The Answers You Need for the Questions You’re Forced to Ask
One of the worst aspects of pursuing a case—whether you’re fighting for injury compensation or trying to settle a divorce—is not knowing what to expect. Before you get yourself knee deep in the details of your case allow us to answer some of your questions first. We’ll help you be more fully prepared and more confident as you move forward.
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What if I can't afford a personal injury attorney?
Many people assume they do not have the funds to hire an attorney. The high settlements and hourly rates of big-name lawyers lead many people to believe that attorneys are for the wealthy. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth—especially for victims of serious injuries. While many lawyers are paid by the hour, the majority of injury attorneys work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning the injury victim does not pay anything up front for legal representation.
The Potential Costs and Fees Associated With an Injury Lawsuit
In a contingency-fee arrangement, the attorney will cover all court costs until the matter has been resolved. If the attorney is successful, his fees are paid with a portion of the amount recovered—usually between 30-40% of the total damages, as well as reimbursement for any costs paid on the victim’s behalf. If the attorney does not win the case, the victim only needs to pay for any costs the attorney covered out of pocket.
Some of the most common questions about payment for legal services include:
- How much is the contingency fee? The amount of contingency percentage is based on the complexity of the injury, the details of the accident, and the time and effort it will take for the attorney to build a strong case. If the case is likely to go to trial, the attorney may quote a higher percentage because trials can double or triple the time it takes to resolve a case.
- What costs are not included in the contingency fee? Common costs deducted from the settlement include filing fees, the hiring of medical experts, employing an investigator, copying and mailing, and records requests.
- Is it worth it to hire a lawyer? In most cases, it is worth the cost of hiring a lawyer if the injuries sustained are severe. A successful injury case can pay for the victim’s lost income, disability, lost quality of life, and past and future medical treatment—even after the amount paid to the lawyer has been deducted from the settlement.
The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum understand that victims are often struggling financially after an injury. That is why we offer free initial consultations for injury victims and explain our payment schedule before we begin working on a case. Contact us today via our online form for your initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
What does it mean when a lawyer offers a free consultation?
Most injury attorneys use a contingent fee to charge for their services, meaning a client will only pay the attorney if the case is won. Since the attorney receives a portion of the damages in a contingent arrangement, it’s important that he carefully weigh the potential outcome against the chances of winning the case—and the victim will likely want to know what to expect in the weeks after hiring a lawyer. A free consultation offers a way for both parties to see if working together on the case would be worthwhile.
Getting the Most From a Free Consultation
Free consultations offer many different benefits to victims. First, it allows them to meet with attorneys before committing to work with them, reducing the likelihood of changing attorneys during litigation. Victims are not limited to the number of free consultations they can have while trying to find a lawyer. This allows them to compare legal representatives risk-free until they find the one they want to hire. Finally, victims can get a sense of what to expect throughout the legal process, helping to prepare themselves for a future case.
If you have suffered an injury, a free consultation is an opportunity for you to learn:
- If you need a lawyer or not. An attorney should tell you how to resolve your claim in a way that makes the most financial sense, even if that does not include hiring a lawyer. An attorney should advise you of anything you can do on your own that could resolve the claim (such as filing paperwork) or whether you do not have a viable claim (such as if the statute of limitations has expired).
- If you trust the attorney to handle your case. You should use a consultation to gauge whether an attorney has the experience necessary to win your case. In particular, it is a good idea to ask how long the attorney has been practicing law and how many of your particular injury case he has successfully resolved.
- If you’re ready for the next steps. While an attorney cannot definitively tell you the outcome of your case in a first meeting, he can tell you which strategies and procedures are likely to succeed and how long the case will take to be resolved. You should also learn what your responsibilities will be and how often you can expect to hear from the lawyer as your case progresses.
The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum are proud to offer free initial consultations for injury victims, allowing you to learn your legal options at no cost to you. Contact us today via our online form to schedule your initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
Is there a time limit for filing an injury case in Rhode Island?
All states set specific time limits for filing different types of lawsuits to ensure all evidence and witness testimonies in the case remain as reliable as possible. In Rhode Island, injury victims have up to three years after the date the injury occurred to file a lawsuit against the negligent party.
After this time limit—called the statute of limitations—expires, the victim forever loses the right to file a case related to the accident. However, there's an important exception to the time limit on Rhode Island injury laws known as the "discovery of harm" rule.
How the Discovery Rule Affects a Rhode Island Injury Case
In most injury cases, the victim’s suffering can be traced back to one specific date—for example, the date of a car crash or slip and fall accident. However, some injuries manifest slowly over time, and victims may be unaware of the progression until years after the causal event.
Under the discovery of harm rule, the statute of limitations “clock” for a victim who was unaware of the injury at the time of the accident starts on the date that the victim became aware of the injury.
Cases involving discovery of harm have their own unique challenges, including:
- Length of time between event and injury. The longer the time between the onset of injury and the lawsuit, the more likely evidence will be lost or no longer reliable.
- Evidence of knowledge. The discovery rule allows that a victim can bring a delayed lawsuit if he or she knew or “should have known” about the injury. The “should have” language is important, since any evidence that points toward a victim’s knowledge—such as a recorded statement after an injury—can be used against the victim.
- Reasons for delay. Even if a delay in discovery occurs, the reason for the delay must be understandable under the circumstances. If a person suffers back problems for years after a slip and fall accident but refuses to go to the doctor, the person will likely not be justified in bringing a case against the property owner after the back injury is finally diagnosed.
As you only have a limited window to bring an injury case, it's a good idea to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Contact Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum via our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation at no cost to you.
Why shouldn’t I post on social media after an injury?
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with your friends and family, so it may seem like a good idea to tell everyone about your accident by posting on Facebook or Twitter. However, this common mistake can hurt your chances of obtaining compensation, and it can make it much harder for you to win damages in an injury lawsuit.
How Social Media Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Case
It’s only natural to want to reassure your friends that you are all right after an injury, but it is important to realize that anything you post online can be used as evidence in your injury case, even if it is unrelated to the accident. Nearly everything you post can be used against you in some way, including:
- What you say. Your own words can easily be used to poke holes in your injury case. Some people cope with trauma by making jokes about the accident, which the defense attorneys may take literally. Even if you post something positive about feeling much better after changing doctors or taking a new medication, the defense attorneys may use it to undermine the seriousness of the injuries you have.
- How you look. Any photos you share—or that others share of you—can be used as evidence. Pictures of you having a drink, attending a party, or even smiling can potentially be harmful to your case.
- Where you are. People who have been severely injured in a crash often take weeks to recover, and it can be a long and frustrating process. While it is a good idea to socialize with friends and visit relatives, any pictures that show you on vacation or out of town recuperating can be used as evidence that your injuries are not serious.
- What you’re doing. Pictures that show any physical activity should be kept off of social media. Obviously, a person who is seriously injured would not engage in skiing or running a marathon, but even necessary or low-impact activities (such as raking leaves or walking the dog) may be seen as evidence that you are not in any pain.
It’s important to suspend your Facebook and social media accounts until after your case is concluded. If you cannot do that, you should adjust your privacy settings, so that only a small number of people can access your account. For more help on your claim, contact Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum via our online contact form to schedule a no-cost initial consultation.
How long will it take to resolve my personal injury case?
Many injury victims want to know how long they will wait before receiving compensation after an accident. Not only does a personal injury claim place strain on a victim’s personal and family life, it can make financial decisions difficult and make the future uncertain. The truth is, there is no set length a time in which a claim must be settled after it is filed, but there are ways to estimate the time it will take before the matter is resolved.
Why It May Take Longer to Resolve Your Rhode Island Personal Injury Claim
In general, in can take between two months to several years to resolve a claim, with most cases falling in the middle. While the exact time varies from case to case, claims may take longer depending on:
- The type and extent of your injury. The impact of some injuries is fairly obvious, but it may be more difficult to show how other injuries have affected your life. For example, a broken bone shows up easily on an x-ray, requires time and immobility to heal, and has known complications. Soft-tissue injuries are harder to diagnose, and the prognosis can vary from patient to patient.
- Your medical treatment history. The at-fault party in your lawsuit may scrutinize your medical details to see if there is any way you could share blame for the injury. If you waited to seek treatment, stopped treatment early, or had previous injuries to the same part of the body, you will have to respond with additional evidence in your injury case proving why you are still entitled to the settlement amount requested.
- How long it has been since the accident occurred. Under state law, all victims have three years from the date of an injury to file a lawsuit. However, the longer you wait to file, the more difficult it may be to track down vital evidence needed for your case.
If you’ve suffered injuries after an accident, contact the legal team at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum by filling out our online contact form to tell us what happened in your no-cost initial consultation.
What is the value of my Rhode Island personal injury claim?
Many accident victims want to know if their settlement amount will be enough to compensate them for the hardship and struggles they’ve endured. If the case goes to trial, the claim will be worth whatever the jury decides. However, the vast majority of cases are settled out of court, and attorneys in the case will determine a figure during settlement negotiations. In both cases, it can be difficult to know the exact amount that a victim can receive without a careful examination of the facts.
Factors That Can Affect the Value of a Personal Injury Claim
Attorneys and insurers must consider many different variables before arriving at a fair settlement value for a case. They may consider recent Rhode Island jury verdicts and settlements as a starting point for negotiations, especially if those amounts help their cases.
Your ability to recover fair compensation will depend on:
- Your medical bills. These should total the amount you have paid for trips to or stays in the hospital and all medical costs associated with the injury, as well as the amount you could pay for medical costs in the future.
- Your property losses. These losses can include property damage (such as the loss of your vehicle), as well as expenses for property modification due to your injuries (such as installing a wheelchair ramp).
- Your ability to work. Because your past lost wages, future loss of income, and permanent disability can amount to thousands of dollars, you will need substantial medical evidence to prove the extent of these losses.
- Your story. There is no limit on the amount of damages a victim can receive to compensate for pain and suffering. If you have suffered unfairly during the course of your injury or recovery, the jury will likely be more sympathetic to your case.
- Your attorney. Finding the right personal injury attorney is vital to your case. The person representing you should have experience handling your kind of accident, know the difficulties of the specific injuries you have sustained, be familiar with all applicable laws involved, and have experience in settling cases, negotiating with insurers or other lawyers, and representing clients in court.
At Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum, we take the time to go over every facet of your case, the details of your injuries, the emotional aspects caused by your injuries, and your treatment. We work to learn exactly how the accident and the injuries affected your life and strive to understand the true value of your case. Contact us by filling out our online form to start a no-cost, initial consultation.