I saw an interesting tweet from Elon Musk the other day,

It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 who died in the US auto accidents alone get almost no coverage.

On the one hand, I understand his point. An accident involving a broken ankle isn’t too much to get excited about. On the other hand, the advent of the self-driving vehicle technology is still relatively new and people are still examining the safety and other issues associated with the new technology. As mentioned in the Washington Post article, another Tesla accident in March is still under investigation where the driver was killed so it is an issue that Musk can’t expect to go away soon. And even in this most recent accident the Tesla apparently did not brake prior to impact.

Undoubtedly there are a number of benefits to the self-driving cars and trucks. Clearly, the auto industry is headed in that direction. But right now, it appears as though a great number of people believe the lack of human intuition to detect, analyze and adapt to situations is a detriment to its implementation.  Musk would obviously disagree, as his tweet implies, that human intuition failed in the circumstances resulting in the death of more than 40,000 people annually so are those concerns valid?

There may be arguments on both sides regarding the benefits of the new technology but there is little argument that personal injury / car accident cases will definitely change in the future. To examine fault, a lawyer will still need to consider the fault of the car / truck owner, the actual driver in auto pilot cases, or perhaps the developer of faulty software or sensors. There are many unknowns at this point so determining negligence in these cases is sure to evolve over time and it makes speculation a little difficult. But what is certain, lawyers will need to grasp these technologies in order to handle these cases effectively.

The Brick Gentry Law Firm of West Des Moines, Iowa recently added its trial team blog to feature information on several practice areas including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Personal Injury;
  • Employment Discrimination and Harassment;
  • IP Litigation;
  • Business Litigation;
  • Class Actions.

This trial team blog is edited by Brick Gentry shareholder Rush Nigut. In 2006, Rush started his individual award-winning legal blog, Rush on Business, and has maintained it since that time. Rush has been quoted or referenced by hundreds of other legal and business blogs and Web sites including the blog networks for the Wall St. Journal, Forbes Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine.  Rush has extensive litigation experience in a variety of practice areas and serves as the point person from this blog to direct you in finding the right attorney on our Brick Gentry trial team to handle your case. We have several lawyers working on our trial team who all have their own individual specialties and so we try to align your case with the best lawyer at the firm to fit your needs.

We developed this new trial team blog to feature the Brick Gentry trial and litigation work. We have several attorneys working on our trial team and we are unique in Iowa because we have over 30 lawyers in our law office, yet we handle a substantial amount of plaintiff’s work rather than representing predominantly insurance companies like many firms of our size.

Our strong sense of purpose with this blog is to educate and provide information to people in a way that helps them identify legal issues and make more informed choices about what legal services they need.  The collaborative process of a law blog can allow this to happen.

Most Iowa personal injury lawyers work off contingency fee contract rather than hourly fees in a personal injury case. That is, the lawyer receives payment from the settlement or verdict proceeds, if any, based on a percentage. Usually if there is no recovery the lawyer does not get paid for attorneys’ fees.

The typical Iowa personal injury contingency fee is 1/3 of the total recovery but sometimes is increased to 40 or even 50 percent based upon the complexity of the case or whether the case is appealed to a higher court. Be sure to speak with your prospective lawyer regarding the fee so that you understand how the attorney’s fee is calculated.

Another aspect are the costs and expenses of the case. It is important for you to know that you are generally responsible for costs and expenses as the client. This may include, but is not limited to the filing fees, expenses of gathering medical records, retaining experts, taking depositions and other expenses.

So take the time to discuss these issues and also to understand the time frame of your specific case. Ask the lawyer how long he or she thinks it will take to build your case and send out a demand to the insurance company and/or file your case with the court. Find out if the lawyer is just interested in a quick settlement or whether he or she will take the time, effort and resources to litigate your case.

Generally when you are injured at work the best the injured client could hope for is a good workers’ compensation claim. But I recently saw an interesting blog post from the Illinois Workers Compensation Blog that described how a worker actually received over $15 million in a personal injury suit against multiple companies involved.

After an investigation it was determined that the companies has several safety violations and the worker successfully pursued the case against all of them. As pointed out in the article by Michael Helfand, this situation is unique. But it does point out the importance of speaking with an experienced injury lawyer who can weigh all the circumstances of your case and determine potential liability issues with all involved.

Most clients want to know how much their personal injury case is worth. When I first started practicing law, you would often hear lawyers and insurance adjusters say claims were worth three times the amount of medical bills. The reality though is the value depends entirely on the facts and circumstances of your individual case.

The type and extent of your injuries has a enormous impact on the value. It goes without saying that the more serious your injuries, the more value your case will have. But other things to consider include:

  1. Do you have permanent injuries that may not fully resolve? If so, this increases the value of your case.
  2. Do you have scarring or disfigurement? These types of case often have an increased value in relation to the medical bills.
  3. Liability is a significant factor. If there is doubtful liability it may significantly decrease the value of your claim, even sometimes when the injuries are quite severe. But on the other side, the value of the claim may be increased if the responsible party’s conduct is particularly egregious.

Often it is not immediately known how much your case is worth. You may need to take some time to determine the extent of your injuries and whether there will be long lasting impact. It is important though to speak with experienced attorneys who can help you sort through these issues.

Here’s a secret, this is not the first article to discuss how to find the right personal injury lawyer for you. In fact, you could find article after article on this topic all over the Internet. And time and time again you will usually see some variation of these three things:

  1. Select an experienced personal injury lawyer;
  2. Choose someone who has extensive trial experience;
  3. Find one that has a history of high verdicts and settlements.

All three of those things are important and we don’t want to minimize those points. But our trial team will tell you that you need more than that. One of the biggest issues to consider (assuming the lawyer has the requisite competence) is whether you feel comfortable with the lawyer. Litigation can be very stressful. Do you trust the lawyer?  Did you get your call returned right away?  Is the attorney easy to talk with?  Does the lawyer care about you and your claim?  Does the relationship feel right?  There are many competent and experienced personal injury attorneys in Iowa so make sure to trust your instincts.