FAQs

/FAQs

That will depend on many factors.  Your best bet is to call my office, and let’s go over the facts together.  I’ll listen, ask questions and always shoot you strait. What is an injury case?

There is no magic formula for determining a case value, but the main factors I will consider are (a) the extent of your injury/damages; (b) whether you have a permanent injury that will require future medical attention; (c) how much time and income did you lose from work; and (d) how much pain and suffering did you endure.  Additional factors to consider are the defendant’s conduct, aggravating circumstances and what levels of insurance coverage are in play.

The honest answer to this question is that there’s no way to accurately predict how long any injury case will take before it is resolved.  Each case is different with its own individual facts and players involved.  A personal injury claim may settle and resolve in a few months from the date you were hurt without the need for a lawsuit, while others must be filed, worked toward trial and can take years to complete.  I’ve handled hundreds of different types of cases and I am constantly monitoring Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi jury verdicts and settlement amounts so I can best provide you with the most up to date information on how cases similar to yours are being resolved and for what amount.  My advice to clients is that the case will resolve when it resolves.  The best bet is to forget about it, focus on getting well, stay positive, stay patient and know that I am doing my best to bring you the best outcome possible. 

The best time to attempt resolution of your injury claim must be AFTER you have completed all of your necessary medical treatment related to your injuries.  There is no way to properly evaluate and attempt to resolve an injury claim until a person knows the full nature and extent of their injury.  Insurance companies sometimes like to offer quick money to folks who have not yet hired a lawyer.  This is a bad idea to accept because the injured person doesn’t yet know the full extent of their injury, and how long they will have to undergo medical treatment.  

I have clients who had emergency room treatment and were released, clients who had surgery and treated with specialists for over a year before being released and other clients that will require care for the rest of their life.  If your injuries are permanent and will require care for the rest of your life, we will know that quickly.  If you have a neck surgery, for example, we need to wait to see how your injury heals, whether the surgery is successful and how your daily life will be affected.  I usually tell my clients to call me when their doctor tells them “no need to schedule another appointment; call me if you need me.”  Most times, this means that your doctor has placed you at maximum medical improvement or “MMI.”  This means that the injured person has reached a point where they are as healthy as they can be; they may not be in the condition that they were prior to the accident, but their health has stabilized.  From this point, my office orders all of your related medical records and medical billing, and I put together a detailed demand package that I send to the insurance company that includes all of your records/billing with a demand for settlement of a certain amount.  If the injury claim does not settle at this phase for one reason or another, then I move forward with filing the case on your behalf.  On some cases, I will suggest filing suit immediately, and making that decision depends on several case by case factors.

As your attorney on an injury or wrongful death case, I will work on a contingency fee basis.  This means that my legal fee is contingent on me winning your case.  If I don’t win your case, you don’t owe me anything.  There are different attorney fee percentages for different types of cases, but I can assure you that mine are more than fair and reasonable for the quality of legal services provided.  Your best bet is to call me and we will discuss your potential injury or wrongful death claim and what attorney fee will be applied.

The simple answer is this: most everyone who contacts me is hurt, out of work, being taken advantage and they do not have the resources to write a check and pay money down on a legal retainer.  Paying a contingency fee also gives you and your attorney a shared, vested interest in your case.  In other words, and under a contingency fee arrangement, the lawyer is motivated to maximize the amount of recovery possible, and to move the case along as quickly as possible.  This is a much better alternative to paying a lawyer by the hour whether you win or lose.

As your lawyer, I will front and pay the ordinary and reasonable expenses necessary to make sure your case is presented in the best possible manner.  On an injury or wrongful death claim, case expenses generally consist of charges for all medical records and billing, filing fees, postage, expert retainers and costs, deposition costs, travel costs and administrative charges such as copying and long distance calls.  My office recovers these expenses from the settlement of your claim.  If I am not successful in winning your case, then I lose my investment and you owe me nothing.  This is true regardless of how much time and money I may have spent working your case.

YES!!  You should call my office as soon as you feel you may have a personal injury or wrongful death claim.  Injury victims have a short period of time to file a claim.  This is known as the statute of limitations.  Failure to file suit within the applicable statute of limitations for your jurisdiction means that your case will be forever barred from going forward.  Once your case is properly filed into court with all proper defendants named, your injury or death claim has been preserved regardless of how long it takes to eventually resolve.

In general terms, and for Alabama and Georgia, the statute of limitations for injury and death claims is 2 years from the date incident causing injury occurred.  In Mississippi, it is 3 years, and in Tennessee, it is only 1 year.  There are limited exceptions.  For example, there are different rules for children who have been injured, and there are certain “discovery rules” that apply occasionally in medical malpractice cases, but are not the norm.  There are also additional deadlines that require notice before the expiration of the statute of limitations if you are pursuing an injury or death claim against a government entity.  The best bet is to call my office as soon as you feel like your rights have been violated and you have been caused injury by another.

I’ve always been surprised by how many lawyers do not share their personal cell phone number.  That make no sense to me at all.  If you are my client and I am your lawyer, then we should have each other’s cell phone numbers programmed.  Every client of mine will receive my personal cell phone number so you can reach me when needed and vice versa.  I may not always be able to talk when you call, but you can leave me a voice message or send me a text.  I’m also available anytime by e-mail, and my clients can always call my staff at the office number with general questions if I am out of town or in court.  

Your confidential and personal information, along with your medical records and billing will be keep secure and confidential in my office.  After your case resolves, I close your file and keep it in a secure storage facility.  After seven years from the date your case resolves, your file is shredded by a professional document destruction company.  You can always request a copy of your file from my office at any time before the expiration of seven years from the date your case resolves.

The best way to help yourself is to keep good records and chronical things as they happen.  You never know how long your case will take to resolve, and memories fade over time, even when you think that will never happen to you.  I always stress to my clients how important it is to take notes, secure evidence and have the information ready that will assist me in getting you the best result.  Here are some things I would strongly recommend:   

  • Take photographs of your injuries.  It’s real easy for an insurance adjuster to simply read your medical records detailing your injuries, but when there is a picture of injury detailing the damage, the burns, the scars, the pain….  those pictures make an impact and best represent what you went through.  Take as many pictures as you can and send them to me.  As my client, you will have my e-mail address and my personal cell phone number so you can simply text photos to me that I will upload into my server and save to your file.      
  • If your case involves an auto accident, take photographs of your damaged vehicle before it is repaired.  While at the scene of the collision, and if you are able, take photographs of the other cars involved in the collision.  Many times I’ve represented folks where the damage to their car was minimal, but having photos of the other vehicles showing extensive damage support that it was a violent collision.  
  • If your case involves a dangerous premises defect or condition, take photographs of the defect or condition that caused you injury.  For example, if a broken stair collapsed when you stepped on it, try your best to take a picture as soon as you can after your injury occurs.  Many times, the defective condition that caused one of my clients injury will somehow “get fixed” before I can get out to investigate the scene.  Preserving evidence of what the defect looked like on the day it caused you injury is critical.   
  • If your case involves a defective product that somehow malfunctioned and caused injury, hang on to the product and keep it in a secure location until I can come out and secure the evidence for my possession as I work your case.  The actual product is essential in proving a product liability claim.  My experts will need to examine the product so we can determine the nature and extent of the defect.         
  • Make daily written notes of how your injury has changed your life.  Make sure to chronical hours and days your injury keeps you away from work.  Make sure to note how and in what ways your injuries restrict your day to day activities.  Chronical the level of your pain, hours of lost sleep and loss of intimacy.
  • Keep track of your travel miles to and from the hospital, doctor’s office and/or physical therapy.  It is real easy for an insurance adjuster to read that you had 30 trips to and from doctors and physical therapy, but when you can show that you spent 60 hours of your time traveling in a car 600 miles traveling back and forth, it makes and impact and best describes what you actually went through.   
  • Keep track of the cost incurred for having to hire help that you would not have required but for your injury.  Typical things I see are babysitters, domestic help and yard workers.
  • Keep and send me all itemized statements and receipts of your ambulance, doctor, nursing, hospital and medicine costs.  Some of these bills will not be covered by your insurance company, and if I’m aware of the bill, I can try to have it paid through insurance or work with the company to hold off until we can resolve your claim.   

No.  Hiring me does not automatically require you to go to court.  In all honesty, most cases eventually settle.  It may settle without the necessity of filing suit, during litigation of the case, during a mediation or the case may settle the day before a trial is set to begin.  I have even settled cases in the middle of a trial.  Regardless, most folks are able to reach a reasonable resolution of their case without having to go to trial.

With that said, sometimes the insurance companies simply refuse to play fair, and they refuse to offer what is fair for the injuries and damages sustained.  Sometimes the insurance companies refuse to acknowledge that they are at fault.  Other times, multiple parties may be involved in an accident, or there are multiple defendants pointing the finger at each other.  In these circumstances, the best route for my client to get justice may be to go to court and let a jury determine the value of their case.  I am ready, willing and able to represent my clients and try their case in any courtroom, anywhere.      

Taking a case to trial is a decision that is made by my client.  I offer my advice and inform my client of the pros and cons involved with the decision, but it is ultimately my client’s choice.  I love trying cases, but there is certainly risk involved.  Any lawyer that tells you they’ve never lost a case, is a lawyer that has not tried enough of them…

Better not.  The insurance company for the person/company that hurt you is not your friend.  Let me repeat – Not Your Friend.  They are recording you and the adjuster is trained to ask questions and seek answers that will not help your claim.  This is their job.  There is no law that says you have to give a recorded statement over the telephone to a liability insurance company after an injury.  Call me first.  I’ll send a letter to the insurance company and get them off your back so you can focus on healing and getting better.

NO!!  Do not sign anything until you’ve contacted me and I’ve had a chance to look it over for you.  It could simply be a release for the property damage to your car to be repaired, but it could be a full and final release of any and all claims.  If you sign a full and final release of all claims and send it back, your claim is over.  If you deposit or cash a check, the insurance company will argue that have accepted the money offered as a full and final settlement.  Be very careful on this.

Yes, they should, and they do in the end.  The at-fault insurance company will never pay your bills as they come due.  The at-fault insurance company will make only one payment, and that will be for the full and final settlement amount after you have resolved your claim.

If you have health insurance, use it.  This is true for private health insurance, Medicare and/or Medicaid.  Use your health insurance for all treatment of your injury caused by another as if it was any other visit to the doctor.  You will most likely have additional related expenses and co-pays.  If you have medical payment coverage (med pay) or personal injury protection (PIP) under your policy of automobile insurance, I can help you make a claim for direct payment and/or reimbursement of the expenses depending on the type of coverage you have.

Oh, don’t feel sorry for your health insurance company.  In Alabama and Mississippi, your insurance company will expect to be reimbursed from your settlement or verdict award what they have paid in medical treatment.  This is called “subrogation.” For example, if you were to receive a $100,000 settlement from a case involving an automobile collision, and your health insurance company paid $10,000 toward medical treatment for your injuries caused by the collision, then the health insurance company would be entitled to recoup their $10,000 in the form of subrogation once your case concludes.  I handle all of this negotiation back and forth so you won’t have to worry about it.  I also work hard to negotiate any reductions that I can allowing for more money to my client at the end of the day.  I’m not a big fan of subrogation, but it’s the law in Alabama and Mississippi.

Georgia is different.  Health insurance companies do not have an absolute right of reimbursement under Georgia law.  The only way a health insurer subject to Georgia state law has a valid right of reimbursement is if, and only if, the insurance company can show that the injured person has been “made whole” or “completely compensated.”  This is a difficult burden for the insurance company to prove.

Medicare, Tricare and self-funded ERISA plans are governed by federal law. If you have one of these health insurance plans, then the federal law will control, and the federally governed plans will have a right of subrogation reimbursement for the amount paid toward treatment.  Again, I handle all of this negotiation back and forth so you won’t have to worry about it.  I also work hard to negotiate any reductions that I can allowing for more money to my client at the end of the day.  I will carefully determine which type of medical plan you have to make sure you only reimburse a plan that has a valid right of reimbursement.

This coverage is the best way to protect yourself and your family.  You can control what amount of insurance coverage you have, but you cannot control what amount others will have.  In Alabama, a person is only legally required to carry $25,000 in liability policy limits.  If this person decides to drink and drive and causes you serious injury in an automobile accident leading to $100,000 in medical bills, their insurance company is only on the hook for $25,000.  This is where underinsured insurance coverage from your policy comes into play.  After the $25,000 in liability coverage is offered, I will help you turn to your insurance company to make a claim because the person who hit you was “underinsured.”  If that same drunk driver had no automobile insurance of any kind, I would help you turn to your insurance company to make a claim because the person who hit you was “uninsured.”  These claims get tricky, and you need to have legal assistance in making these claims so you do not accidently waive any rights to insurance coverage that may be available for you.

If they can afford it, I advise my clients to obtain $100,000 in liability insurance coverage and $100,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  You may think that would be very expensive, but you’d be very surprised.  Often times, and if you shop around, raising your insurance limits substantially from what you already have in place will only add a minimal amount to your overall monthly or quarterly premium.  It is certainly money well spent, in my opinion.  It allows you piece of mind that you will have coverage in place.  But, and if you are reading this right now, you have probably already realized that you are going to need me to get your insurance company to pay it!

That person is called a “runner,” and what they are doing is illegal and unethical.  If there is no connection or relationship with a person, attorneys are not allowed to directly contact folks and solicit business.  “Runners” go out and find folks who have been injured and try to steer them to an unethical lawyer for some kind of kickback.  Be careful of someone you do not know approaching you when you are injured and offering you promises and things too good to be true.  If I already represent you and you are being contacted by a runner, do me a favor and play along – get the runner’s name, contact information and take a picture of their face and license tag if you can.  I’ll handle it from there…

Yes and No.  It will depend on your jurisdiction.  Alabama is tough.  If a jury finds that you are as little as 1% responsible for your own injuries, then the jury is instructed to rule for the defendant as a matter of law.  However, most jurisdictions like Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee maintain that victims can still receive compensation if they were partially at fault for their injuries.  In these situations, the amount of compensation awarded to an injured person may be decreased in proportion with that person’s own negligence.  Remember – you shouldn’t walk away from your potential injury claim without calling my office even if you believe you are partly responsible for your own injuries.  Let me decide that.  I will apply the law to your specific facts, and give you my best opinion on whether you have a claim that should go forward.  It could be that you have a completely different theory of case than what you are thinking where your own actions leading to your injury are not relevant.  You should always call to be a legal opinion.

Of course.  Children have the same rights as adults if they are injured by the fault of another.  A parent or legal guardian can bring an injury claim in their child’s name.  I’ve represented many children and their parents.  Injuries to children are very emotional.  Most always, any proposed settlement involving an injury to a minor will require court approval.

You bet they are!!  Trucking Accidents or collisions involving “big rigs” or commercial carriers are an entirely different animal when compared to a car accident.  A commercial transportation company that is involved in interstate trucking is governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.  This means that an additional set of rules, technology, business practices and insurance coverage’s come into play.

Yes – of course you can.  You are the client, and you will always have the choice of who you want to represent you.  However, that is a big decision that you should consider thoroughly.  Sometimes it’s not the best decision to switch coaches at halftime…

Sometimes things just “don’t work out.”  That’s life.  It’s happened to me in relationships with former clients.  It could be a personality conflict or a disagreement on how and what way a case should move forward.  The number one complaint I hear from folks is that they their lawyer doesn’t communicate well, or that their attorney is hard to get on the phone.  It would frustrate anyone to make reasonable calls concerning your case with no response.  My clients do not have to worry about that.  If you are my client and I am your lawyer, then we should have each other’s cell phone numbers programmed.  Every client of mine will receive my personal cell phone number so you can reach me when needed and vice versa.  I may not always be able to talk when you call, but you can leave me a voice message or send me a text.  I’m also available anytime by e-mail, and my clients can always call my staff at the office number with general questions if I am out of town or in court.

A deposition is when a someone is placed under oath by a court reporter and they are asked questions by an attorney.  Everything that is said is taken down by the court reporter.  It is sworn testimony that can be used in court.  My clients are not required to sit for a deposition unless their case has been filed.  Sometimes a filed case will resolve before depositions occur, but this is rare.  Once litigation begins, one of the first things the insurance company typically wants is the deposition testimony of the injured party bringing the lawsuit.  It is human to be nervous about giving a deposition, but I always make sure my clients are prepared and ready.  Plus, I will be sitting in the chair right next to my client throughout their deposition to make sure all the rules are followed and everyone behaves as they are supposed to.

Most likely if your case has been filed.   It makes sense that injury cases involve doctors.  A person bringing an injury case has the burden of proving that their injury was, more likely than not, caused by the event or accident in question.  In order to meet this burden of proof, the medical deposition testimony of your primary treating physicians will be necessary.  Your doctor must make this causal connection for you to meet your burden of proof.  

Of course you can.  You are certainly not obligated to attend depositions of other witnesses and/or routine court status hearings, but you have the right to be there if you choose.  I think it is important for my clients to attend some depositions so they can see first-hand what is happening on the “front line.”  Sometimes, and depending on the doctor or surgeon, I believe it is important for my client to attend the depositions of their primary treating physicians.  Sometimes, I think it is important for my client to attend a court hearing so they can observe the judge and get familiar with the courtroom and surrounding prior to trial.  Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the only thing my clients must attend is their deposition and trial.

A trial setting is what makes things happen in litigation.  Once the trial date has been set, each party is on notice that they better be ready.  One of the best times to negotiate a settlement is when the trial date is looming and the insurance company has no additional time to stall and drag things out.  Unfortunately, older cases always take priority within the court system, so many times a trial date will be “bumped” by an older case, or the case will be continued to a later date due to circumstances beyond the control of the attorneys, parties and/or the court.

The answer obviously varies based on the complexity of the case.  The trial of an automobile case should normally take two or three days depending on the number of witnesses.  On the other hand, product liability and medical malpractice cases can take the better part of two weeks.

On the day of trial, the jury will be assembling and a panel we be selected to potentially sit for your case.  Jury selection (or what’s called voir dire) takes place.  In this process, potential jurors are asked questions by the attorneys for both sides, and the panel is narrowed down through a series of strikes until the final jurors are selected.  Each side then has the opportunity to present opening statements explaining what each side expects the evidence will show.  Testimony is then taken of witnesses for the plaintiff.  The defense will then have an opportunity to introduce testimony from their witnesses.  At the close of evidence, each party will give a closing argument to the jury, and the judge will then instruct the jury on the law that is to be applied to the facts.  The jury is instructed to elect a foreperson and deliberate until a unanimous verdict can be reached on which side the jury finds in favor of, and for what amount, if any.