In the case of an injury, there is a good chance that a personal injury attorney will secure more damages than you can yourself. However, personal injury is a specialized field, and only certain accident injury lawyers are qualified to handle these cases. Thank you for taking the time to stop by our website. Below are some of the most common questions we at the Mintz Law Firm get asked about personal injury cases and claims. Our Colorado personal injury attorneys took the time to answer your questions. If you have additional questions about a personal injury claim please fill out one of the contact forms or visit our homepage here.
Note: The answers to the following questions are intended to provide general information about the law of Colorado. This information is not intended to serve as legal advice or to be a substitute for consultation with an attorney. If you have a specific legal issue, you should get the advice of a licensed attorney.
Here are some personal injury case Frequently Asked Questions and Answers provided by our personal injury attorneys at the Mintz Law Firm:
Q: What period of time should it take to obtain compensation in connection with a personal injury claim?
This must be determined on a case-by-case basis. The Colorado personal injury attorneys at the MINTZ LAW FIRM, LLC are committed to resolving claims for the most amount of money, in the shortest period of time. However, it is important not to settle claims until the permanent effect of injuries is determined and properly documented. Our injury lawyers can refer our clients to the appropriate physicians to get an accurate and informed opinion as to the permanency of any injuries where that is appropriate or necessary and those physicians can discuss the effect of the client’s injuries on the client’s activities of daily living and ability to be employed. Often, claims can be resolved within six months, depending on the nature of the injuries.
Q: Who decides if a case is settled or goes to trial?
You do. The client is the only one that makes this decision. Colorado personal injury attorneys can recommend and/or give an informed opinion as to whether a client should accept a settlement, but it is always the client’s decision whether to actually accept the settlement. The Denver personal injury lawyers at MINTZ LAW FIRM, LLC are proud of the fact that we provide a clear and concise evaluation of the claims for the client, and all the information necessary for the client to make an informed decision on whether to settle a claim or proceed to trial.
Q: If no compensation is recovered, and the client does not win their case, what fees and expenses are owed?
If no money is recovered, MINTZ LAW FIRM, LLC does not charge the client any fees. Expenses paid out to third persons to develop the documentation of the claim or injuries are handled differently than lawyer’s fees under applicable Colorado law. Under Colorado law, any expenses incurred in connection with the claim, such as payments to doctors for their medical records, must remain the client’s responsibility. However, MINTZ LAW FIRM, LLC does not incur any expenses until such time as they are absolutely necessary and holds expenses to the absolute minimum, until it is clear that money has been or will be offered to resolve the claim.
Q: What is the best way for an injured person to determine if they have a claim?
Consulting with an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney is the best way to determine whether there is a viable claim and the value of it. MINTZ LAW FIRM, LLC has been among the premier Colorado personal injury lawyers for well over thirty (30) years and we will conduct an investigation to determine the facts and evidence and to find out whether there is insurance coverage that will apply to your accident or incident. For example, some injured persons are unaware that if they are injured through the fault of an uninsured driver, there still could be insurance coverage to provide compensation for their injuries. In Colorado this insurance is called “Uninsured Motorist” coverage or if the driver who injured the client has insurance but that insurance coverage is insufficient insurance coverage to cover all the client’s damages,“Underinsured Motorist” coverage can be available not only from the automobile in which they are riding at the time of any accident, but also from their own policy or the policy of a blood relative or spouse who resides in the same home as they do at the time of the accident. There are also situations in which persons who have been in an accident experience head injuries, which cause amnesia. In that event, MINTZ LAW FIRM, LLC can conduct investigations involving engineering experts who can reconstruct how the accident occurred and provide opinions as to who was at fault in causing the accident.
Q: I have suffered an injury. Can I file a lawsuit against the party that caused my injury?
In general, when a person is injured as a result of another person’s negligence, the injured party may pursue a claim against the party or parties that caused the injuries. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries if it is found that a defendant was negligent and that such negligence was the cause of your injury. Any personal injury case depends on liability, damages, and whether or not you can collect from the negligent party or parties. Even if you were partially at fault for your injuries, you may be entitled to recover a portion of your damages. In Colorado, a claimant’s contributory negligence will not bar recovery if such negligence was not as great as the negligence of the person against whom recovery is sought, or less then 50%. The claimant’s recovery will be reduced in proportion to his degree of fault.
Q: Who is responsible when a person is injured?
The law of personal injury is concerned with determining who may be responsible for your injuries and how much they should be required to pay for your damages. Personal injury is part of the law of torts, the legal term that includes many types of injuries to people and their property. Every tort claim must include four basic elements including duty, breach of duty, damages, and proximate cause. The defendant must have a legal duty toward the plaintiff. The defendant must have violated that legal duty. The plaintiff must have suffered some harm for which the law allows an award of monetary damages. The defendant’s breach of a legal duty must be related to the plaintiff’s injury closely enough to be considered a proximate cause of the injury.
There are a number of principles that apply to the law of torts and personal injury. These principles recognize degrees of fault on the part of the person who causes the injury. In general, the degrees of fault can be described as negligence, intentional fault, and strict liability.
The term negligence is essential to tort law. Everyone is expected to take normal ordinary care to ensure that their action or the actions of others under their control, do not cause anyone harm. If they fall below that standard, and someone is injured or their property damaged, then they become negligent. Negligence does not mean that the person deliberately intended to cause harm; it only means that they did not take reasonable care or they did not act when any reasonable person would have. The degree of care varies with the circumstances of each case. A plaintiff likewise has a duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances on his own behalf.
Strict liability means that one does not have to prove negligence to recover damages. In the case of product liability, the law now holds that you do not have to prove the manufacturer was negligent if someone is injured while using a product. They only have to prove the product was defective when it left the hands of the particular seller and that was the proximate cause of the injuries. A lawsuit can be brought against anyone participating in the chain of manufacture for that product, from the manufacturer, to the designer to the retail store.
An “intentional tort” refers to a personal injury caused by a person who has the intent to cause harm. It may also refer to injury caused by willful or reckless conduct. Intentional torts include assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, libel and slander, etc.
Q: How will my claim be processed?
Although most of us would prefer to avoid filing a lawsuit or going to court, it is sometimes necessary to pursue litigation to get full value for your claim. Lawsuits usually become necessary when there are disagreements with the other party’s insurance company over who caused an accident or how serious the injuries are. You should be sure not to sign any documents without prior review by an attorney. You need to attend all scheduled doctor appointments in order to document your injuries. Accurate records should be kept of time you missed from work, medical bills, and property damage repairs. You can document your damages with photographs of your injuries or photos of property damage.
After a lawsuit has been filed, both parties will conduct discovery. Pretrial discovery usually takes about a full year during which time both parties investigate all aspects of the claim. This may include taking oral depositions, obtaining pertinent records, propounding interrogatories, and hiring expert witnesses to obtain more evidence about the claim. During this period of discovery and as the trial date approaches, the parties will exchange settlement offers/demands. A large majority of personal injury claims settle before trial. If you agree to accept a settlement, you will be required to sign an agreement stating you absolve the other party of all further liability in this case.
Q: What damages can I recover?
You are entitled to recover for any actual damages that were proximately caused by the wrongful conduct of the defendant. Actual damages refers to the amount of money it would take to fully compensate you and place you in the same position you would have been in had the injury never taken place. You can recover for losses such as costs of reasonable and necessary medical care, property damage, car rental expenses, costs of domestic services, and loss of earnings. The law allows compensation for future medical and care expenses that the claimant can prove will be reasonably necessary to treat the injury. The claim may include income the claimant can prove will probably be lost in the future because of the injuries. Loss of earning capacity is also allowed when the patient proves he or she is less able to earn a living as a result of the injuries
You are also entitled to noneconomic damages for physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium (disruption of your personal relationship with your spouse), etc. A third type of damages that are recoverable are for physical impairment and disfigurement. There is no definite standard of calculating reasonable compensation for these types of damages other than being just and reasonable in light of the evidence. They are assessed in light of the nature, extent, and length of time the injury lasts.
The law in Colorado limits the amount of compensation available for noneconomic damages (excluding physical impairment and disfigurement) in injury and wrongful death cases. For medical malpractice, damages may not exceed $1,000,000 per patient with not more than $250,000 attributed to noneconomic loss or injury. The court may allow an award in excess of these amounts under certain circumstances.
Sometimes a person is so severely injured that he or she cannot care and support loved ones the way he or she did before the injury. In appropriate circumstances, the law permits damages to be recovered by family members of negligently injured people for the loss of the love, care, affection, companionship, and other pleasures of the family relationship that are lost because of the injury.
Family members can be compensated for the wrongful death of a loved one. These damages may include medical and burial expenses, loss of income that would have supported the family members, and contributions the deceased would have made in the way of comfort, assistance, advice, protection, companionship, etc.
Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant for reckless or malicious conduct and deter others from similar conduct. They may be awarded only if it is established by that the defendant acted with fraud, malice, or willful and wanton conduct. The amount of such damages may not exceed an amount equal to the amount of actual damages awarded. The court may increase this amount to up to three times the amount of actual damages under special circumstances.
Q: How can I determine how much my claim is worth?
Attorneys are prohibited from promising that they will obtain a certain amount of money for you. For purposes of settlement, a claim is valued upon an estimate of what a jury would likely believe the case to be worth, taking into account the severity of the injury, the effects of the injury on your life and the negligence of the other party. If you were partially at fault for the accident, the amount of damages will be reduced proportionately. Benefits received from some collateral sources may be used to reduce your recoverable economic damages. Any settlement will be reduced if there appears to be a good chance that the claim will not be successful. Other factors that may reduce the damages include past medical history, pre-existing injuries, and prior claims history.
Considerable compensation may be commanded if your injuries are severe requiring extensive medical treatment, absences from work and permanent injuries. This is especially true if you were a healthy, productive, young worker prior to the accident. That is because an important factor in the value of your claim is the difference between your quality of life before the accident as compared to after the accident.
Q. Can you guarantee any particular outcome in a case?
No. Although we only accept cases that we highly believe in, there is no absolute guarantee that the personal injury case will be resolved in any particular way. Litigation and trials are full of uncertainty.