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FAQ's

Personal Injury Law Firm

Law Offices of Kenneth G. Marks

Serving Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego

What are some things I should do if I am involved in an accident?

  1. Get IMMEDIATE emergency medical assistance. Insurance companies and their lawyers often claim that an injury was not caused by a particular accident, or did not cause pain, suffering or severe trauma on the grounds that the plaintiff never sought emergency-room assistance. They will use any delay in medical treatment to their advantage. Juries have bought into this argument over the years, so it’s important to get to an ER or a doctor quickly and start your physical therapy or chiropractic treatment right away and to go consistently.
  2. Memorialize in writing or on your computer every detail you can possibly remember about the accident. Be sure to write "communication to my lawyer" at the top of the page in order to maintain confidentiality. It’s also a good idea to make a daily diary of the pain, suffering and inconveniences that result from your injuries.
  3. Photograph immediately and comprehensively (i.e. multiple distances and angles) all visual evidence of bodily injury and property damage. Do not wait to develop the photos, because if they come out unclear they need to be retaken quickly so as to memorialize physical injuries before they heal or subside. At the same time, take photos of bodily injuries every day or every week (as necessary) to memorialize each visible stage and length of time of the healing process.
  4. Photograph immediately and comprehensively any dangerous conditions, items or vehicles that caused or were involved in the accident (such a vehicle, a piece of hardware, a loose staircase). It is important to photograph these items before they are fixed, improved, or removed from the scene. Also photograph any relevant road signs, traffic signals and intersections.
  5. Do not give an insurance company your statement before consulting with an attorney, whether verbal or in writing. Simply ask the claims adjuster requesting the statement to contact your lawyer directly.
  6. Never sign any document pertaining to the accident, including (without limitation) an insurance company's release of claims, authorization to obtain information, or written statement describing what happened. Have your lawyer review any such document before executing it.
  7. Request the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident, and persons involved or injured in the accident.
  8. If you must take time off of work because of the accident, always secure a doctor's note confirming that the time off was doctor-recommended or ordered.
  9. All physical evidence should be marked and preserved. For example, a defective product that caused injury, shoes worn in a slip and fall injury, documents (such as receipts) proving that you were present at the scene of the injury, etc.
  10. Medical treatment should be continuous and as frequent as necessary. Long gaps between treatment are often cited by defense attorneys as evidence that an injury is not serious, that medical treatment is not really necessary, and that the plaintiff is malingering.

When should I hire a personal injury lawyer?

Immediately. The value of your case is directly related to the evidence collected that will prove your claims. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the sooner he or she can begin interviewing witnesses, investigating the scene, memorializing relevant details (such as through photographs, written statements, business or medical records, etc.) You might be surprised at how much the smallest and seemingly most insignificant evidentiary details can actually affect the amount of damages awarded by a jury at trial. Every little thing counts! Moreover, your attorney will prevent you from doing things that may damage your case, such as giving statements and signing documents that may later be used against you.

How much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer? Shouldn't I wait as long as possible before hiring one in order to save money?

We will represent you on a contingency basis. This means that instead of being paid hourly, we are paid a pre-determined percentage of your recovery. If you do not obtain a recovery, we don’t get paid. The reason for this arrangement is that hourly fees for a good lawyer are typically hundreds of dollars per hour. Most people simply cannot afford to pay this, especially in this economy! Thus, in order to provide you with the opportunity to be represented effectively, we will assume the risk inherent with any contingency arrangement in exchange for an extremely reasonable interest in the recovery. In addition, your fee arrangement with your lawyer typically calls for a smaller percentage fee if the case settles earlier on in the litigation or if the claimant is a minor.

How long will it take for my personal injury case to resolve?

Your personal injury case will be resolved either through a settlement or through a jury trial. Settlements can take anywhere from a few months to the day before trial. Trials typically occur within one year of the filing of a lawsuit for non-complex injury cases, and within two or three years for complex cases. We make every effort to settle your case without the necessity of litigation unless there are complicating issues which require us to file your case early.

If my case goes to trial, how long will I be in court?

Trials in non-complex cases normally last 4-5 days. Trials in complex cases (relatively high number of witnesses, expert testimony and documents, normally associated with catastrophic injuries) can last from a couple of weeks to several months.

What expenses will I have to pay towards litigation other than attorney fees? Will I have to pay these expenses up front or will they come out of my recovery?

Litigation costs commonly include process servers' fees, fees fixed by law or assessed by courts and other agencies, court reporters' fees, deposition fees, witness fees, filing fees, jury fees, messenger and other delivery fees, postage, parking and other local travel expenses including mileage, photocopying, printing and other reproduction costs, facsimile charges, and any costs paid out to third parties for services rendered obtained on behalf of your case, including expert witnesses, consultants and investigators. We will advance the litigation costs on your case, and reimburse them out of your recovery. Under some very limited circumstances, such as when the costs in your case are expected to be exceedingly high or if you want to try your case against our advice, and the recovery limited or uncertain, we may require to put down a deposit towards costs in order to take your case.

Will the defendant in my personal injury case have to pay for my damages out of his or her own pocket?

Usually not. Most drivers have insurance for accident liability. Likewise, most product manufacturers, owners of commercial properties and suppliers of goods and services have liability insurance covering them from liability for injuries to third parties arising from their business activities. The insurance companies also typically pay for the attorney fees and litigation costs associated with the responsible party's defense. When there is no insurance coverage, many attorneys will refrain from going after the responsible party unless the party owns sufficient assets (money, property, real estate, etc.) from which a recovery can be satisfied. This is why it is important to carry sufficient uninsured motorist coverage. Normally, the person who causes an accident is an irresponsible person by nature (there are exceptions, of course), so there’s a good chance they will have no liability insurance or minimal liability insurance ($15,000 in California). If you collect against you own uninsured motorist coverage, your premiums won’t increase and your insurance company can then sue the person who caused the accident to collect what they paid out.

What if I was partly at fault for my injuries?

California is what we call a "comparative fault" state, which means that liability for damages caused by an accident is apportioned according to the percentage of each party's fault. This means that if a jury finds that you were 50% at fault for your own injuries (for example, if you were speeding significantly when you hit the other party, who ran a stop sign), then the overall damage award is discounted by 50%. This means that just because you did something that may have contributed to the accident, you still may have a very worthwhile case if your portion of the fault was relatively minor, or if your injuries or pain/suffering are significant.

How do I start a case against the responsible party on behalf of someone disabled or paralyzed by an accident?

Coming to our website and looking for an aggressive highly professional and effective personal injury lawyer is a great start. The bottom line is that following any catastrophic accident, you should hire a lawyer immediately even if it is on behalf of a family member. The earlier your lawyer can start investigating the case and collecting evidence, the greater the recovery will be. Functioning as a guardian for the injured party can be performed in several ways, such as being a representative payee for state social security or disability benefits, executing a durable power of attorney, or being a court-sanctioned conservator with certain powers. Call Kenneth Marks right away for answers to your questions on this issue. He would be happy to personally meet with your injured friend or relative at his or her home, or at the hospital.

How do you assign a dollar value to my case?

While attorneys are ethically prohibited from guaranteeing a certain result in any case, they are responsible for rendering to you reasonable and intelligent predictions as to the general value range of your case, given assumptions about the circumstances of the accident and your injuries. Factors taken into account include the nature of the injuries, the amount of time it will take the injuries to heal or the duration of any resulting disability, the frequency, intensity and duration of pain, the nature, intensity and duration of any lost function, visible symptoms such as bruising and scarring, the cost of past and future medical treatment and maintenance (such as therapy), past and future loss of work income, or earning capacity, and overall mental suffering and emotional distress. In addition, case value is affected by the particular judicial jurisdiction involved. For example, a particular injury may be awarded more value in Los Angeles than in Bakersfield, simply because the cost of living and median income is lower. Other factors include the degree of negligence or recklessness of the responsible party (for example, a car accident case caused by someone driving under the influence of alcohol may garner more sympathy from a jury, and thus more damages). If an intentional injury is involved, such as an assault/battery, a punitive damage factor (damages that may be awarded by the jury solely for the sake of punishment, above and beyond the actual damages) may be added to the assessment. Sometimes, if the circumstances of the case are common enough, your attorney can consult past verdicts in similar jurisdictions and in similar cases to find out they way juries have "valued" particular injuries. This may be one predictor (although not a certain or precise one) of the dollar value of your case.

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