A Law Firm Representing the Rights of Employees and the Victims of Wrongful Injury

Frequently Asked Questions

Please keep in mind that the information in our Frequently Asked Questions section is not intended to serve as specific legal advice. Because every person's situation is different, if you think you may have a case, you should consult an attorney. There are time limits after which claims cannot be filed, so you should always seek legal advice promptly.

General Questions

How do I know if I can afford a lawyer to represent me?

Do not be hesitant to ask the attorney up front how he or she will charge for the work and what costs will be assessed to you. In cases involving injuries, many attorneys will not charge for a consultation to discuss your case. However, there is no reason not to ask about potential fees when you call to setup an appointment.

There are three main ways that lawyers charge:

Hourly rate: Many attorneys charge by the hour. Hourly rates vary greatly depending on the specialty, the attorney's experience and other factors. The attorney may ask for a retainer to cover the initial work. This retainer will be deposited in the attorney's trust fund and withdrawn by the attorney as it is earned. You should expect periodic statements of the hours worked and amount charged. If the work is completed before the retainer is used up, you may have the right to a refund of the unearned amount.

Fixed fees: In some cases, attorneys charge a specific amount for the work to be done. There are problems with this approach as the ethical rules for attorneys require fees to be reasonable. Another potential problem arises when a client discharges the attorney before the work is completed as, for example, where the parties in a divorce get back together before the divorce is final. In this case, is the client entitled to a refund? In some cases, the answer may be yes. Click here for more information about refunds in such cases.

Contingent fees: In most cases involving serious injuries from unsafe products, automobile accidents, dangerous workplaces, medical malpractice and similar negligence or wrongdoing, many attorneys are willing to take the case on a contingent fee. Some attorneys also take certain employment and civil rights cases on a contingent fee. In a contingent fee case the attorneys charge nothing for their work unless they win the case. In many of these cases, the attorney also pays all costs. If you win the case, the attorney takes any costs they have paid up front, along with their fee from the settlement or verdict. The percentage may vary depending on the difficulty and nature of the case, but it is typically 33 1/3 - 40%. Some cases are more expensive and time consuming and, in addition, involve a greater risk of losing. In such cases, the contingent fee is likely to be at the higher end. On the other hand, some attorneys charge a lower percentage if the case can be settled without a lawsuit.

Will I get a written agreement?

The fee agreement should always be in writing. Sometimes, this may be a letter explaining the fees and costs. In contingent fee cases, there should be a more detailed written agreement. Don't be afraid to ask your attorney to explain the fee agreement and, if the attorney doesn't give you something in writing, ask him or her to do so.

What is my case worth?

Experienced and competent attorneys will not tell you what your case is worth without a complete evaluation. Even after recieving the facts, interviewing witnesses and researching the law, an attorney's opinion of the value of your case can change as the case progresses. New information, changes in witness testimony, rulings by the court and other matters can increase or decrease the value of your case. Be aware that it is unusual for an attorney to be able to predict the actual value of your case when you first call or during your first meeting.

Will you take my case?

We can't answer that question until after we have met with you and evaluated your case. To evaluate your case, we will review documents, talk to witnesses and, in some cases, research some of the relevant legal issues, before we make a decision. Sometimes, we need to have experts review your case before we can make a decision, because in some cases expert witnesses are required.

Even if we do not take your case that does not mean that we concluded that you don't have a case at all. Every law firm has different policies on what cases they take. We may take cases that other lawyers reject and, likewise, another lawyer might take a case that we turn down.

Serious Personal Injury

Who can file a personal injury case?

Anyone who has suffered a serious personal injury due to the carelessness of another can file a personal injury claim. In some cases, the injured person's spouse can also file a case.

What compensation will I get from a personal injury claim?

It is possible to receive past and/or future medical bills, lost income and other damages resulting from personal injury, including compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the injury.

What do typical personal injury cases involve?

Personal injury cases typically involve, but are not limited to, automobile accidents, medical malpractice or dangerous products.

How long do I have to file a personal injury case?

West Virginia requires that a claim must be made within two years of the incident. There are some exceptions to the rule, so always check with an attorney if you think you may have a case.

Wrongful Death

What is wrongful death?

Wrongful death is when a person has died as a result of the carelessness of another person.

Who can file a wrongful death case?

In West Virginia, the executor or administrator of the estate of a person who has died as a result of the carelessness of another can file a claim for wrongful death.

Wrongful Termination

What do typical wrongful termination cases involve?

Wrongful termination occurs where an employer fires an employee for an illegal reason. In West Virginia, illegal reasons include religion, race, national origin, gender, age (over 40), blindness, disability, or pregnancy. It is also illegal to terminate an employee in retaliation for the exercise of his or her rights under state or federal laws, or for any other reason against the public policy of West Virginia.

What are examples of illegal retaliatory discharges?

An illegal retaliator discharge occurs where an employer fires an employee in retaliation for any of the following actions:

  •         - Filing a workers compensation claim
  •         - Complaining about unsafe work conditions, sexual harassment at work or the failure to pay wages when due
  •         - Exercising any other right under the laws or public policy of West Virginia

Can I file a wrongful termination suit if I work for the government?

Federal employees and, in West Virginia, many state employees and teachers have grievance rights under federal and state grievance procedures. In addition, federal and state employees have the same rights as private employees where they were fired for discriminatory reasons. Finally, in West Virginia, state, county and local employees are also protected against retaliatory discharges in violation of the laws and public policy of the State.

Sexual Harassment

What do typical sexual harassment cases involve?

There are two main types of sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves conditioning employment, promotion, or other terms or conditions of employment on the receipt of sexual favors. Hostile environment sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Employment Discrimination

Who can file a claim for employment discrimination?

Anyone that has been discriminated against by an employee based on race, national origin, gender, age (above 40), blindness, disability, or pregnancy can file a claim for employment discrimination.

What do typical employment discrimination cases involve?

The most common cases of discrimination involve gender, race, disability, religion, and pregnancy. Sexual harassment is also a common form of employee discrimination.

How long do I have to file a discrimination, retaliation, or sexual harassment case?

In general, under West Virginia law, wrongful discharge cases of all types and sexual harassment cases must be filed within two years from the discharge or from the sexual harassment. Cases filed under federal law have a different set of timetables and procedures. If you think you may have a case, you should contact an attorney promptly to ensure that you are within the proper timetable.

Civil Rights

What are common civil rights violations?

Common civil rights violations include, but are not limited to, denial of Freedom of Speech rights by the state or federal government, denial of Due Process rights, violations of civil rights by police officers or other government officials.