personal injury lawsuit

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guliver
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personal injury lawsuit

Post by guliver » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:07 pm

I was referred to a personal injury lawyer in a big office by a friend. After several phone calls with two partners, they told me that they are interested in representing me & invited me to a meeting to explain about the process. I have NO experience in lawsuits. What should I ask regarding the contrast? I assume they will take 30% of proceeds, but should I ask about who decides when to compromise, etc? Are these contracts pretty standard? Am I expected to negotiate? I hope to focus my energies on recovery, so I wish to be as uninvolved in the lawsuit as possible...

staythecourse
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by staythecourse » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:22 pm

I do some of that work on the medical side and the ONLY thing I can suggest is you have to decide if you want to get better or get as much money as you can. The reason I bring this up is PI lawyers use their network of doctors who will do what is best for his/ her lawsuit and not always what is the best interest of your medical care. I would say workers comp. and PI cases get the WORST medical care (yes worst then public aid). The reason is lawyers who do this line of work are not always the most ethical bunch of characters and choose doctors who will do what they want and inverse the shady doctors don't really care about the patient often times and just want as much money as they can.

So outside of making sure you interview a couple different ones (to see if they are the right fit personality AND if compensation is different between lawyers in the same geography), I would also check to make sure they are a reputable group (no fly by night ambulance chasers), and make sure you just continue to get care OUTSIDE of their involvement (do not use who they recommend).

The best doctors in this line of work (ortho and pain docs) are the one's who only do a small % of these type of cases and just have their regular practices as well. This way they truly advocates for what they think is right for the patient vs. what the lawyer wants. The shady ones are the ones who are dependent on the lawyer for 100% of their volume. Thus you start to see where the conflict of interest start.

Good luck.
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dm200
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by dm200 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:52 pm

guliver wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:07 pm
I was referred to a personal injury lawyer in a big office by a friend. After several phone calls with two partners, they told me that they are interested in representing me & invited me to a meeting to explain about the process. I have NO experience in lawsuits. What should I ask regarding the contrast? I assume they will take 30% of proceeds, but should I ask about who decides when to compromise, etc? Are these contracts pretty standard? Am I expected to negotiate? I hope to focus my energies on recovery, so I wish to be as uninvolved in the lawsuit as possible...
What does the other (at fault from your point of view) party offer in comparison to what you believe is fair and reasonable?

Are there any insurance companies involved - yet?

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dm200
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by dm200 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:53 pm

After several phone calls with two partners, they told me that they are interested in representing me
Of course they are! Remember that it is often the case that the financial interests of attorneys are not the same as their clients!

fourwheelcycle
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by fourwheelcycle » Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:54 pm

You are not telling us anything about your case. Are you contemplating suing a property owner for an injury you suffered on their property, or an uninsured driver? Or are you contemplating suing a provider?

From my experience on the provider side, most providers and their insurance companies will offer to settle if they are truly at fault. Unfortunately, some PI attorneys will encourage you to sue even if an impartial medical expert might (would) say the provider really did not do anything wrong, or that their settlement offer is reasonable. Most providers and their insurers will not settle (and will go to court) if they truly believe they have done nothing wrong, or that their settlement offer is reasonable, because they do not want to reward or reinforce PI attorneys who are suing just to fish for an unreasonable settlement.

Bottom line, go into this with your eyes wide open. I'm not saying all PI attorneys will encourage you to sue even if the provider has not done anything wrong or has made a reasonable settlement offer, but I do know some PI attorneys will do this.

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dm200
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by dm200 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:00 pm

My experiences with attorneys regarding lawsuits is that they are interested as long as you give them money upfront and tend to spend down the retainer - then they conclude you do not have a good case.

guliver
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by guliver » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:12 pm

Thanks for all of the replies. I will add some details about the case as many of you asked for it: I am suing my landlord, following a head injury in my apartment. I am not sure if they have insurance but it's a large rental entity so I assume so.

EddyB
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by EddyB » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:15 pm

dm200 wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:00 pm
My experiences with attorneys regarding lawsuits is that they are interested as long as you give them money upfront and tend to spend down the retainer - then they conclude you do not have a good case.
OP, you implied, but did not explicitly state, that this would be a contingency-only representation. Can you confirm to help others respond?

I’m also very curious as to whether staythecourse has any evidence for his or her claims.

denovo
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by denovo » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:15 pm

dm200 wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:00 pm
My experiences with attorneys regarding lawsuits is that they are interested as long as you give them money upfront and tend to spend down the retainer - then they conclude you do not have a good case.
In personal injury cases they usually operate on contingency if you have a good case.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

guliver
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by guliver » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:16 pm

fourwheelcycle wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:54 pm
Bottom line, go into this with your eyes wide open. I'm not saying all PI attorneys will encourage you to sue even if the provider has not done anything wrong or has made a reasonable settlement offer, but I do know some PI attorneys will do this.
I haven't reached out to my landlord to see if they'll compromise. I've basically contacted a lawyer that I hope will handle the entire case for me. Basically, one of our windows (including the frame) fell on my head out of nowhere, I'm having multiple medical problems as a result, and I want compensation from my landlord.

denovo
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by denovo » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:19 pm

guliver wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:07 pm
I I assume they will take 30% of proceeds, but should I ask about who decides when to compromise, etc? Are these contracts pretty standard? Am I expected to negotiate? I hope to focus my energies on recovery, so I wish to be as uninvolved in the lawsuit as possible...
You should not commit to an attorney without interviewing 3-5 firms. Also, everything is negotiable, 30 percent is not "standard". Some may ask for a smaller percent if you negotiate or may offer a lower percentage off the bat. Contracts are not standard. Some may ask you to pay certain fees out of pocket.

You make the final decision on accepting the offer. You are the client.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

T4REngineer
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by T4REngineer » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 pm

Would love to know more - its ZERO my business so you are certainly not obligated and lawyers may say not to but what are the details that make you think the landlord owes you compensation and that this was not simply an accident (hence why we have medical insurance, long and short term disability insurance and heaven forbid life insurance)?

Maybe I do not want to be a landlord........

dbforbes
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by dbforbes » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:31 pm

Do not assume it will be 30% contingency. I do personal injury defense in the Philadelphia area and know that plaintiffs' attorneys around here are asking as much as 40%. But get the best attorney you can, regardless of contingency, as 60% recovery of a $200,000 settlement is better than 70% of one for $150,000. Conduct due diligence though, as few attorneys will concede they are not the best in a given practice area.

denovo
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by denovo » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:35 pm

T4REngineer wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 pm
Would love to know more - its ZERO my business so you are certainly not obligated and lawyers may say not to but what are the details that make you think the landlord owes you compensation and that this was not simply an accident (hence why we have medical insurance, long and short term disability insurance and heaven forbid life insurance)?

Maybe I do not want to be a landlord........
Um, this isn't how the law works.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

guliver
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by guliver » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:37 pm

T4REngineer wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 pm
Would love to know more - its ZERO my business so you are certainly not obligated and lawyers may say not to but what are the details that make you think the landlord owes you compensation and that this was not simply an accident (hence why we have medical insurance, long and short term disability insurance and heaven forbid life insurance)?

Maybe I do not want to be a landlord........
I'm the last person who could give you an overview on when the landlord is or isn't responsible for an accident of that sort. These lawyers asked a lot of questions (including taking a look at the faulty parts), and told me there's a good chance of getting compensation.

guliver
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by guliver » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:45 pm

T4REngineer wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 pm
Would love to know more - its ZERO my business so you are certainly not obligated and lawyers may say not to but what are the details that make you think the landlord owes you compensation and that this was not simply an accident (hence why we have medical insurance, long and short term disability insurance and heaven forbid life insurance)?

Maybe I do not want to be a landlord........
Also, my guess is that landlords usually maintain some kind of insurance against lawsuits, so this story shouldn't affect your desire to become a landlord :D

ResearchMed
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:46 pm

T4REngineer wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 pm
Would love to know more - its ZERO my business so you are certainly not obligated and lawyers may say not to but what are the details that make you think the landlord owes you compensation and that this was not simply an accident (hence why we have medical insurance, long and short term disability insurance and heaven forbid life insurance)?

Maybe I do not want to be a landlord........
Probably you don't want to.

I've no idea about the specifics, but this type of thing is precisely why we had a *large* commercial umbrella policy when we had our vacation rental cabins.

Presumably there might be a claim (perhaps among others) of poor maintenance or total lack thereof, etc.

In our case, even though the properties were brand new, we couldn't be there all the time (nor would the occupants want us to do so!).
Therefore, IF carpeting came loose, or a board on a porch stairway somehow got ready to break, if someone tripped on a tile that had broken, or *whatever*...

First, this is a litigious society, so there may be lawsuits where there is no real liability, but one still needs to defend.

Second, and more importantly (to us personally due to personal history), we could not possibly live with ourselves if somehow something on our property caused serious harm (physical and/or financial) and we did NOT have sufficient resources to cover the damage.
"Things happen", it might truly be due to negligence, but it doesn't need to be.

NOTE: I had a young child struck by a car: marked crosswalk in front of main entrance to elementary school, clear weather. Police claim no alcohol, but we'll never know what that young woman was doing... or not doing.
So we KNOW what "can happen" at any moment.
Now figure, IF it was a long-term injury to a breadwinner of a young family, and that person also needed life-time care...
Nope.... it was important to us to have that coverage just in case.
We don't have the rentals anymore, as we now spend too much time traveling :happy and we never had any claim. But for "peace of mind" AND knowing we'd be able to cover any very serious loss, we don't regret those premiums.

It's been a long time, but we went through all of this.
Also, I chose all doctors/surgeons, except in the ER, obviously.
No attorneys were determining the medical care, as suggested above.
I did need the help of our attorney for some up front costs, but mostly that all waited til later, as our primary concern was whatever recovery was possible...

RM
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T4REngineer
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by T4REngineer » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:30 pm

guliver wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:45 pm
T4REngineer wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 pm
Would love to know more - its ZERO my business so you are certainly not obligated and lawyers may say not to but what are the details that make you think the landlord owes you compensation and that this was not simply an accident (hence why we have medical insurance, long and short term disability insurance and heaven forbid life insurance)?

Maybe I do not want to be a landlord........
Also, my guess is that landlords usually maintain some kind of insurance against lawsuits, so this story shouldn't affect your desire to become a landlord :D
I should have also said - Sorry for your injury - regardless of who is responsible that sucks and I hope you recover fully!

True about the insurance but regardless our sue happy culture is something I strongly disagree with (without any details I pass NO judgement on you - even if I did who cares about what I think!). It seems like lending someone a cup of sugar which is later proved to have adverse health effects they could hold me liable haha

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BolderBoy
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by BolderBoy » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:38 pm

guliver wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:07 pm
Are these contracts pretty standard? Am I expected to negotiate? I hope to focus my energies on recovery, so I wish to be as uninvolved in the lawsuit as possible...
IANAL. I did a lot of medical malpractice case review and expert witnessing over the decades.

Common wisdom: if they will take the case on contingency (they pay everything up front), then they feel you have a decent case. If they want to charge you a fee to represent you, your case may be not so good. Never lose sight of the fact that "the system" is designed to encourage settlement, so going to trial (with a jury) is very unlikely.

If contingency arrangement they will also be charging you "costs" (expert witnesses for example, can be INCREDIBLY expensive - I watched a med mal case in which the star expert's fee was $250k!!!) It is not uncommon for plaintiffs to get nothing even when they won, after the contingency fee + costs eat the entire award.

You cannot be "uninvolved". The defendant's attorneys will open up your entire life and dig through it. Any skeletons you have will come to light. Sure, they are just harassing you, but it is part of the discovery process. It can be most unpleasant.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

fabis
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by fabis » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:35 pm

one thing your attorney should tell you is not to post about it on the internet or to talk about it at all until it's settled. Even then, they can throw in a NDA in the release.


in short, quit talking about it. if you are "injured" enough to post on the internet and ask questions about it and dream of a big pay day, what do you think the jury will think (if it comes down to it)?

fabis
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by fabis » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:37 pm

T4REngineer wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:30 pm
guliver wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:45 pm
T4REngineer wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 pm
Would love to know more - its ZERO my business so you are certainly not obligated and lawyers may say not to but what are the details that make you think the landlord owes you compensation and that this was not simply an accident (hence why we have medical insurance, long and short term disability insurance and heaven forbid life insurance)?

Maybe I do not want to be a landlord........
Also, my guess is that landlords usually maintain some kind of insurance against lawsuits, so this story shouldn't affect your desire to become a landlord :D
I should have also said - Sorry for your injury - regardless of who is responsible that sucks and I hope you recover fully!

True about the insurance but regardless our sue happy culture is something I strongly disagree with (without any details I pass NO judgement on you - even if I did who cares about what I think!). It seems like lending someone a cup of sugar which is later proved to have adverse health effects they could hold me liable haha

The insurance companies call you a "cash cow"...

ResearchMed
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:46 pm

fabis wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:35 pm
one thing your attorney should tell you is not to post about it on the internet or to talk about it at all until it's settled. Even then, they can throw in a NDA in the release.


in short, quit talking about it. if you are "injured" enough to post on the internet and ask questions about it and dream of a big pay day, what do you think the jury will think (if it comes down to it)?
Actually, THIS!

Please consider deleting any identifying details, including the type of 'injury/event'.

Things CAN be "discovered" (a legal term) if litigation continues.

Then ask the Mods here to delete any such details that were copied by others in their posts.

RM
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celia
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by celia » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:58 pm

Can't you focus on your health for now, asking your doctors to take extra notes. After you are better, you could pursue the lawsuit.

sesq
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by sesq » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:42 pm

I was in a lawsuit for personal injury / product liability from a garden tool. We settled one case to fund the experts in another. It took over seven years and in the end the doctors and lawyers pocketed more that I did, and my left leg was amputated in the deal.

I do think you should be compensated for harm, just be aware that it can take a long time. My contingency fee was 1/3. My medical insurers were able to recover against my settlement for the doctor's bills they paid. In some instances they paid their share of the contingency fee, in other cases it was less. The final numbers were close to 1/3 to lawyers, 1/3 to doctors and 1/3 to me, but in fact my portion was a little less. This was mostly due to expert witness fees and insurance companies not fully sharing in the costs of litigation.

I hated having my life on hold. But something was better than nothing in the end.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:33 pm

In your state, is it possible if you decline negotiated settlement and lose at trial can you be responsible for all legal fees from winning side?

I settled my claim via negotiation. There was no issue I was injured, but proving a couple of businesses were responsible would have been difficult. My lawyer did very well considering the individual who hit me only had $20,000 in coverage. And two passengers in his car were injured, though not nearly as bad as I was.

A jury might have been sympathetic, but might not have been. I chose not to go to trial.

The negotiated settlement took four years. The lawyer got his fee out of the settlement, around 25-30%. He was brutally honest on my chances to prevail, so we did the correct thing. He laid out the possibilities, and did not pressure me (us) at all.

A settlement stopped the ticking clock of everyone's lawyer.

I will say I was amazed at what the lawyer did on my behalf, and the settlement I received, given the circumstances.

Seems many people think all lawyers are crooks except their own lawyer. :D

So far my experience with lawyers has been great. My father's trust was handled by a man just about as old as my Dad, but he was extremely helpful, and his fees were modest. He guided me through closing my father's estate.

I think the current estate lawyer wife and I are using is just as good, but he is a lot younger than I am. I wanted that.

Broken Man 1999

ETA: I was very fortunate that only one entity received any of the settlement. It was kinda funny as when the young lady presented her claim, the judge asked her if it was a joke, as it was something around $1000. She said it wasn't and got her money and left in shame. None of my insurances (auto and medical) attempted to get any portion of the settlement. Perhaps the reason for my MegaCorp heath insurance was because it wouldn't have looked very good to impoverish an injured employee.
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

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cockersx3
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Re: personal injury lawsuit

Post by cockersx3 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 4:04 pm

One important thing to remember is that, if there is a settlement, you will likely need to reimburse your health insurance provider for any expenses they paid for the injury. If you have employer-provided insurance (ie covered by ERISA), that reimbursement to the health insurance comes BEFORE you pay the lawyer fees and expenses.

This comes as a surprise to people I know that received a settlement after an injury. In my parents case, after the health insurance reimbursement and the lawyer's fees and expenses, they would have actually lost money overall. Their lawyer reduced his expenses slightly to keep my parents from paying anything out of pocket as a result of the lawsuit.

My understanding is that this is common in auto accidents, where people maintain liability insurance that is typically not very high. Even at a liability coverage of $300k, medical repayment plus significant injuries can easily exceed your insurance. That's why we also have umbrella insurance...

Regarding the other questions...many states cap lawyer's contingency fees, so you'll want to look that up for your state to understand the max contingency fee you would be looking at. Lawyer's fees (for expert witnesses, etc) are on top of that, not part of it. You generally can use your own doctors, lawyer does not dictate that.

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