FAQ: What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury is a complicated brain injury that is typically caused by a violent force of an external object to the head. They are commonly seen in automobile cases when the victim’s head strikes something in the car upon impact, such as the steering wheel, wind shield, side window, or headrest.

If violent trauma causes the traumatic brain injury, the victim may fall unconscious at the time of the impact, rendering them unable to remember what happened or whether or not they hit their head.

Traumatic brain injuries are commonly classified as being either severe or mild. In mild cases, the victim may become disoriented, confused, or experience shock immediately after the impact. She may experience headaches, a short loss of consciousness, difficulty concentration, and changes in personality.

In severe cases, the victim may experience prolonged loss of consciousness, significant memory loss, severe changes in personality, and loss of cognitive functions.

If you have been involved in an automobile collision where you may have hit your head during the impact and are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should get tested for a traumatic brain injury. Testing may include undergoing an MRI, CAT Scan, and a cognitive examination by a licensed professional. Left untreated, a traumatic brain injury can severely impact your physical and emotional health, your relationships with family and friends, and your ability to work.

What Does “Contingency Fee” Mean?

You may have heard the phrase “no fee unless we win” on personal injury commercials. But what does it actually mean? The “no fee unless we win” arrangement is referred to as a contingency fee. The “contingent” portion of the fee means that the attorney gets a portion of what the client’s overall settlement is. So, for example, if a client gets a settlement of $30,000.00, the attorney gets a previously agreed upon percentage of that number. If the client gets $0, then the attorney gets $0 as well – this is the “no fee unless we win” part.

A contingency fee is either a set or escalating fee often utilized in personal injury cases. A set fee would be a percentage, typically 33.3333%, of the overall settlement. If the fee is set, this means that the attorney takes 33.3333% no matter if the case settles before going to trial or after a case is a tried.

If the contingency fee is an escalating fee, then the overall percentage will escalate depending on how far the case is taken. For example, if the case settles before the attorney files a complaint, the attorney may take 33.3333% of the settlement. If the attorney has to file a complaint, they may take 35%. If the attorney takes the case all the way through trial, they may take 40% of the jury verdict award.

Contingency fee arrangements are most often seen in personal injury cases, such as automobile collisions, slip and falls, wrongful deaths, and medical malpractice. Contingent fee arrangements may be available for employment law or collection matters. They are rarely or never available for business services such as drafting business documents, business litigation, divorce, child custody, bankruptcy, or criminal matters.

Prior to entering a contingency fee agreement with a lawyer, make sure that you speak with the lawyer about the contingency fee arrangement to ensure that you fully understand the agreement, including the risks and benefits to you.

What’s My Personal Injury Case Worth?

“What’s my case worth?” This is a question that our personal injury attorneys hear almost daily. The answer is that your case value depends on a lot of different factors. The main factors are:

  • Liability – Who is at fault in your case? If you were involved in a car accident and you were not ticketed, but the other driver was, then you are likely completely not at fault. Other cases are not so simple. Fault can be apportioned between the parties, for example, in a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk, you may be found 30% at fault while the landowner is found 70% at fault. If liability is apportioned, it can greatly decrease the value of your case.
  • Medical Treatment – Did you seek medical treatment immediately after the incident? What kind of treatment did you seek (hospital, physical therapy, etc.)? Did you have to treat for a few months or a few years? How much in medical bills were incurred during your treatment? Injuries requiring invasive surgery or permanent impairment are often worth more than cases involving muscle sprains and strains.
  • Damages – Damages are the largest category for determining the worth of your case. It takes into account medical bills, lost wages, and past and future pain and suffering. If your injury has had a huge impact on your life, for example, you broke both legs and were unable to work for a certain amount of time, the value of your case is likely to be greater than cases involving a nagging or inconvenient injury.

If you’ve been injured, it is important to talk with a personal injury attorney so that you can evaluate the potential value of your case and discuss all your options.

FAQ: “If I make a personal injury claim, will I have to go to trial?”

In Colorado, individuals who are pursuing personal injury claims relating to an auto accident have three years to file a formal lawsuit against the individual at fault for the accident for compensation of their medical expenses, lost wages, physical impairment, and pain and suffering. During these three years, the majority of cases settle directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Whenever a personal injury claim is made, the insurance company who provides coverage for the at-fault driver assigns an adjuster to the claim. The adjuster evaluates the claim, reviews all relevant documents, speaks with the individual’s attorney, and may take a recorded statement from the individual making the claim. This is where it becomes vital to have a personal injury lawyer representing your claim to the insurance company. A personal injury attorney will know what documents are needed to support your claim and how to present those documents and facts in a way that will maximize the amount of the insurance company’s settlement offer. Presenting your claim to the insurance company is a comprehensive and skilled manner will often allow an injured person to fairly settle their claim without having to go through the time, expense, and uncertainty of a trial.

Tips for Preparing for Your Initial Attorney Consultation

To improve the quality of the consultation, as well as the case once it is accepted by the Firm, it helps if you prepare for your initial meeting with the attorney.

Before you come to the meeting, gather all documents, contracts, agreements, statements, invoices, guaranties, tax documents, notices, witness statements and/or witness information, pictures and videos, etc., you have in reference to your matter.  If at all possible, sit down and make a timeline or a history of the issue so that dates and events flow in the proper order and the storyline is easier to understand.  A journal or diary would be beneficial throughout the matter.

If you are seeking assistance with preparing a contract or a promissory note, take a moment to create an outline of the points to be addressed in the contract and note the consideration and who will be responsible to perform which point.

If you are an individual seeking assistance with an employment matter, sit down and make a timeline or a history of the issue so that dates and events flow in the proper order and the storyline is easier to understand.  Include your start date, your title at start, your pay at start.  You will want to include any changes to that information up to the present date.  Also include any problems there were, evaluations, and any commendations or awards you received.  Please provide any company policies you may have.  All of this information is important in the resolution assessment.

If you are an employer seeking assistance with an employment matter, please bring the employment file, company policies, and an outline of the issues to be discussed so that a proper resolution can be assessed.  If you are seeking to create company policies, then bring in an outline of the issues you have and ideas on policies you desire to create to address those issues.

If you are seeking a consultation in reference to a potential litigation matter (collections, business and owner disputes, real estate dispute, evictions, appeals, partnership conflicts, minority shareholder suits, family business issues, breaches of contract, employment matters, etc.), please make certain to bring all the documentation to show your position from start of the relationship to the present.  In this type of matter, it might be an easier presentation of your matter if you make a timeline and then support the timeline with any documentation, etc., that you have.  As many names of involved parties should be ready to be provided.

If you are seeking a consultation in reference to tax resolution (tax liens, levies and garnishments, audits penalty abatements, offers in compromise, etc.), then please bring whatever documentation you have regarding the situation, including copies of notices and your tax records for the past few years (or more if the situation in question began before then) to the present.  Here again, a timeline or history of how you got into the situation, along with any supporting documentation would be beneficial.

If you are seeking a consultation for intellectual property, bring (as best you can) the property with you when you meet with the attorney.  A copy will be needed for any application.

If you are seeking assistance for a small business or arts and entertainment (contracts, partnership agreements, business sales and purchases, franchises, etc.), bring whatever contracts or agreements for which you seek assistance with you.  If you do not yet have a contract or agreement, bring the outline of the points you are looking to incorporate into a contract or agreement.  If you are considering the start of a business or seeking to form an entity or obtain a liquor license, then bring your ideas and any documentation you have accumulated surrounding those ideas.

If you were involved in a collision and have sustained injuries, you might want to bring pictures of the damaged vehicles, videos of the scene, a rough sketch of the positions of the vehicles drawn out, a complete copy of your insurance policy, a copy of the police report and/or card of the responding officer, any witness information provided to you, and any pharmaceutical, medical, billing, and other expense records that you have in your possession related to the incident.  Keeping a journal or diary of who you treated with and when, work/school you missed and why, prescriptions, out of pocket costs and expenses, limitations and the steps taken to work around those limitations now in your day-to-day life due to the injury would be beneficial through the matter.  You might also include a list of equipment, people and companies or organizations (along with their cost) you have had to depend on and their expenses and limitations that they have had in providing you the assistance you have required since your injury.

Likewise, if you were involved in a personal injury resulting from a slip and fall, you might want to bring pictures of the location of the slip and fall in order to show what caused the slip and fall.  You will want to compile as many of the same things you would had you been involved in a collision.

If the matter you have involves a wrongful death or a medical malpractice, bring a copy of the medical records from the date you were first aware of the potential malpractice or the treatment that caused the wrongful death, and a written statement from a doctor identifying the potential malpractice or other information, witnesses and evidence surrounding the wrongful death.  Before a wrongful death or medical malpractice case can be filed, an expert in the subject field will need to be located and services paid for a determination that there was (or was not) practice below the standard of care.  The attorney can help you to find an appropriate expert.  The cost for the expert opinion varies.

If you seek assistance with a real estate matter, please note that no one in this Firm is a licensed broker.  That being said, as attorneys, there are a number of real estate matters that can be handled such as disputes (including non-litigation and litigation), contracts of any kind, transactions, closings, transfers, deeds, lien review and placement or removal.  You will want to prepare an outline of the issues, people involved, real estate involved, and lien information so that it is clear the type of assistance you will require that can be provided.

If you seek a power of attorney for some reason, then decide exactly what the power of attorney is for, the length of authority to be given, and who you trust to responsibly handle that authority.  Bring in any documents that might pertain to subject matter of the power of attorney you desire.

If you seek to establish an estate plan, you will need to bring information on your family and potential heirs (names, addresses, relationships to you).  You will also need to make a list of your assets and determine what you would like to have happen to them.  You might want to determine how you would like to proceed in the event of your death, i.e., funeral, memorial service, cremation, burial instructions.  Further considerations might be whether you want a power of attorney or a medical power of attorney (also known as a living will) and the extent to which you desire to allow your power to be shared and/or your health care plan should you become incapacitated.  If you would like your estate plan brought up to date, then please bring your current estate plan with you.

If you seek assistance with a probate matter, please bring a copy of the will (assuming there is one) and any other documentation you have regarding the probate estate.

The more information you bring with you, the easier it is for the attorney to see and understand the overall picture and how you are affected by the circumstances.  The attorney can review the documents and information and make a more knowledgeable assessment of your matter and advise you accordingly.