People who call our firm for legal help need information and many of the questions are similar to the concerns of other potential clients. We give you answers to these questions so that you can make an informed decision regarding your legal options.
Many personal injury lawyers advertise “no recovery, no legal fees” – learn about contingency fee cases and alternative fee arrangements.
Contingent fee arrangements in civil cases have long been commonly accepted in the United States, and may in fact be the only practical means by which an individual with a claim can afford to obtain the services of a competent lawyer.
“Contingent” means an attorney only collects if there is some type of recovery for the client, typically a settlement or jury award. If nothing is recovered for the client, no fees are paid to the attorney. The attorney is compensated for the legal work performed by taking a certain agreed percentage or amount from the recovery, regardless of the time or effort involved.
This does not mean that the litigation is risk-free. Expenses, such as expert witness fees or copying charges for medical records, are commonly not covered by contingent fee arrangements and must be paid by the client regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit. Depending on the nature of the case, expenses can easily run into several thousands of dollars.
Colorado law requires that before entering into a contingent fee agreement, your attorney provide you with a disclosure statement detailing the specifics of the contingent fee, the manner in which other litigation costs will be handled and alternative fee arrangements which are available.
Learn the considerations which contribute to an estimate of the value of a claim.
The determination of the value of a case is based upon two considerations – the question of liability, or who is responsible for the injury, and the question of damages. Liability depends on the specific facts of an accident or mistake, as a general rule the more clearly liability can be established, the stronger the claim. State statutes, regulatory rules and case law may all contribute to the determination of liability. In cases where there is no dispute as to fault, liability is admitted by the defense and the only question is the amount of the damages to be paid. Very few cases involve admitted liability. The defense lawyer typically argues that the risk of injury was assumed by the victim or that the negligence of the victim contributed to the cause of the accident.
Damages are the losses and harm you have suffered valued in a dollar amount. Compensation is appropriate for both economic damages, such as medical expenses and loss of wages, and non-economic losses such as permanent impairment or loss of quality of life. Read more about Damages.
Find out why time is crucial in a personal injury case.
Every state has statutes, or state laws, governing the time allowed for filing specific types of lawsuits. These time limits are called “statutes of limitations.” If you miss the statutory deadline for filing your case, you lose the right to do so.
In Colorado, there is a two-year statute of limitations period for general negligence claims. Claims arising from motor vehicle accidents have a three-year statute of limitations, and those arising from medical negligence have a very strict two-year period. However, when the statute of limitations period begins running is not always obvious – that is, at what date does your two-year period begin.
If the injured party has a legal disability, such as being a minor, the period does not necessarily begin on the date of the injury. Likewise, if the injury is not immediately apparent, the period may not begin to run until discovery of the injury.
Claims against state or federal entities and institutions may have other time-sensitive procedural requirements with far shorter periods in which to act.
As with most legal analysis, you are best protected by discussing your matter with an attorney to ensure that you do not lose your right to file a lawsuit.
Reasons why a Colorado attorney will serve your best interests.
If you have an accident in Colorado, but reside in another state, why should you consider a Colorado attorney? Because you will be required to file your lawsuit in Colorado. Additionally, an experienced Colorado trial attorney will know the applicable state law and will know the practical considerations to be addressed when filing a claim.
Every state has statutes of limitations and procedural requirements that place deadlines on when you can file a personal injury lawsuit. Statutes of limitations differ from state to state and depend also upon the nature of the claim. If the accident involves a government or state entity, other statutory requirements must also be satisfied prior to and at the time of filing a lawsuit. A Colorado personal injury lawyer will know these requirements and time frames.
Different states recognize different tort claims, and many have varying limitations on damage awards allowed for tort claims. What claim to file and how to best state that claim is part of the expertise you gain when you hire a lawyer from Colorado.
As a practical matter, a Colorado lawyer will also best know the local legal community—the judges and the defense counsel who might be involved in your case. This knowledge, and the benefit of an established reputation in the Colorado legal community, will enhance any personal injury claim filed on your behalf.
What you should know about insurance coverage — yours and theirs.
Questions as to insurance coverage can be some of the most complex issues you will encounter when considering a lawsuit. If you are injured in an auto accident, then special provisions of Colorado law requiring motor vehicle insurance will govern the insurance coverage. If you have a negligence claim arising from another’s conduct, the other party may have homeowners insurance which will provide coverage for your claim. You must bring suit against the negligent person, but typically their insurance company will hire the defense attorney and handle the litigation. If you are injured on the job in Colorado, then the state’s workers compensation system will handle your claim.
If your medical insurance has paid your medical expenses for treatment of injuries suffered because of an accident, then the medical insurance company may have a right to collect part of the covered expenses out of the compensation you receive from your lawsuit. Before you even talk to a lawyer, you may receive notice from your medical insurance provider of a subrogation right against any proceeds you collect as a result of a personal injury claim.
Beware of the insurance adjuster for the other side—you may be asked to provide a statement of your recollection of the accident. This is almost always tape-recorded, and it is not so much a statement by you as an interrogation by the adjuster. We strongly encourage people to talk to an attorney before agreeing to any type of statement other than to officers of the law.