Frequently Asked Questions
Why Should I Hire J. Michael Hosterman As My Attorney?
The Law Offices of J. Michael Hosterman is an office where the clients receive personal attention from the attorney. Our clients will not be handed off to associates, but will be cared for personally by Mr. Hosterman. Mr. Hosterman’s legal assistant, Cristy Schaeffer, will be available to answer questions you may have during the course of your case.
We are concerned for our clients’ well-being. This is an office where the attorney believes in what he does and will fight to get what his clients deserve. Mr. Hosterman knows the law and knows how to get a high net recovery for you. If you are looking for a law firm committed to quality legal representation and advocating for the rights of its clients, you should choose The Law Offices of J. Michael Hosterman.
What Should You Do If You Are In An Accident?
You should obtain as much information as you can at the scene of the accident. Here is a list of items you should obtain:
- The adverse driver’s name, date of birth, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, and insurance company name and phone number
- The vehicle’s make, year, model, license plate number, expiration date and vehicle identification number
- If the driver of the vehicle is not the owner, make sure to obtain the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and insurance company information of the legal and registered owners.
- Names, addresses and telephone numbers of any passengers in the vehicle
- The names, addresses, telephone numbers and license plate numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Ask them to stay at the scene to talk to the police.
Additionally, you should call the police and have them make a police report. Get the names and badge numbers of the law officers who came to the scene of the accident. Ask the officer where and when you can get a copy of the accident report.
Finally, you should make a diagram of the accident. Include all traffic conditions, weather, time of day, traffic lights and signs that are in the area.
How Does A Lawsuit Work?
A lawsuit begins by the plaintiff — the person who starts the lawsuit — asking for something, usually money. The plaintiff does this by filing a complaint in court. The defendant — the person whom the plaintiff is suing — may respond to the complaint in a number of ways. Usually, the defendant will file an answer that denies some or all of the plaintiff’s claims.
Once a lawsuit is filed and answered, discovery begins. This is the time period where the two sides learn about the evidence and claims of the accident. Discovery includes interrogatories, request for production, depositions and subpoenas:
- Interrogatories: During the course of discovery, each party sends a set of written questions — referred to as interrogatories — to the other side of the lawsuit. These questions usually pertain to every aspect of the lawsuit. Once the other side obtains the interrogatories, they are required to respond in writing and under oath.
- Request for production of documents: In addition to the interrogatories, a written request is made for all the documents or papers that relate to the lawsuit. This is referred to as the request for production of documents and may include medical bills, photographs of the property damage, etc.
- Depositions: Once the interrogatories are answered, a deposition may be taken. This is when one side of the lawsuit gets an oral testimony from the other party or witnesses. The deposition will normally take place in one of the attorney’s offices and is taken down by a court reporter. This procedure is similar to being in court, but without the judge being present.
- Subpoena: Subpoenas are demands for a person to appear at a particular place. Only people who are not part of the lawsuit can be subpoenaed, such as doctors, witnesses, accountants, etc. A person can be subpoenaed for a deposition, arbitration or trial.
Once discovery is completed, the case goes to trial, arbitration or mediation. This is when serious settlement discussions will occur, ultimately leading to a final agreement.
A lawsuit can take a lot of time and patience; however, with a good lawyer who understands the court system, the lawsuit will progress with ease.
How Do I Know If I Really Need A Personal Injury Attorney And If I Really Even Have A Case?
Not all claims require attorney assistance. In some cases, an attorney is not necessary. However, seeking advice from a competent attorney who can advise you on what your rights and responsibilities are is to your best interest. An experienced, knowledgeable attorney can recommend medical treatment, negotiate repairs on your vehicle, assist in getting you a replacement vehicle and negotiate the type of settlement you desire. An experienced attorney will take into account all of your damages, including pain and suffering and loss of wages, which will result in a higher recovery award.
Is There A Charge For The Initial Consultation With The Attorney?
No. The Law Offices of J. Michael Hosterman will provide a free consultation, at which time we will discuss the facts of your case and make a determination as to whether we can handle the case for you. If it is not a case that we can handle, we will advise alternative avenues that you may wish to pursue.
If I Do Have A Case, How Long Will It Take To Resolve The Issues?
Each case varies. Typically, cases are resolved within a year following the incident. There are many issues that come into play, such as if the insurance company does not make an adequate offer within the time period, or the length of time for you to recover from your injuries. There are times when cases fail to settle and will then go onto trial. The Law Offices of J. Michael Hosterman strives to resolve cases without litigation and will work hard to ensure that you do not settle for less than what we believe you are entitled to receive under the law.
What Is The Time Limit I Have In Filing A Case?
Keep in mind that the statute of limitations in California provides that injuries that occurred on January 1, 2003, or after have a two-year statute of limitations. This means that you will need to file a complaint in the appropriate court, within two years of the date of your accident against the responsible party or parties, in order to pursue recovery.
A government entity can include a city, county or the state of California. In addition, it can include the public school system, police department, fire department, hospital districts, etc.
In this situation, a claim must be filed with the public entity no later than six months from the date of injury. In most cases, a claim form can be obtained from the public entity, which will need to be completed and returned to the government entity within the six-month time period.
In some cases, the court may grant leave to file a late claim, although there is no guarantee and in no case can a claim be filed later than one year from the date of injury.
Your failure to file an appropriate claim or lawsuit on or before these time limits expire will result in a permanent loss of your right to proceed with a claim to recover money damages for your injuries.