Hernandez Law Firm
Frequently Asked Questions
Hernandez Law Firm, LLC has a very diverse practice area, including business/commercial/contract law, employment discrimination, workers' compensation, personal injury and auto injury, business immigration, federal and state criminal, and family law. We receive many questions from people who need straight, honest answers. This page includes a few of the most common questions our firm receives every day. Contact us if you have questions about your specific legal matter and would like to receive answers from experienced lawyers.
How much will it cost me to hire an attorney?
We handle the majority of our personal injury and medical malpractice cases by a contingent fee arrangement.
What is a contingent fee arrangement?
The client only pays an attorney's fee if the attorney is successful in obtaining a recovery for the client. The fee is typically a percentage of the recovery obtained through settlement or trial.
What should I bring with me to the first meeting?
Anything that may help your attorney completely understand the facts of your case. This includes letters, reports, medical records and/or photos relating to the incident. There is no danger in bringing too much information to the first meeting. In fact, your attorney needs all of the information available to you in order to properly analyze your case.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A civil lawsuit brought by an individual who has been physically and/or emotionally injured by another. Personal injuries can be caused in a multitude of ways: dangerous conditions on property, product defects and negligent operation of automobiles, just to name a few.
Is it possible to settle a Civil Lawsuit Without a Trial?
Yes. In fact, the vast majority of cases settle without the need for a trial. However, there is often extensive discovery conducted before a settlement can be reached.
What is Discovery?
Discovery is the period after a civil lawsuit is filed, but before a trial takes place, when the parties to the lawsuit "discover" evidence relevant to the case. Evidence is discovered through devices such as interrogatories (written questions submitted by one party to the other to be answered under oath), requests for production (written requests for documents submitted by one party to the other), and/or depositions of the parties, witnesses and/or experts.
Is there a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit?
Yes, each type of case is governed by a specific statute of limitation. However, there are exceptions to nearly every statute of limitation to account for extenuating circumstances like age, health status, and other factors. In general, these are the limits for common lawsuits:
Personal Injury lawsuit 5 years
Wrongful Death 3 years
Medical Negligence 2 years
Employment Law As quickly as 180 days
Can I get copies of my Medical Records?
Under Federal law, you are entitled to obtain copies of your own medical records. However, the entity providing those records is entitled to charge a "reasonable" fee for materials and time spent copying the records for you.
What types of damages can be recovered in a personal injury or auto accident action?
In these types of actions, there are various types of damages that you may be able to recover. Generally those damages are categorized as follows:
Past Economic (e.g. past medical bills, past lost earnings);
Past Non-Economic (e.g. past pain and suffering, including emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life)
Future Economic (e.g. future anticipated medical bills and lost earnings over the course of your work expectancy);
Future Non-Economic (e.g. future pain and suffering, including emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life).
Should I call the Police if an Accident Occurs?
Absolutely. The responding officer will prepare an accident report. As part of that process, the officer will take statements from the other driver and/or witnesses, will record the weather conditions, the road conditions, visibility, and the personal information of the other driver, including the driver's insurance information. This information can prove extremely important when and if it becomes necessary to file a civil lawsuit.
Should I report the accident to my insurance company if I don't think I was at fault?
Yes. Even though you do not think you were at fault, that does not mean the other driver (or a court) will agree. As a participant, you may not be in the best position to make that call. Reporting any auto accident to your insurer is important for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that YOUR policy almost certainly requires you to do so regardless of who you think was at fault. Don't risk losing your coverage simply because you were mistaken about who or what caused the accident.
Should I go to the Doctor?
Even if you don't think you're seriously injured, it is always a good idea to see a doctor following an auto accident. The doctor may simply confirm that you're not seriously injured, leaving you no worse off than the cost of an office exam. However, doctors are trained to diagnose and treat conditions and injuries caused by traumatic events such as auto collisions before they begin to cause extreme pain and discomfort. If you feel minor pain or discomfort initially, but wait until the discomfort or pain becomes unbearable before seeking treatment, the other driver's insurance company will almost certainly dispute that your condition was caused by the accident due to the lapse of time between the two.
What Should I take pictures of?
The scene of the accident, the damage to the vehicles, any visible signs of your injuries, and any witnesses to the accident, including the other driver.
Should I discuss the accident with the other driver's insurance company before I talk to an attorney?
What if I was partly to blame for the accident?
You may still be entitled to a recovery from the other driver based on his or her percentage of fault for your total injuries.
I was injured at work. What should I do?
If you have been injured at work, the first thing you should do is report the injury to your supervisor. Missouri law requires prompt notice of injuries to employers.
When should I file my claim?
Missouri law contains time limits for filing. Generally, a claim must be filed within two years of: (1) the date of the accident; (2) the last payment of workers' compensation benefits or; (3) the last medical treatment provided. A claim is only filed by filing with the Division of Workers' Compensation.
Who is covered by Workers' Compensation?
Any employer with 5 or more employees, and all employers in the construction industry are required to provide protection for their employees.
Will I get a settlement?
If you suffer a permanent disability, you may be entitled to a settlement. The amount you will recover depends on the nature and extent of disability. Typically, there are disagreements between employers and workers about the nature and extent of the disability.
How long do I have to pursue a case for discrimination?
Generally, if you feel like you have been discriminated against, you must file a charge of discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights within 180 days of the last discriminating/harassing act. You may have up to 300 days under Federal law.
I have a Right to Sue letter. What do I do?
If you have a Right to Sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Missouri Commission on Human rights, you will have 90 days from the date of the letter to file your case in Federal court.
Should I report the Discrimination/Harassment to my employer?
If your employer has a reporting policy, you may need to report the discrimination or harassment in accordance with the policy. However, sometimes there are exceptions to this rule. It is advisable to speak to an attorney to ensure your report will protect you.
Am I covered under FMLA?
To be covered by the FMLA, you must work for a company that employs at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. In addition, you must have been employed by the company for at least one year and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last calendar year.
I reported illegal activity or refused to engage in an illegal activity. How long do I have to file a case?
Whistleblower/wrongful discharge claims can have statutes of limitations as short as two years. However, these statutes sometimes vary. In August, the governor signed legislation that changed the whistleblower laws. You should contact a knowledgeable employment law attorney like Art Hernandez to answer your specific questions.
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