Frequently Asked Questions
Many people have questions about personal injury law that they need answered before they can make decisions about how to proceed. Here are some of the many questions we've been asked, along with answers that we hope will prove informative and helpful.
What makes a good lawyer is a matter of opinion, but when selecting your attorney, here are a few things to think about. First, the attorney should have experience in the specific area of law you need. For instance, if you are looking for a personal injury attorney after a serious injury, it's not enough that a lawyer advertises as a personal injury attorney. How much of his or her practice is personal injury? Does the attorney deal with really serious, life changing injuries, or does he or she file a lot of lawsuits for relatively minor injuries?
Just as important as experience is your comfort level with the attorney. Accordingly, you should actually meet the attorney who will be working on your case. The process of a lawsuit is often long and stressful, so you are going to be working with this person and his or her staff for a while. Does the attorney take time to answer your questions? Do you feel rushed, or as if you're not being heard during an initial appointment or phone call? An attorney who is not attentive to your needs at the beginning of the relationship is not likely to become more attentive once he or she has your business.
Conlin Law Firm is very selective about what cases we accept. We have over thirty years of experience in dealing with serious personal injuries and wrongful deaths. We also allow for time to do an investigation of the facts of a case. Based on experience and investigation, we make a determination about the likely value and outcome of each case.
People who come to us for help have already suffered an injury. We are not going to put them through the lengthy, often grueling process of a lawsuit unless we believe there's a strong likelihood of a good outcome for them. If we feel that accepting a case is not the best choice, we will explain why and help the prospective client explore other options.
Most serious personal injury victims find themselves in this situation: too injured to work, and dealing with medical bills on top of ordinary expenses. That's why Conlin Law Firm and most personal injury lawyers take cases on a "contingent fee" basis. Rather than forcing clients to incur legal fees by the hour, a contingent fee allows them to pay attorney fees only if they receive a settlement or a judgment at trial. This fee is a fraction, usually about 1/3, of the settlement or judgment amount. Contingent fee attorneys may charge as much as forty percent of the recovery in more complex matters.
In a contingent fee case, the attorney usually fronts all the costs associated with investigating and bringing your claim: from court filing fees to expert witness expenses. You are responsible for repaying these expenses only if you receive a recovery.
Many people mistakenly believe that if a lawsuit is filed, their case is going to trial. In reality, the filing of a lawsuit is the beginning of a process that ends in a trial less than five percent of the time. The other 95+% of cases settle or are dismissed sometime between the filing of the lawsuit and the actual trial. Some settle right before trial, after all the work of preparing for trial is done.
Lawyers, with or without clients, may go to court for hearings on limited issues many times before trial. A trial is when both sides present all their witness testimony and other evidence in order to convince a judge or jury that they should win the case.
Juries make the best decisions with the facts they have available, but they are typically not informed of certain realities, such as:
- the fact that a defendant being sued has insurance that will cover most or all of the plaintiff's damages; they won't pay the verdict amount out of their own pocket.
- the fact that the defendant's lawyer and legal expenses are paid for by the defendant's insurance company.
- the fact that medical experts called to the stand by the defendant's lawyer are also paid for by the defendant's insurance company (and that these experts almost exclusively testify on behalf of defendants and insurance companies).
- the fact that the amount actually awarded to the plaintiff is reduced by attorney fees, other legal expenses like fees paid to experts, and reimbursement of medical bills paid by private insurers or by public insurers like Medicaid or Medicare.
In short, the defendant is personally paying far less than juries think (usually nothing), and the injured person (plaintiff) is receiving far less than juries think.
First, keep the product as evidence, storing it in a safe place. Take photographs of the product to show what it was like at the time of your injury. Have photographs taken of your injury as soon as possible following the accident, and pursue medical treatment as needed. Second, have the accident investigated by a skilled professional as soon as you can. Conlin Law Firm can connect you with professionals who are experts regarding product defects.
If you are injured in an accident in Minnesota or North Dakota, your own auto insurance will begin to pay your medical bills, wage loss, and some out-of-pocket expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This coverage is called no-fault or PIP coverage. In Minnesota, this covers up to $20,000 of medical costs and $20,000 of wage loss. In North Dakota, this covers $30,000 of these same losses.
It is very important to note that the basic motorcycle policy does not provide PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage as would be included in an auto policy. An additional endorsement could be added to your liability insurance to provide such first-party medical coverage, in the event you want to be reimbursed for bodily injury expenses you incurred while on your motorcycle.
Your auto insurance policy includes other coverage as well. Liability coverage covers you if you negligently injure another person in an accident. Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle. Comprehensive coverage pays for hail damage, windshield replacement, vandalism and related expenses. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage pays for your damages if the other driver at fault for the accident didn’t have insurance or didn’t have enough insurance to pay the full extent of your damages. You should purchase as much coverage as you can reasonably afford, remembering that it is PIP and UM/UIM coverage that protect you and your family in the event of an injury.