Frequently Asked Questions Personal Injury Law
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence or recklessness, or if a company’s product has caused you to be injured or become ill, then yes, you need to consult a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney can explain your rights under the law and help you to determine what the best course of action for pursuing your case will be. Studies show that personal injury victims who are represented by an attorney recover as much as three times more than those who choose to take on the insurance companies alone. That being said, not every accident or injury requires a lawsuit to be resolved. In many cases when an accident occurs, the responsible party’s insurance company pays for medical bills, repairs damaged property, and compensates for other losses without involving attorneys from either side. However, when that doesn’t happen, a personal injury attorney will be able to tell you if filing a claim would benefit you based on the initial free consultation. In most cases, a personal injury attorney is fronting all of the costs to pursue your case, so if they do not believe that there is a very good chance of recovering substantially more than whatever you are being offered, they will tell you so. During your free case evaluation with Casey Stevens, he will listen to the details of your case and then offer his expert legal opinion on what your options are going forward.
What is a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer, or plaintiff lawyer, are both names for an attorney who specializes in litigation representing clients who have been injured physically or psychologically through another person’s negligence or recklessness. They are well versed in tort law and are experienced in dealing with the intricacies of personal injury cases – from knowing which court papers to file and when, to knowing how much to ask for to cover your needs, personal injury attorneys are focused on recovering the absolute best possible compensation for their client’s injuries.
Can any Lawyer Argue my Personal Injury Case?
Technically, yes. And a personal injury lawyer could technically handle your will or your divorce, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Law is a living, breathing thing and it is constantly changing and adapting to new and unprecedented circumstances. So generally speaking, hiring a lawyer who deals solely with injury law swings the chance of a better outcome in your favor. For instance, while the attorney that handled your grandmother’s estate is no doubt an excellent estate lawyer, he or she is not acquainted with the specifics of personal injury cases. On many more than one occasion I have had clients come to me who wanted to fire their attorney because they hadn’t heard from them in months, or because they lost confidence in their lawyer’s ability to handle their case. Nine times out of ten, the attorneys they had hired were not injury lawyers. They took the case thinking they could handle it, but then realized the time and the financial burden of professionally managing an injury case was beyond their expertise or resources. Sometimes the client is lucky, and they get the case turned over to us early enough to turn things around. But unfortunately, many times they do not.
In these cases important filing deadlines have been missed, evidence has been destroyed, or witnesses have disappeared.
Injury lawyers will often even refer cases to each other, or will opt to work cases together. For instance, an accident attorney who has little experience with surgical mesh cases might bring in a more seasoned lawyer who has handled several of those types of cases. It doesn’t cost the client any more money, it just increases the chance of getting the best results possible for the injured party. At the Law Offices of Casey W. Stevens, we only handle personal injury cases, because it is our belief that by not dividing our resources we can best represent our client’s needs in pursuing their claims
Are Personal Injury Lawyers Honest and Ethical?
Contrary to some people’s belief, personal injury lawyers are not a bunch of “sharks” trying to get your money. The idea that personal injury lawyers “will sue anybody” is also false. Remember, they do not get paid unless they win, so they will not generally take on a case that has no chance of success. It also means the more they earn for you, the more they earn for themselves because they are paid on how good a job they do, not hourly like other lawyers. It is a “win-win” situation. Does that mean that all injury lawyers are equally experienced and skilled? No. But if you do your due diligence selecting an accident lawyer, chances are in your favor that your outcome will be better than if you had tried to go it on your own. This is especially true if your injuries required surgery, extended therapy, and/or lost wages. Injury lawyers are governed by the Bar Association of their State. Attorneys who fail to follow the guidelines governing them will face sanctions, including possibly losing their law license permanently. Legal ethics, although they vary by state, are very strict and virtually impossible to get around (they were, after all, drafted by lawyers). Generally they require that any attorney represent and protect their client’s interests knowledgably and ethically while maintaining confidentiality. As with any profession, there will always be those who conduct themselves in a way that reflects negatively on their peers, but attorneys who are dishonest and unethical are quickly reported (not just by their clients, but by their fellow attorneys and other members of the legal system).
What Constitutes Negligence?
Negligence, as defined by tort law, occurs when a person does not exercise care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation, or behaves in a way that reasonable person would consider as reckless. If you are unsure if there was negligence involved in your case, you should consult us for a free case evaluation.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer That Specializes in my Specific Injury?
As mentioned before, personal injury law is in itself a specialization. The Law Offices Casey W. Stevens specializes in personal injury and wrongful death cases. When you are interviewing personal injury attorneys, you should always ask what their experience and success rate is with cases like yours. Casey Stevens has recovered millions of dollars for his clients through negotiations, mediation and in the courtroom in a variety of different personal injury and wrongful death cases.
What Steps Should I Take If I am Injured in an Accident?
Every case is different, but there are a few universal steps that you should take if you are injured.
- Seek medical attention
- Make an accident report
- Collect evidence – take pictures, get witness names and contact info, etc.
- Contact your own insurance carrier
- Contact a personal injury attorney
There are also things that you should NOT do if you are injured in an accident.
- Do not give any recorded statements to the insurance company
- Do not accept any offers until you are fully aware of your rights and expenses
- Do not sign any releases or waivers
- Do not admit (or allow your insurance carrier to admit) any fault
How Much is my Case Worth?
This is impossible to answer since every case is different with its own unique set of circumstances. It would be like asking “How much does a car cost?” It is crucial that you meet with a qualified personal injury attorney like Casey Stevens to discuss the details of your case.
There are many factors that influence the settlement in your case, including but not limited to:
- How severe are your injuries
- How intense is your medical treatment and how long will it take
- How much are your bills
- Are you still able to work
- How much insurance coverage the responsible party has
- If the responsible party has any large assets
- If the responsible party has any defenses
Depending upon the details of your case, you may be entitled to:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity
- Lost or damaged property
While medical bills, lost wages, and damaged property are all easily calculated, pain and suffering is what is known as an “intangible” and open to personal interpretations. It is a personal injury attorney’s job to assess your injuries and determine what the effects will be on you, your family, and your ability to enjoy life over the long term and then present his assessment to the responsible party’s insurance company or to a judge and jury should your case go to trial.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
Most personal injury lawyers will provide you with a free case evaluation to determine if your case has merit and is worth pursuing. After that, they generally work on contingency. Their fee is paid out of the settlement that you receive, and the expenses necessary for proving your case (filing fees, hiring experts, accident reconstructions, etc.) are paid from your share of the settlement.
How Long Will My Case Take?
Again, this is impossible to answer because every case is different. The timeline of a personal injury case could be a few months or a few years. Meeting with a personal injury attorney for a free case evaluation is the first step to determining how long your case might take. No attorney will be able to definitively tell you a specific date that your case will settle, but their experience in these cases allows them to narrow the unknown.
Will I Have to go to Court to Settle my Case?
Possibly, but not probably. Most personal injury cases are settled during negotiations or mediation, and never make it to a courtroom. However, it is important when choosing a personal injury attorney to be aware of their courtroom experience and successes because you can be certain that the insurance companies are aware of which lawyers they do not want to go up against in court. An attorney who is more likely to win in court, is also less likely to go to court because the insurance company will be more willing to settle in order to avoid a trial against them. Attorney Stevens has successfully tried and won cases in the State, Superior, and Magistrate courts of the state of Georgia and settled hundreds of cases before they ever went to trial.
Who Pays my Bills Resulting From my Accident?
You do. At least at first. When you are involved in an accident, you or your insurance will cover the cost of your care. The settlement is meant to reimburse you for these expenses, and in some cases, your insurance company may ask to be reimbursed as well for the money that they paid out for your care. The cost of your bills comes out of your portion of the settlement after your attorney is compensated.
What Does “Contingency” Mean?
Basically, contingency means that your attorney fronts all of the money to research and represent your case. Their fee is a percentage of your total settlement and the costs associated with your case (filing fees, investigations, etc.) are billed separately from your attorney’s fee. Personal injury attorneys take on all of the risk by fronting the money to investigate, file, and prove your case and if they do not win, then they have basically done all of the work for free. In our firm, the attorney fee is 30% if the case is settled in litigation, and 40% if the case goes to trial. In extenuating circumstances, those fees may vary slightly. All fees are outlined in our agreement, and are discussed up front.
Can I sue for my Expenses Relating to my Lawsuit (Court Costs, Lawyer’s Fees, etc.)?
No. This is why it is so very important to hire a personal injury attorney as opposed to a lawyer who specializes in other areas of the law. A personal injury attorney is able to negotiate a settlement that will best compensate you for your injuries in addition to covering the costs involved with litigating your claim because they are well acquainted with what these types of cases involve. It is our job to recover the best possible compensation for you, and if we do not believe that your case can be settled for enough money to cover the cost of the investigation, the litigation and/or trial, as well as cover their fee and still leave you with money to compensate you for your expenses, pain and suffering, then we will tell you so in your initial case evaluation before you sign to have us represent you. Remember this is OUR policy, not the policy of ALL lawyers. We will NOT take your case if we feel you can do better financially by handling it yourself. And we will even offer you free advice on how to proceed with the handling of your case. Usually cases we suggest people handle on their own are those with some property damage and little to no injuries, and/or those that have little to no insurance coverage on the opposing side. Again, this is on a case by case basis, and will be discussed during your initial consultation.
How do I Find an Attorney?
The absolute best way to find an attorney is through a referral. Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. for a recommendation. If none of your friends has a recommendation, ask another attorney (like the lawyer who handled Grandma’s estate) for a recommendation. There are also referral services through the Bar Association and other attorney sites online. Interview your attorney. If you don’t get to meet with the attorney before signing a contract, or if you are told you will not be working directly with the lawyer you were referred to, beware. More than half of Casey Stevens’ clients come from referrals from either fellow attorneys or previous clients, and all of our clients work directly with him.
If I Have an Attorney, but I am Unhappy With how They are Handling my Case, can I Fire Them? Will I Still Have to pay Them?
You can fire your attorney, but make sure you read your contract. Most attorneys require the expenses they have fronted to get the case started be reimbursed to them. If you consult with another attorney, and they feel they will be better able to serve you, they may reimburse the other attorney for the outstanding expenses. If you have a bad feeling about your lawyer’s ability to, or desire to handle your case…. Have a discussion with them, then call a few other lawyers to get their input. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t listen to your gut instinct, then find out too late that your window of opportunity to move to another law firm has closed. We know most of the other injury lawyers in the Atlanta area. If we know the attorney representing you has a reputation for being a straight shooter, and a good lawyer, we may just advise you to stay where you are. It depends on the circumstances. At the very least, we will give you the questions to ask your current lawyer that will either satisfy you, or cause you to pursue other options.
Why Should I Hire Casey W. Stevens?
Mr. Stevens has worked the other side – he spent ten years as an insurance claims manager and then four more years as a member of the legal defense team for the insurance companies. Since opening his firm, Mr. Stevens has been selected by The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers and voted among the Top 5% of attorneys in the state of Georgia by Super Lawyers. He has successfully recovered millions of dollars for clients just like you both in litigation and in the courtroom. Call our office to arrange a free case evaluation today.
Who Will Handle my Case?
Our office has one attorney – Casey Stevens. He handles all of our cases personally, but he is assisted by his staff, including paralegals, legal assistants, and his office manager. All of the litigation will be handled by Mr. Stevens, but you may receive phone calls or have meetings with other members of our staff as we gather information for your case.
Use our online contact form or simply call our office to arrange for a no cost, no obligation case evaluation with Attorney Stevens in any of our six metro Atlanta offices, or if your circumstances make travel difficult, he will come to you in your home or hospital room.770-408-6364