Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I need a lawyer? Can I just handle my case myself?
- How long do I have after my accident or injury to make a claim or file a lawsuit?
- What can I do after I have missed the statute of limitations?
- What is my case worth?
- What can I expect during the initial consultation?
- Will I be charged for my initial consultation with you?
- How much will you charge to represent me?
- Why do you charge what you charge?
- What if I lose? Will I be responsible for any of the fees or costs?
- What are my responsibilities as a client?
- How long will this process take?
Do I need a lawyer? Can I just handle my case myself?
The answer to this question depends if you can negotiate a fair settlement on your own. You will need to document all expenses and costs and compare that with any offer for settlement you receive. The problem is you may not realize all your injuries and how much you are allowed to recover for each injury. In addition, the insurance company may not offer you the full value of your claim if it knows your claim will probably not go to trial. On average, people who retain a personal injury lawyer, even after attorney fees, receive more money than those who handle their claims on their own - and avoid the frustration and time gathering evidence and negotiating with the insurance company.
How long do I have after my accident or injury to make a claim or file a lawsuit?
California law provides a deadline for you to file a lawsuit. This deadline is known as the "statute of limitations." If you fail to file your claim by the deadline, you are barred from recovering money damages in your case. Generally, for personal injury claims, it is 2 years from the injury. If the injury was not discovered right away, then it is 1 year from the date the injury was discovered. For claims against government agencies, you must file a claim with the agency within 6 months (for some cases, 1 year) of the incident. If the claim is denied, you can then file your lawsuit in court but there are strict limits to when.
What can I do after I have missed the statute of limitations?
You should contact a lawyer immediately. There may be exceptions to the statute of limitations or you may be mistaken about whether you have missed the deadline to file a lawsuit.
What is my case worth?
The value of a case is based on economic damages, non-economic damages, and in certain circumstances punitive damages. Economic damages are sometimes referred to as "special damages." These damages include past and future medical bills, past and future wage loss, and past and future loss of household services. Non-economic damages are sometimes referred to as "general damages." These damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life. The value of non-economic damages is partially based on the type and extent of economic damages you suffered. Punitive damages are available in circumstances where a defendant has acted with a conscious disregard for human life or society, or acted with malice, oppression, or fraud. The value of a case can then be decreased by the potential fault of other people, including the client's own fault, the difficulty of prevailing at trial, and the credibility of witnesses in a case.
What can I expect during the initial consultation?
First we will speak with you over the phone to learn a little bit about you and your case to see if we may be the right lawyer for you. If it seems like we handle your type of case, we will schedule an in-office visit. In some situations, we can come visit you. During the in-office visit, we will look at any documents you have that may be helpful to your case. These include police reports, medical records, medical bills, pictures, video recordings, information about the involved insurance companies, and any other documents you feel will be helpful to your potential case. If it becomes clear your case is one we can help you with, and you are comfortable with us representing you, we will enter into a contingency fee agreement. We will then gather more specific information about your case such as, the names of medical providers and witnesses, your occupation, and any other information that will assist us build your case.
Will I be charged for my initial consultation with you?
No. The initial consultation is free.
How much will you charge to represent me?
We charge on a contingency fee arrangement. In a typical personal injury lawsuit, the Law Office of Jenny C. Tiu charges 33 ⅓ % of the recovery prior to filing a complaint and 40% of the recovery if we end up filing a complaint. Clients will also be responsible for costs that are incurred in the case. These costs include the cost to file a complaint, take depositions, hire investigators, research, consult with experts, and other case costs. The Law Office of Jenny C. Tiu will usually advance these costs during the course of the case and will only seek reimbursement for these costs if we recover money for your case. The specific terms of your agreement will be governed by the contingency fee agreement you sign.
Why do you charge what you charge?
We advance the case costs to build and litigate your case. Because we work on a contingency fee agreement, we face the possibility of absorbing the case costs if we don't recover an award for you. The percentages takes into account the risk of losing in each case.
What if I lose? Will I be responsible for any of the fees or costs?
Generally, you are not responsible for reimbursing us for our attorney fees or any of the costs advanced in your case if we do not recover an award for you. The specific terms of your agreement will be governed by the contingency fee agreement you sign. Under certain circumstances, you may be asked to repay the defendant for the costs it may have put into a case.
What are my responsibilities as a client?
Your job is to help us build a great case for you. You will be asked to provide information and documents to us in a timely manner. You will be asked to be available to talk and meet with us, attend depositions and trial, and be forthcoming so that we can properly prepare your case. A more detailed explanation of your responsibilities and our responsibilities in your case are set forth in the contingency fee agreement you sign.
How long will this process take?
It depends on the circumstances. Some factors to consider are the complexity of the case, how long it will take to gather all the evidence, your level of participation, and the defense's cooperation. If your case is particularly strong, it may resolve without filing a complaint. We will prepare a demand package for the potential defendant or its insurance company to allow the defense to understand their potential liability if your case goes to trial. Many cases can resolve in as little as 6 months but others could take years. The stages of the litigation process are:
1. The Incident
2. Retaining a Lawyer
3. Fact Gathering
4. Filing the Complaint
5. Service of the Complaint
6. Response to the Complaint
7. Formal Discovery and Motions
8. Case Management Conferences
9. Settlement Discussions or Mediations
The Law Office of Jenny C. Tiu is located in Vallejo and Concord, California. Attorney Tiu provides personal injury representation to clients throughout the Bay Area, including those from Benicia, Suisun City, Vacaville, Dixon, Rio Vista, Fairfield, American Canyon, Napa, Isleton, Concord, Walnut Creek, Martinez, Antioch, Richmond, Brentwood, San Ramon, Danville, Pleasant Hill, Pittsburg, Moraga, Lafayette, El Cerrito, Oakley, San Pablo, Pinole, Clayton, Hercules, Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, Emeryville, Hayward, San Francisco, San Rafael, Marin City, San Carlos, Sausalito, Tiburon, Novato, and throughout Solano County, Contra Costa County, Sonoma County, Napa County, Alameda County, Sacramento County, San Mateo County, Marin County, and San Francisco County.