Frequently Asked Questions
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Each prospective case is immediately evaluated by an attorney in our firm for liability and damages. If you have suffered a serious injury, our investigators go to the scene of the incident the day the call is received, in order to gather important evidence and preserve it for trial. Potential litigants should consult an attorney as soon as possible after their injury, before evidence is lost and witnesses' memories fade. The call to our office and initial consultation are free.
Our firm handles all of its cases on a "contingency" basis. Under this system, we earn attorneys' fees only if your case is successfully resolved. If your case fails to earn a settlement and loses at trial, then there is no cost to you. Generally, fees are 33.3% of your settlement amount if settlement occurs before the case is set for trial, and 40% if the case is set for trial. However, for medical malpractice cases, the fees are set by state law and generally are lower, and in workers' compensation cases, the fees are limited to approximately 15%.
This is one of the most difficult questions to answer, and you should be wary of any attorney who claims to know what your case is worth when you first talk to him or her. Normally, the value of a case cannot be accurately determined until "discovery" is conducted, which involves testimony under oath of yourself, witnesses to the incident, and others. The reason this fact-finding must occur is that a case value is based on two factors: "liability" and "damages." Liability is the "fault" of the defendant, and damages are the total losses that you have incurred, including pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills. The stronger the liability in a case, the more likely settlement will occur at close to full value of the damages. The more difficult it is to prove liability, the more likely settlement will occur at less than full value of damages. But remember, if settlement does not occur and the case goes to trial, your case is worth whatever the jury decides it is worth.
In California, under the Statute of Limitations, you are limited to TWO years following the date of your injury for most types of cases. However, there are exceptions such as medical negligence and uninsured motorist claims that must be filed within one year. Even if the statute is two years, you should not wait that long before you contact an attorney. Valuable evidence for your case may disappear if you wait, so it's important to consult an attorney sooner rather than later.
If you are injured on the job, you should immediately ask your employer for a workers' compensation claim form called a DWC-1; or, you can contact our firm and we will provide you with one. Upon completion, a copy of this form must be given to the employee and another copy must be sent to the employer's workers' compensation carrier. You should complete a DWC-1 form even if you believe your injury is minor, because failure to fill it out can limit any workers' compensation rights you have. The Arns Law Firm can assist you with your workers' compensation claim and evaluate your case to see if you have a potential lawsuit against a negligent third party.
No; under California's workers' compensation system, you cannot file suit against your employer, even if the employer caused your injury. However, the "good news" is that regardless of who was at fault, you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. You will receive benefits even if you caused your own injury. The bad news is that workers' compensation benefits are severely limited, and many workers find it difficult, if not impossible, to get by on them while recovering from a severe injury.
If your injury was caused, at least in part, by the fault of someone other than your employer, you may have a case against this third party. (It's called a third party since you are the "first" party, and your employer is the "second" party.) For example, for a construction injury, you might have a third-party case even if the general contractor was simply "aware" or "should have been aware" of the condition that caused your injury. Through a third-party lawsuit, you can recover all lost wages, all medical costs, future lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering, none of which can be recovered through workers' compensation alone. You must consult an attorney to advise you whether you have a potential third-party lawsuit. It is crucial that your case be investigated immediately so that valuable evidence is not lost and witnesses can be contacted.
For More information please download The Arns Law Firms’ Worker’s Compensation Brochure:
Labor Code Section 5430 requires us to state the following: Making a false or fraudulent workers' compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison, or a fine up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.