Personal Injury FAQ

Personal Injury FAQ

Photo of woman being helped during walking rehabilitation

How do I know if I have a personal injury case?

The injury generally needs to have been caused by the negligence of another. It is different for product liability cases. Also, did the injury cause damages or losses? Physically visible injuries are not necessary for a case.

How does a contingent fee agreement work with my personal injury case?

Contingency fees allow injured parties to hire an experienced personal injury attorney without having to pay any upfront legal fees. This allows the injured party to focus on recovering, giving him or her peace of mind instead of more bills. In these contingency fee contracts, the lawyer will cover all the costs of investigation, securing medical records and expert witnesses, depositions and a list of other costs listed for your approval in your contingency fee contract. The attorneys' fees you pay when you win compensation are tied to the total amount of your compensation. If you do not win, you do not owe Mr. Slater a dime!

Most personal injury attorneys escalate their fees from 33% of the gross recovery to 40% simply for the easy act of filing of a lawsuit, but not Mr. Slater. Mr. Slater’s attorneys’ fees stay at 1/3 of the total recovery even through trial, unless the case is unusually complex. Mr. Slater’s fees are generally less for minors. Attorneys’ fees are subject to negotiation under California law.

How much is my case worth?

The value of your case is based on the extent of your harms and losses. The experience of the lawyer you choose can have a huge impact on the amount of money that you recover. Insurance companies know Ralph Slater, a personal injury lawyer who has obtained many settlements for 6-, 7- and 8-figures. Mr. Slater will evaluate what your case is really worth. Say good-bye to guessing.

How long will it take for my case to settle?

Every case is different; some can settle very quickly, while others might take years to complete. All insurance companies will try "low ball" offers (pennies on the dollar of what your case is worth) to get you to quickly resolve your claim. If you want to get fair value for your harms and losses, then it will take longer. There is no law in California requiring an insurance company to make or increase an offer, so waiting on this may take a while after your settlement demand package is sent. Ralph Slater takes great pride in standing up for his clients to obtain the maximum compensation for their harms and losses, even if that takes a little longer.

After the settlement, how long will it take for me to receive compensation?

In general, it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months for you to receive your settlement check. This variance in time results from several factors, including how long it takes for the an attorney to negotiate the final settlement paperwork, if you have medical liens that need to be negotiated and how long it takes the defendant and/or its insurance company to process the payment.

What are the main stages of a personal injury case?

The first step is to get treatment. The next step is to find an experienced attorney. Your lawyer should review every aspect of your case and your medical records. Most claims are settled before a lawsuit is filed. If a lawsuit does get filed, there is a discovery process which permits both sides to demand documents and interview witnesses under oath. This can take up to a year to complete in many cases. If a case does get all the way to trial (few cases do), it can last a week or more, depending on the judge's schedule.

What steps will my personal injury lawyer take for my case?

In a typical case, your lawyer will obtain police reports, witness statements and even visit the accident scene to see, for example, if there is a surveillance camera that caught your accident. These are all time-sensitive matters. This helps to ensure you are fairly compensated.

How soon should I file my personal injury lawsuit?

The general answer is "as soon as possible" after negotiation reaches an impasse. However, the statute of limitations in California for filing a lawsuit for personal injury is two years from the date of the accident, with important exceptions. Deadlines for bringing a claim against a governmental entity are much shorter.

What is negligence?

Someone acting in a careless way, or not acting when action was required, would qualify as negligence.

What if I was partially to blame for my injuries?

California is a comparative negligence state, meaning that if you are found to be 25% at fault in a $100,000 case, you would receive $75,000.

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To speak to Ralph Slater, a Chico-based Personal Injury Attorney, about your case please call him for your Free Initial Consultation. He is a leading Chico personal injury attorney with over 35 years of personal injury law experience.

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