Frequently Asked Questions
The aftermath of an injury can be stressful and difficult. Not only are you injured, but if your injury is serious you may be dealing with the medical community to get proper medical treatment, you may be losing wages, and you may have other damages and inconveniences in your life for both you and your family.
If your injury was caused by the fault of another person, you may also have to decide whether or not you should seek the advice of an attorney. One thing to remember when deciding whether or not to consult with an attorney after an injury, is that most personal injury attorneys, and the injury attorneys at Pentlarge Law Group, do not charge for a consultation to determine whether or not we can help you. In addition, if we think we can help you and take your case, we do not charge any money up front. Rather, we work on a contingency fee agreement, and only get paid for our time if we make a recovery for you. If we decide that we cannot help you and do not take your case, there is never a charge for the consultation, regardless of how much time we have spent with you.
Many injured people think the decision about whether or not they should hire an attorney is merely a financial decision. It is not. Here are the things we recommend you consider:
- Will the attorney take the case on contingent fee bases? (WE ALWAYS DO)
- Will the attorney charge me any money up front? (WE NEVER DO)
- Do I want to handle the legal issues myself, or would I rather have an attorney handle them for me?
- Will the experience of an attorney help me prove my case and obtain a better recovery?
Of course, every injured person wants to know whether or not they will end up with more money in their pocket if they hire an attorney or if they handle it themselves. No attorney can guarantee that after you take into consideration their fee, you will end up with more in your pocket than if you handled the matter yourself. However, at Pentlarge Law Group, it is our experience that the more serious your injuries, the larger your losses, or the more complex your case, the more likely it is that you will receive more in compensation, even after paying your attorney’s fees, than you would receive if you handled the matter on your own. Often much more.
At Pentlarge Law Group it is our opinion that if your case is simple, or only involves minor injuries, and if you are willing to do some research and perform the work in a serious and professional manner yourself, you may not necessarily need an attorney. However, the more serious your injuries, the greater your losses, or the more complex your case, you should seriously consider retaining an attorney.
At Pentlarge Law Group we can help you evaluate your case in a free consultation, answer all of your questions, and tell you our opinions in a fair and honest way. There is never a charge for this consultation. We never pressure you to retain us.
In serious injury cases or cases involving large losses or damages or complex issues, it is very important for you to retain an attorney immediately. The reason for this is that the attorney may need to perform an immediate investigation to help preserve the facts that are important to the case about things such as liability, causation, and injuries. The attorney may also want to make sure to provide the insurance company with adequate information immediately following the accident to allow the insurance company to appreciate the seriousness of the case. This is often a very important factor in allowing your attorney to get a fair resolution of your case at a later date.
You should also consider the Statute of Limitations. (See our blog on Statute of Limitations.) You must either settle your case against the person causing your injury, or file a lawsuit against them, within 2 years of the date your accident occurs. An attorney can help you settle your case or file the lawsuit prior to the expiration of the Statute of Limitations. If you fail to settle your case or file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, your rights against the party causing your injury may be forever lost.
In cases where you might hire a lawyer, it is important not to wait until the last minute to hire a lawyer. Lawyers are less likely to take your case if a long period of time has passed since the accident or the statute of limitations is quickly approaching.
The statute of limitations for most personal injury is 2 years. However, there are different time limitations for different types of cases and you should always seek the advice of an attorney about the applicable statute of limitations of your case.
You do not have to hire us or any other attorney. We still will not charge for our consultation. If we think we can help you and are willing to take your case the decision is yours.
If you decide you want to hire us, we will sign a fee agreement setting forth the terms of our contingent fee representation.
If you or a loved one has been injured, feel free to call us, or send a web contact form from the many locations on our website to do so, to discuss your case. After you contact us, we will determine whether or not it is appropriate to set up a free in-office consultation. We are here to help injured Alaskans.
When selecting an attorney for a personal injury case, it's always best to choose an attorney who handles only those types of cases. An attorney with a “general practice”, who does a little family law, a little criminal law, a little real estate, and a little personal injury law, cannot possibly master all of these areas. You are best off with a lawyer that devotes his or her practice to representing plaintiffs.
Beyond skill level and specialization, you should feel comfortable with the attorney and the law firm’s staff on a personal level. You should be able to trust your lawyer. Make sure the attorney you choose will listen to you, answer your questions, and be available to you when you're most in need.
Part of feeling comfortable with your attorney is knowing that your case is as important to your attorney as it is to you. A lawyer that is not committed to your case in his/her heart, or who is simply too busy to take your calls or do the necessary work to handle your case, is not going to get you the best results.
At Pentlarge Law Group, LLC we think it is important for you to meet with a lawyer as soon as possible after your first call. This meeting, also called a consultation, is entirely free. This free meeting is the perfect time for you to evaluate Pentlarge Law Group, LLC and to have a lawyer evaluate your case. For additional information, see our blog post here.
We believe in being up front and honest about our attorneys’ fees, so we explain in detail on our website how we are paid. If we accept your case, our law firm works on a contingent fee basis. This means you pay no fees unless we successfully resolve your case by settlement or verdict. Our typical fees are 1/3 of any gross recovery we obtain by settlement or verdict. 1/3 is the standard in the industry. You should feel free to shop around for other rates at other firms.
Costs are separate from attorneys’ fees. We do not expect clients to advance us money to pay the costs we incur pursuing their cases.
When we accept your case, we agree to advance all costs necessary to bring your case to a successful conclusion. This includes minor items like copying expenses, medical records, deposition expenses and filing fees. In a larger, more complex case, it may also include expenses for experts such as doctor, engineer, vocational rehabilitation specialist, or an economist. Our law firm uses some of the most experienced experts to help give our clients the best chance at a successful case resolution. We will always consult with you if we happen to incur any major expenses on your behalf.
This depends on the facts of your case, the witnesses, and the injuries you sustained. If you would like us to evaluate your case, call us at (907) 276-1919. We are available to discuss your case on the phone and to set up an appointment with a lawyer, if appropriate.
If you or a loved one has been injured, feel free to call us, or send a web contact from the many locations on our website to do so, to discuss your case. After you contact us, we will determine whether or not it is appropriate to set up a free in-office consultation. We are here to help injured Alaskans.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, under the law you are entitled to receive your damages from the at fault party or their insurance company.
Your damages include what the accident has cost you in terms of money. This includes compensation for past and future out of pocket expenses, including medical expenses, wage loss, loss of earning capacity, and a variety of other “CASH” damages.
In addition, you are entitled to reasonable and fair compensation for all the non-cash ways the accident has affected you. These are called "general damages". General damages include such things as pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life. In other words, general damages reimburse you for how the accident and your injuries have affected your life. This may also include money for how your future is affected by the accident as well.
Assigning a dollar figure to general damages is not an exact science. Factors that need to be considered include the nature and the extent of your injuries, the degree of pain and/or emotional suffering, the degree of disability, and the length of time and extent to which the injury will affect your life.
Our attorneys are experienced at evaluating cases and they can tell you what your case may be worth. Call us right now to discuss your case. Or contact us through this website to see if a consultation is appropriate.
One of our goals is to make our process as easy as possible for you. After you sign up, we will immediately act to preserve evidence and protect your interests from any insurance companies that may be involved.
Immediately after you sign up with us, we will contact all parties and insurance companies to tell them that we represent you and that they must now talk to us instead of you. They will not be allowed to contact you directly and you will therefore be protected from their attempts to obtain recorded statements or obtain irrelevant private information about you and your medical history.
We will also immediately take any steps necessary to preserve evidence in your case from important key witnesses. Doing this early is very important because witnesses may forget significant facts, move or pass away. Obtaining and preserving evidence early can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful result in a case.
Once the facts of the accident and the nature and extent of your injuries and future damages are thoroughly known to us, we will typically put together what is called a “settlement demand package” and present it to the at-fault party’s insurance company. A settlement demand package is an extensive summary of the evidence of your case and your injuries and damages. It includes a summary of the facts of the accident, an analysis of the applicable law, a summary of all past and future out of pocket losses you have incurred, and an analysis of all past and future damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disability, and disfigurement.
Our analysis will be supported by important exhibits including relevant medical records, medical bills, witness statements, and expert opinions. The conclusion of the demand package is an offer for settlement for an amount that you and your attorneys will have agreed to in advance based on the factors in your case. A thoroughly prepared demand package is the best way to avoid litigation. In fact, many of our cases settle at this stage, before a lawsuit is ever filed. For those cases where it is necessary to file suit in order to obtain a positive result for our clients, the next step is to file a lawsuit.
If we are unable to settle your case we will file a lawsuit on your behalf. Litigation begins when the complaint is filed and defendants are served with a summons and complaint. A complaint is a legal document that summarizes the plaintiff’s (injured person’s) claims against the defendants. Each defendant is then required to file an Answer to the Complaint, wherein the defendant admits or denies the facts alleged in the Complaint.
The next step in the litigation process is called “discovery”. During discovery, both sides use formal Court procedures to obtain information from each other. These procedures include written questions, or interrogatories. Witnesses may also be placed under oath and asked questions before a Court Reporter, who transcribes the interview in what is called a "deposition".
After both sides have completed their discovery, they are ready to try their case before a jury. Prior to doing this, however, the parties typically engage in a formal attempt to settle the case, called mediation. We find that if a case is well prepared, most cases will settle at this stage without the necessity of proceeding to trial.
We recommend that you not speak to the at-fault party’s insurance company unless you have first spoken to an attorney. Even if these insurance companies have advertised themselves on TV as being virtuous and kind, and even if the person on the phone sounds friendly, beware. Insurance companies make more money the less they pay in claims. These friendly adjusters are well-trained investigators seeking to obtain information that may be damaging to your case.
The adjuster may tell you that you have to give a recorded statement to them. This is false. It is not recommended that you give any recorded statement without the advice or presence of an attorney.
The adjuster may tell you that you must sign a release allowing them to obtain your medical records. While it is true that any insurance company will need to review relevant medical records in order to evaluate your injuries, it is not true that the insurance company is entitled to review irrelevant private medical records. Typically, the release the insurance company will try to get you to sign is overly broad and authorizes them to invade your privacy. Experienced attorneys in our office will know what the insurance company is and is not entitled to, and can modify any release to protect your right to privacy.
Another practice frequently employed by insurance companies is the premature offer of settlement. The adjuster will portray this ploy as providing excellent and prompt customer service, and a willingness to compensate you for your injuries. What is in fact happening is that the adjuster is trying to resolve your case for a small amount and have you sign away your rights before you are fully aware of the nature and extent of your injuries and before you are aware of what you are entitled to under the law. They are also trying to keep you from hiring an attorney, because they know your case will likely be worth more once you do so.
Beware of any offer of settlement made prior to the completion of your medical treatment. Insurance companies know that a certain percentage of injuries do not fully resolve and that a certain percentage of people end up with permanent problems, sometimes requiring surgery and sometimes preventing them from returning to work. If you settle your case early for an amount you think is reasonable, and later learn that your injuries were worse than you expected, you will not be able to come back to the insurance company for more money. That is why it is never a good idea to settle before you 1) have all the facts about your injuries, 2) have an opinion from your doctor about what the future will hold for you, 3) have discussed your case with an experienced attorney.