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

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

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

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

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

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.

Mississippi Birth Injury Attorneys Describe the Birth Injury Case Process

August 30th, 2015

If your child was injured at birth, you may already be feeling the weight of your responsibilities as parents. Depending upon which type of birth injury your child has, you may be learning how to care for injuries that could last for weeks, months, years, or a lifetime, in addition to providing the love and care that all infants need. You may also be thinking of pursuing a lawsuit against one or more of the medical professionals who provided medical care to you and your child during pregnancy, labor, or delivery.

Sometimes, having a general idea of what to expect during a birth injury case can help parents feel more at ease going into the process. This brief overview of the birth injury case process describes the path that most birth injury cases follow. Many birth injury cases take between eighteen months to two years from start to finish, but some cases do take longer. Although birth injury cases take time, it is important that you do not let the length of time that is likely to be involved deter you from holding negligent medical personnel responsible for their actions and obtaining compensation that will enable to provide the care that their child needs both now and into the future.

The first step in a birth injury case is the initial consultation.  At your initial consultation, an attorney will talk to you about your pregnancy, labor and delivery. They will also want to know about what your life has been like since your child’s birth, such as any special day to day care or additional medical procedures that have been needed. It is helpful to your prospective attorney if you obtain copies of your prenatal care records, your hospital records from the birth of your child, and your child’s medical records in advance of the initial consultation and bring them with you. If the attorney feels as though your medical records and the information that you have discussed with them support a conclusion that your child’s injury is the result of medical negligence, they may offer to help you file your claim for damages. It is important to note that no action will be taken by the attorney on your behalf until an attorney-client relationship has been formally established.

Once your claim has been filed, a few things might happen concurrently over an extended period of time. Your attorney will gather information about your case through the discovery process, which is the means by which attorneys prepare a case for trial, even if it is possible that the case may settle beforehand. During discovery, both written requests for information, called interrogatories, and verbal examination of witnesses, called depositions, are conducted by attorneys on both sides of the case.

Often, plaintiffs receive settlement offers from the defendants during discovery. When this happens, the plaintiffs choose whether to accept or reject each individual settlement offer. Your attorney can help you to assess settlement offers, so that you don’t accept an offer that does not adequately compensate you for the injuries that your child has suffered and the care that they will need in the future. If the defendants do not produce a suitable settlement offer, your attorney will present your case at trial.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Representing Families Affected by Birth Injuries in Mississippi

If your child has a birth injury, the Mississippi Birth Injury Attorneys of the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. may be able to to help you. Please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022, to learn more.



Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys Talk about Seeking Medical Care after an Accident

August 23rd, 2015

People who have been involved in automobile accidents often wonder whether they should bother with seeing a doctor after their accident if they do not feel any pain. As personal injury attorneys, we can say with confidence that regardless of whether you are currently in pain, it is crucial that you see a doctor as soon as possible after your accident.

There are several important reasons to get checked out by a doctor immediately after an accident. You may not feel any differently than you did before the accident, but your health could be at risk. Some of the injuries that often occur during car accidents, including some types of serious and life-threatening injuries, are not always noticeable right away. Doctors have training and experience in detecting and treating injuries, and they know how to examine accident victims in order to thoroughly assess their condition.

Another reason why you should see a doctor as soon as possible after you are involved in an accident is that it could cost you money later on if you do not. When insurance adjusters assess the value of a claim for injuries and damages that resulted from a car accident, they consider many variables. One of these variables is how long the injured party waited after the accident to get seen by a doctor. If you wait too long, it could be considered a “delay in treatment” which could reduce the amount that the insurer is willing to pay on your claim.

It is possible that your regular primary care physician may not be able to see you immediately after your accident. Fortunately, you have options. You can ask to be seen by someone else in their practice, go to an urgent care facility, or even get an appointment with a chiropractor. Because of the aforementioned insurance company calculation, being seen by a doctor as soon as possible is more important than being able to see a specific doctor. Likewise, do not forego a visit to the doctor because you do not have health insurance. Let the people at the doctor’s office know that you are not insured, and ask them what your payment options are. They may be able to find a way to help you with the cost of the visit.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Supporting Automobile Accident Victims throughout Mississippi

Automobile accidents can cause serious injuries, some of which can take a long time to heal. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, see a doctor as soon as you can. Not only does your health depend on it, your potential for recovering financially from the injuries and damages caused by the accident depends on it. If you were injured in an automobile accident, the Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are here to help you.  To learn more about how we may be able to help you file a claim related to a Mississippi automobile accident, please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.

Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys Discuss Lawn Mower Accidents

August 5th, 2015

Many of us use lawn mowers on a regular basis. However, many of us may not think about just how dangerous they can be. Two recent Mississippi accidents involving lawn mowers illustrate that lawn mower accidents can result in fatalities, in addition to serious and permanent injuries.

One lawn mower accident involved a ride-on mower that overturned into a pond. A man had been spraying chemicals on weeds that were growing next to the pond when the accident happened. The day before that tragic accident, a sixteen year old boy was killed in a lawn mower accident when the mower that he was riding on flipped over and landed on top of him.

In addition to fatalities, lawn mowers can cause injuries of all kinds, including some very serious and permanent injuries. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission keeps track of injuries that are associated with all different types of things that people use every day. It is estimated that over thirty seven thousand Americans are hurt or killed by power lawn mowers every year.

Foot injuries are a common type of lawn mower injury, and they range in severity from deep cuts to severed tendons to amputated toes and other severe injuries. Some of the people who have sustained foot injuries caused by lawn mowers were wearing sandals or walking barefoot while operating the lawn mower that injured them. Sneakers do not even provide much safety for your feet while operating a lawn mower. Work boots or other heavy shoes are the safest choice.

Operating a lawn mower causes certain parts of the lawn mower to become very hot. If your mower runs out of gas, allow it to cool off before refueling to reduce the risk of burns or fire. When you are done mowing, let the mower cool off before putting it away. Always avoid touching parts of the mower that could be hot.

Ride-on lawn mowers create additional risks, including the risk that they could roll over and cause the operator to be injured or killed. The risk of injury or death increases with the size of the ride-on lawn mower. Some ride-on mowers do have roll cages, which can prevent some injuries.

If you use a lawn mower, there are some things that you can do to reduce the risk that you or someone else will be hurt while you are mowing the lawn. Children must stay away from the area where you are mowing. Waiting for the grass to dry before you mow the lawn can seem like a hassle, but it is essential for your safety that you do so. If the lawn that you are mowing has a slope, mow slowly across it. If the mower becomes clogged, do not reach under the mower or into the chute. Turn the mower off and wait for the blade to stop moving before doing anything to dislodge the stuck material. Do not pull the mower backwards while it is running. If you are buying a new push-style lawn mower, look for one which shuts off automatically when you release the handle.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Representing Mississippi Lawn Mower Accident Victims and Their Families

Lawn mower accidents can cause serious injury or death. If you have been injured or if someone in your family was killed in a lawn mower accident, the Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are here to help you. Please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022, to learn more.

Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys Talk about Birth Injuries

August 1st, 2015

When you think about birth injuries, you may think that parents notice them immediately after their babies are born. While it is true that some birth injuries are visible right away, there are others which remain obscured from view until well after the baby is born. Birth injuries come in many forms, and the ways in which they reveal themselves to parents vary depending upon the type of injury that the child has experienced.

One way in which some parents discover that their babies were injured during labor and delivery is delay in reaching developmental milestones. While each child does develop at his or her own rate, there are general guidelines that provide a range within which almost all babies do things like vocalizing, making eye contact, rolling over, crawling, walking, and so on. Your pediatrician can help you to determine whether your baby is simply taking his or her time with a particular milestone or whether a delay might indicate that something more serious is going on.

Seizures, tremors, or other abnormal or spastic body movements are another sign that a child may have experienced a birth injury. Whenever any of these things happen, it is important to let your child’s pediatrician know about them right away so that they can look into what is causing the seizures or abnormal movements.  Seizures and abnormal movements have numerous causes, just one of which is that the child was injured at birth, and prompt medical attention can ensure that your child gets the care that they need as soon as possible.

Developmental delays, seizures, and abnormal body movements are just some of the things which may indicate that a child experienced a birth injury. While you are working with your pediatrician to address these issues, be sure to think back to your birth experience and consider whether any risk factors for birth injury were present at that time. If forceps or a vacuum extractor were used during your delivery, there is an increased chance that your child was injured. Also, if you ended up having an emergency cesarean birth, try to recall the details of how that decision was made by medical staff, and how much time passed between the decision to operate and the actual surgery. A variety of birth injuries can be caused by delay in performing an emergency c-section, so if that was a part of your birth experience, it is possible that your child’s current condition indicates that they were harmed by the delay. Some of these details may be difficult to remember, but others are likely to remain clear in your memory, such as whether your baby appeared to be blue or purple and limp or silent upon delivery instead of coming into the world red-faced and crying. These details may indicate a heightened risk of birth injury or birth trauma. If you recall things from your labor and delivery that might have increased the chance that your child experienced a birth injury, tell your pediatrician right away so that they can explore that possibility.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Helping Families with Birth Injuries throughout Mississippi

If your child was injured at birth, a Mississippi Birth Injury Attorney may be able to help you pursue a claim for damages. To learn more about how the Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys of the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. can help you with your personal injury claim, please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022.

Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys Discuss ATV Accidents

July 28th, 2015

A recent ATV accident in Pass Christian has claimed the life of one boy and has injured another. The thirteen year old boy who died in the accident had sustained blunt-force trauma to his head. This tragedy has shaken the entire community, and has brought the issue of ATV safety to the forefront.

ATVs are popular, in Mississippi and elsewhere. They have both recreational and practical uses, and they can be safe if riders wear helmets and ride properly. ATV accidents can cause many different types of injuries. Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, are very common in ATV accidents because of the high likelihood of ejection. The risk of ejection has been reduced somewhat, because some of the newer ATVs on the market are equipped with seatbelts. ATV accident victims can also suffer spinal cord injuries, paralysis, neck injuries, facial injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones. Unfortunately, because ATV riders and their passengers can be injured so seriously, fatalities are not uncommon, especially when riders or passengers are not wearing helmets.

Just as there are a variety of injuries associated with ATV accidents, there are many things that can cause ATV accidents. Alcohol is a leading cause of ATV accidents, which is not surprising since alcohol slows riders’ reaction times and impairs their judgment. Other ATV accidents are caused by riders who are inexperienced, or by those who are too young to be able to operate them safely. Sometimes, even experienced riders can get into trouble when they ride too fast or operate ATVs in an unsafe way. Challenging or unfamiliar terrain, unexpected obstacles, and defective ATV design or repair are other things which may cause ATV accidents.

When ATV accidents happen, accident victims who survive may be left with serious injuries that could involve a lengthy recovery. This can add financial strain to the physical pain that they are experiencing, especially if they have to be out of the workplace for any length of time. The sudden and unexpected nature of ATV accidents can leave families struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one while trying to manage funeral expenses, lost wages, and other costs associated with their loss.

Fortunately, ATV accident victims and families who have lost loved ones in ATV accidents can often recover for their injuries or loss. There are a few parties who may be fully or partially responsible for the injuries or death caused by any given ATV accident. For example, an ATV owner may have been negligent in some way, such as failing to maintain it in a safe condition. The person who was operating the ATV at the time of the accident may also be responsible for some or all of the injuries and damages caused by the crash. In some cases, land owners, ATV manufacturers, and companies that make parts for ATVs may be responsible for some or all of the injuries or losses related to the accident.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Representing Mississippi ATV Accident Victims and Their Families

ATV accidents can cause serious injury or death. If you have lost someone you love to an ATV accident, or if you were injured in an ATV accident, the Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are here to help you. Please call our office today, at (601) 355-2022, to learn more.