FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q: Why do I need a lawyer?
A: When you or a loved one is injured by the negligence of another person, the last thing on your mind is retaining a lawyer to protect your legal rights. Ironically, this is the very reason it is crucial to have an experienced attorney advocating for you. First, a good lawyer will give you peace of mind so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries and taking the appropriate steps toward healing. Second, the legal team at Leitner Varughese PLLC is uniquely equipped to gather evidence to maximize the result in your case. Third, our attorneys are accustomed to dealing with insurance companies and are fully aware of any attempts to minimize your rights. Most people do not realize that many insurance companies assign specially-trained adjusters to deal with unrepresented accident victims. Our experienced attorneys will ensure that you receive every benefit to which you are entitled. Fourth, each case is unique and many factors go into calculating its value. Our attorneys are familiar with these factors and use their years of experience to evaluate each and every situation individually. A lawyer or an unrepresented person who doesn’t routinely handle personal injury cases is simply not equipped to maximize the amount recovered from the insurance company.
Q: Will I ever be required to pay Leitner Varughese a legal fee out of pocket for my injury case?
A: Never. At Leitner Varughese PLLC, all injury, medical malpractice, and nursing home cases are handled completely on a “contingency basis”. This means that we will investigate and litigate your case from start to finish completely at our expense with no obligation or risk to you whatsoever. In order to so, all expenses necessary to move forward with your case (also known as “disbursements”) such as: court filing fees, costs of obtaining medical records, and fees to retain experts will be paid by Leitner Varughese PLLC on your behalf until the resolution of the case. Once a successful recovery is obtained by way of settlement or verdict at trial, the disbursements and our legal fee will be deducted as a percentage of that recovery based upon a standard New York State contingency fee agreement.
Q: Why choose lawyers who spend the majority of their time handling personal injury, medical malpractice, and nursing home abuse cases?
A: The law has become remarkably specialized. Just as you would not want to hire a person who does only oil changes to rebuild your car’s engine, you should not hire a lawyer who dabbles in cases related to negligence to handle your case. Constant changes in the laws pertaining to injury cases require sharp attorneys who are on the cutting edge of their field and are fully familiar with new legislation and case law. The attorneys at Leitner Varughese PLLC routinely attend continuing legal education seminars and are members of various associations that keep them on the cutting edge of the latest developments in personal injury law, litigation, and trial practice.
Q: Why should I hire a lawyer as soon as possible after my accident or a bad medical outcome?
A: The hours, days, and weeks after one is injured in an accident is critical. Important evidence may be lost or mistakes may be made if you do not act quickly. For example, photographs can be a crucial part of proving a claim on your behalf. In an accident case, we may want to photograph the vehicles involved before they are repaired or salvaged. If injured in an accident or a nursing home, we may want to photograph any evidence of your injuries (bruising, bleeding, bedsores, etc.). In some cases, we may need to examine the vehicles or equipment involved in an accident to determine whether there was a product failure. In a slip and fall case, we may want to retain the footwear, and possibly, the clothes you were wearing at the time of the accident. Perhaps most importantly, insurance companies often ask to take recorded statements of unrepresented accident victims which almost never benefit the accident victim and can often severely damage your case. For example, some people who are in accidents feel pain for the first time a day or two after the accident. If such a person gives a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster five hours after an accident and says that he or she is not in pain, a jury hearing the case over one year later may not believe that this person was truly hurt as a result of the accident.
Q: Is it important to meet and have access to the attorney who will be handling my case?
A: Absolutely. You will develop a relationship with your lawyer. This relationship is essential to developing the reciprocal trust that must develop between our attorneys and clients. At Leitner Varughese PLLC, you will always have access to an attorney who is equipped and ready to answer your questions. It is our commitment to regularly keep our clients updated on the status of their case by phone and by personal appointments. Rest assured, your phone calls will always be returned within 24-hours by a knowledgeable attorney or member of our staff until all your questions are answered to your satisfaction.
Q: What happens with my case after a lawsuit is filed?
A: Although there are variations, depending on where your lawsuit is filed, you can generally expect the following:
We will hire a private process server to hand-deliver a copy of your lawsuit to each defendant in your case along with interrogatories and a request for production of document.
We will prepare written “request for production of documents” (a device which allows us to get important documents and photographs from the defendant together with answers to certain key questions by his or her lawyer and insurance company).
Typically, the defendant’s insurance company will hire a lawyer to represent the defendant. Within 30 days of being served with our complaint, this lawyer will then file an “answer” to our lawsuit and will send it to us along with their own “request for production of documents” to which we must respond. We will work with you to answer defendant’s requests in the form of a “Bill of Particulars” (a document in which we describe our allegations against the defendant more specifically). After consulting with you, we will prepare a response to each of the defendant’s requests for production of document.
Once written discovery is completed, the parties will take “depositions.” Depositions are interviews conducted in a lawyer’s office, under oath, with a court reporter present to record all of the questions and answers. We always meet with our clients before their depositions take place. Shortly thereafter, we will depose the defendant and other relevant witnesses relevant to our claims.
Once written discovery and all depositions have been completed, we file a document with the court called a “Note of Issue” which includes a “Certificate of Readiness”. This document advises the court that all discovery is complete and we are ready to be placed on the trial calendar. As we await a trial date, the attorneys involved often explore settlement by simply talking among themselves, or by agreeing to use various methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution such as mediation. This is where a neutral mediator would sit down with the parties outside of court, hear all arguments, and seek to help them reach a fair settlement that is equitable to all parties involved by offering his/her recommendations. Although we prepare all of our cases with trial in mind, once it becomes clear that a case will not settle, we will prepare accordingly for trial.