The Wyoming Personal Injury Guide was created by Frederick J. Harrison, P.C. to help residents who have been injured in an accident obtain maximum compensation for their claim.
Wyoming Personal Injury Guide
People get hurt when others don’t do their jobs. If you have been injured because someone else was careless, you can bring a personal injury claim. We want to help you get the most out of your case. Call our experienced Wyoming personal injury lawyer today to schedule a free consultation.
Who’s who in a Personal Injury Claim?
The personal injury claim begins with the accident that caused your injury, which could include something like a truck accident or construction accident. Once an investigation has occurred, you have to deal with determining the parties involved. There will be the plaintiff, the injured party. Then there will be the liable party who is responsible for causing the accident and thereby responsible for causing the injuries to the plaintiff. Then you have your Wyoming personal injury lawyer there to defend your rights to full compensation. Last is the insurance company, who is responsible for giving you the compensation award.
What ensues will be a challenging road where your attorney and a rep from the insurance company will go against each other. The insurance company will try to downplay the incident and absolve their insured from blame. Your Wyoming personal injury lawyer is going to fight for your rights to a full and fair result.
Avoid Ruining Your Claim
The main way people ruin their insurance claim is by admitting to guilt. They may not even have meant to. The insurance company, for example, might call someone after a personal injury looking for a statement. They are trained to make people say they are to blame for an accident. You can’t take these statements back, and they will ruin your claim. You are not legally obligated to give a statement, so don’t do it.
Another common way people ruin their claim is by giving a recorded statement to the insurance company representing the liable party. These insurance reps know how to ask questions in a way that make the answer you give damaging to your claim. Your Wyoming personal injury lawyer knows how to defend your rights against the insurance company, so let them handle communication with insurance reps for you. You don’t legally have to talk to the insurance reps. Giving them a recorded statement might mean that you say something that can permanently ruin your claim.
Why You Need a Wyoming Personal Injury Lawyer
A lawyer is going to be able to figure out things about your case you didn’t even know you should think about. Your lawyer should be someone who handles personal injury cases daily. It is helpful to have someone by your side who knows exactly what they need to do to have a successful case.
Without a Wyoming personal injury lawyer, you’re going to be taking on a very challenging process of defending yourself. It’s something very few people have had to experience before. You likely don’t have experience defending a plaintiff in a personal injury case and therefore won’t know how to do it successfully on your own. It’s best to turn to the professionals for help.
Let Fred Harrison, at the very least, take a look at your case during a free consultation so you can benefit from some professional guidance.
A Few Things You Can Do to Help Your Claim
There are several things that you need to do to help your claim be successful. For example, say you are driving and a truck crashes into the side of your car. You know you’re injured. You need to collect evidence. Take photos of everything. Get contact information from witnesses, as well. Do not leave the scene until you have evidence or else have someone come to collect evidence for you before everything gets cleaned up and disappears. You can call on a friend, family member, or even a lawyer to come collect evidence for you.
You then need to see the doctor for your injuries immediately. Don’t wait to see if the pain goes away. This is an emergency. Don’t go to work right after the accident because you don’t want to use your sick time. Get yourself to a doctor.
Call a lawyer. Set up a free consultation. Tell them about your case so you can get some legal help. You may even find that putting your case in the hands of an experienced Wyoming personal injury lawyer is the best strategy.
Biggest Mistakes to Avoid in a Personal Injury Claim
The common mistakes that people make when they have a personal injury case in Wyoming is they, first of all, talk to the insurance company. They also sit on the case for a long time and don’t do anything. Time is your ally if you do something right away, like contacting a good competent person as your attorney to handle the case— somebody that’s National Board certified, somebody that really trains all the time and works on these kinds of cases all the time and understands the law and the courts in Wyoming, and has a lot of experience such as myself. Contact those people. Give them enough time to work on the case. In my opinion, these cases are won or lost before they’re ever filed. They’re won or lost on the 80% of the work that you need to do on the case before you ever file the lawsuit. To do that, you have to have time.
I have lectured other attorneys on why they shouldn’t take cases. One of the reason you don’t want to take a case is it’s a complex case that is too close to the statute of limitations. I can almost guarantee you, if you’re getting close to the statute of limitations and you have filed the lawsuit before you have time to think about it, you’re going to have problems down the road. You want to be able to be one step ahead. Preparation is very important in every lawsuit. You want somebody that does prepare and understands the importance of preparation, understands the importance of organization, and gets the case ready before it’s ever filed. That way, you’re always one step ahead of the opposition. Your advantage in court is to use the time properly before you file to get ready for the lawsuit, so that’s my advice.
Can a Pre-Existing Condition Affect My Personal Injury Claim?
One of the things that I get asked often are about preexisting conditions, or preexisting injuries. I think a lot of that comes from the health insurance industry and their concerns about preexisting conditions. Also, insurance defense lawyers have learned to use preexisting injuries against the client. I’m not concerned about preexisting conditions. In fact, I prefer that the client has a preexisting condition because that predisposes them to serious injury. That explains why they got hurt so bad. If you have a bad back and you get rear-ended, the injury’s going to be far worse than if you had a good back and you got rear-ended. I think it explains perfectly to the jury what happened and why it happened.
Pre-existing conditions are not a reason not to take a case, in my mind. A lot of trial lawyers don’t know that. A lot of trial lawyers don’t understand that. I’m connected with some of the best trial lawyers in this country, and that’s what we concluded. It’s actually a benefit to your case in many instances to have a preexisting condition. Don’t let that concern you. You need to talk to an attorney about that because we’ll give you the right information.
Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney
I was recently asked how I would select a trial lawyer in Wyoming. The way I would do it is I would look at their long-term experience, their track record in the courtroom, the kinds of cases that they’ve handled, including personal injury cases, and their National Board Certification. I would look at how much continuing legal education they do on a regular basis and their connections to other attorneys in the country, as well. I have all of those things and all of those qualifications, and I also have a Lifetime Achievement Award for some work that I’d done on the Trial Lawyers Association for my past experience in the court and my efforts in court on behalf of injured people. I would take that information, and I would weigh that into the equation.
Also, how do you feel about the way that I communicate with you? That’s very important. How I communicate, the way I communicate, and how I pay attention is critical in every case. Unless there’s a connection between the attorney and the client, the case doesn’t go well. I would take all of that into consideration when choosing a trial lawyer.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
I’ve been asked many times by clients and other people, what are the steps in filing a personal injury lawsuit? The steps in filing a personal injury lawsuit are, first, you have a lot of work to do before you ever file a lawsuit. In my mind, you have to have 80% of the work done before you ever file a lawsuit. The only way to move a case is for the plaintiff’s attorney – that’s me, as your attorney, to move the case forward. Otherwise, the case will stagnate, and defendants like to deny, delay, and defend. That’s what insurance companies do. My job is to get the case moving and keep it moving, and the way to do that is to prepare 80% before you file the lawsuit. Then as soon as the lawsuit’s filed, you keep the case moving, and you ask the court for a scheduling conference, have a trial right away to keep the case moving and keep the pressure on the other side. That’s the only way you get their attention.
There’s a lot of work to do first. The first part of getting together is a fact memo, all the information that you have, all the medical records, and then we have to have crash reports. If it’s gets that kind of case, it requires crash reports, investigator reports, the information that we can get from public agencies. All of that has to be compiled before the lawsuit is filed.
Giving a Recorded Statement
Sometimes I have people call me up, and they’ll say I just got this call from the insurance company. They wanted a recorded statement. Should I give them a recorded statement? The answer to that is no. Never give them a recorded statement. It doesn’t matter what you say. They are going to use that against you at some later time. They’re going to say that you said such and such, or you said this or that. They’re going to use it against you, and they’re going to take it out of context every time. There is never a time that I’ve not seen an insurance company do that.
I had 15 years before I started doing personal injury on this side working for insurance companies such as State Farm of Wyoming. I will tell you that I’ve never seen a statement actually do any good for the client ever, so there’s no point in ever giving that statement. The statement you should give is to your lawyer, such as me, who will represent you and use that information properly in your case for your benefit. Otherwise, the insurance company can ask those questions, and they’re going to ask those questions. They’re not going to help you at all, and they’ll take it all out of context every time. Never give a statement to an insurance company. That’s my advice.
Minimum Amount of Medical Bills
I had a client last week ask me if he had enough medical bills for the case to be justified, and my answer to that is there isn’t a minimum amount of medical bills. Usually, in my cases, you have to have some medical bills, but I don’t even like to talk about medical bills. For instance, if you have someone that has their arm cut off, it may be very cheap, a few thousand dollars to sew up the stub, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the long-term disability that that person faces after losing an arm. He may be a pianist, and he’s no longer able to play the piano. He might have been a surgeon and not able to do surgical procedures anymore because he’s lost an arm. The real question is not the amount of the medical bills, but the the impact on a person’s life. Oftentimes, I don’t even talk about medical bills and expenses when I go to trial. I am not a bill collector or an insurance company that’s going to collect that back under some claim under your own personal health insurance policy.
I am an attorney that’s trying to give you justice for your ills. If you have $100,000 in medical bills, that sounds like a lot of money. In reality, you don’t want to hold that verdict down and have the jury use that as an anchor for $100,000 being sufficient for compensation. The real compensation is the emotional loss to you, the pain and suffering, the impact on your family and your life. That’s what we’re after— the real damages of the case.
Personal Injury Claim Value
Everyone who comes in the door want to know, “What’s my case worth?” It’s a difficult question to answer. There’s a street value to your case, which is the amount it is worth to general practitioners, and then there’s the real value of your case, which is what the jury thinks it’s worth. This is something that can’t be determined right away.
We first need to work your case up so it can be presented to a jury and proven to a jury. There’s a lot of work that goes into that and a lot of information that needs to be gathered. In the end, what usually moves dollars in a case is other verdicts across Wyoming.
Personal Injury Medical Bills
I have clients come to me all the time that have concerns about medical bills piling up and the insurance company on the other side not paying. There is a law in Wyoming that they can prepay. It will be to their benefit eventually, but insurance companies have learned not to do that. They don’t do that, and they’re not going to offer you any money on the other side in the midst of this case. You have a problem with these medical bills, and it’s a real problem. You’re going to be getting calls from whoever the healthcare provider is. You’re going to get turned over to collections, etc. We can help you deal with those things. We can’t do it perfectly, but we can help you deal with these issues with medical leaves on the chance that you’re going to win this case. We’re going to work on winning the case. The medical providers will usually accept our leaves if we agree to pay the bills with any settlement in the future. If you take that into account, then you have us handle that with the medical providers, and we will. That’s part of our job.
Personal Injury Settlement Process and Timeline
I’m asked all the time by other lawyers in Wyoming and clients in Wyoming and people in general how long it takes to get a lawsuit resolved. Let me tell you, it depends on the case, and every case is different. It also depends on the court that you file the case in. Federal court is generally faster in Wyoming and has a much faster docket. It’s called oftentimes the “rocket docket.” You’re looking at about 9 to 12 months in the federal court case. With state courts, it depends on which part of the state you’re in and the judges that you have in that part of the state. I’m able to judge that depending on the location of the case because we file our lawsuits and personal injury cases where the injury took place. For instance, in the western part of the state, you have a different docket than you have in the eastern part of the state. I practice all over the state, so I know those things.
You’re looking at roughly a year to two years in one of the state courts to get the case resolved or settled. You always have to take the position that you’re prepared to try the case. If you’re not prepared to try the case, then you’re not going to get it resolved. Anybody can settle the case, but the real question is getting the right amount of money to settle the case justly. That’s what we do.
Recovering Emotional Damages
People ask me if it’s possible in Wyoming, when I go out and give talks and things like that, to recover for personal injury, for emotional distress, pain and suffering, those kinds of damages. I would say this— those are the main damages in almost every case I do. The medical bills are part of it, but they’re not the whole deal. The real emotional damage to the client, the real pain and suffering and the pain and suffering inflicted on the client’s family, those are the important damages, and they are possible to collect. I would argue, in most cases that I take, those are the substantial damages that we have to recover so that it is a complete recover and the client’s made whole.
Role of an Expert Witness
I’m often asked about what is one of the big expenses in a case: expert witnesses. My clients say, well, why do we have to have expert witnesses in a case? I don’t put a lot of dependence in my cases on an expert witness. For instance, I like to have other lay witnesses, people that know the client and know the change in the client’s life. Those are the important witnesses in my mind. Under Wyoming law, I also have to have an expert that’s going to testify as to the brain injury from a medical standpoint. Otherwise, you can’t get to trial. It would be thrown out of the court. You have to have that expert witness to go that extra mile.
The expert witness has to be somebody that’s willing to say that he takes these kinds of cases. He or she takes these kinds of cases because they want the system to be better. They want people like you to recover. That way, the system is made honest, and people that caused the injury are made to bear the burden of that injury, not walk away and leave it on the taxpayers to pay for later. That’s the kind of reason that we have experts. They are expensive. We bear the burden of those expert witnesses, and we take the chance that if we don’t recover on your behalf we have to absorb that cost. We pay all the expenses of the case, and we take all the risk in the case.
Should I Accept the First Settlement Offer?
People often ask me whether or not it’s a good idea to take the first offer. They call me up and say, look, we’ve got this first offer. It is never a good idea to take the first offer from the insurance company. Something else that the insurance company knows very well is that personal injury trial lawyers such as me pay for themselves because the recoveries are often two to three times more than the first offer just by having an attorney on the case. They don’t want you to go to an attorney, so they’ll give you a first offer. After that, if you want substantial money and need substantial money for your future, then you need a trial lawyer that’s going to get that money for you. You get every dime of it.
Our interests are the same as yours. We don’t get paid unless you get paid, and we don’t get paid a substantial amount of money unless you get paid a substantial amount of money. That’s the reality of our joining together. Don’t take that first offer. Call my office.
Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
I’m asked all the time whether or not the case needs to be taken to trial or not. The way I set up my files and my cases is every case is a case that we anticipate taking to trial. If you don’t have the attitude that you’re willing to take this case to trial, you’re not going to get far in this business. You have to be willing to try the cases, and you have to be willing to try the hard cases. If you’re willing to do that, you’re going to learn the steps in how to be a trial lawyer. You’re going to learn the steps in how to represent your clients.
Yes, we tried several cases, and we do settle some cases. The best way to settle the case is to be ready to try the case. We’re always ready to try the case. We start from the beginning on the first day we meet the client, and then every day after that we prepare for trial. We don’t take many cases, but the cases we take, we’re prepared to try.
Call Wyoming Personal Injury Lawyer Fred Harrison
You don’t have to lie around in pain wondering what you should do. Give us a call right away. Get a free consultation with Fred Harrison, our skilled and determined Wyoming personal injury lawyer. You deserve someone representing your case that is going to take it seriously and work hard to get you the results you deserve in the end. Call today!
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