Frequently Asked Questions
Every case is unique, and at Hoffer & Sheremet we treat each case and client as an individual – not like a herd of cattle. Still, there are some questions we are asked by almost everyone who calls.
Here they are:
Do I have a good case?
We do our best to analyze whether or not you have a good case before we even agree to pursue your medical malpractice or legal malpractice case. That includes reviewing any relevant documents, like medical records and contracts. If we don’t think you have a good case, we will tell you. As hard as we try to predict whether you will win or whether the defendant will settle, anything can happen during litigation. Sometimes cases get stronger, allowing us not to compromise our settlement position, and sometimes they get weaker. We continually assess the strength of your case throughout the litigation and keep you fully informed.
How long do I have to sue?
There are time limits on when lawsuits can be filed. The time limit depends on the specific cause of action. If you think you have a case, do not delay in contacting us. We have set forth some of the more common deadlines in our article “Don’t Sleep on Your Rights: Statutes of Limitation and Repose.”
What is my case worth?
In valuing cases, we look at your damages, the strength of the case, the collectibility of the defendant, and the costs of litigation.
“Damages“ are losses suffered because of your injuries. They can be “economic” or “non-economic”. Economic damages are money damages that can be calculated. These include lost wages, medical expenses, out of pocket costs, and replacement services, among others. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering. In some states, including Michigan, non-economic damages are capped for certain causes of action, including medical malpractice.
The strength of the case includes how clear liability is, the credibility of witnesses, and whether causation will be difficult to prove. The stronger your case, the more it is worth.
Most professional defendants are insured. Some aren’t. Individual defendants may or may not be insured. It is very difficult to collect on a judgment from an individual without insurance. If the defendant is “judgment proof”, your case is worth less.
In Michigan, clients must pay the costs associated with litigation. A case is not worth the same amount of the damages when costs are considered. Sometimes, it is more expensive to litigate a case than the maximum potential recovery would be. Those cases do not have a high value.
We consider all of these factors in determining the value of the case. Of course, our valuation is just our best estimate. The defendant could value the case very differently. And if the case proceeds to a jury, no one can predict what they would award.
How long will it take?
Sometimes cases can be resolved with a phone call. Other times, it takes ten years to resolve a case. If liability is clear and the plaintiff seeks a reasonable amount in damages, many cases will resolve without needing to file a lawsuit. If the facts and law are not clear, or the plaintiff has credibility issues, the defendant is less likely to settle.
Some types of cases, like medical malpractice cases, have a waiting period before you can file your lawsuit. This adds time to the process. If there are any appeals of trial court orders, years can be added to the litigation.
Meanwhile, you might have medical bills to pay, rent or mortgage payments due, medications that you need, or other expenses and not have the money to pay for it. Because of this, even though we love going to trial, we work hard to settle your claim as quickly as possible for a fair amount.
How much do you charge?
Like virtually all plaintiff personal injury attorneys, we take cases on a contingent fee basis. That means that we do not charge you an hourly fee, and you do not need to pay us every month. Instead, we are paid when – and only if – we settle or win your case. If you don’t recover, we don’t recover. The industry standard provides for the attorney to collect 1/3 of the net recovery.
We generally take appeals on an hourly basis. Legal malpractice cases and commercial litigation we take either on a contingent or hourly basis, depending on the case. We know hourly attorney fees are expensive. We do everything we can to provide efficient services. We also only charge for what we believe is fair. We do not charge you for any overhead expenses, including typical copying or printing fees, legal research program overhead, or secretarial tasks. We also believe that everyone is entitled to top notch legal representation, so we work with our clients to establish payment plans that work for them.
What other sources of information do you recommend?
Here are some links to websites with general information about the law, Michigan’s justice system, important procedural rules, and other helpful information: