Frequently Asked Questions


Personal Injuries


How long can I wait before I file a lawsuit?

That depends.  Some actions require prompt initiation of a lawsuit, while other matters can be given more time. Statutes of limitation exist in both the federal and state law system.  If you file a lawsuit beyond the applicable statute of limitation, the defendant can demur (that is, file a pleading that basically says, "So what? The plaintiff waited too long and now recovery is barred by law").  In addition to the defense of the applicable statute of limitation, a defendant may raise the "equitable argument of laches" (the plaintiff has been "sleeping" on his/her rights for so long that recovery should be barred).

There is generally a longer period of time for controversies relating to real property than there is for personal injury. Complaints regarding a written contract usually can be filed later than a complaint based upon an oral contract. Determining when the statute of limitation begins can be complex.  Some limitations are based upon when a plaintiff should have known there was a problem.  There are also rules regarding the tolling (suspension) of the statute of limitation (for example, the statute in most cases does not run while the defendant is out of state, is a minor, or is insane).

Just because there is a long period of time before a lawsuit must be filed does not mean that the period must be almost expired before filing.  While other methods of dispute resolution can be used before filing, it is important not to allow a statute of limitation to expire, and thereby defeat any potential change for recovery.  You'll need legal advice to determine the date of the applicable statute of limitation well in advance.


What if I've been injured in an automobile collision – What should I do?

 When the driver or passengers in a motor vehicle are involved in a collision and receive injuries, it is important that certain actions are taken.  The name and address of the operator of each vehicle should be obtained.  Additionally, the name and address of the owner of each vehicle involved should be obtained and the license plate numbers of all vehicles should be recorded.  Lastly, the name of the automobile insurance company for the driver each vehicle should be obtained.  If possible, obtain the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the collision.  The police should be called to investigate the collision.  The police officer will write a report, which includes the details of the collision and the nature and extent of any damages and injuries.

Insurance companies will require that a report of the accident be obtained before providing any benefits.  It is most important to immediately contact your own motor vehicle insurance company in order to report to them any property damage or personal injury.  If you or a family member is injured in a motor vehicle accident, prompt medical attention should be obtained.  If you are injured as a result of someone else's negligence, you should not talk to any representative of the negligent driver or owner's insurance company until you have sought the advice of your own attorney.

A spouse or immediate family member (usually children) may recover for the loss of love, companionship, comfort, affection, society, solace, moral support, protection and advice of the decedent. 

Monetary (financial) injury is another way damages in a wrongful death action are awarded.  Courts have interpreted "monetary injuries" as including the loss of support, services, lost prospect of inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses.  Damages also typically include interest from the date of the decedent's death.  Punitive damages may also be awarded in cases of serious or malicious wrong-doing to punish the wrong-doer, and/or deter others from behaving similarly.




 How can it be determined whether a dog owner or handler's actions were negligent?

Negligence is usually defined as an unreasonable action, or unreasonable omission to take action or give a warning.  An example of an unreasonable action would be a dog owner letting go of his dog's leash when another dog approaches.  An unreasonable omission might be the failure to keep a dog away from guests, where the dog is known to play too roughly and knock people down.  There are laws against allowing a dog to be away from the owner's property without a leash.  The negligent act or omission must be the proximate cause of the injuries or damages.  This means the harmful result must be closely related to the negligent act or omission.