Nebraska Personal Injury Actions


Do I have a personal injury case?

The law is designed compensate people who have had a loss because another person was careless. There are thousands of injuries that deserve money damages and generally, cases fall into one of three categories. If you were involved in an automobile collision that was not your fault, you are entitled to receive compensation for property damage and for your physical injuries. If you slipped and fell at a business, then you may be entitled to money damages. If a medical provider, such as a doctor, nurse, or dentist was negligent in your care, you may be entitled to compensation. Each type of case depends on the other party being negligent. Only an experienced attorney can evaluate your case to determine if negligence exists. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

What is my personal injury claim worth?

Evaluating a personal injury claim can only be done by a qualified professional and only after complete investigation of all aspects of the case. This includes a detailed analysis of the injury itself, your past, present and future medical status, and the rights and liabilities of the parties, as well as their ability to pay. The opposing lawyers with their client's consent, often settle personal injury cases out of Court. When these cases do go to trial, a jury usually decides the question of liability and damages. Damages awarded in personal injury cases usually include payment of medical bills and reimbursement of lost wages, but may also include payment for future medical bills and future wage loss. In most cases, damages are also awarded for physical pain and suffering, disfigurement or disability that results from the injury. Be wary of attorneys who "guarantee" a specific result, as there are many factors that contribute to the actual amount an attorney is able to obtain. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

How do I hire a personal injury attorney:

Many attorneys will accept personal injury cases. You should hire an attorney that specializes in personal injury. Make sure he or she has had experience in handling a case like yours before. Hiring an attorney is a personal choice. You will be dealing with important matters that permanently affect you and your family's future. Find one that is comforting, friendly and confident. Chose one that is accessible to you and that answers your questions completely and thoroughly. Your attorney and his or her staff should make themselves accessible and value your relationship and business. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

Who will I see at my initial consultation?

At any law firm experienced in handling personal injury matters, you should be meeting with the attorney who will be handling the matter and his or her personal injury paralegal. This insures that your matter is understood clearly and your situation is seen from two different viewpoints. This also enables the firm to take a team approach to your matter. Better law firms offer a consultation at no charge. The first meeting with your attorney is a chance for both you and the attorney to make an appraisal of your situation. It is in this meeting that the attorney has the opportunity to determine if you have a case. Therefore, it is important to be well prepared. It's worthwhile to spend some time getting ready. It can be helpful to write down a summary or chronology of events surrounding the case. Assemble any documents or records, and bring them with you. The more information you have, the better an attorney is able to help. At Petersen Law Offices, you will meet with an attorney and his or her paralegal where the legal team approach is the philosophy we've built our practice on. Each of our attorneys has experience with particular types of cases and you will be scheduled to meet with the attorney with the most experience with your type of injury.

What should an attorney be willing to do for me?

Your attorney should be willing to work hard for you. He or she should be willing to immediately meet with you and start investigation your claim. Often, the most valuable evidence is lost shortly after an injury so, immediate action is necessary to preserve your rights. Your attorney should settle your property damage claim for little or no fee as a courtesy to his or her client. Making arrangements for a rental car and for repair or replacement of your vehicle can be complicated and is something you should not have to worry about while you are recuperating. The attorney's paralegal should make arrangements for getting you a rental car, securing evidence, and repairing the car. An attorney should be available to answer your important questions at times convenient for you. You should expect professional and competent service!

What is a contingency fee agreement?

A contingent fee agreement is an agreement by an attorney to receive a certain percentage of a client's settlement as the fee. Contingent means the fee is not collected until the claim is settled or resolved. Generally, a contingent fee is one-third of any total settlement or recovery, but can be a greater or lessor percentage by agreement between the attorney and the client. A contingent fee agreement is almost always used in personal injury cases because no money is required in advance from the client. Costs in a personal injury case may include expenses for police reports, medical records, photocopies or investigative services. If a lawsuit is required there are additional costs for filing fees, process fee and deposition charges. Costs are separate and distinct from an attorney's fee. Although the costs are usually paid at the time of settlement or recovery, they are paid out of the remaining funds after the attorney's fee is subtracted.

Who pays for Court costs and expenses in a personal injury action?

Costs in a personal injury case may include expenses for police reports, medical records, photocopies or investigation services. If a lawsuit is required there are additional costs for filing fees, process fee and deposition charges. The Client is ultimately responsible for payment of the costs associated with any case. However, as part of the contingency fee agreement, a quality attorney will usually advance these costs until the end of the case. Although the costs are usually paid at the time of settlement or recovery, they are paid out of the remaining funds after the attorney's fee is subtracted.

What do I need to bring to the first consultation?

The first meeting with your attorney is a chance for both you and the attorney to evaluate your situation. It is in the first meeting that the attorney tries to determine if you have a case. So, it is important to be well prepared. It's worthwhile to spend some time getting ready. It can be helpful to write down a summary or chronology of events surrounding the case. Bring a completed accident report and any information given to you by the police officer that investigated the collision. Bring copies of any medical bills Assemble any documents or records regarding the case and bring them with you. You will need to provide as much information as you can and be completely honest.

IMPORTANT TERMS AND ISSUES

What is negligence?

The term "negligence" means the failure to use ordinary care. That is the failure to do that which a person of ordinary prudence would have done under the same or similar circumstances or doing that which a person of ordinary prudence would not have done under the same or similar circumstances. A motorist running a stop sign is an example of failure to use ordinary prudence. Most business, drivers and homeowners have liability insurance, which covers any negligent actions they are responsible for. The purpose of liability insurance is to pay for injuries caused by negligence. If you have been injured and are unsure whether your injury was caused by negligence, you should consult an attorney and ask the attorney to investigate your claim. Negligence is the basis for liability in a majority of personal injury lawsuits. Persons who acts negligently generally do not intend to cause injurious results, rather their liability is based on careless or thoughtless action or on a failure to act when they should have. Their conduct is called negligent when it falls below a legal standard that has been established to protect you against unreasonable risks. A court will look at what an ordinary or reasonable person would have done in similar circumstances. This will help the court or jury determine whether the person who injured you acted negligently. Because negligence law can be complex it is important to talk with an attorney experienced in this area as soon as you receive or discover an injury.

What is an insurance adjuster?

An insurance adjuster is a person who represents the interests of an insurance company. Many people purchase liability insurance to cover negligent acts or events. If you are injured and that injury is covered by insurance, then an adjuster will be assigned to settle the claim, if possible. You must remember that this person does not represent your interests and his or her only goal is to settle your claim quickly and for the least amount of money possible. Insurance adjusters are often attorneys or other trained professionals who know what your claim is worth, but will try and settle it for a fraction of what it is worth. Often an adjuster will try and settle your claim very quickly before your injuries have developed. If you accept a settlement, you will be required to sign a release of all liability, even if your injuries were unknown at the time. At that point you cannot ever receive compensation for the injuries. Do not sign a release without before seeking advice from a qualified attorney.

What is a recorded statement and should I make one?

An insurance adjuster will often try to have an injured party make a statement about the events that led to their harm, sometimes the day after the accident. They will try and record this statement for later use. The purpose of this statement is to get a victim committed to a specific version of the event. People often make statements they do not mean, especially when still injured or on medications, that are difficult to explain later. They especially want you to say that you are not injured at all! If you are asked to make a statement, it may be a good sign you need to speak with an attorney. Never make a statement to an insurance adjuster before seeking advice from a qualified attorney.

What is a "release" and should I sign it?

A release is a legal document that ends or extinguishes a person's right to make a claim for damages suffered in an accident against another person or an insurance company. A person usually signs the document after a claim has been settled with their approval and is binding on their heirs as well. It is very important to understand that signing a release for an insurance company completely ends a person's right to make any further claims against that company for damages arising from an accident. When an insurance company is trying to settle a claim with a person who is not represented by an attorney, the company may try to persuade the person to sign a release document before a persons claim is ready to be settled. A release document in settlement of a claim is a binding legal document, which ends your right to make any further claims arising from the accident. It is very important that a person not sign any type of a release document until they understand exactly what it means. It is in your best interest to consult with an attorney before signing any release documents.

What is birth trauma?

One of the most catastrophic areas of medical malpractice is birth trauma. Birth trauma is an injury to a child during delivery. If your child was injured during delivery then you may be entitled to damages. Damages awarded in personal injury cases usually include payment of medical bills and reimbursement of lost wages, but may also include payment for future medical bills and future wage loss. In most cases, damages are also awarded for physical pain and suffering and disfigurement or disability that results from the injury. Remember that you only have two years to file a malpractice suit from the date of the incident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after any incident.

What is wrongful death?

The unexpected death of a loved one is always a tragic event. The loss of a spouse or family member often has a painful effect on the entire family. If a family member dies due to the wrongful or negligent act of another person, family members and other next of kin may be entitled to damages for their pecuniary loss. Pecuniary loss is a monetary value that includes not only lost wages and support, but also the advise, comfort, assistance and protection which the family member would have given had they lived. The surviving spouse and children may be entitled to recover damages for the loss of future earnings caused by the death of a spouse or parent. To determine a fair amount to provide for the future financial needs of the family, the deceased previous occupation, earnings and health are considered. Other family members may recover damages for pecuniary loss based on their relationship with the deceased and the guidance, comfort, assistance and protection lost because of the death. Medical and funeral expenses are almost always recoverable in a claim for wrongful death. Remember that you only have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

Tell me about head, spine and neck injuries.

An injury to the head, neck or back may change the life of the victim forever in a permanent and obvious fashion. It may require substantial medical care and rehabilitation. If you are injured in an accident which has caused head, neck or back injuries and it the result of another's negligence or the result of a defective product, you may be able to recover damages from that person or company for your pain and suffering, medical bills, and loss of past and future wages. This is your right. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

How do I find a doctor to treat me for my accident?

Immediately after an accident a physician should see you. Your primary care provider or an emergency room may do the examination. It is important that they take X-rays and check for any sign of broken or fractured bones. By not getting checked, you run the risk of having untreated injuries. Any untreated injury could cause major health problems long after the accident occurs. This is when 'it's better to be safe than sorry' philosophy applies. After you initial visit to the emergency room, you should have a follow up visit about 3-8 days after the collision, depending on the severity of the injuries. Many different therapies may help you in restoring your health. These therapies may include chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, massage therapy, rehabilitation, or acupuncture. Your attorney may be able to direct you to someone who will help relieve your pain and help restore you health.

What should I do immediately after an auto accident?

If you are involved in an automobile accident, these guidelines may help lessen your legal risk and help assure your health and safety. The first consideration must be for the safety for everyone. In any accident situation stop at once. If possible park on the shoulder of the road and do not obstruct traffic. If your car cannot be moved, use flares or traffic cones when available to warn approaching traffic of the danger. Get yourself and any others you can to a position of safety, but do not move anyone with a back or head injury unless you absolutely have to. Check to see if the occupants of your car or the other car are hurt and call paramedics as needed. Call the police in any accident situation. This is generally the safest thing to do even when damage is apparently minimal. Get the names and badge number of police officers who respond to the scene. Do not make any statements about who you think was at fault. Do not admit blame to the other parties or witnesses. Liability is a legal question to be settled only after all the facts have been gathered and studied. Give your name, address, date of birth, car license, license number driver's and name of your insurance company to the other driver. Get the same information from the other driver. Write down the names and addresses of all passengers and possible witnesses. As soon as possible after the accident notify your insurance company. Do not admit fault or discuss the accident with anyone but your insurance agent, the police and your attorney. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

Who will investigate my accident?

One of the most important aspects to a personal injury case is immediate investigation of the accident scene. The initial investigation will be made by a police officer. The officer will diagram the scene of the accident and take statements from each driver and any witnesses. Do not make any statements about who you feel was at fault. Fault is to be determined after careful examination of the facts. Only state the facts. The officer may issue tickets for violations of law. After this initial investigation is completed, your attorney should have an independent investigator examine the scene. He should take statements from witnesses and the other driver, if possible. The private investigator should take photographs of the collision scene and note any defects. Recovering damages for your injuries often depends on early and accurate investigation.

How do I get my car repaired, and who pays for it?

If you have property damage in an accident that was not your fault, the person who caused the accident or their insurance company must pay you the repair cost of the property or its fair market value, whichever is less. You may need a written estimate to send to the insurance company or use in court. To get a written estimate for your property, call a repair shop that handles such work and ask for one. If fair market value is less than the repair cost, insurance companies can chose to pay the lesser value. This means that the insurance company will pay the value of the property before it was damaged. If you can prove that the value of the property is more than that offered by the insurance company, they may increase their offer. An experienced law firm should handle your property damage claim at no charge.

Can I get money for lost wages and missing work?

If you were involved in an automobile collision that was not your fault, you should be awarded money damages that will fully compensate you for all aspects surrounding the incident. The law is designed to make you whole. One of the items you should be compensated for is the time and lost wages you incur due to the collision. This includes time lost from work due to the collision itself, time lost for doctor's appointments and other treatment and for any period of time you cannot work because of your injuries. Your spouse or another person that assists you in keeping medical appointments or in caring for you daily duties while you are recuperating from your injuries may also claim lost wages. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

Am I entitled to money for pain and suffering?

If you were involved in an automobile collision that was not your fault, you should be awarded money damages that will fully compensate you for all aspects surrounding the incident. The law is designed to make you whole. Most people, given the choice, would not voluntarily participate in an automobile collision in exchange for any amount of money. However, if you unwillingly are involved, the law attempts to compensate you with money damages. Pain and suffering is difficult to value. It is the laws attempt to translate pain into dollars. Many insurance adjusters use a rule of awarding three times the total medical bills to compensate for pain and suffering. Each case is different, and your case may be worth more or less than the rule of thumb. Be wary of attorneys who guarantee results, or commit themselves to recovering a set dollar figure. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

What if I am in a "Hit and Run?"

If you are in an accident where the driver who caused the accident leaves the scene whether they hit you or just missed you, there are some things you can do to protect your rights. First, try to write down the license plate number, make, model and color of the vehicle. Second, try to identify anyone who may have seen the accident, especially other drivers. Get names, phone numbers and addresses before they leave the scene. This information could be important later if you need to make an insurance claim to prove that you were in the accident and that you were not at fault. Third, call 911 or direct someone to call 911. If you can, try to leave your vehicle where you were hit. If you move it the police may not take an accident report which can be important later. If the police cannot find the other vehicle or if the other vehicle does not have insurance, you can make a claim for your pain and suffering under the uninsured motorist provision of your insurance policy and for your property damage under your collision coverage. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

How am I protected from uninsured motorists?

It is illegal in Nebraska to drive a motor vehicle without proof in insurance. Everyone that drives must carry at least $25,000 in liability coverage. However, many people drive without insurance. Even if they do have the minimum coverage, it is often insufficient to cover your damages. Everyone should have the inexpensive additional coverage call uninsured motorist. This insurance covers you should someone driving without insurance injure you. Uninsured motorist coverage takes the place of the other parties insurance to satisfy your personal injury damages up to the policy limit of your own insurance. For instance, if you carry $100,000 in liability insurance, have uninsured motorist coverage and are injured by a motorist without insurance, you would be able to collect up to $100,000 from uninsured motorist to cover your own injuries.

How am I protected from underinsured motorist?

It is illegal in Nebraska to drive a motor vehicle without proof in insurance. Everyone that drives must carry at least $25,000 in liability coverage. However, many people drive without insurance. Even if they do have the minimum coverage, it is often insufficient to cover your damages. Everyone should have the inexpensive additional coverage call underinsured motorist. This insurance covers you should you be injured by someone driving with insurance, but has coverage insufficient to cover your injuries. Underinsured motorist coverage supplements the other parties insurance to satisfy your personal injury damages up to the policy limit of your own insurance. For instance, if you carry $100,000 in liability insurance, have underinsured motorist coverage and are injured by a motorist with a $25,000 limit, you would be able to collect up to an additional $75,000 from underinsured motorist to cover your own injuries.

What is collision coverage?

It is illegal in Nebraska to drive a motor vehicle without proof in insurance. Everyone that drives must carry at least $25,000 in liability coverage. However, many people drive without insurance. Your insurance company should offer an optional coverage called collision. This coverage pays for the repair or replacement of your vehicle when the other driver is not insured or when you were at fault for the collision. This coverage is priced according to the value of your vehicle and the insurance company's experience with repair to the particular make and model you drive.

What is medical payments coverage?

It is illegal in Nebraska to drive a motor vehicle without proof in insurance. Everyone that drives must carry at least $25,000 in liability coverage. However, many people drive without insurance. Your insurance company should offer an optional coverage called medical payments. Medical payment coverage pays up to the stated limit for medical bills for yourself or another occupant of your vehicle. This coverage is in addition to any other insurance that you have such as medical insurance through your employer. Medical payment coverage is relatively inexpensive.

What is liability insurance?

It is illegal in Nebraska to drive a motor vehicle without proof in insurance. Everyone that drives must carry at least $25,000 in liability coverage. Liability Insurance coverage pays when you are legally at fault for a collision that injures another person or another person or entity's property. It pays for the other driver's medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

Motorcycle Accidents

The motorcycle presents special considerations when it comes to injuries. It is open and has little protection for the rider. If there is an accident, injuries are likely to be severe. If you are injured in an accident and it is the result of another's negligence or intentional misconduct or the result of a defective product, you may be able to recover damages from that person or company for your pain and suffering, medical bills and the loss of past or future income. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

Slip and Fall Injuries

Most businesses carry liability insurance to protect themselves in the event someone is injured while on their property. These slip and fall type cases are governed by Premises Liability. Generally speaking, businesses are required to keep their establishments safe for customers and patrons. This may mean keeping the store clean, well lighted and free from known hazards. Many of the same principals apply when someone is injured in another person's home. If you injury yourself on someone else's land, is that person liable for your injuries? The answer depends on whether the landowner was negligent. Property owners are required to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition and may be required to warn you of any unsafe conditions. If you fall, it is important to determine right away what caused the fall. Prompt investigation into the facts is essential. Look to see if there is an object, liquid or other substance in the area where you fell. Take note of anything else unusual about the location of your fall. These initial observations may be critical to your ability to recover damages for your injury. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide guidance for your particular situation. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

Bicycle Accidents

Just as the popularity of bicycles has boomed over the last several years, so have the number of injuries from negligent drivers, improperly maintained or defective bicycles and poorly maintained roadways. If you are injured in an accident which is the result of another person's negligence or intentional misconduct or the result of a defective product, you may be able to recover damages from that person or company for you pain and suffering, medical bills and loss of past or future wages. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

Defective Products

Anyone injured by a defective product may be entitled to compensation. If a business designs, manufactures or sells a product in a defective condition or that is unreasonably dangerous to the user, it may be held responsible for the injuries caused by the product defect. A product may be found defective by manufacturer, assembly, inspection, and packaging or testing. Products have also been found to be defective because of the failure to have adequate instructions or warnings that result in injuries. The most important thing to do when a product hurts you, after getting proper medical attention of course, is to keep the product. Keep whatever is available including the products, it's container, the name of the manufacturer and model and identification number if possible. A product that injures you is a critical piece of evidence and it is important that you secure it as soon as practical after the injury. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

Boating Accidents

An injury acquired while on the water may be affected by a unique branch of the law called maritime law. This depends upon whether a particular body of water has been declared navigable or not. In any event, if you are injured in a boating accident and it is the result of another's negligence or intentional misconduct or the result of a defective product, you may be able to recover damages from the person or corporate entity for your pain and suffering, medical bills and the loss of future income. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of your accident, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an accident.

Dog Bites

If a dog bit you, the owner or keeper may be liable for injuries unless there is evidence of provocation. If a dog has bitten you, seek medical attention immediately and contact the police. Request that the dog is impounded and the owner contacted to verify whether the dog has had rabies shots. This information is critical in determining the appropriate medical treatment for your injury. Dog bites can be serious injuries. The dog owner or keeper and his or her insurance company may be legally responsible to compensate you for the full extent of your injuries including medical expenses, wage loss, pain, suffering and disability including permanent disfigurement. If a dog has bitten you, contact a lawyer immediately to determine your legal rights. Remember that you only have four years to file a personal injury suit from the date of the bite, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately after an incident.

Construction Accidents

If you are injured on the job, you are covered for that injury by worker's compensation insurance. You will need to file a claim with your employer. If you do not give proper notice of your accident and injuries to your employer, then you may not be able to claim worker's compensation benefits. If you do give proper notice, you may be entitled compensation for you injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, temporary and permanent disability. There is no requirement that the employer be guilty of negligence - worker's comp falls under the strict liability laws. In most cases, the law will not allow you to sue for more than the state allows. Even so, many individuals consult personal injury attorneys for advice. And if worker's comp laws do not cover the injury, you may still be able to file a lawsuit. If you have been in a construction accident, contact a lawyer immediately to determine your legal rights.

Medical Malpractice

Injuries caused by doctors and hospitals may give rise to claims for medical malpractice. To be compensated for these injuries a patient must have been injured as a result of the doctors or hospitals failure to use reasonable care in performing professional services. A physician must use that degree of skill in learning, normally used by doctors in good standing in a similar practice and under like circumstances. You may have a medical malpractice claim if you are injured because your doctor has failed to use reasonable care in treating you, lacks proper training or skills, or has disregarded established and accepted methods of treatment. If you feel that you may have a medical malpractice claim consult an attorney who specializes in that field. Tell the attorney exactly what happened to you from the first time that you visited your doctor through your last contact with him or her. You will need to describe the circumstances surrounding your illness or injury, details of your treatment and condition and whether you followed your doctor's instructions. Answers to these and other questions are important in determining a doctor or hospital has committed medical malpractice. Remember that you only have two years to file a lawsuit from the date of the malpractice, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately.

Legal Malpractice

We have come to rely upon professionals, whether in medicine, law or finance to provide reliable accurate help. If you feel that an attorney has harmed your legal case or has acted improperly, you may have a malpractice lawsuit. Look for specific instances of malpractice, such as failure to a brief on time, or to interview a key witness in a case. You must also be able to prove that your case would have likely succeeded. You cannot recover damages for emotional stress, but you can recover damages for property and loss of time. Remember that you only have two years to file a lawsuit from the date of the malpractice, so it is important to speak with an attorney immediately.

Why should I choose Petersen Law Offices, P.C.?

At Petersen Law Offices, P.C. we take a very untraditional approach to our clients. We take your matter very personally. We concentrate on making sure you are treated like a person, not a case number. We give you the respect and commitment that you expect from a law firm dedicated to seeking justice. Our team is ready to do what it takes to make sure they treat you fairly. We believe we are the only law firm in our area that personally answers our telephone line 24 hours a day, every day of the year. That is just the start of our commitment to you. In addition, unlike some firms, we do not churn out personal injury cases by the dozen. Each matter is settled by it's self and only after you are done treating...can every firm in this area say that? Call the attorneys at Petersen Law Offices, P.C. They understand you and will give your matter their personal best.