Archive for September, 2015

Mississippi Accident Attorneys Explain the Allegations they Raise in Personal injury Complaint

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

If your automobile accident or personal injury case has arrived at a point at which negotiations have not resulted in an acceptable settlement offer and a lawsuit must be filed, your attorney will begin the lawsuit by filing a complaint against the party or parties whose negligent acts of omissions caused your injuries and damages. Many clients want to know what amount of damages we request in the complaint. At the Giddens Law Firm, we almost never request a specific amount of damages in the initial complaint which commences the filing of the lawsuit.  When we file a complaint, we ask the court to award the client the full amount of damages that are allowable under Mississippi Law.

When filing a complaint, asking the court to award the full amount of damages that are allowable under Mississippi law ensures that the client will not miss out on any compensation because the complaint asked for less than they could possibly receive. Similarly, asking the court to award the plaintiff an amount that is in excess of the amount that is allowed under Mississippi law could at the very least cause the court to take the client’s case less seriously, and at the very worst cause the court to be prejudiced against the client.

It is important that clients remember that each automobile accident or personal injury case is unique. The types of damages that you may be able to recover in your particular case will depend upon the circumstances of your accident and the impact that your injuries have had on your life. Medical bills are the type of damages which are most commonly associated with automobile accident cases and personal injury cases, but there are other types of damages, too. Lost wages are another common type of damages, because many accident victims have to miss work because of their injuries. You may also be able to recover damages related to the specific nature of your injuries, or whether your injuries have left you fully or partially disabled either permanently or temporarily. In cases where your injuries affect your ability to return to your job, you may be able to receive damages for any loss in your earning capacity. The physical pain and suffering that you have already endured, that you experience now, and that you are expected to experience into the future may also be compensable. If your accident caused you severe emotional distress or mental anguish, you may be able to recover damages for that. Other past, present and future costs associated with the accident, such as property damage, rental car fees, and other expenses may also be recoverable depending upon the circumstances of your case.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Serving Clients throughout Mississippi

If you would like to learn more about whether the Mississippi Accident Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are a good fit for you and your current legal matter please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.

Mississippi Auto Accident Attorneys Discuss the Claims that Can be Raised by Spouses and Children of Mississippi Accident Victims

Monday, September 28th, 2015

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, you are probably well aware that you may file a claim for the injuries and damages that you sustained as the result of that accident. Unfortunately, you may also be painfully aware of the ways in which your accident has affected the lives of your loved ones. Depending upon your injuries, your relationship with your spouse may have changed, especially in the area of taking care of household responsibilities. In most marriages, responsibilities are divided up early on, and many couples are able to achieve a relatively even balance of supporting their home and family financially as well as physically. An automobile accident can turn all of that upside down, especially if your injuries will require a lengthy recovery time and limit your ability to work, drive, and do some or all of the things that you would normally do.

Fortunately, Mississippi recognizes that the amount of interference that an automobile accident injury can have on a marriage causes the non-injured spouse to suffer. The damage that is caused by this suffering can be addressed by a loss of consortium claim which may be brought by a spouse if they can show that the accident victim’s injuries have interfered with their married and family life. Some of the ways in which spouses report that their lives have been changed by automobile accidents involve child care duties, transportation, meal preparation, earning income, and other practical matters, in addition to emotional factors like the spouse’s pain in seeing the everyday effects of the damage that the accident has done to the person that they love so dearly and the spouse’s inability to communicate or interact with their loved ones, if their injuries have rendered them incapable of doing so.

In the case of fatal accidents that are the result of negligence, the surviving spouse and children of the deceased, or the parents and siblings of the deceased, if the deceased was not married and did not have any children, may be able to bring a claim for wrongful death. There are three parts of a wrongful death claim. The first part of the claim involves proving that the defendant was negligent. To prove negligence, you must prove that the defendant owed some sort of duty to the deceased, the defendant breached the duty, and that the defendant’s breach of their duty to the deceased caused them to be injured or damaged. The second part of a wrongful death claim involve proving that the decedent’s death was caused by the defendant’s negligent action. The third part of a wrongful death claim involves providing evidence of the financial damages that are associated with the loss of the decedent, such as funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, medical bills from care provided after the decedent was injured until the time of their death, the decedent’s pain and suffering, and the pain and suffering of family members in connection with their death.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Serving Clients throughout Mississippi

If you would like to learn more about whether the Mississippi Auto Accident Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are a good fit for you and your current legal matter please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.

Mississippi Injury Lawyers Share Tips for Choosing the Right Personal Injury Attorney

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

If you think that you need the services of an attorney, you probably do. There are many situations in life where people need legal counsel. When these situations arise, people often feel confused and concerned about how they will find the lawyer who is right for them. This is a valid concern, as legal matters are serious in nature and the outcome of any type of legal proceeding is likely to have a substantial impact on the life of the parties who are involved in it. The following tips can help you select the attorney who is the best fit for your legal needs.

It is important to do some research before you select an attorney. Not all attorneys are a good match for every client. Attorneys are a diverse group of people with unique personalities and ways of interacting with clients, as well as specialized types of knowledge within the more general category of “legal knowledge”. The ideal attorney for your situation is someone that you feel comfortable working with and who has experience in handling legal matters that are similar to yours. The best way to find out whether a lawyer meets both of those criteria is to select a list of the names of a few attorneys and find time to speak with each of them. You can get ideas for who to contact include references from family and friends, web searches, and lawyer referral services.

Once you have a list of names, contact the attorneys on your list. When you speak with someone at a law firm regarding your case, it is a good idea to have a list of questions handy so that you can explore the possibility of working with them on your legal matter. Have a pen and paper ready so that you can take notes. One of the most important questions to ask is whether they handle legal matters like yours. Just as you would not visit a dentist to seek relief from foot pain, you would not want to have a divorce attorney handle your personal injury matter or estates case.

It is important that you feel as though your attorney has enough time to work on your case, so ask them whether they have time to handle your legal matter. You may also want to ask them whether they have a basic timeline for how cases like yours generally proceed, so that you can know what to expect should you become their client. Asking an attorney about where you can find reviews from past clients can tell you a lot about the attorney, not just because of the content of the reviews but because of the way the lawyer addresses your question.

At the close of your conversation, take time to reflect on your experience and write down some notes about how you felt while you were speaking with the attorney. Your instinct is a powerful guide which can point you towards an attorney who is a great fit for you if the basics of experience with cases like yours, availability to take your case, and favorable reviews from past clients are all present. Pay particular attention to the personal chemistry between you and your lawyer.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Serving Clients Throughout Mississippi

If you would like to learn more about whether the Mississippi Injury Lawyers at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are a good fit for you and your current legal matter please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.

Mississippi Accident Attorneys Discuss How to Resolve Your Automobile Accident Case

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

When a client retains a Mississippi Automobile Accident Attorney, the client and the attorney enter into what is called the attorney-client relationship. Like all relationships, the attorney-client relationship is a two-way street. You pay your attorney, and they spend their time and energy working on your behalf towards a resolution of your automobile accident case. However, the role of the client in his or her own case is not to be underestimated. You, as the client, can do things to help your attorney resolve your case in a favorable manner.

One of the most important things that you can do to help your attorney is also one of the most important things that you can do for yourself – focusing on recovering from your injuries. When you make healing a priority and you consistently do things like attending every scheduled medical appointment on time, you create a record of your dedication to recovering from the injuries that you sustained in the crash. Since all of the information about attendance at and participation in your medical appointments becomes a part of your medical records, this information is available to your attorney and he or she can use it in negotiations with the insurance company or at trial to support your claim for damages.

Whether you are speaking to a doctor about your injuries or you are speaking to your attorney about your case, there is another very important thing that you must do. Telling the truth about all of the things, all of the time is perhaps the single most important thing that you can do during the course of your automobile accident case. This especially pertains to situations in which you are asked to talk about your injuries, as some people have a tendency to minimize them while others exaggerate them. Be aware that it is common for insurers to investigate your auto accident injury claim. Their investigation may include observing you without your knowledge, to see whether you are engaging in any activities that are incongruent with the manner in which you have been describing your injuries to doctors and others involved in your case. Saying anything besides the absolute truth not only puts your credibility at risk, it creates a risk that you will be offered a settlement or verdict that is less than full compensation for the injuries that you suffered or that you will be offered excessive compensation for injuries that are not as severe as you had made them out to be.

Another thing that you can do is to make sure that your attorney has all of the information that you think that they will need to prepare your case. For example, if you have been injured in an automobile accident before, it is important that you tell your attorney about it so that they can factor that information into their evaluation of your claim. Likewise, if you are injured after your accident, either by another car accident or by some other mishap, it is important to share the details of those injuries with your attorney. As you work on healing from your injuries, keep your lawyer apprised of your progress and note any lifestyle changes that you have had to make as the result of your injuries.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Serving Clients throughout Mississippi

If you would like to learn more about whether the Mississippi Accident Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are a good fit for you and your current legal matter please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.

Mississippi Injury Lawyers Explain Why You Must Hire a Lawyer Immediately After an Automobile Wreck

Monday, September 21st, 2015

If you are involved in an automobile accident, the entire trajectory of your life is likely to be changed, at least temporarily. From the moment the crash occurs, your safety and health and the safety and health of others who were riding in your vehicle become your number one priority, as well as the priority of the emergency workers who arrive at the accident scene. Once your injuries have been assessed and treatment is underway, you are likely to feel shaken, overwhelmed, and unsure of what to do next.

In addition to surrounding yourself with the support of your loved ones and healing from your injuries, it is important that you select and retain an attorney right away. The other parties who were involved in the accident may be fully or partially responsible for the injuries and damages that you have sustained. Hiring an attorney immediately will ensure that your rights to recover for your injuries and damages are protected. When you know that your rights are protected, you can breathe a bit easier and focus on recovering from your injuries and rebuilding your life.

Hiring an attorney right away will ensure that you do not lose access to important evidence that can most easily be obtained in the hours and days following the accident. Evidence is information that your attorney can use to support your claim for damages. People like eyewitnesses, police officers, ambulance drivers, and other emergency workers who saw or attended to your accident should be interviewed as soon as possible after the accident because their ability to recall details of what they witnessed declines over time. Also, information from the accident scene and the vehicles that were involved in the accident must be obtained quickly because accident scenes get cleaned up and vehicles get moved away from the scene.

If your accident involved a tractor trailer, hiring a lawyer immediately prevents the trucking company from having an unfair advantage. When a tractor trailer crashes, the trucking company sends an accident response team to the crash scene to do an immediate inspection of the truck and trailer, collect black box data, and obtain information from the computer software and driver dash cam. This evidence may be difficult to obtain from the trucking company later on in your case, so it is best if your attorney can get to the accident scene quickly to collect it themselves.

A final reason why accident victims should retain an attorney immediately after a crash is to avoid settling your case for less than it is worth. Insurance companies often send out proposed settlement agreements while crash victims are still in the hospital, perhaps even before they know the full extent of their injuries. The reason for this is not to get your claim paid quickly; it is to get you to accept the settlement without carefully assessing whether it will adequately compensate you for your injuries and damages. Even worse, insurance adjusters may contact you and try to get you to talk to them about the crash, recording your every word as evidence to use against you later on. If you have an attorney, the insurance adjuster must speak with your attorney once they are aware that you are represented by counsel.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Serving Clients throughout Mississippi

If you would like to learn more about whether the Mississippi Injury Lawyers at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are a good fit for you and your current legal matter please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.

Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys Weigh in on What Your Case is Worth

Friday, September 18th, 2015

One of the most common questions that clients ask us is what their case is worth. While the exact dollar amount varies from client to client because no two accidents are exactly alike, there are some general principles that apply to determining the worth of a client’s case.

The easiest way to think about what your case is worth is to remember that your case is worth the sum total of everything that you are entitled to under Mississippi Law. The law specifies what kinds of damages (medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and the like) can be recovered and by whom, for different types of accidents and different types of claims. When you speak with an attorney about your accident, they will explain which laws apply to your case and describe the types of recovery that you may pursue. That discussion will likely lead to an estimate of what you may be able to recover. Your attorney’s estimate is also likely to take into consideration the potential value that a jury would consider awarding to you given the facts of your case, as well as any factors affecting value which are related to the specific Court in which the case will be brought.

It is important that all clients remember that their ability to recover on their claim rests squarely on their ability (or their lawyer’s ability, once they are represented by counsel) to prove the relevant facts. Accident cases are based upon negligence, and claims of negligence have four parts, each of which must be proven – duty, breach, causation, and damages. Your lawyer will collect information (evidence) that tends to prove that the defendant had some type of duty to you, that their action or inaction which caused your injuries and damages was a breach of that duty, that the defendant’s action or inaction in breaching their duty to you caused you to suffer the injuries and damages that you have incurred, and what, exactly, those damages are.

While we are discussing the topic of the value of your case, it is important that we let you know that consulting with an attorney is the very best way to get an accurate assessment of what your case is worth. Many accident victims settle for far less than their cases are worth, because they do not consult with an attorney to ascertain the true value of their case before accepting a settlement offer that has been sent to them by the insurance company. This is unfortunate, because in doing so they allow the insurance company, whose interest is in settling the claim as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible, to dictate the value of their claim. Sometimes, people even accept settlement offers before they are aware of the full extent of the injuries and damages that they have suffered. We would like to remind you that you are under no obligation to accept any settlement offer that you have received. When you receive a settlement offer, take it to an attorney so that they can help you evaluate it thoroughly so that you may decline it and pursue a more appropriate settlement that will adequately compensate you for the injuries and damages that you have sustained.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Serving Clients throughout Mississippi

If you would like to learn more about whether the Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are a good fit for you and your current legal matter please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.

Mississippi Personal Injury Lawyers Explain Why You Can’t Just Sue the Insurance Company after Your Accident

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

If you have been injured in a Mississippi automobile accident, you may be in for a surprise. Whether you have lived in Mississippi for your entire life or you have recently moved here, there is something that you do not likely have reason to know until you or someone you know is involved in a Mississippi automobile wreck. Mississippi does things a bit differently than many other states, when it comes to automobile accident lawsuits. What you may not know is that Mississippi does not recognize a direct cause of action by the victim of a car crash against the insurance company or companies of the driver or drivers who caused his or her injuries.

In many states, direct action lawsuits against insurance companies are available to plaintiffs. Direct action lawsuits are lawsuits in which the plaintiff sues the insurance company of the person who is responsible for their injuries, not the driver themselves. In states where there are direct action lawsuits, the jury who is issuing the verdict is aware that the insurer, not the driver, will have to pay the damages that the plaintiff sustained. While that might seem like it could lead to juries issuing verdicts that are excessive due to their knowledge of the availability of deep pockets, research shows that verdicts in states where direct action lawsuits are recognized are generally adequate to compensate the plaintiff for their damages, but they are not usually excessive.

In Mississippi, a plaintiff must file a lawsuit against the person or people who committed the act of negligence that injured them. Unfortunately, because plaintiffs must bring lawsuits against the insureds who are responsible for their injuries, insurance companies can essentially hide behind the sometimes very likeable or sympathetic face of a human defendant. Juries in these cases are not told who will pay for the plaintiff’s damages, and the existence of an insurance company or insurance policy is forbidden. In fact, if the word “insurance” is even mentioned during a trial in Mississippi, the judge is likely to declare a mistrial.  A mistrial ends the trial and sends everyone home. This can result in some situations where a plaintiff files a lawsuit against a very sweet and very elderly person who caused an accident, a very young driver who was using their cell phone while driving and caused an accident, or any other type of person who may be viewed in a sympathetic light by a jury. Although filing a lawsuit against a likeable defendant may not feel great, you can take some comfort in knowing that the insurance company will send them to court with a defense attorney in their corner.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Serving Clients throughout Mississippi

If you would like to learn more about whether the Mississippi Personal Injury Lawyers at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are a good fit for you and your current legal matter please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.

Mississippi Accident Attorneys Describe Documents Involved in Accident Cases

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

When you work with a Mississippi Automobile Accident Attorney, there will be quite a few documents that are involved in the preparation of your case. While some documents, such as demand letters, are prepared by attorneys, other documents, such as some of those that are involved at the beginning and the end of a case require the client’s input and signature.

After you make the decision to hire an attorney, you must sign some type of fee agreement to formalize the attorney-client relationship before your case will move forward. For accident cases, the most common type of fee agreement is the contingency fee contract. A contingency fee contract is a fee agreement under which the lawyer does not get paid unless the client recovers on their claim for damages. The amount of the lawyer’s payment under a contingency fee agreement is expressed in the document as a percentage of the client’s recovery. If the lawyer pays any costs out of their own pocket in order to prepare the case, the client must also reimburse the lawyer for those costs.

Contingency fee arrangements are a reflection of the degree of risk involved in spending time and money handling accident and injury cases. In cases where the client does not recover on their claim for damages, the lawyer does not get paid for their time. For this reason, attorneys who handle accident and injury cases are highly motivated to keep their expenses as low as possible and pursue resolution of the client’s case whenever it is at all possible to do so.

In addition to the contingency fee arrangement, you will also be required to sign a medical authorization. The medical authorization is a form that enables your attorney to obtain medical records from all of the doctors and other treatment providers who have provided care for you as the result of your accident. Medical records are an essential source of information which can support your claim for damages. When clients sign medical authorization forms early on in their cases, attorneys can begin getting medical records from treatment providers and establish connections with those providers to receive updated information as it becomes available.

Since many accident cases involve claims for lost wages, clients are required to sign a wage authorization form.  Like the medical authorization form, the wage authorization form enables your attorney to communicate with your employer and obtain information regarding your wages, the amount of hours that you had been working, your employment history, and other information that can support your claim for lost wages.

At the conclusion of an accident case, there are also a couple of important documents that you will need to sign. After your case settles and the money is delivered to your attorney’s client trust account, you will be asked to sign a release and settlement statement. Also, once the settlement proceeds are transferred, the lawyer will execute a voluntary dismissal of your case.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Serving Clients throughout Mississippi

If you would like to learn more about whether the Mississippi Accident Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are a good fit for you and your current legal matter please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.

Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys Discuss the Time Frame for Settling Accident Cases

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

A common question asked by clients with automobile accident and personal injury lawsuits is how long their case will take. It is natural for clients to wonder when they will be able to recover financially for the injuries and damages that they have incurred. Medical bills begin to arrive shortly after an accident, and many accident victims lose income when they miss work due to their injuries. Under those circumstances, a desire for swift financial recovery is understandable.

While quick payment of your claim for damages would be ideal, it is important to remember that a fast payout may not equal a fair settlement. It is common for insurance companies to send settlement offers to accident victims within a few days or weeks of their accidents. Please know that these settlement offers are being extended by parties whose interests are in settling claims as quickly and as cheaply as possible. It is important that you know that you do not have to accept any settlement offer that you receive. If you receive a settlement offer before you retain an attorney, bring it to an attorney so that they can help you determine whether it is adequate.

In response to the actual question of how long your case will take, there is no one-size-fits all answer, other than that it is likely to take at least a few months. There is, however, a basic pattern that accident and personal injury cases follow. An accident or injury case begins while the victim recovers from his or her injuries to the extent that recovery is possible. When you reach a point in your recovery where your doctor says that it is not likely that your recovery will make any more progress, you have reached maximum medical improvement, or MMI, which is an important turning point in your case. Prior to arriving at the state of maximum medical improvement, it is difficult estimate the full extent of your damages. Once you have reached maximum medical improvement, your attorney can estimate what your case is worth and write a demand letter to the insurance company asking them to settle your claim for that amount. It usually takes an insurance company a few weeks to review the demand letter and respond to your attorney with a settlement offer.

When your attorney receives a settlement offer from the insurance company, you have a choice of whether to accept it or reject it. If you reject it, further negotiations will continue between your attorney and the insurance company. While insurance companies do occasionally make an initial offer that is reasonable, several exchanges of offers and counteroffers are often required before an acceptable offer is obtained.

If negotiations do not lead to an acceptable settlement offer within a reasonable amount of time, your attorney can file a lawsuit against the party or parties whose negligent actions caused your injuries. Once a lawsuit has been filed, there is still a very good chance that it will settle before trial, because negotiations continue during the time between when a case is filed and when it is tried.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Serving Clients throughout Mississippi

If you would like to learn more about whether the Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are a good fit for you and your current legal matter please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.

Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys Talk about How Many Accident Cases Actually go to Trial

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Did you know that most personal injury cases do not go to trial? Approximately five to ten percent of the accident cases that are handled by the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are tried to jury verdict, while all of the others are settled before a trial. These numbers are consistent with the national average settlement rate of ninety five percent for motor vehicle accident cases.

One reason why most cases settle instead of proceeding to trial is that insurance companies and their risk managers understand the risk associated with presenting a case to a jury.  However, the perceived risk associated with any given automobile accident claim is also often associated with whether or not the claimant has retained an attorney. While this may seem unfair, from the perspective of an insurance company, individuals who are not represented by counsel pose a much lower risk of pursuing a case all the way to trial, in addition to being more likely to accept a settlement offer that will not fully compensate them for the amount of damages that they could receive under Mississippi law. Once you retain an attorney, the insurance company knows that you are serious about obtaining a proper settlement on your claim and that you are prepared to go to trial if an acceptable settlement offer is not forthcoming.

When you work with an attorney, they will help you understand and evaluate any settlement offers that are extended to you. You have the choice of whether to accept or reject any offer, and if you choose to reject an offer, your attorney can communicate with the insurance company in efforts to try to negotiate a better offer. It may take months of negotiating, but the end result is often a settlement offer that is acceptable to the client. When cases are settled through negotiation, clients avoid the time and expense of a trial.

Unfortunately, in some cases, the insurance company simply refuses to offer an acceptable amount to the plaintiff to settle their claim. When this happens, filing a lawsuit may be the only way to obtain the financial recovery that the plaintiff needs. If you do end up filing a lawsuit in your personal injury case, it is quite possible that the insurance company will propose an acceptable settlement offer at some point during the litigation process. In some cases, settlements are reached in the middle of a trial. This can actually happen, because plaintiffs may accept a settlement offer at any point in time before a jury issues the final verdict in the case. Fortunately, whether a good settlement offer comes mid-trial or not, our automobile accident attorneys are skilled litigators who can present convincing cases in court.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Serving Clients throughout Mississippi

If you would like to learn more about whether the Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are a good fit for you and your current legal matter please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.