FAQ

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We know you have a lot of worries and questions running through your mind – especially after an injury impacts you or your family. We’ve curated answers to the questions our clients frequently ask to give you the information you need to move forward.

For more specific insight into your case, or to have all of your questions answered, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

First, you must demonstrate that you have been injured.  In most cases, you will need to show some kind of physical bodily injury, although there may be times when an extreme emotional injury alone will suffice to make a claim. Then, you must demonstrate that someone else is at fault for causing your injury.  Finally, you have to show that the injuries you are claiming are real and were caused by the wrongdoing of the other party.  Your injury doesn’t need to have been caused by the other party’s intentional wrongdoing (i.e. assault) and most often will be caused by someone’s negligence (i.e. the driver who hit you was distracted).

Medical malpractice occurs when you or someone you love is harmed as a result of medical treatment that falls below the recognized standards of care for a particular field of medicine.  Before you can sue a healthcare provider in Connecticut for malpractice, however, you must find an expert in the same or similar field of medicine to state in writing that your provider was negligent in your treatment. 

To win at trial, you must prove three things.  First, you must establish through expert testimony that your healthcare provider committed negligence in your care.  Second, you must establish through experts that your injuries are linked to the medical malpractice you are suing about.  Third, you must establish – through experts – that the injuries you are claiming are real.  As you can see, experts are essential in a medical malpractice case.  Over the years, we have built relationships with several qualified experts who can help us present your case to a jury. 

It depends. If you are involved in a very minor car accident and suffer property damage only –  or only very minor injuries, such as a bruised knee that lasts a day or two -you can probably handle the claim without an attorney. 

However, if you suffer a more significant injury, or your case involves complex issues of medical malpractice, or is complicated by multiple parties with potential liability, you will be better served having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.  An attorney will also communicate with the insurance company or companies handling the claim, so you don’t have to do so.  Even if you think your case is straightforward, an experienced personal injury attorney is likely to recover more financial compensation for your injuries and losses than you could on your own.

Cooper Sevillano handles all of its personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. That means we are only paid if we recover money on our client’s behalf.  The portion of the recovery that we retain if we win depends on the nature of the case.  Generally speaking, we retain 20% in workers’ compensation cases, 33.3% in complex medical malpractice, birth injury and defective drug cases, and anywhere from 10% to 33 1/3% in all other cases, including motor vehicle and premises liability.

Disbursements are the costs of litigation that Cooper Sevillano pays to others on behalf of its clients in order to properly build a case.  Depending on the case, these payments may include court filing fees, investigative charges, medical record retrieval fees, expert witness and consultant fees, and trial preparation costs.  In most cases, Cooper Sevillano does not seek repayment of disbursements unless the case results in a recovery.  Even then, we don’t charge interest.

When your case is about to be finalized, your attorney will have to give due consideration to paying back certain medical expenses or lost wages.  In Connecticut, these claims are called liens. Depending on the type of lien asserted and the party who paid it, you may or may not be obligated by law to pay all or some of it back out of the proceeds recovered in your case.  Examples of liens in personal injury cases can be by statute (such as Medicaid, Medicare or Workers’ Compensation) or via direct contract (like a promise to pay for medical treatment out of the proceeds of any recovery).  Things get trickier when the lien holder is a private third party without a statutory lien right, such as a health insurer or an ERISA health benefit plan.  Cooper Sevillano’s attorneys are adept at both identifying valid liens (and weeding out invalid ones) and negotiating down the client’s payback obligation to maximize his or her take home recovery.

A statute of limitations is a law that sets out the amount of time available for bringing a case against someone else.

Generally speaking, the law in Connecticut requires you to file a personal injury lawsuit for negligence within two years from the date you were injured.  The law also requires you to file your case no later than three years from the date you claim someone injured you.

If you are injured and want to sue a municipality or the state of Connecticut or one of its political subdivisions, such as a public school board or a police department, you are usually required to give notice of your intent to make a claim, sometimes as early as ninety days from the date of the accident.

If you are interested in suing a manufacturer or seller of a defective product, you generally have three years from the date when you are injured. 

A case for wrongful death in Connecticut must be initiated within two years of the date of death and not more than five years from the date of the wrongful conduct that caused the death.

If you are a railroad employee seeking to make a FELA claim against the railroad, you must bring a claim within three years of the date of injury.

In Connecticut, if a person dies as a result of someone else’s wrongdoing, that person’s heirs may recover money through what is known as a wrongful death lawsuit.  Even if a person with an existing claim dies due to unrelated causes, the claim can continue to be pursued by a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.

Negligence is the primary basis for establishing liability or fault in the majority of personal injury cases.  In its simplest definition, it is the failure to use the level of care an ordinarily careful person would use in the same circumstances.  Negligence can also occur when a person does something that an ordinarily careful person would not do.  In Connecticut, if you can demonstrate that your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your economic losses, as well as your pain and suffering.

Yes.  Some individuals or companies may be held strictly liable for engaging in certain activities that harm others, even if they have not acted negligently or carelessly.  Under a theory of strict liability, a person injured by a defective or unexpectedly dangerous product, for example, may recover compensation from the manufacturer or seller of the product without having to prove that the maker or seller was actually negligent.  In Connecticut, a person injured by a dog attack may recover for injuries from the owner or keeper of the dog without having to prove that the owner or keeper was negligent.  Also, individuals or companies engaged in using explosives, storing dangerous substances, or housing dangerous animals can be strictly liable for harm caused to others as a result of such activities. 

Finally, individuals and companies may be held intentionally liable for their deliberate acts as compared to their negligent ones.  Intentional conduct cases include: physical assault, sexual assault, sexual abuse, battery, slander, libel, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims.  Although the damages recoverable under intentional claims tend to be broader than those premised on negligence (i.e., extreme emotional injuries alone may suffice), it can be difficult to establish that someone else acted with specific intent to do harm.

It is very difficult to make accurate time predictions outside the context of a particular case.  Some of our very straightforward cases – those with few, if any, disputed issues of liability or damages – are resolved within several months of opening your case.  Some more complex cases will last longer, lasting years.  If a trial becomes necessary, the court will set a timetable of events that all parties must work within.  Although the parties have some say in scheduling, your trial date will be set by the court.

Statistically, only about 5% of all personal injury cases go to trial.  Although Cooper Sevillano’s percentage is slightly higher, the reality is that most cases do settle.  Whether or not your case will go to trial depends on a myriad of factors, including the strength of your case, your expected recovery, and the position of the defendant.  The primary benefit of settling short of trial is that it eliminates all risk.  Those of us who have followed jury trials know that they can be risky propositions and that it is impossible to know what a jury will do in any given case.  However, at Cooper Sevillano, we believe that if the defendant’s last pre-trial offer is not within proximity of the true value of the case, we can convince juries to do the right thing and provide appropriate compensation for our clients’ injuries.

Since every case is different, it is very difficult to predict ahead of time how much any personal injury case is worth.  It depends on the type of injury you sustained and the nature of the losses you have suffered.  It’s also dependent on the degree of the defendant’s culpability and how easy it will be to establish their fault in causing your injury.

 In evaluating a claim, we use our decades of experience to exhaust all avenues of recovery and formulate a range of what we believe would constitute a fair settlement in your case.  With a former insurance defense attorney on our team, we are better able to arrive at a fair but realistic value. 

It’s no secret that insurance companies know which attorneys and which law firms actually try cases in court and which do not.  At Cooper Sevillano, we are first and foremost skilled trial attorneys.  We prepare every case as if we are going to trial.  This gives us the most flexibility if our client should choose to continue to trial and gives us the upper hand in negotiations.  We are also sensitive to the fact that some our clients do not want to go to trial and would rather settle the matter outside of court.  By preparing every case, we are able to maximize the amount of the recovery we obtain for our clients.

Still have questions? Contact us to schedule a free consultation so we can discuss your case.

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With almost seven decades of experience, the team at Cooper Sevillano is ready to fight for you. Put our expertise to work and let us help you get the justice you deserve. 

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1087 Broad Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Phone: (203) 366-0660

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