Questions Frequently Asked
What is a “contingency fee?” In order to allow equal access to our justice system, the law encourages the use of contingency fee agreements. It is often expensive to make claims against well-funded insurance companies and corporations. Most people could not afford to pay an attorney by the hour to help them with their claim, nor could most people afford to pay the costs associated with making a claim. A contingency fee agreement allows you to hire an attorney without having to pay the attorney for the services unless you make a recovery. The public often hears insurance companies claiming there are too many frivolous lawsuits but in reality, a contingency fee system encourages a law office to carefully evaluate a claim.
Personal injury cases at Cornwell & Sample are handled on a contingency fee basis. Our attorneys only get paid if they win your case, after which they become entitled to collect a predetermined percentage of the total settlement as payment. If your attorneys do not obtain a recovery in your case, then you are not responsible for paying them any legal fees or costs.
What is a “statute of limitations?” The statute of limitations places a time limit on how long a person has to file a lawsuit, pursue a claim, or otherwise bring legal action due to wrongful conduct. Various civil actions will have different statutes of limitations. Even a single event can involve different time limitations to file a claim or lawsuit. Insurance companies often try to delay negotiations with people who are not represented by lawyers, knowing that if you have not filed a claim in the right court before the statute of limitations expires, you will forever lose your right to make a claim. Once you lose your right to make your claim, neither the at-fault party nor their insurance company owes you anything.
What is my claim worth? The amount of monetary compensation that you are entitled to collect after being injured varies greatly between cases and is based on several factors, including age and health of the victim before the injury, extent of the injuries, nature of medical treatment, length of disability, and the presence of emotional and physical pain and suffering.
Property damage claims are based on the cost to repair or replace, but there is no formula or chart for the value of a personal injury claim. Personal injury compensation requires the party who caused the harm to fix what can be fixed (medical bills, wage loss, and other out-of-pocket losses) but even more importantly, to make up for those things which cannot be fixed. The law allows injured persons to be compensated for the things which cannot be fixed, the human loss, also referred to as their pain and suffering. There is no formula for evaluating pain and suffering but Cornwell & Sample has decades of experience evaluating all types of harms and losses. We work with the top experts in the medical and forensic fields to evaluate and establish the full nature and extent of the harms and losses suffered by our clients.
Will my case go to trial? Nearly all cases are settled before trial, but if your case does go to trial, Cornwell & Sample will prepare you for what to expect. A jury trial is a community gathering to decide issues of safety and placing value on human suffering. Despite some media accounts to the contrary, our jury systems works.
Why does Cornwell & Sample so frequently win favorable settlements? Cornwell & Sample always fully prepares the case to go to trial, hires the proper experts, does the proper investigation, and researches every legal issue.
The at-fault party and the insurance company know of our years of experience, reputation for being well-prepared, and our successful track record.
Although there is no guarantee that most well-prepared cases result in settlement before reaching trial, preparation and experience always gives your case the best chance of a favorable settlement. If the case does not settle, it certainly gives you the best chance of full recovery at trial.
If I have been referred to you by another lawyer, does that mean my case is going to cost me more money? Absolutely not. Many of our clients are referred to us by other lawyers and any referral fee to those lawyers will be paid out of the attorney’s fees. You will be required to pay no additional money.
Why don’t my lawyers handle these cases themselves? In today’s world of specialization, it is difficult, if not impossible, for lawyers to keep up on all areas of the law. Personal injury and wrongful death law is a very specialized practice area within the law. Cornwell & Sample specializes in personal injury and wrongful death trial litigation.
Oftentimes, the lawyer who referred your case will still be involved, offering you the familiarity and trust of the lawyer you originally hired and the knowledge you have a team of lawyers who care about the successful resolution of your case.
How long will this process take? There is no clear answer. Once a lawsuit is filed, most things happen in 30-45 day increments. The law requires each side be allowed certain amounts of time to respond to filings and requests for information. Usually within a few months the attorneys will have a good estimate of how long the litigation will take. Some cases in which the liability is clear and the injuries only require contacting a few doctors can be analyzed, evaluated and presented within a few months. Other cases require much investigation into both how the loss occurred and the nature and extent of the losses. More complicated cases can take 6-12 months to properly analyze. Once the case has been analyzed and evaluated, settlement options can be pursued, but many at-fault defendants and their insurance companies drag their feet and delay settlement until the case approaches trial. Valley courts typically set trial for approximately one year from the date the lawsuit is filed. For step-by-step explanation of what happens when you file a lawsuit, see An Explanation of the Benefits Process.
There are of course many things that can cause a case to take longer than a year to get to trial. Sometimes the injured party is still treating and the full extent of their losses are not yet ready to be evaluated. There can be a backlog in the courts, which require continuances. Since most cases are dependent upon the schedules of physicians and experts, their calendars must also be considered. There can be many different types of legal or evidentiary developments which may delay or speed up the conclusion of the case, but be assured Cornwell & Sample only accepts a limited number of cases so that we can spend adequate time on those that we do accept, and with that said, most cases can be resolved within approximately one to two years. Cases can take longer if an appeal is involved.
Who will work on my case? Virtually everyone in the office works on some aspect of each case, but your contact will be primarily with your lawyer. Your lawyer’s paralegal may contact you with requests for administrative issues and gathering information, but you will meet frequently with and your case will be personally handled by your lawyer. Behind the scenes, your case may be worked on by both the trial lawyers, and their teams which include the research attorney, the law clerk, paralegals and technical specialists within the firm. They all work closely together and you will benefit from this process. We call it team work, and you will have access to your entire team. You can call or meet with any member of your team, including your trial lawyer, as often as you need.
Will you take my case? We do not accept every case. Whether we take a case depends on many factors, but mostly depends on whether after evaluating the facts we believe we are the right firm to assist you in obtaining full compensation. Sometimes we can determine whether we will be able to accept your case based on a phone interview, but usually that decision requires a face-to-face meeting. On some occasions, even after meeting with you, we will need additional time and investigation to make a decision. Please know that if we accept your case, we will use all of our resources to help you. If we are not able to take your case, we will notify you immediately. Because of the small number of cases we accept, we develop strong personal relationships with our clients.
Why is the insurance company for the person who hurt me asking me so many questions and how can Cornwell & Sample help? The nature and extent of the harms and losses need to be known before they can be evaluated, so it is expected the at-fault party would have questions before paying any settlement funds. Even if an at-fault party had the money and heart to make it right, they would still need information to evaluate the harms and losses. Unfortunately, many at-fault parties, and particularly their insurance companies, do not have the heart to make it right and they use their seemingly unlimited questions and requests for records to delay rather than resolve the case.
Cornwell & Sample knows the difference between necessary information to evaluate a claim and delay tactics. We will gather the information necessary to present a full and complete presentation of the harms and losses. We order records. We get to know your family. We talk with the physicians. We hire the right experts. Cornwell & Sample has the experience and resources to make sure all of the losses are considered, even those losses the client didn’t know were recoverable. The client’s story is heard, understood and properly evaluated. And if the at-fault party is still unwilling to pay the complete and full compensation for all of the harms and losses they have caused, Cornwell & Sample has the experience and resources to take the case to trial, where the jury will stand ready to order the at-fault party to finally make things right.