Steps to Expect When You Hire Us
A CONTINGENCY FEE BASIS is how we are able to take on your case without you having to pay any costs
or fees up front. When you hire us, we advance the case expenses and work
on your case at no cost to you until it is resolved. When your case is
won, either at trial or through settlement, our fees and the case expenses
are taken from the award. In other words, we collect no fees unless we
recover money for you. If your case is not won, you owe nothing. This
gives us every incentive to be efficient, expeditious and, most importantly,
to win your case.
AFTER AN ACCIDENT there are several steps you can take to help protect your interests and
bring a successful claim. Immediately after the accident, take photographs
of the vehicles, the roadway, and the surrounding area, and get the names
and numbers of any witnesses. These will be crucial to your claim. If
you have been injured, you of course must respond to your immediate medical
needs. But passengers who are unhurt or family members can collect information
and photographs for you. And, importantly, do not talk about who was at
fault for the accident. The insurance companies will try to use these
statements against you.
Soon after the accident, call the insurance company to report the accident.
But do not discuss fault and do not give any statements about the accident
or your injuries. Keep a list of all of your injuries and medical treatment
and take photographs of your injuries regularly. And gather all of your
medical bills and receipts. These will help your attorney pursue your
claim and will ensure you receive just compensation for your injuries.
PREPARATION of our cases usually involves gathering all medical records, bills, and
police and investigative reports. Often, we put a private investigator
to work immediately, gathering witness statements and other evidence.
Once we have enough foundation, we file either a claim or a complaint
and the litigation gets underway. In most cases in California, other than
medical malpractice, the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the
injury or death. Medical malpractice cases must be filed within one year
of the date the malpractice was or should have been discovered.
DISCOVERY is the formal process by which each party learns what the other side is
going to say. Virtually every case involves the exchange of written questions,
called interrogatories, and live oral questioning under oath, called depositions.
Your attorney will be present with you when you are deposed and is there
to make sure your rights are protected in every way. One or more preparation
sessions will take place before your deposition. Other types of pre-trial
discovery include requests for production of documents requests for admissions,
and sometimes requests for inspection of property or location. We handle
the vast majority of this work for you, and assist you in anything we
cannot do ourselves.
TRIAL usually will not occur until at least a year after the filing of the lawsuit.
You should know that only a small percentage of cases actually go to trial.
Indeed, there are many "trial lawyers" who seldom, if ever,
try cases. But this firm specializes in trying cases, and much of our
work comes to us for that reason.
Trials can last from a few days to months. They usually take place before
a jury, but not in every situation. Our firm has tried cases throughout
California, from Eureka to San Diego. We have also tried cases in Nevada,
Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., and we have handled litigation in
at least 30 states and six other countries.
APPEALS are rare and take place after the conclusion of a case, which usually
means after a trial. An appeal has to be based on an error of law, but
a factual dispute sometimes generates an action by a judge or jury that
one side thinks is illegal.
An appeal is not a retrial of the case, but a legal argument to a higher
court. An appeal can take a year or more because it requires getting and
reviewing the record from the trial court. Then each side writes a written
brief. The party pursuing the appeal gets to write a second, or reply,
brief. The court of appeal reads the briefs and then schedules lawyer
oral arguments in court.
We have extensive experience in appeals, going back 40 years, including
cases throughout both the state and the federal systems. Often, we will
defend or pursue an appeal without further charge to the client but this
is subject to agreement with you. The right of appeal is not part of our
standard contingency agreement, but is subject to negotiation between
the client and the firm.