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Should I get an attorney?
An injured person should at least talk with an attorney before deciding to settle a claim or before deciding that there is no claim. We will consult with an injured person free of charge during the initial consultations and/or meetings. Often, insurance companies will try to get you to settle the claim with them before you talk to an attorney. Insurance companies know that, in most cases, they can get a case settled for a lot less against a person who does not have an attorney. Insurance companies, like all businesses, want to save money, and this is one way of meeting that goal.
How do lawyers at your firm get paid?
We represent our injured clients on a contingency fee* basis. This means that we will be paid a percentage of the amount we recover for you, plus any costs and expenses that are necessary to resolve your case. People who have been injured often have medical bills and lost income that make it difficult or impossible for them to pay up front for the costs of investigating and pursuing a personal injury case. Our goal is to handle the case so that you can use your money to take care of yourself and your family while we pursue your claim. The initial consultation(s) and/or meeting(s) with our personal injury lawyers are free of charge.
(*More information on contingency fees - here)
If I contact your law firm, will I meet with a lawyer?
Your first contact, probably a phone call, may be with a paralegal or nurse but when you schedule a meeting, a lawyer will meet with you. During the course of our representation, you will have a legal team consisting of at least one lawyer and one paralegal or legal assistant.
Will a lawyer from your firm visit me if I am unable to travel?
If your injuries prevent you from coming to our offices, a lawyer from our firm will schedule a time to meet with you at a convenient location, whether that is your home, a hospital, or some other location of your choosing.
If I am injured , does a lawsuit always have to be filed in order to receive a settlement?
No. In some cases we are able to negotiate settlements with the wrongdoer's insurance company after investigating your claim but before filing a lawsuit. However, insurance companies and corporations often have to be pushed to trial in order for you to receive compensation that is adequate and appropriate for your injuries and losses.
In a lawsuit, who sues and who gets sued?
In a lawsuit to recover damages for your personal injuries, you would normally file the lawsuit. If the injured person is dead, under 18 years of age, or otherwise incompetent to file suit, then a personal representative will be named for the purposes of bringing a lawsuit. The person sued is the person or corporation that committed the wrongful or negligent act. That person's or corporation's insurance company is not named as a defendant in most instances.
What am I able to recover in a personal injury claim or lawsuit?
In most personal injury cases, you would recover money damages from the defendant or defendants. The amount you recover will depend upon many variables, including the nature of your injuries, whether or not your injuries are permanent or disfiguring, the amount of your medical bills, the amount of your lost wages, the pain and suffering caused by your injuries, and many other factors, including how much insurance coverage the defendant has available to pay a claim.
How long do I have to decide whether or not to bring a case against the defendant(s)?
You must file your lawsuit within the time period allowed by the statute of limitations that applies to your case. These vary from state to state. In Virginia, the statute of limitations for bringing a personal injury case, a medical malpractice case, or a product liability case is two (2) years from the date of injury. You should consult a knowledgeable attorney to determine the exact date when your Statute of Limitations will expire.
In some types of cases, such as personal injury claims against the Commonwealth of Virginia, you must give notice of your claim within one year of the date of your injury. Failure to give this notice in the manner set forth in the statute will prevent you from recovering a settlement or verdict on your claim.
If I was partly at fault for my injuries, can I still recover an award?
Not in Virginia. Virginia has adopted the law of contributory negligence, which means that if you, as the plaintiff, were partially at fault in causing your injuries, you cannot recover against the defendant. Other states have different laws, however, so you should consult a knowledgeable attorney about this issue. Even if you think you were partially at fault, you should still consult an attorney in Virginia because an attorney may feel that you have a reasonable chance of getting a settlement or verdict.
The insurance adjustor for the insurance company wants to settle with me and says that I do not need a lawyer. What should I do?
The adjustor works for the insurance company. Insurance companies exist for one reason - to make money. The adjustor is charged with saving his company's money, therefore his or her goal is to resolve your claim for the lowest amount possible. We at MichieHamlett believe you should consult with an attorney before settling your claim.
I have talked to another lawyer, and she says that she did not think I had a good case. Should I get another opinion?
Yes. Each case depends upon its specific facts, and there may be several different types of lawsuits that could be successfully brought in your case. For example, if someone is injured at their job, there may be a workers'compensation claim, and a personal injury claim against another person or a product liability claim against the manufacturer or seller of a product that caused your injury. Sometimes, an attorney will miss certain types of potential cases, so consulting with another attorney is always a good idea.
Will my insurance go up if I make a claim, file a lawsuit, or obtain a verdict or settlement?
No. Just because you make a claim, file a lawsuit, or get a recovery does not mean that your premiums will go up. However, the negligent party's insurance premiums will likely increase if you recover against him or her, or "it" in the case of a corporation, for their negligent acts.
Does MichieHamlett handle any other types of cases in addition to Personal Injury?
Yes. MichieHamlett is a multi-service law firm. Our firm handles a variety of legal matters, including commercial litigation, family law, trust and estate matters, and complex litigation, as well as cases involving personal injury, defective products that injure or kill, medical malpractice, tractor trailer accidents, auto accidents, explosions and fires, industrial accidents, occupational diseases, pharmaceutical cases, and many others.