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Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury

FAQs


Do I need a lawyer?

This depends on the facts of your case. At a minimum, you will benefit from consulting a lawyer about your particular situation. Balamuth Law offers free initial consultations. We can provide you with our opinion regarding your potential case and whether we are the right firm for your situation. If we cannot help you, we can usually refer you to another lawyer or resource more suited to your situation.

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How much does an attorney charge?

Like most Emeryville personal injury attorneys that represent the injured and wronged, we usually work under a contingency fee agreement. A fee agreement defines the nature and scope of the representation and the amount that the attorney will be paid. A contingency fee agreement means the amount of the attorney’s fee is a percentage of the result obtained. Under our contingency fee agreements, we contract to recover our costs and a percentage of the recovery. In most cases, our clients owe us nothing unless we get them a recovery.

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Who can I sue for an on-the-job injury?

You may be limited to workers' compensation for an on-the-job injury. You may, however, be able to sue a "third party" (for instance, someone other than a co-employee or the employer) that is at least partially responsible for your injuries. That party may be subject to a civil lawsuit for your injuries. This is often referred to as a "third party claim." Balamuth Law handles third party claims.

One benefit of pursuing a civil third party claim is that you can be compensated for your pain and suffering and lost wages. These benefits are either not available or are limited in a workers' compensation claim. If you speak to an attorney who handles only workers' compensation claims, he or she may not recognize that you may have a third party claim as well as a workers' compensation claim. Accordingly, it is important to ask your Northern California workers' compensation attorney about such a claim, and ask for a referral to an attorney who specializes in civil third party claims. The time within which you may bring a claim is limited by law. Accordingly, it is important that you speak with an attorney as early as possible.

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What is a statute of limitations in a personal injury case?

You should know that this is a complex area of the law and depends on many factors. Nonetheless, in general terms, a statute of limitations controls how long you have to file your lawsuit before that right expires. If you fail to file your case with the court within the applicable statute of limitations, you will not be able to file the claim at all unless some unusual circumstances apply.

In California, the time period for filing a personal injury lawsuit is generally two years from the date that the injury happened. Again, the facts of your specific case will govern whether this rule applies to your case. For example, the statute of limitations may be longer, significantly shorter, or have other peculiarities depending on whether your claim is against a governmental entity, a healthcare provider and/or whether you are a minor or legally incompetent. There are many other variables. These complexities are what lawyers are trained to handle. Again, if you miss your statute of limitations, you can be forever barred from bringing your lawsuit. For this reason, we suggest you discuss your situation with a lawyer as soon as possible.

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What is my personal injury case worth?

This is one of the most common questions asked by potential clients, and one of the most difficult to answer. Each case is different, and depends on a wide variety of factors. Civil cases compensate the injured person with money. The compensation you may receive depends on the extent of your damages.

In most cases, there are two types of damages. The first type is called special damages. These are the damages to your "pocketbook" and are numbers that can be calculated. Special damages include past wages lost from your injuries, past medical expenses for your injuries, future wage loss or loss of earning capacity from your injuries, future medical expenses for your injuries, the loss of household services, and related property damage.

The second type is called general damages. These damages are more intangible and are more difficult to calculate. General damages compensate for your past and future pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. that result from your injuries. The value of these damages will partially depend on your lawyer's ability to convey to the judge, jury and opposing counsel the significance of your injury.

There are innumerable factors which can affect the value of your case. These factors can affect how much of your damages you actually recover in a lawsuit, if successful in prosecuting your case. To name a few, these include the extent of your responsibility, if any, for your accident; the extent of your employer's responsibility, if any, for your accident (for work place accidents); whether there are any other claimants to any of the proceeds of your case (e.g., MediCal or medical providers not covered by insurance); the solvency of the defendant; and the availability of insurance. It is important to retain a Northern California personal injury attorney that is fully aware of all of the nuances of these and other factors so that you will have the best opportunity to maximize any recovery.

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What happens if I lose my personal injury case, i.e. who pays for the costs of my case?

If you lose your case, responsibility for the costs advanced by your attorney will depend on the particular fee agreement that you have with your attorney. If Balamuth Law represents you, in most cases the firm will advance all costs necessary for litigation of your case. If your case is not successful, you will not be responsible for any of the costs advanced by Balamuth Law. (There are some exceptions to this in certain limited cases.) The risk of losing these costs is a risk borne solely by the law firm. If your case proceeds to trial (i.e., there has been no settlement) and you lose, you may be liable for the costs of the defendant/wrongdoer that you have sued.

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My injuries have affected my spouse. Can my spouse file a lawsuit?

If you have been injured as a result of someone else's fault, your husband or wife may have a claim for what is known as "loss of consortium." Your spouse may be able to recover money for the value of the care, comfort, society, love, support and affection that you are no longer able to provide because of your injury. A loss of consortium claim can only be brought by a spouse who was legally married to you at the time of your accident. The law in California does not currently provide a loss of consortium claim to domestic partners, fiancees, or the like.

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My injuries have affected my spouse. Can my spouse file a lawsuit?

If you have been injured as a result of someone else's fault, your husband or wife may have a claim for what is known as "loss of consortium." Your spouse may be able to recover money for the value of the care, comfort, society, love, support and affection that you are no longer able to provide because of your injury. A loss of consortium claim can only be brought by a spouse who was legally married to you at the time of your accident. The law in California does not currently provide a loss of consortium claim to domestic partners, fiancees, or the like.

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What should I do if I slip and fall?

  • Inspect the area where you fell, and try to determine what caused you to fall.
  • Make sure to write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of anyone in the vicinity where the incident occurred - both those who saw you fall, and others who were there after the incident - since you will likely need them as witnesses on your behalf. Even if someone did not see you fall, he or she could, if necessary, describe your pain and the conditions of the floor, lighting, or other hazard immediately after you fell.
  • If the incident occurred in a store or place of business, speak with the manager or supervisor on duty, and have them make a record of the incident, being sure to get a copy of anything prepared.
  • If anyone (especially an employee, supervisor or manager) makes a comment suggesting that this has occurred before, or that they were aware of the condition before your fell, obtain this person's name and job title. Make sure to get the name, address, and phone number of anyone else who heard him or her make the statement.
  • Have someone take photographs of the area as soon as possible, so a record is made. Dangerous conditions have a way of changing if the property owner thinks that you might file a claim for injuries.
  • If you slip on any substance on the floor, obtain a sample of the substance if possible.
  • After receiving appropriate initial medical treatment, contact a Moraga slip and fall injury attorney with experience in handling claims for personal injury resulting from slip and fall accidents.

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What are some safety tips to avoid a Northern California dog attack?

Of all bites that occur, children are often the victims. Children are often bitten on the face, and any bite can cause severe injury or infection. A child's small size may cause a dog to act in a dominant way. Many children's lack of judgment and ignorance about how to behave around a dog and their inability to fend off an attack can add to the risk. It is very important that parents closely supervise children when around dogs. You can reduce the chances of children in your care being bitten or injured by a dog if you teach them some basic safety tips:

  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Never run from a dog and scream.
  • Stay still when an unfamiliar dog comes up to you ("be still like a tree").
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still ("be like a log").
  • Do not look a dog in the eye.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without letting it see and sniff you first.
  • Never play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Never leave an infant or child alone with any dog.
  • Teach your dog submissive behaviors, like rolling over to show its stomach.
  • Do not play aggressive games with a dog, such as wrestling.
  • Seek medical care for any serious dog bite and report all dog attacks.
  • Support animal-control programs in your community and the enforcement of local laws regulating dangerous or vicious dogs.
  • Support dog bite prevention educational programs in schools.
  • Get the advice of a veterinarian about the right breed of dog if you are thinking about getting a family dog.
  • Spay or neuter your dog. This often reduces its aggressive tendencies.
  • Be sure all pets are properly immunized.

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Attorney Kelly Balamuth was profiled in the
September 2013 Issue of Plaintiff Magazine.

Balamuth Law has helped hundreds of people resolve their claims and obtain justice. Please look at some of our case results in our different practice areas to see how we have helped.

Latest Entry:

5Thank you so much for representing us in the lawsuit.

It was a pleasure working with you, and we feel very comfortable recommending you to anyone who comes our way who needs a personal injury lawyer. Wishing you continued success in your practice! We recommend you highly.

1001 Country Club Dr., #F
Moraga, California 94556
Phone: (925) 254-1234
Toll Free: (888) 254-1234

Oakland Injury Attorney Disclaimer: The information and materials contained on this web site do not constitute legal advice and are presented without any representation or warranty whatsoever, including as to accuracy or completeness. They are not intended to create, and receipt of them does not establish, an attorney-client relationship between you and Balamuth Law. You should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

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