Sunnyvale Personal Injury FAQs

What can a personal injury lawyer do for you?

If you have sustained a personal injury, it is crucial that every detail surrounding the circumstances of the incident and any remaining evidence be carefully examined and analyzed to help piece together what happened and ensure your legal rights are protected. Many personal injury victims don't always realize whether they have a legal case, who is at fault for their injuries, or what types and amounts of damages can be claimed. The personal injury attorneys at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP will carefully look at all the details of your incident in an objective manner, identifying who is responsible for your injuries and determining any and all potential claims that can be made. Our attorneys will investigate how you were injured, the causes of the injury, and will take a close look at often-overlooked negligence theories like negligence resulting from a special relationship (i.e. a business owner’s need to protect its patrons) and liability of an employer for an employee's actions. Victims who fail to retain the services of an attorney may overlook important claims that could be made or miss out entirely on receiving compensation and holding negligent parties accountable because of technical defenses like the statute of limitations, assumption of risk, or comparative negligence.

Personal injury victims should not have to bear the costs associated with an accident they did not cause. The attorneys at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP fight to hold wrongdoers accountable and provide you with the maximum settlement you are legally entitled to. This may include lost wages, past and future medical care as well as pain and suffering. Our attorneys prepare every case as if it may go to trial, and because of this high level of preparation, we have great success resolving cases through the negotiation process and ultimately without need for trial.

How do I know how to deal with the Insurance Company?

The plain truth is that insurance companies are businesses with profit motives and ultimately have their own interests at heart – paying as little as possible to resolve claims against their company; those interests are in direct conflict with the injured party’s right to full compensation for their losses. The injury lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP have significant experience dealing with insurance companies, and we ensure that our clients are not shortchanged. Often times an insurance company will make “low-ball” offers to resolve injury claims. They do this because some percentage of the people these offers are made to will accept them without challenging or investigating what their right to full compensation means.

Before you provide the insurance company with a statement, sign any forms, or accept a settlement offer, you should consult with an injury lawyer who can provide you with effective counsel. All insurance documents need to be carefully reviewed by an experienced personal injury lawyer before signing anything, especially since doing so may prevent an injured person from pursuing any further settlement in the future. Additionally, statements you make or interactions you have with the insurance company could have a negative effect on your claim. For example, if an insurance company interviews an accident victim and that victim admits to or even implies any sort of responsibility for the accident, the statement can and will be used against the injured party as justification for why a settlement amount was reduced. The personal injury attorney’s of Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP will ensure that accident victims are not manipulated into admitting responsibility for something that wasn't their fault, and will seek the highest appropriate settlement amount as possible.

What is negligence? Why is it so important in personal injury law?

Negligence is the basis upon which most personal injury lawsuits are filed. In personal injury lawsuits, you must prove that another party’s negligence was a substantial cause of your injury before you can recover damages. In a negligence claim, the four elements of negligence that must be proven are: 1) duty, 2) breach, 3) causation, and 4) damages. Broadly speaking, negligence is simply conduct which falls below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person and which causes harm. Negligence takes many forms and is seen in everything from exploding gas tanks on cars, to improper training of security employees, to unsafe driving. For example, if you take your eyes off the road and rear-end a vehicle clearly stopped in front of you, you are negligent as your behavior was not reasonable and resulted in harm. Negligent action, however, is not always so obvious. Sometimes more than one party is negligent in an accident and often the negligent conduct isn’t readily apparent - a party, such as an employer, may be negligent and not even be present at the accident site. A skilled injury attorney will thoroughly investigate every detail pertaining to your injury to uncover all instances of negligence and all negligent parties. Evidence will then be compiled to show how the negligent action caused damages to a party in order to hold wrongdoers accountable.

What Damages Are Available In Personal Injury Claims?

A person injured due to the negligence of another may seek monetary damages from negligent parties who contributed to the injury. The two basic categories of damages which are awarded in personal injury claims are compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages seek to reimburse or compensate an injured party for the harm they have suffered. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the wrongdoer in cases where the harm was caused by another’s intentional or reckless conduct. Both punitive and compensatory damages are awarded directly to the injured party.

There are many different claims available under the spectrum of compensatory damages and they are divided into either general or special damages. General damages compensate for pain and suffering. They are called general damages because they compensate for harm usually or “generally” sustained by a defendant’s wrongful conduct. In other words, all personal injury victims are expected to have at least some pain and suffering. Special damages are unique to the particular individual and include reimbursement for medical bills, lost wages, and household expenses resulting from the injury. Special damages also compensate for future lost wages and future medical bills which may result because of the injury. To collect punitive damages, an injured party must prove that the wrongful conduct was intended, or was so reckless that it was certain to occur.

A frustrating issue with damages occurs when the negligent party does not have the ability to pay a monetary judgment. In this case, a victim may find it difficult or impossible to find compensation for his injuries. An experienced personal injury lawyer will examine every detail surrounding the accident and determine if resources are available to hold negligent parties monetarily responsible. Our skilled attorneys work diligently to find assets and insurance policies that less experience lawyers might miss, thereby making sure that wrongdoers are held accountable and you are fairly compensated.

What happens at the time of Settlement? What if I incur more damages related to the injury down the road?

Generally speaking, settlements in personal injury cases are final and cannot be re-opened at a later time, even if there are additional damages. Insurance companies rarely revisit cases once they've been settled, so it is important that the services of a skilled personal injury attorney are retained from the start to help you decide when and if to settle. As the client, you have the final authority to accept or reject settlement offers and if an acceptable settlement is reached, your attorney will arrange the details and paperwork and advise you of the attorney’s fees and costs. At Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP, we work on a contingency fee so our clients pay no up-front costs or retainers and we don’t receive our fee until we have successfully resolved your case.

How much does it cost to hire a personal injury attorney? What is a contingency fee?

Lawyers typically work on an hourly basis, and as such, could charge a client a fee every hour for potentially hundreds of hours work. An hourly fee arrangement also usually requires the client pay an up-front retainer. Contingency fees are much more cost effective and efficient. They allow all people equal access to the legal system irrespective of their financial means. Essentially, a contingency fee is an agreement between the client and attorney whereby the parties agree that the attorney will be paid his fees according to a pre-determined percentage of the settlement. This means no up-front or ongoing costs for the client and peace of mind from constant bills. The attorney is also not paid his fee unless and until the case is won or settled. Therefore, the client can rest assured our personal injury attorneys will do everything in their power to attain the largest possible settlement amount. At Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP, our personal injury attorneys typically charge a contingency fees of 33% to 40% of the settlement or verdict.

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