Introduction to Personal Injury
Personal Injury simply refers to cases where someone has been hurt by another person or group of people. Our legal system requires every member of society to act responsibly and avoid putting other people at risk. When someone fails to act responsibly and causes someone else to be hurt, the irresponsible person needs to be held accountable. Cases like these are called negligence, and they are the most common form of personal injury case. Personal injury also includes cases where someone hurts another person on purpose. These cases are usually called intentional torts.
Every personal injury case has two big parts that need to be proved. The first part is liability. The person who is hurt must prove that the person who hurt them is at fault, and thus liable. Sometimes this is obvious. For example- everyone knows that in California, if you rear-end someone on the road, you’re probably at fault and will be held liable because you didn’t leave enough distance to safely stop. Another example of clear liability is if someone assaults another person.
The second part is damages. The hurt person must prove how badly they were hurt. If the hurt person can prove that the other person is liable, then the liable party must compensate the hurt person for their injuries. Examples of damages include medical bills and time missed from work, which are usually easy to figure out. Damages also include compensation for pain and suffering and emotional distress. No one can take away the pain or the emotional distress you’ve endured. The only way the courts can compensate you is to make the liable party pay you money to make up for your suffering. Calculating dollar figures that are a fair compensation for suffering is much more difficult than simply adding up medical bills.
Common Types of Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury cases can happen in all sorts of ways. Maybe you’re walking along a sidewalk, and you get hit hard in the face with a baseball because the fence that was supposed to stop it was in disrepair. Maybe you’re at a firework show, and a misaimed firework shoots right at you and burns you badly because the firework technician wasn’t doing his job. Maybe you’re at the zoo, and a tiger gets loose and attacks you, leaving you with severe cuts all over your body because the zookeeper left the gate to the cage wide open. If you can think of an injury, there has probably been a case about it. However, here are a few types of personal injury cases that happen much more often than others:
- Car Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Premises Liability
- Product Liability
- Dog Bites
- Boat Accidents
- Construction Accidents
- Wrongful Death
The Goal for Your Case
There are always two major goals in a personal injury case. The first goal is for the client to get better. Sometimes that only takes a little time and a few visits to a doctor. Other times, it may require major surgery to get you back to 100%. Sadly, there are some injuries from which you never fully recover, and you may require lifelong treatment. Your attorney can guide you through the medical treatment process, but ultimately the decision is up to you and your doctors about how to best treat your injury.
Once you have recovered from your injury, or have stabilized to a point where you will not improve any further, then it is time for your attorney to get to work to get the largest recovery possible for you. Your attorney will review your case with you to come up with a dollar figure that you agree is fair compensation for your injury. If the other side agrees to pay that amount or more, or if their insurance agrees to pay that amount or more, then the case can be settled informally. If not, then the remaining option is to take the case to court by suing the person who injured you and letting a jury decide how much you are owed.
At the Law Office of Douglas A. Goss, we have years of experience working to get our clients the maximum possible recovery in their case. Doug’s first job out of law school was working for the insurance companies to defend them from cases like these. He uses that inside information and experience to carefully frame his clients’ cases in a way that gets positive results.
Perhaps more importantly, our office works to get you a recovery as quickly as possible. We don’t let cases linger, and needlessly delay the recovery for our clients. Every case deserves attention to detail to make sure nothing is missed, which does take some time. However, all too often we hear from our clients about experiences they have had with other attorneys who don’t work on their case and don’t return their calls. We pride ourselves on our communication and our dedication to getting good results, but also on getting those results promptly for our clients, and keeping them in the loop as we work to resolve their case.
How Do Attorney Fees Work?
At the Law Office of Douglas A. Goss, our policy regarding fees is simple – YOU DON’T PAY US UNLESS WE RECOVER MONEY FOR YOU! Every contract we sign with our clients says, “Attorney will be paid for services rendered only if Attorney obtains a recovery for Client." Such a fee is called a contingency fee because the fee is contingent on getting a recovery.
Most attorneys who handle personal injury cases do it on a similar contingency basis. However, there are three important differences among law firms in how they handle their contingency fees:
- The percentage (%) charged by the firm;
- Whether the percentage (%) is calculated from the Gross Recovery or the Net Recovery; and
- Whether the client must reimburse the attorney for expenses if there is no recovery.
The Percentage Charged by the Firm
At the Law Office of Douglas A. Goss, the percentage to be charged is always negotiable. After meeting with you to review your case, we will discuss the fee to be charged with you. Most cases are taken at the industry standard rate of 331/3% of the recovery. However, we accept many cases at a lower rate of 25% and sometimes as low as 15% depending on the amount of damages, liability, and the work we believe the case will require.
Fee Calculation - Based on Gross or Net Recovery?
Some law firms calculate their fee based on the gross recovery, which means they calculate their fee before expenses are paid. What that means is more money for the firm, and less money for the client. Here is how it would work:
EXAMPLE: $100,000 Settlement; $10,000 Expenses; 331/3% Fee
If the firm calculates their fee based on the gross recovery, they would get 331/3% of $100,000, which is $33,333.33. However, at the Law Office of Douglas A. Goss, we think that if it costs us $10,000 to reach a $100,000 settlement, then the true recovery is only $90,000. So, we calculate our fee based on the net recovery, after expenses have been deducted. In the example case, our fee would be 331/3% of $90,000, which would only be $30,000. That would mean $3,333.33 more in your pocket.
How Are Expenses Reimbursed?
Almost every case will require the attorney to advance expenses on behalf of the Client. Some cases require a lot of expenses, others require very little. Typical expenses include ordering medical records & reports, court fees, deposition expenses, and fees for expert witnesses or investigators who may need to be hired. Some lawyers require the client to reimburse the lawyer for those fees even if the case does not result in a recovery. At the Law Office of Douglas A. Goss, the client is only required to repay expenses that we advance if we get a recovery for them in their case. From our contract, “Client will reimburse Attorney for all costs advanced on Client’s behalf only if recovery is obtained on Client’s claims.”
Call us today at (209) 373-4680 or email us at email@example.com to schedule a free consultation. Tell us about yourself and tell us what happened. We can answer any questions you have, and give you more information about how your case might resolve. If you decide to hire us, you won't pay us a dime unless and until we get money for you.