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What exactly is a personal injury?


In legal terms, a “personal injury” is any significant physical, emotional, or mental injury that is brought about by someone else’s negligent or deliberately harmful actions. People who suffer such injuries may be entitled to compensation from the responsible party under the law. In cases in which the personal injury is fatal, a wrongful death claim may be filed by the family of the victim. Personal injury and wrongful death claims are filed independently of any criminal charges that might be brought against the party responsible for the injury.


What factors do you consider in determining losses incurred as a result of an injury?


Each case is unique, but typically there are several aspects of the injured party’s circumstance and situation that are considered when assessing monetary damages. Personal injury victims are entitled to recover monetary damages for all losses and expenses they incur as a result of an accident. Broadly defined, “damages” refers to the money awarded to a victim of personal injury. There are several different types of damages, including:


• Compensatory or “Actual”: These cover measurable economic losses as a result of injury, such as medical bills and property damage.

• General: These cover losses that cannot be objectively measured in terms of monetary value, such as loss of love and pain and suffering.

• Punitive: These are intended to punish the party responsible for the injury if found to have acted willfully or maliciously.

• Special: These are intended to compensate the out-of-pocket expenses of the injured party as a result of the injury.


How soon following my injury should I contact an attorney?


The right to seek damages following a personal injury is governed by a time limit known as a statute of limitations. If the personal injury victim fails to take legal action against the negligent party during this time limit, he or she forfeits the right to seek damages in the future. The statute of limitations depends on the type of accident and injury, and varies from state to state. This is why it is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible following an injury accident. Even if you decide not to pursue legal action, an attorney can help you to understand your rights and how best to preserve them.


If I file a personal injury claim, will I have to appear in court?


Not all personal injury litigation results in a jury trial. In fact, many cases are settled out of court before a trial even has the chance to commence. However, it is best to entrust your case to a law firm that has experience and success in taking cases to trial. Olson Law Office, P.C. has this experience and success, and we are always willing and ready to pursue a case to verdict if in the best interests of our clients.


What is a settlement?


A settlement is an agreement on damages reached between the injured party and the party responsible for the injury outside of court. While most attorneys will work toward fair and just settlements on behalf of their clients, be wary of any law firm that focuses solely on reaching a settlement. At Olson Law Office, P.C., we will never encourage you to accept a settlement simply to avoid a trial. Led by Alan O. Olson, who has successfully tried many cases to verdict in his career, our trial attorneys are always prepared to pursue justice in court whenever necessary. We know the American jury system and trust in the ability of jurors to make correct decisions, no matter how difficult they may be.


What is “deposition?”


“Deposition” is the legal term for testimony, given under oath, by witnesses to an accident or crime. This testimony is given in response to questions presented by the attorneys representing the parties involved in an action and is collected and recorded by an officer of the court. If a case proceeds to trial, depositions may be entered into evidence for any number of reasons, including the impeachment of testimony presented during the trial.


If I am partly at fault for the accident that resulted in my injury, can I still recover damages?


In the state of Iowa, it is possible to recover damages even if it is determined that the injured victim is partially at fault under the doctrine of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence means that total damages will be reduced by the amount that the injured party is found to have been at fault. Therefore, if a court determines that the injury victim was 35 percent at-fault for the accident, the damages awarded would be 35 percent less than the total losses incurred.


What is “mediation?”


When two parties, particularly those involved in business dealings, cannot arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution to a disagreement, a third party is often brought in to mediate. The process of mediation can help these parties come to a fair and just agreement without the need to proceed with litigation. Olson Law Office, P.C. has both the resources and the experience to handle mediation between two business entities.


What is a “contingency fee?”


Most personal injury cases are handled on a “contingency” basis; that is, attorneys’ fees are not charged unless damages are recovered. At Olson Law Office, P.C., we handle personal injury cases on this basis – you will pay no attorneys’ fees unless you are compensated for your losses. Other fees may apply to your case. These will be discussed in detail at your consultation with one of our qualified trial attorneys.


What does it mean that you handle cases in states other than Iowa “pro hac vice?"


Pro hac vice is a Latin term meaning, "only this once." In legal terms, pro hac vice refers to a special allowance made by a court that permits an out-of-state attorney to participate in a trial.


Neither the information provided in our helpful journals or the list of frequently asked questions should be construed as legal advice or as the foundation of an attorney-client relationship.





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