- How Much is my Personal Injury Case Worth?
- What are our Fees?
- Can I Settle Out of Court?
- What About Mediation?
- What do you do After I Hire you? Will I be Required to do Anything Else my Claim?
- How do I get Started? What is the First Step?
Let us begin by saying that each case is different. There are many factors that dictate the value of a particular case, including pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses (past and future), disability, loss of enjoyment of life and ability to earn income after an injury. In order to evaluate your personal injury claim, we will need to speak with you and get answers to questions like:
- When did the accident or incident occur?
- Where did the accident happen?
- Describe to us what caused the injury?
- Were you at work when the injury occurred?
- What kind of medical care have you received thus far? Have you had surgery?
- What are your medical expenses so far? Will you have medical expenses in the future?
- Have you lost time from work as a result of the accident?
- Describe how your injuries affect your life in terms of what you can't do now that you could do before the accident.
- Were you ever treated for a similar injury?
As you can imagine, each claim differs in physical, emotional and economic terms. If you have questions regarding your case, call the lawyers at Anderson & Mitchell for a free consultation.
In personal injury cases, including wrongful death and marine related injuries, fees are usually paid on a contingency bases. That means that if you do not receive compensation for your personal injury, we do not charge a fee. Under the Washington State Bar Association rules of practice, we can advance the costs of your case but you are responsible for those costs if no money is recovered. In complex commercial litigation, our fees are generally on an hourly basis with the rate determined before we proceed. All initial consultations are free of charge.
A claim can be settled at any time including before the suit is filed, after the suit is filed, and before trial is started. Suits and claims can also be settled during or after trial. Statistically, most cases settle before trial when the parties are better able to assess the risks presented by the trial process.
Mediation is an informal process where all parties and their lawyers meet in an effort to negotiate a settlement. Typically, it works like this:
We will make a brief presentation discussing our side of the case with the mediator (often a retired lawyer or judge) and with the lawyer for the other side and his or her client (often an insurance company adjuster). The opposing lawyer will then make a brief presentation about their side of the case. After the initial presentations are complete, the mediator will meet with each side in private to discuss the merits and pitfalls of the case. The mediator's job is to persuade both parties to come to an agreement. Mediation is court-ordered before trial. Of course, the court does not order that the mediation be successful – it merely forces the parties to try to settle before coming to trial.
Although each case is different, we generally follow a game plan. First, we get as much information from you and your family as possible. We do this by speaking to you in our office or over the phone. We prefer to meet with you face-to-face when possible. After an initial meeting, we have you fill out a client questionnaire. The questionnaire supplies us with all the basic information we need to move forward. We also have you fill out a "HIPPA Release." That form allows us to access copies of your medical file so we can begin the dialog with your doctor(s). Next we investigate the who-what-where-when and why of the accident. That may mean that we talk to witnesses, including you and your family and friends. That also may mean getting any reports that are available, including employer reports, police reports, etc. After a thorough investigation of your claim, we generally prepare a complaint to file in court. If we elect to file the claim, we then send out "discovery" to the other side. Discovery generally consists of:
- Interrogatories (written questions to be answered under oath),
- Requests for Production (requests for documents and items), and
- Requests for Admission (requests that the other side admit to certain facts of the case.)
You will be required to participate in discovery. Just as we have the right to ask the other side to produce documents and make key people available for questioning, so too, does the other side have this right. You, also, will have to answer interrogatories, and provide documents and perhaps give a deposition. In addition, the other side may have the right to have you examined by a doctor of their choosing.
Call us. We can evaluate your claim and determine the best way to proceed. It is worth remembering that the sooner you call us, the better. Our experience has shown us that evidence like deck surfaces, road conditions and even witnesses' memories tend to change over time. It is important that when a claim has merit, that claim should be investigated as soon as possible. If we represent you, we will guide you through all the legal issues in a way that makes the experience as easy as possible. For a free consultation about your case, call the law firm of Anderson & Mitchell at (206) 436-8490.