Frequently Asked Questions


1. What do you charge to review a case?
2. What is a contingency fee.
3. What is the time limit (statute of limitations) to make a claim for injuries?
4. How much can I recover from a settlement or judgment?
5. Will my case go to trial?
6. Are there special rules for claims against doctors or hospitals?
7. Do you handle cases for children?
8. I have a question you haven’t answered.

9. Do you file individual lawsuits or class action lawsuits?

1. What do you charge to review a case?

An initial appointment to discuss the facts of a potential case is free.
Similarly, in medical negligence cases, we do not charge a fee to review medical records. In most cases, where it appears that the claim is meritorious, we will advance the costs necessary to investigate and prosecute the claim. If we undertake formal representation, any costs advanced are reimbursed to us at the case’s conclusion, assuming we are able to make a recovery on your behalf.
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2. What is a contingency fee?

A contingency fee depends upon the successful outcome of a claim. Most attorneys who specialize in personal injury claims use a contingency fee agreement because injured clients often can’t afford to pay an attorney for services rendered on an hourly basis. The ultimate damage recovery provides a fund from which attorney fees are paid. If we recover nothing for a client, we receive no fee. Contingency fees are open to negotiation between attorney and client; however, in certain types of cases (claims on behalf of children, or claims against health care providers or the Federal Government, etc.) maximum fee limits are established by statute. Contingency fee agreements must be signed by both the attorney and the client.
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3. What is the statute of limitations (time limit) to make a claim for injuries?

The answer varies. Different statutes of limitation govern different types of cases. In some cases, statutes of limitation for children run longer than those for adults. Special statutes of limitation that govern the filing of claims against public entities may be as short as six months from the date of injury. Where injury does not manifest itself for many years after an event or exposure (such as during a period of latency after exposure to asbestos) the statute of limitations may not run for many, many years. Because the running of the statute of limitations is dependent upon the facts of an individual case, if you believe that you have a claim where the statute of limitations may be running, we urge you to contact us as ASAP to arrange for a free consultation.
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4. How much can I recover from a settlement or judgment?

There’s no secret formula or standardized method for evaluating the likely settlement value or jury verdict potential in any given case. Case value is case-specific, dependent upon factors such as liability, nature and extent of injuries, nature and extent of permanent disability, economic losses (including lost wages and medical bills), disfigurement, embarrassment, and many other considerations. While we can provide ballpark figures based upon results in trials and settlements of similar cases, no precise method exists for predicting how much a certain injured person will recover in a particular case.
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5. Will my case go to trial?

The majority of claims handled by our office settle before trial. Most cases settle without court or jury trial. However, because we can’t predict whether or not a case will settle without trial, our attorneys prepare all cases in the same way, assuming that if a reasonable and fair settlement cannot be reached, we are prepared to take the matter to trial on behalf of our clients.
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6. Are there special rules for claims against doctors or hospitals?

In Texas, for one example, doctors and hospitals are protected by special rules which limit damages that can be awarded against them. Other state provisions require special notice to doctors and hospitals before suit, restrictions on attorneys’ fees, and special statute of limitations provisions. Repeated efforts to adjust the damage limits have failed because of the strength of lobbyists for healthcare interests. In the meantime, the profitability of medical malpractice insurance companies has soared. Meanwhile, we continue the fight for injured individuals.
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7. Do you handle cases for children?

Much of our work involves claims on behalf of clients under the age of 18. Special rules govern the prosecution of children’s cases. Any settlements or judgment are subject to court supervision, and all costs and expenditures must also be approved by a Superior Court judge. Special statutes of limitation govern the prosecution of children’s cases. Because the statutes of limitation are different whether the case is one for medical negligence, product liability, vehicular negligence, injuries occurring in the birth process, etc., it is important to contact a professional as soon as possible to determine when a child’s statute of limitations expires.
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8. I have a question that you have not answered.

Our attorneys are available to answer questions over the phone or via e-mail; but the best way to find out about a case is to arrange a free appointment. Please call us at 888-520-5202, contact us via fax at 713-535-7184, or email us.

9. Individual Lawsuits vs. Class Action Lawsuits:

The short answer is that Matthews & Associates files virtually all of our drug and medical device cases on an individual case basis. Each must stand on its own. Our goal is always to maximize each individual client’s recovery, and we almost always find that the best way to do that in drug and medical device cases is by filing each individual case on its own merits. We are happy to discuss your individual case and tell you exactly how we plan to proceed.

The long answer is that a class action lawsuit can sometimes offer advantages where a lawsuit might not otherwise get filed due to exorbitant costs and limited recoveries. A class action is typically filed on behalf of a large group of people in similar circumstances, people who are part of a “class” of harmed individuals. The entire class is then represented by a law firm (or firms), with the case for the entire class generally decided upon a single member of the class who is typically referred to as the “class representative.”

Aggregating a large number of people into a “class,” into one representational lawsuit, can offer certain advantages. Aggregating can increase the efficiency of the legal process, lower litigation costs, and sometimes offer one solution to a common problem which otherwise might not get addressed for fear that the possible recoveries would be so slight that a given firm’s attorney(s) won’t be willing to risk investing in the lone case. The hot fuel litigation is one such example, wherein without a class action, the problem of consumers overpaying for BTU’s would likely have never been addressed. Other examples are employment class actions – FLSA claims – against big box giants like Wal-Mart and others. Such claims would not likely be tackled by any attorney on an individual case basis, without the involvement of a “class” element. Potential recoveries which are too small don’t offer enough incentive for one individual attorney or law firm to tackle an individual lawsuit. This same reasoning, by the way, is why so few attorneys are willing to tackle medical malpractice cases in those areas of the country where so-called “tort reform” has virtually barred injured people from seeking redress in the courthouse. The potential recoveries have been “capped” by corporate-sponsored legislatures, made so slight as to preclude the large investments attorneys must make to bring a corporation to trial. In many cases, so-called “tort reform” has rendered caps which, even if attorneys could be assured of a win – which of course is never the case – the amount that could be won would not even cover the expenses needed to put the case together. Corporations and their attorneys have fooled many millions of people into believing that tort reform was rammed through various legislatures to save people from voracious attorneys filing “frivolous” lawsuits; the truth is that tort reform (and its damage caps) has virtually banned many thousands of injured people from ever having their day in court.

The problem with a class action lawsuit is that it can be detrimental to many class members who are, by the general rules of class action lawsuits, often corralled into a low settlement and higher attorney fees.

Please email us with any question you may have regarding your individual lawsuit.

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