During the last 27 years handling catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, it’s become clear that our role is to not only to give expert advice on legal issues and litigation strategy to clients; but rather, to have a relationship with the goal of improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of everyone in the trajectory of the loss.
One can only imagine the fear a stay at home mother may have when the main breadwinner in the family is injured and unable to work and support their children and home. The mortgage has to be paid, or there will be a foreclosure on the family home. Car payments have to be made, or a wrecker will pull up one day and take the family vehicle. Food has to be put on the table from some monetary source, or some people without a large support system, may go hungry. An ordinary, relatively “in control life” that has been forged from discipline and hard work over many years, suddenly changes into a world that is seemingly out of control. The view out of the “life windshield” changes without notice, but the injured person and their family members have to somehow adjust and work through it.
While our law firm cannot make things perfect, we use all the tools at hand to bring as much normalcy, control, and stability to these difficult situations as possible. More control and stability typically means less stress and worry, so that’s what we try to achieve.
First and foremost is making sure our clients get the medical care they need. In small injury cases, the medicals are simple. The person will take EMS to the hospital; and physicians rule out fractures or other more serious complications from the trauma, then send the person home to consult their own physicians as needed. In these instances, a person may lose a day or a week from work, but the family home is not threatened, college educations remain funded, there is no “crash and burn” scenario.
The more significant injury cases such as trucking accidents, involve serious medical conditions that sometimes involve weeks or more in the hospital. The person has physical restrictions that keep them from working. Often, it’s very apparent that due to the seriousness of the injury and anticipated permanent restrictions, that the injured person will never be able to do the work he or she has been doing their whole lives. The 9th grade educated plumber who suffers the loss of a limb, is suddenly disabled. Perhaps they have not been able to save much money, a paycheck or two away from homelessness.
The helpless injured person worries about their spouse and children. There is a sense of fear, and even guilt over the fact that this once productive person, whose identity and self-worth is tied to producing for the family, is now dependent, in need of help. It can invoke extreme anxiety, and depression in not only the injured party, but also his or her family members, as they feel helpless as well.
With injury and wrongful death cases, there is one settlement that comes after the extent of the losses are determined. This can sometimes take months and years to determine; but in the meantime, people have to survive and live.
We do everything we can to place ourselves into the shoes of the party and their family and to truly empathize with their suffering. People are more than a commodity to us. When a person and his family hires our law firm, they become a member of our family. We are agreeing to walk through the fire with them, from beginning to end, and to protect them with every resource we can muster.
There are situations where injured parties have no health insurance and no money. They may have an outstanding claim and plenty of liability coverage by the party who caused in injuries, but in the meantime, the person has to be healed with medical care. We work with medical funding companies, such as HMR funding to ensure a person will get the treatment they need. In the medical funding model, the funding company pays the health care provider an agreed upon amount within 15 to 30 days of the services being rendered. Once the person reaches maximum medical improvement, we can then negotiate the case with the insurance company, or proceed into litigation if we don’t settle. But the important thing is the person receives medical care. This is the first step to gaining control back.
Client Funding Advances
In catastrophic injury cases, where there is sufficient insurance coverage, it is possible for our law firm to contact a funding company to assist a family with funds, pending settlement. We seek out the best rates; and only do this when necessary, to keep a home, the lights on, and food on the table. These basics are threatened when people don’t have financial safety nets, which in this society, is not unusual.
Our Law Firm Funds the Case: Expert Witness fees and litigation Expenses
In serious cases, experts are needed to prove our client’s case; and they are expensive. If we anticipate a question of liability in a serious case, we will often hire an accident reconstruction expert, who will go the scene with all of the latest computer mapping technology (they even use drones for mapping). The accident reconstruction expert will take all available data from testimony and the physical evidence, and arrive an opinion on how the collision occurred. In most instances, we will have the reconstruction expert build a computer animation of the event to give a visual on his opinions. Over the course of a case, we may pay this person over $10,000.00, depending on the level of work involved.
When a person will have future medical expenses, we often hire a life care planning expert, who meets with doctors and develops a future care plan with anticipated future expenses, based on anticipated frequency of diagnostic evaluations and treatment that is reasonably foreseeable. Because the report of the life care planner involves reasonably foreseeable future medical expenses, we have to know how much money in a lump sum will be necessary in a one time payment, to fund the future medical care, so we often hire an economist expert.
The economic experts looks at the medical life care plan, but also considers other future economic losses such as lost future wages and benefits. The economist then arrives at a present value loss figure to fund the future economic losses. Again, like other experts, the economist gets paid right away by the law firm. We fund it.
Defense experts are often named in litigation. They are hired by the defense to counter our expert’s theories. We have to take their depositions, and are required to pay their hourly fees for the depositions; once again, a firm expenditure.
A small wreck case can cost very little to carry from beginning to end, under $2,000.00 in litigation expenses; but the more complex, serious cases involving catastrophic injury and wrongful death, will typically always involve substantial expense and time involvement. Some cases involve up front expenses in excess of $50,000.00 over the course of litigation. Without it, the insurance company wins. We want justice; and it costs money to get there.
We are Grateful to Be in the Arena with You and Your Family
Gratitude is what drives the attorneys and staff at McKnight Law Firm. We are so thankful to be in the arena, in the position of helping people; not protecting the assets of insurance companies and large corporate entities. We cannot imagine being in that role.
It is our calling to help others. Let us know if we can help you or your family, with matters involving automobile and truck collisions, work injuries, injuries from dangerous products, or from medical malpractice. If it something that is outside our area of focus, we will partner with another law firm, to ensure that you and your family are protected, and have the peace of mind you deserve.