Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
What exactly is a personal injury?
In legal terms, a “personal injury” is any significant physical, emotional, or mental injury that is brought about by someone else’s negligent or deliberately harmful actions. People who suffer such injuries may be entitled to compensation from the responsible party under the law. In cases in which the personal injury is fatal, a wrongful death claim may be filed by the family of the victim. Personal injury and wrongful death claims are filed independently of any criminal charges that might be brought against the party responsible for the injury.
What factors do you consider in determining losses incurred as a result of an injury?
Each case is unique, but typically there are several aspects of the injured party’s circumstance and situation that are considered when assessing monetary damages. Personal injury victims are entitled to recover monetary damages for all losses and expenses they incur as a result of an accident. These damages may include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages, including overtime
- Pain and suffering
- Physical disability
- Permanent scars
- Emotional trauma
- Mental disability
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of love and affection
- Property damage
- All out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., photographs, copies, postage, phone calls, car rental, airfare)
What are “damages?”
Broadly defined, “damages” refers to the money awarded to a victim of personal injury. There are several different types of damages, including:
- Compensatory or “Actual”: These cover measurable economic losses as a result of injury, such as medical bills and property damage.
- General: These cover losses that cannot be objectively measured in terms of monetary value, such as loss of love and pain and suffering.
- Punitive: These are intended to punish the party responsible for the injury if found to have acted willfully or maliciously.
- Special: These are intended to compensate the out-of-pocket expenses of the injured party as a result of the injury.
How soon following my injury should I contact an attorney?
The right to seek damages following a personal injury is governed by a time limit known as a statute of limitations. If the personal injury victim fails to take legal action against the negligent party during this time limit, he or she forfeits the right to seek damages in the future. The statute of limitations depends on the type of accident and injury, and varies from state to state. This is why it is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible following an injury accident. Even if you decide not to pursue legal action, an attorney can help you to understand your rights and how best to preserve them.
If I file a personal injury claim, will I have to appear in court?
Not all personal injury litigation results in a jury trial. In fact, many cases are settled out of court before a trial even has the chance to commence. However, it is best to entrust your case to a law firm that has extensive experience and success in taking cases to trial. The Law Offices of Anthony E. Vieira has this experience and success, and we are always willing and ready to pursue a case to verdict if in the best interests of our clients.
What is a settlement?
A settlement is an agreement on damages reached between the injured party and the party responsible for the injury outside of court. While most attorneys will work toward fair and just settlements on behalf of their clients, be wary of any law firm that focuses solely on reaching a settlement. At The Law Offices of Anthony E. Vieira, we will never encourage you to accept a settlement simply to avoid a trial. Led by Anthony Vieira, who has successfully tried many cases to verdict in his career, our trial attorneys are always prepared to pursue justice in court whenever necessary. We know the American jury system and trust in the ability of jurors to make correct decisions, no matter how difficult they may be.
What is “deposition?”
“Deposition” is the legal term for testimony, given under oath, by witnesses to an accident or crime. This testimony is given in response to questions presented by the attorneys representing the parties involved in an action and is collected and recorded by an officer of the court. If a case proceeds to trial, depositions may be entered into evidence for any number of reasons, including the impeachment of testimony presented during the trial.
If I am partly at fault for the accident that resulted in my injury, can I still recover damages?
In the state of California, it is possible to recover damages even if it is determined that the injured victim is partially at fault under the doctrine of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence means that total damages will be reduced by the amount that the injured party is found to have been at fault. Therefore, if a court determines that the injury victim was 35 percent at-fault for the accident, the damages awarded would be 35 percent less than the total losses incurred.
What is “mediation?”
When two parties, particularly those involved in business dealings, cannot arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution to a disagreement, a third party is often brought in to mediate. The process of mediation can help these parties come to a fair and just agreement without the need to proceed with litigation. The Law Offices of Anthony E. Vieira has both the resources and the experience to handle mediation between two business entities.
What is a “contingency fee?”
Most personal injury cases are handled on a “contingency” basis; that is, attorneys’ fees are not charged unless damages are recovered. At The Law Offices of Anthony E. Vieira, we handle personal injury cases on this basis – you will pay no attorneys’ fees unless you are compensated for your losses. Other fees may apply to your case. These will be discussed in detail at your consultation with one of our qualified trial attorneys.
What does it mean that you handle cases in states other than California and Illinois "pro hac vice?"
Pro hac vice is a Latin term meaning, "only this once." In legal terms, pro hac vice refers to a special allowance made by a court that permits an out-of-state attorney to participate in a trial.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare and extremely dangerous form of cancer, the only cause of which is exposure to asbestos. There are two common types of mesothelioma: pleural and peritoneal. Pleural mesothelioma develops as a result of asbestos fibers being absorbed into the pleural sac, the membrane that surrounds the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma, the rarer of the two forms, results from asbestos fibers being absorbed into the peritoneum, the membrane that surrounds the abdominal cavity. At present, neither form of mesothelioma is curable, although medical technology has evolved to the point where the lives of mesothelioma sufferers can be extended beyond what was possible in the past.
What is asbestosis?
Asbestosis, like mesothelioma, is a disease that results from asbestos exposure. Also known as diffuse pulmonary fibrosis, asbestosis occurs when asbestos fibers become embedded in the lungs, leading over time to severe scarring. This scarring eventually makes it difficult for the lungs to function properly, which can result in a number of cardiopulmonary problems and even death. Unfortunately, the symptoms of asbestosis – which include coughing, chest pains, fatigue, and breathing difficulties – are so similar to those of other illnesses that the disease is usually difficult to diagnose in its earliest stages.
Neither the information provided in our helpful journals or the list of frequently asked questions should be construed as legal advice or as the foundation of an attorney-client relationship.