Recovering money in personal injury cases

Date: June 12, 2014

When a law firm first meets a new client, it conducts an evaluation of the client’s case. The firm looks at both liability and damages. In order to recover money in a personal injury case, the opposing party (for example, the driver who caused a car accident) must have violated a duty which directly resulted in the injured party’s damages. A driver who goes through stop signs is violating traffic laws and, therefore, violating a duty he or she has.

A law firm also looks at damages. The accident created by the driver who goes through a stop sign must be directly caused by the fact that he went through the stop sign. Medical professionals evaluate the extent of the injuries by calculating the percentage of temporary or permanent disability.

The firm communicates with the insurance company of the driver at fault and requests damages. The amount of damages sought is based on the facts of the case – for example, the extent of the injuries and disability. If the client and insurance company cannot agree on an amount, then a lawsuit may be filed. The injured party is the plaintiff in the lawsuit and the party who caused the injury is called the defendant.

The discovery period is the part of the lawsuit during which the parties exchange information about the accident and damages, in the form of written questions called interrogatories and oral questions called depositions. Both parties may obtain the opinions of medical and other experts. It is also likely that the parties will be required to attend mediation to settle the case. In mediation, a neutral third party meets with both sides to help them reach agreement. Most times, cases are settled; however, if the parties cannot agree, then a trial is held. The purpose of the trial is that a third party – usually a jury in personal injury cases – can decide the disputed facts of the case. These facts include liability for the accident and the amount of damages. The judge instructs the jury on which facts it must find and what types of damages may be awarded. Some of the types of damages in personal injury cases include compensatory damages (which are intended to put the injured party back in the position he or she would have been in, had the injury not occurred), punitive damages (which are intended to punish the defendant for his or her actions) and loss of consortium (these damages are usually in a nominal amount and intended to compensate the plaintiff’s spouse for the losses he or she suffers in the marriage as a result of the plaintiff’s injury).

Jim Wetter
Over the last decade, Jim has specialized in representing persons who suffered catastrophic injuries from truck accidents. Jim served as a member of teams of DLP attorneys in lawsuits against trucking firms where we recovered for our clients amounts of $14 million (2012), $1.75 million (2011), $8.25 million (2007) and 6.5 million (2007).