Month: January 2011

What to bring when you meet with your lawyer

When you meet with Berglund & Johnson, it is important to gather all written documentation that pertains to your case. This will make it easier to determine the strength and merit of your case. In addition, your paperwork will help answer many questions that will be presented by our lawyers. Most personal injury cases rely on testimony and written/documentary evidence. Therefore, it is very important to gather all evidence as early as possible to avoid its loss or destruction.

If your case involves an automobile accident, you should have received a copy of the police report or a card or other writing from the police officers at the scene with the number of the report that will be completed. It is important to bring the police report or police report information to your first meeting because it contains valuable information that will be used in your case, such as:

  • Names and addresses of all persons involved in the accident
  • Identity of the parties’ insurance company and policy number
  • Date, time and location of the accident
  • Description of how the accident occurred
  • Investigating police officer’s allocation of fault for the accident

You should also bring a copy of your own automobile insurance policy to your first meeting with our attorney so we can help determine what coverage may apply to your claim. The adverse party insurance information should also be brought to our offices if you have it. If you received medical attention, bring any medical records and bills to your first meeting in your possession. If you do not have this paperwork in time for your meeting, you should bring the names and addresses of the healthcare providers with the date(s) of treatment to enable our offices to obtain all medical records.

Compile a list of all witnesses’ names, addresses and phone numbers. These witnesses should not only be those who saw the accident, but also those who can document and testify to wage losses, limitations on your daily activities and pain and suffering.

You should, also, bring any photographs of the scene of the incident, the vehicles involved and injuries suffered if you have them.

For other types of cases, obtain the names, addresses, phone numbers and all other contact information of all potential parties involved in the accident. Photographs (digital or print) of the scene of the incident and personal injuries, witness information, objects or instrumentalities involved in the incident should also be provided if you have them available before the meeting.

For more information on what to bring when you meet with Berglund & Johnson for other types of cases, please call our offices at 1-800-4-IF-HURT.

Choosing the Right Lawyer

If you are looking to choose the right lawyer, it is important to meet with the lawyer in person before you make a decision. When you meet with Berglund & Johnson, we will provide a free consultation and answer any questions you may have. If you have already retained a lawyer for a Personal Injury case and are dissatisfied with its progress, Berglund & Johnson will take care of you and respond to your concerns. If you choose to change attorneys and retain Berglund & Johnson, you will not incur any additional attorney fees. Your prior attorney will be compensated for the work he/she has done out of the Berglund & Johnson standard contingency fees. In other words, it will not cost you any more in attorney fees to change lawyers and retain Berglund & Johnson.

Be prepared to describe your case in a clear, simple manner, and ask questions about fees, experience, options and what the timeline of your case will be like. Berglund & Johnson is always willing to help and answer any questions that you may have regarding your case.

By the time you hire a lawyer, always make sure what you have agreed to. You will, most likely, need to provide information and various paper work. If you provide original documents, make copies for your own files and reference. Also, ask for copies of any case-related documents that you, otherwise, do not have. Here are some questions you might want to ask in your effort to retain the right lawyer for you and your situation:

  • Is there any information that I will be required to provide?
  • How often will you update me on information relevant to my case?
  • What will the total cost be? (See Choosing the Right Lawyer: Fees and Payment Arrangements)
  • How long do you think this case will take before it is settled?
  • What is your experience with cases similar to mine?
  • What is your track record in Trial?
  • Have you gone to Trial in cases similar to mine?
  • Do you work alone or have a Team that works with you in preparation of cases?
  • Do you have the financial resources to hire the best experts to help win my case?

You want to have a communicative relationship with your lawyer, so you know the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. Berglund & Johnson will cover all the details and essentials during your free consultation. Do not hesitate to ask for clarification on certain issues, facts and legal procedures that may affect your case. Simply ask! Berglund & Johnson attorneys and staff are always available via telephone and/or email to respond to your questions and needs!

Buying a Safer Car

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a terrific website (www.safercar.gov) where you can find a wealth of information on various topics including “Buying a Safer Car,” vehicle defects and recalls, crash test and rollover ratings and other safe driving resources.

Many vehicles surpass the minimum Federal standards for crash protection. However, it is always smart to properly research the safety ratings of the vehicle you are about to buy or lease. Here are some important questions to ask when looking to buy or lease a car:

  • Does the vehicle have electronic stability control (ESC)?
  • Does the vehicle have side air bag (SAB) technology to protect your head and thorax?
  • What is the probability that the vehicle will roll over in a single-vehicle crash?
  • What are the advanced safety features of the vehicle?

The NHTSA conducts vehicle crash tests to determine the amount of protection each vehicle provides for its drivers. Tests include side impact crashes, fontal impact crashes and single-vehicle rollover accidents. The NHTSA tests new cars, light trucks, vans, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and other popular models of cars. Each vehicle is reviewed based on a 5-star system. Rollover tests, frontal and side crash tests are all rated on a different system.

You can learn more about these ratings and ratings for specific 2010 vehicles in “Buying a Safer Car 2010.” Also, you can compare ratings of vehicles from different weight classes. Keep in mind, just because a vehicle receives 5 stars, it does not fully protect you from getting killed or seriously injured in a car accident. So wear your seatbelt!

Litigation Procedures

Once you speak with a lawyer about the complexity of your case, you must make a decision on whether or not to file a lawsuit immediately or endeavor to settle your case at some point prior to formal litigation. If you decide to file a lawsuit, there are different deadlines and procedures you must adhere to:

To file a law suit, papers must be filed in court and a fee must be paid. These papers are called a “Complaint or Summons and Complaint.” The person who files the lawsuit is called the plaintiff, and the company or person being sued is the defendant. You are allotted a certain amount of time from date of the accident to file and serve a copy of the Summons and Complaint to the defendant. This is called the statute of limitations. Claims against a government entity must, normally, be filed within a much shorter period of time or you may lose your right to do so. You should consult with an attorney as soon as possible after being injured to insure your rights are fully protected.

It is important to allow yourself enough time to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations or claims filing deadline. Waiting too long can jeopardize your case resulting in it being dismissed. Click here to read about a case that is currently dealing with issues of these limitations.

You should retain an attorney as soon as possible as many attorneys will refuse to accept your case if there is not enough time to investigate and file a timely lawsuit.

Once the case is filed with the court and the defendant is served, the discovery process begins. Discovery is the exchange of information and evidence that may be used in trial. It will include sending and responding to interrogatories that are relevant to the case. Requests for documents and retrieving materials relevant to the case are also a part of the discovery phase. Medical records, work history and financial records are allowed to be accessed by either side.

Depositions are a part of discovery. Depositions are face-to-face meetings with a party, witnesses, experts, family/friends, etc. where questions are asked under oath, and a reporter documents the session. This information can be referenced in trial so it is essential to prepare for your deposition with your attorney.

The discovery phase can take months or even years before it ends. Settlement discussions may occur if both sides want to resolve the case before a trial. Both parties will, many times, consent to participate in a Mediation process where a professional Mediator attempts to assist the parties to resolve the case prior to trial. Proper trial documents must be filed within 30 to 60 days before the trial date, depending on the state. These documents can include motions, trial memorandums, jury instructions and exhibit lists.

Most of the above information is discussed with your lawyer during your case, but I thought it would be relevant information for those thinking about pursuing a lawsuit. Berglund & Johnson has a very high success rate in resolving cases prior to trial because we are very prepared and utilize state-of-the-art litigation and courtroom techniques.