Personal Injury: The Legal Process

IMG_3888Case Review

The strengths and weaknesses of each case are assessed, and the liability of each of the potential defendants is evaluated. We review all medical reports and police files. Depending on the nature of the case, we may consult with medical, vocational rehabilitation, accident reconstruction or other experts. We project a range of monetary values with we believe would likely be awarded by
a jury. We discuss with the client the merits of the case and the likelihood of prevailing at trial.

Settlement Efforts

Discussions are opened with the defendant’s insurance carrier in an attempt to settle the matter. Many cases are able to be settled out of court at this time. However, if these discussions are unsuccessful, we recommend a lawsuit.

It is important to remember that even when a case is placed in suit, settlement can be reached at any point along the way. Some cases are settled at jury selection or even during trial. However, no case ever is settled unless the carrier knows that the case is prepared to be presented to a jury if necessary.


Unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes yield to the profit motive and would prefer to keep their money invested than pay a reasonable settlement. Some try to out wait you in an attempt to bully you into settling for a fraction of what the case is worth. Some spend their money on expensive defense attorneys to bob, weave, duck and delay the claim as long as possible. The filing of a lawsuit tends to be a great “leveler” between the wealthy insurance company and the injured person who frequently is unable to return to work because of the injuries.

Our policy is to place a case in suit immediately if the carrier is unwilling to pay what we feel the case is worth, or if we sense any delaying tactics are being employed by the insurance adjustor. This policy actually helps us settle more cases in the long run.

Once a case is placed in suit, we vigorously pursue it. Even so, the process usually takes many months or even years, especially in cases involving multiple defendants or involving complicated product liability issues. What the jury sees – – the trial itself – – is only the tip of the iceberg: the end result of painstaking and diligent pretrial preparations.


The losing side frequently files an appeal which the winner must then defend. This involves a review of the record by a panel of Supreme court judges. Briefs are submitted by both sides and the case is argued before the panel by the attorneys. Appeals commonly take nine months to one year to complete.

Contingency Fees

Injury cases require so much time an attention that most injured people could not afford to hire an attorney were he or she to charge an hourly rate; thus, personal injury cases are almost universally handled on a “contingency fee” basis. A “contingency fee” is the fee earned by the attorney based upon a percentage of the award or settlement, usually one-third, depending upon adjustments for costs and disbursements.

In medical malpractice cases, a sliding scale is used to determine the fee but basically it’s the same idea: If there is no recovery, there is no attorney fee.

Given the huge investment of time and resources for all cases, it is practical to file suit only if the case meets tort law requirements and is likely to produce a settlement or award of damages sufficient to justify the time and expense incurred in pursuing it.

My passion is to prepare each case fully. That’s why I keep my office small and limit the number of cases I accept.

At Pajak Personal Injury, we prepare your case to win it.