April 7, 2024 | Article by Matt Clark

How much do you charge to review a case?

An initial appointment to discuss the facts of a potential case is free. In those cases where it appears that the claim is
meritorious, we will advance the costs necessary to investigate and prosecute the claim. In the event we undertake formal representation, any costs advanced are reimbursed to your attorney at the time your settlement is disbursed, assuming we are able to make a recovery on your behalf. Additionally, your attorney will charge a contingency fee paid at the conclusion of your case.

What is a contingency fee?

A contingency fee is a legal fee that is dependent upon the successful outcome of a claim. Most attorneys who specialize in personal injury claims utilize a contingency fee agreement because injured clients often cannot afford to pay an attorney for service rendered on an hourly basis. The attorney will agree to take a certain percentage of the settlement from which the attorney’s fees are paid. If there is no recovery, we receive no fee. Contingency fees are open to negotiation between the attorney and client. However, in certain types of cases, such as claims on behalf of children, a maximum fee limits is established by statute. Contingency fee agreements must be in writing and signed by both the attorney and the client.

What is the time limit (statute of limitations) for me to claim injuries?

Different statutes of limitation govern different types of cases. Under most circumstances, statutes of limitation for children are longer than those for adults. Special statutes of limitation governing the filing of claims against public entities may be as short as six months from the date of injury. Where injury does not manifest itself for many years after an event or exposure (such as during a period of latency after exposure to harmful chemicals) the statute of limitations may not run for many, many years.

Because the running of the statute of limitations is dependent upon the facts of an individual case, if you believe that you have a claim where the statute of limitations may be running, we urge you to contact one of our attorneys as soon as possible to arrange for a free consultation. However, as a general rule, a personal injury and/or wrongful death action, under California law, must be brought within two years from the date of the accident, if the accident occurred on or after January 1, 2003; and one year from the date of the accident if the accident occurred prior to January 1, 2003. In cases against public entities, a claim must be filed against the public entity within six months from the date of injury or death.

How much will I recover from a settlement or judgment?

There is no formula or standardized method for evaluating the likely settlement value or jury verdict potential in a given case. Case value is case-specific. It depends upon factors including liability, nature and extent of injuries, nature and extent of permanent disability, economic losses (including lost wages and medical bills), disfigurement, embarrassment, and a host of other considerations. While we can provide ballpark evaluations based upon results in trials and settlements of similar cases, no precise method exists for predicting how much an injured individual will recover in a given case.

Will my case go to trial?

The majority of claims handled by our office are settled before trial. Statewide, approximately 8 out of 10 cases settle without court or jury trial. However, because we cannot predict whether or not a case will settle without trial, our attorneys prepare all cases in the same way, assuming that if a reasonable and fair settlement cannot be reached, we are prepared to take the matter to trial on behalf of our clients.

Do you handle cases for children?

Much of our work involves claims on behalf of clients under the age of 18. Special rules govern the prosecution of children’s cases. Any settlements or judgments are subject to court supervision, and all costs and expenditures must also be approved by a Superior Court judge. Special statutes of limitation govern the prosecution of children’s cases. Because the statutes of limitation are different whether the case is one for product liability, vehicular negligence, injuries occurring in the birth process, etc., it is important to contact our office as soon as possible to determine when a child’s statute of limitations expires.

What if I was hurt at work?

Whenever a person is hurt at work they are automatically entitled to the benefits of Workers’ Compensation insurance. In addition to Workers’ Compensation, many times the right to bring an action against someone other than your employer also exists. These are called “third-party cases.” Prompt investigation of third-party cases is critical. If you were hurt at work and you believe it was the fault of someone other than your employer, prompt investigation must be undertaken to secure evidence, identify witnesses, and determine whether sufficient facts exist to justify a claim against another person or entity.

What if I have a claim against a city, county, state or other government agency?

Claims against public entities are subject to the California Government Code. This code imposes special administrative claim filing requirements and provides statutory immunities and other protections to government entities. CHAIN | COHN | CLARK has handled thousands of cases against cities, counties, school districts, water districts, states, the federal government, federal government agencies, branches of the military, and other government
bodies. Because the claims filing period against state and municipal agencies is the shortest of all statutes of limitation (180 days) it is very important that a person who believes he or she has been injured through government action contact an attorney at once.

I was injured in a traffic accident by an uninsured motorist; what are my options?

Although California motorists are required to have insurance, the fact of the matter is that there are still drivers on the road who do not have insurance. By law, all California insurers must offer uninsured motorist coverage, and underinsured motorist coverage, to their customers. According to a statutory scheme set forth in Insurance Code §11580.2, insured motorists arbitrate with their own carrier when they are injured by an uninsured motorist. The carrier then has the right to seek reimbursement (subrogation) from the uninsured motorist. CHAIN | COHN | CLARK has settled and arbitrated thousands of uninsured motorist cases and is well-versed with the special requirements of the uninsured motorist law.