matters in order so that you receive proper medical care
- Help you understand the law, including statutes of limitations
- Collect necessary medical records and help you properly document injuries, helping you receive full compensation
- Ensure you receive the compensation to which you are rightfully entitled
- Negotiate a settlement that takes into account all future medical and financial needs
Uninsured Drivers and Underinsured Drivers
When your vehicle has been severely damaged in an accident, you assume that your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company will cover the damage. But what happens if the other driver doesn’t have a valid insurance policy or doesn’t have enough insurance?
With an estimated 1 in 7 drivers being uninsured, you need to protect yourself. Even more drivers are underinsured, meaning they carry some coverage but not enough.
It’s important to hire an experienced lawyer who has worked on cases involving uninsured and underinsured drivers before. Often, uninsured and underinsured drivers don’t have a lot assets, meaning that even if you win the lawsuit, recovering damages may be difficult.
West Virginia Car Insurance Coverage
Liability and uninsured motorist coverage are two insurance coverages that are required in the State of West Virginia.
If a motorist is found to be driving without it, there are consequences.
There are other types of insurance that a motorist could get to help protect them financially.
Commons types of other car insurance include underinsured motorist coverage, medical payments, comprehensive, collision and towing and labor.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage will help protect you, the occupants of your car and your car, itself, in case you are involved in an accident caused by someone else who has some insurance, but not enough to cover all your damages. This is extremely important coverage, and it must be offered to an insured by the insurance company. If it is not properly offered, this violates the law, and underinsured motorist coverage could exist under the policy, even if it wasn’t purchased. Because this is very complicated, please see a lawyer for more details.
- Medical Payments will help pay for medical and funeral expenses that are a result of car accidents, for whomever is driving the insured car at the time, as well as any passengers.
- Comprehensive will help pay for damages to a motorist’s car that are not a result of a car accident such as vandalism, fire, hail, etc.
- Collision will help pay for damages to a motorist’s car from a traffic accident, which was the fault of the owner.
- Towing and Labor will help pay for roadside assistance in the event that a motorist’s car breaks down on the road or is involved in a wreck.
Once the different types of insurance are understood for what they are, what they cover and what they don’t cover, a policyholder is more likely to make an intelligent decision about insurance purchases. But there are many, many examples of where well-meaning policyholders buy the wrong coverages simply because they don’t understand what they are doing. And why should they? Not everyone is an insurance expert.
Here are two examples of how poor decisions can be made in the purchase of insurance coverage.
Injury of a Loved One | Loss of Consortium
Serious injury or death of a spouse, parent or child is considered Loss of Consortium. Consortium means association, partnership or union. Loss of Consortium claims are serious — you cannot file a claim if a family member breaks an arm or suffers a concussion.
Loss of Consortium claims are generally for long-term, severe injuries that drastically effect quality of life. These injuries include amputation, brain damage, paralysis — or death. It’s hard to quantify these claims. Your loved ones are completely invaluable, and putting a price on their life or health is impossible.
Spouses, partners, children and parents can file loss of consortium claims.
Distracted Driving Dangers
Distracted drivers not only put themselves at risk, but also everyone else on the road. Distracted driving can be very dangerous and can lead to terrible accidents. The consequences of distracted driving can range from minor vehicle damage to a totaled car and devastating injuries or possible fatalities.
More than 3,300 fatalities occur each year as a result of distracted driving, according to the Department of Transportation and distraction.gov, the official US website dedicated to distracted driving. Drivers are twice as likely to crash if they’re texting while driving than if they were paying attention.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers, and studies have found that teenage drivers are especially tempted to use their phone to snap photos or text from the driver’s seat.
Talking to your child about the importance of being completely focused while driving is key. Reiterate that a few seconds of distraction can result in a terrible accident.
Many states have laws against distractions while driving, for example, texting and talking on a handheld cell phone while driving. By not doing these things, you are are making the road a safer place and not putting anyone at risk.
Using Cell Phones While Driving
From teenagers to parents, people are using their cellphones while driving. One in every four crashes involve someone using a phone. Unfortunately, texting is the most common form of distracted driving.
Don’t be a statistic. Your cell phone can actually combat distracted driving.
We outline four applications that one can use for a phone that can combat distracted driving. From rewarding users with points, limited calling and texting functions to making the phone voice activated–one of these apps could work for you or your loved ones:
Truck Accident Case
While automobile and truck accidents have many aspects in common with each other, in certain respects, they differ greatly. Due to the specialized knowledge required to successfully resolve these types of matters, it’s important that you hire an attorney who knows the ins and outs of truck accident law if you’ve suffered an injury from an accident involving a truck.
Truck Driver Responsibilities
Truck accident claims involve many of the same basic questions that car accident claims involve. Who was negligent? How did the accident occur? And what insurance coverages apply to the claim?
Numerous circumstances can occur during truck accidents, though, that are unique to crashes involving commercial vehicles and large vehicles.
- Semi truck drivers are required to stop and rest at legally mandated intervals.
- Semi trucks must be regularly maintained in order to be operated safely.
- Semi truck drivers are barred from operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, alcohol and certain prescription medication.
- Transportation companies are legally required to employ safe and cautious drivers, and to competently screen drivers.
- New trucks are often now equipped with technology similar to jumbo jets’ “black boxes”.
- Truck drivers, more so than car drivers in many jurisdictions, are barred from using cell phones while driving.
Other complex legal issues can arise when a commercial vehicle such as a delivery truck, pickup truck or even company car is involved in a crash. The question of whether the driver was “on the clock” immediately comes into play.
Truck Driver Training
Did you know that a commercial driver is not required to go to school to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL)?
There are a few options for receiving training: Enrolling in a private truck driving school or taking an employer apprenticeship.
To get into a truck driving school, there are a few prerequisites, such as having:
- A high school diploma (equivalent)
- A valid driver’s license
- Proof of citizenship (identity)
An individual may also be required to undergo drug testing and english language test.
We mentioned that an individual should go through some type of training like private truck driving school before taking a CDL written exam; however, an individual could also receive an employee apprenticeship.
- Having a commercial learner’s permit (CPL)
- Signing a contract to work for the company who is providing the apprenticeship
As an apprentice, the way the individual is trained may not be as structured; however, the individual is receiving this training at a limited cost (or none at all).
To learn more about CDL classifications, truck driving school, employer apprenticeships and CDL testing, click here.
Truck drivers should get extensive training and go should through several tests to be able to drive commercial trucks.
If, for some reason, you were in a wreck caused by a commercial truck driver, give us a call.
Drunk Driving Accident
According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA), every day, almost 29 people in the United States die in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes—that’s one person every 50 minutes in 2016.
If you are drinking, and you don’t have a designated driver (DD), then plan on taking public transportation, a taxi or walking (if your hotel is nearby).
If you drive under the influence, you can injure yourself, other passengers in the car, pedestrians and other drivers.
Consequences of Drinking and Driving
All states have laws that prohibit driving under the influence (drugs or alcohol). Specific consequences are different per state; however, common penalties include fines, license suspension, an installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) and/or jail time.
Jail time can range from a mandatory one day (for a first offense) to one week. For a second offense, it could be 48 hours and a third offense, 90 days.
A person could also pay a $500 fine, as well as court fees and license-reinstatement fees and attorney’s fees.
Many states require a person who has been convicted of a DUI to have an IID installed in their car. An IID is an alcohol detecting machine that has be to be attached to the car’s ignition. Once installed, the driver has to blow into the device, otherwise the car will not start.
Teenage Drinking and Driving
Teenage drinking and driving has serious consequences. Teen drivers are responsible for almost 20% of all fatal alcohol-related crashes. Some states have a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21, while some states have a .02% limit.
Regardless of your state’s specific laws, your teen should know that he or she absolutely can’t drive after consuming any amount of alcohol. Establish expectations and make sure the consequences are fully explained.
Let your teen know that if he or she has been drinking and needs a ride, you will be less upset if you get a call than you than if your teen gets home in a riskier way. Establish strict rules — you are a parent, not a friend, in these situations.
Make sure your teen knows the consequences:
- Being cited for possession of an alcohol beverage, whether it has been consumed or not (yes, this can even happen on private property).
- Minors may face a hefty fine, possible jail time or both for being charged with purchasing, possessing, selling or consuming alcohol underage.
- Expulsion from school or restriction from participating in extra-curricular activities if caught drinking (even on private property).
Getting charged with any type of alcohol-related offense will make it difficult for a teen to keep or get a part-time job and can severely impact their ability to get into first-choice colleges. As an aside, even a conviction for possession of a small amount of marijuana can disqualify a teen from seeking some forms of education assistance.
And while it may be hard to get teens to understand the deep implications of non-legal consequences, they are just as important. Teens who drink are at higher risk for:
- Sexual activity: especially unwanted sexual advances and impaired decision making when it comes to sexual partners. Teens who drink are also far more likely to have unprotected sex.
- Alcohol-related death: accidents related to alcohol are a leading cause of death in teenagers.
- Academic struggles: teens who drink often see their grades suffer and have behavioral problems in school.
- Violence and crime: teens who drink are more likely to be violent and are more likely to be a victim of a violent crime like rape or assault.
If you would like to read tips on talking points when discussing drinking and driving with your teen, how to address peer pressure, common myths surrounding drinking and more consequences, click here.
When an injury results from medical treatment that deviates from accepted standards of care or as a result of negligent doctors, hospitals and other medical professionals, you may be entitled to compensation. Medical malpractice lawsuits, which are extremely complex and expensive cases, can help you recover damages to compensate for your pain and loss of enjoyment of life, in addition to lost wages and medical bills.
What are Standards of Care?
Though medical care is highly complex, there are a finite number of issues that afflict people with any regularity. Because of this, standards have emerged that the medical community has agreed should be followed in almost any given medical situation.
Therefore, if a patient arrives at a medical facility with one or several symptoms, the attending physician should perform a series of predetermined steps to diagnose and treat the patient. These rather inflexible, predetermined steps are standard; they’re standards of care. Standards of care can vary by specific circumstances but most often involve questions and steps, such as:
- Was an investigation conducted and did the doctor take steps that they would have been reasonably expected to take?
- Was a diagnosis pursued?
- Was treatment provided in a timely manner?
- Was the patient informed of risks? This is known as informed consent.
- Did the healthcare facility provide a healthcare professional who was qualified to provide to the care that was needed?
Standards of care involve agreed-upon rules, but medical professionals can disagree on what action should have been taken in relation to specific situations. Questions regarding the medical issue itself may affect standards of care, as well as the location of the facility in which the care was provided and the resources at the facility’s disposal. Malpractice claims can be complex or difficult to prove.
The researchers at Johns Hopkins estimate that there are actually more than 250,000 deaths due to malpractice each year. If this were the reported number, medical malpractice would be the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
It’s important to note that being dissatisfied with the outcome of treatment is not the same thing as malpractice. For example, if a patient had plastic surgery and didn’t like the results, but the doctor executed the surgery as discussed and cared for the patient according to all guidelines, it’s not likely to be a malpractice case.
Malpractice is a failure to care for the patient according to established standards. As a result of this failure, an injury with damaging consequences occurs:
- The medical professional failed to care for the patient according to certain standards. Laws regulate the medical profession requires doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to follow established standards and protocol for patient care.
- The patient suffers from harm or injury.
- The patient must prove that the medical professional caused them harm or injury that would not have happened if proper standards and protocol had been followed.
- Resulting damages. The harm or injury caused by the medical professional’s negligence caused considerable damage, such as pain, disability, inability to work/loss of income and suffering.
Medical malpractice can occur as a result of many different negligences or errors. At Stealey Law & Mediation, we most commonly see cases relating to:
- Misdiagnosis of cancer
- Misdiagnosis of cardiac conditions
- Misdiagnosis in pediatrics
- Prescribing experimental drugs
- Performing cosmetic surgery
- Birth injuries or death resulting from delayed C-section procedure, failure to monitor the fetus or improper delivery technique
- And more
Why You Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Malpractice cases are among the most complex legal cases and require extensive research and planning.
- Knows state laws
- Can identify medical malpractice more easily
- Can build out your case
- Can talk to insurance companies for you
- Has a network of medical professionals available for consultation and evaluation of cases
Medical malpractice is very complex, and navigating the case can be confusing, overwhelming and emotional.
Nursing Home Abuse
It’s estimated that up to 1 in 6 nursing home residents fall victim to abuse each year — and those are only the reported cases.
Abuse is an intentional infliction, confinement, intimidation, care of service deprivation or punishment that results in physical harm, pain or mental instability.
Neglect is a failure, can be intentional or unintentional, to provide an individual with care and services that are necessary to his or her freedom from harm or pain and/or a failure to react to a dangerous situation, which results in the individual’s harm.
Most cases of nursing home abuse are caregiver to resident; however, resident to resident abuse cases also occur.
There can be many types and signs of abuse and neglect.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Include:
- Assault (e.g., kicking, slapping, pushing, shaking, beating, as well as verbal and/or emotional abuse)
- Lack of care of medical problems
- Deprivation of food and water
- Sexual assault or battery (e.g., rape, attempted rape, unwanted sexual contact)
- Unnecessary physical restraint or seclusion
- Unnecessary chemical (medication) restraint that is not authorized by a physician
- Financial exploitation
- Psychological abuse
Abuse and neglect can be physical, mental, emotional and financial.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
PHYSICAL ABUSE SIGNS
Your loved one may not be able to tell you about their abuse, but there can be physical signs such as:
- Bed injuries or asphyxiation
- Falls or fractures including head injuries
- Bed sores
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Unusual changes in behavior
- Unexplained injuries
- Unexpected death
MENTAL & EMOTIONAL ABUSE SIGNS
While mental and emotional abuse signs may be harder to identify, you must pay close attention. Signs can include:
- Emotionally upset or agitated
- Not speaking in front of staff members
- Attempting to hurt others
- Mood swings
- Avoiding eye contact
- Showing signs of low self-esteem
- Seem shy, scared or hopeless
- Self-inflicted injury
Financial abuse is when the caregiver (facility) steals from the patient or manipulates them into giving them money or valuable items. Financial abuse can be carried out in several ways such as:
- Threatening to abandon or harm the resident unless he or she gives the employee what he or she wants
- Refusing to give medical attention to the resident
- Cashing a resident’s checks
- Forging the resident’s signature
- Coercing the resident into signing documents such as a will or contract
There are many moving parts to a nursing home abuse trial:
- The claim itself. It has to be filed in court before the process can start.
- Naming the plaintiff (victim) and the defendant/s (the nursing home and other responsible parties)
- Collecting statements including details about the accused abuse and the defendant’s explanation.
- Reviewing potential damages.
When filing a lawsuit against a nursing home, a lawyer must be able to prove:
- The nursing home was contracted to provide care for the victim
- There was a failure to care for the victim
- The lack of care resulted in the victim’s injuries or death
The process is complex and involves many phases:
- Pre-Trial Preparation
During the lawsuit process, from the start to end, either side (plaintiff or defendant) may settle the case.
There are many factors that determine the value of a case:
- Monetary charges such as medical expenses, loss of income and other expenses. It is worth noting that if the loved one is still alive, a loss of income may not be feasible to sue for since the loved one was not employed in the first place. Also, if medical bills were paid by outside insurance, the full amount of medical expenses can not be sued for.
- Emotional trauma charges such as pain, suffering and even losing the loved one.
- Punitive damages to deter this and other nursing homes from abusing their charges.
If an unsafe product has hurt you, you may have the right to compensation from the manufacturer for injuries sustained from the defective product.
When a consumer gets hurt by a product, he or she can bring a products liability suit against that product’s seller, manufacturer or designer, depending on what caused the injury.
Who is responsible will depend on the kind of product defect.
There is a legal responsibility for manufacturers of consumer products to ensure that their products are free of defects and not dangerous to those who buy and use them.
In the United States, defective or dangerous products cause thousands of injuries every year.
Products liability law covers all the following products (and then some):
- Medical devices
- Home appliances
There are three main types of product defects: Design, manufacturing and marketing.
The legal basis of an injured party’s claims for compensation will be one or more of the following: Negligence, breach of warranty or misrepresentation.
Settling Product Liability Cases
Before discussing settlement, you need to identify all possible parties responsible for the injury. What happens if these companies are no longer in business? In the case of mergers, sales or spin offs, determine who the corporate successors are. If dissolved or bankrupt, you will need to decide if you can still sue them.
Many states have “joint and several liability” laws. This means that under these laws, all defendants are responsible for the damage in whole. For example, if there are four potential defendants and one of them no longer exists or went bankrupt, the other three must pay for the that defendant’s share of damages.
When you determine your damages, it isn’t as simple as adding up your medical bills and time lost from work. Most states have clearly identified damages that are allowed in product liability cases. These damages can include:
- past and future medical and nursing bills
- past and future wage loss
- past and future pain and suffering
- past and future emotional distress
- past and future loss of consortium (losses a spouse experiences when a partner is injured)
- and past and future expenses associated with the injury for things you can’t do anymore
A settlement is considered a full, final and complete settlement of all aspects of your claim. If your injury is extensive or the full extent of injury isn’t yet definite, you may consider a structured settlement or a partial settlement with a reservation of rights.
Settling a products liability claim is more complicated than it appears. The companies you will be seeking compensation from will have experienced attorneys helping them during the negotiations.
Hiring an experienced lawyer can help guide you through the negotiation and settlement process. An attorney experienced in products liability law can help you secure evidence of your losses and identify the companies responsible for manufacturing, distributing and selling the product or product components that injured you. If companies have changed identities because they sold, merged or spun off, your attorney will be able to identify the successor that would be responsible.
Injuries can happen at any workplace; however, they are especially common in the following industries:
- First Responders: Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS
- Professional Drivers
- Pilots and Flight Engineers
- Health Care
There isn’t a specific type of injury or injuries that workers are able to file a claim against. If the injury was sustained in the workplace, it is considered a workplace injury, and you may be eligible for compensation. In most states, businesses are required to cover paid employees with worker’s compensation insurance, no matter how small the company is.
Most Common Workplace Injury Claims
The most common workplace injury claims are for:
- Being struck by or against an object
- Highway incidents, violence
- Machinery accidents
- Overexertion (carrying, lifting, pushing, etc.)
Worker’s compensation is generally available to all paid employees at a company; however, in some states, there are exceptions.
Even if you are not eligible for worker’s compensation, your employer may still be responsible for your workplace injury. These cases are highly specific; therefore, we recommend consulting with an attorney. If you file for worker’s compensation, you typically give up your rights to sue your employer. For this reason, we encourage you to be sure your injuries are minor and will completely heal before filing without legal consult.
Can You Sue When Injured at Work?
We advise that you consider a lawyer if you have severe injuries or obtain an injury that results in ongoing medical needs. For example, if you obtain a head injury that requires stitches, but are also diagnosed with a concussion, you’ll be suffering from the consequences of the concussion long after the wound has healed.
We also recommend that you consult with a lawyer if you don’t understand the paperwork or are being pushed into signing documents without being able to review them. You should definitely hire a lawyer if you will be going into a court room.
There are some very specific situations in which you can hire a lawyer to sue outside of workers compensation:
- If a third party caused your injury — for example, if you get in an accident while driving a company car and sue the other driver for negligence.
- If your employer does not have worker’s compensation insurance — in these cases, you must prove the employer was completely at fault, which takes a calculated and thorough case.
- If the injury was a result of intentional actions — for example, if you are physically assaulted at work (cannot file these types of cases in all states, but permitted in West Virginia).
- If you were injured by a toxic substance — including asbestos and radium, etc.
- If you were injured by a defective product — for example, if you work with machinery and the machine was defective, the company who produces the machine may be responsible.
When working through a workplace injury claim, you need to think long-term.
If you obtain a head injury, you need to consider the very real possibility that the injury may cause headaches long-term. If the headaches are so severe that you have to take time off from work, you’ll continue to suffer from lost wages.
A lawyer can help you think long-term.
Fair compensation isn’t just for current medical bills and immediate lost wages after the accident.
Fair compensation includes:
- Future medical bills
- Future lost wages due to ongoing issues with the injury
- Any necessary physical therapy/rehabilitation
Hiring a lawyer will also help you should the injury render you unable to do your job. In these cases, you may need compensation to help you learn a new skill in order to do a different job.
Filing a Lawsuit
If the lawyer determines that you have a case, he or she will file a lawsuit on your behalf. After the lawsuit is filed, you become the plaintiff, and the person who injured you becomes the defendant. Lawyers on each side will find facts through written questions, documents and depositions. This process is called discovery.
Most personal injury cases do not go to trial. They are instead resolved in mediation, where the plaintiff and defendant work out the issue and decide on a settlement.
Mediation is a dynamic, structured, interactive process where a neutral third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialized communication and negotiation techniques.
Sometimes, medical malpractice cases may be settled out of court. This is if both parties can come to an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will continue to the next step: trial.
During a trial, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant did not follow standard procedures or meet expected standards — in other words, that the defendant was negligent. A decision will then be made, determining which party wins. Should the plaintiff win, the jury will then determine the damages, or the amount the plaintiff is entitled to recover. Of course, as with any case, there could be an appeal of the verdict.
Hiring a Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been involved in any of these types of cases, you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can handle the legal work and help you through the entire case.
- Find the right lawyer
- Lawyer’s reputation
Find the right lawyer
There are many lawyers to choose from with a wide range of personality, skill and experience. Some lawyers are eager to take a case to court, and others are more inclined to reach a quick settlement. Some lawyers have a coarse, intimidating way of getting their clients results, and others are focused on the mental and emotional well-being of the person in their care. Most importantly, make sure your lawyer specializes in the case you are dealing with.
How do other lawyers and the general public view the attorney you would like to work with? You can learn a lot by asking those who have worked with the lawyer what to expect. It may also be important to you that you work with someone who has given back to the community. Take some time and research the internet for testimonials or case studies.
You want to work with a lawyer that is dedicated to your case and can be with you every step of the way. A dedicated lawyer will be responsive and answer any questions you may have along the way.
“I believe that the law is an honorable profession. It is designed to help people and hold those accountable who inflict injuries on others.”
Your free consultation will include:
A determination if your case fits within Jim Stealey’s areas of expertise.
If it does, we will proceed with the following:
1. A 30-minute Meeting with Jim Stealey
2. A legal and factual analysis of your case
3. Legal advice on the merits of your case and the risks
4. A prompt decision on whether or not your case will be accepted
5. A plan-of-action for your case if it is accepted
6. A proposal for legal fees and payment of costs
“Jim helped me after I was severely hurt on the job.Without him, I don’t know where I’d be right now. His family and mine have remained friends through all these years. I am very grateful for all he’s done for me and my family.”Jennifer Sparks
“While the family dealt with recovery and healing, Jim looked ahead at the challenges that we did not even know were coming. We wanted a good person who looked for a fair solution for everyone involved. Jim was the right guy and I know he treated everyone with the respect they deserved. He is an exceptional person that just happens to be an exceptional lawyer.”Darrell and Connie Harmon