Can I Try A Personal Injury Case Myself In Small Claims Court?

The law can be tricky. That’s why law school takes years and years to complete — and why some would-be lawyers need more than one shot to pass the Bar exam. Because the law can never be simplified, it’s unlikely you should try a personal injury case on your own. There are exceptions, such as when the amount owed really is very small. Here is when you can and cannot try your own case.

Whether you find yourself sitting in the plaintiff’s chair or the defendant’s, the law is sort of a “pay to play” life experience. If you want the best outcome, you need a lawyer. For example, a prosecutor will never make a plea deal with a defendant who represents himself. Prosecutors like to deal with people who know what they’re doing, which means a defendant who gives up his right to counsel is in big trouble.

The same is true for a plaintiff who fails to hire a lawyer. Most individuals or companies won’t give a sole plaintiff any respect — which makes it difficult to bargain a settlement. People feel less comfortable disrespecting a lawyer because they feel more intimidated by someone they know can do real damage. That’s why you’ll want one.

You should never handle your own case when medical malpractice, premises liability, or defective products are involved. The same is true when injuries sustained are severe.

That said, claims processes can be fairly simple in small claims court. You might be able to handle a case where only a few letters or phone calls to an insurance adjuster are required. One thing is for sure: in order to sue someone else for personal injury, your organizational skills need to be impeccable. You need to keep every related scrap of paper. You need to be able to articulate exactly what happened without faltering. And you need to be able to throw around legal terms you’ve never heard before.

Can you do that?

What Is A Personal Injury Cap For Non-Economic Damages?

Those visiting our site will recognize how strongly we believe in a person’s right to fair compensation. This is even more true when a person’s injury was caused by a massive organization’s gross negligence. Sadly, sometimes state, local, and federal governments limit the amount that a person can receive in non-economic damages. This is known as capping. There are arguments on both sides. 

The first thing you need to know is that there are three basic types of damages. One type is economic. Those are your medical bills, wages lost, and everything else easy to calculate. The second type is non-economic. Those are different because they can’t be calculated the same way. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and these are what governments like to limit. The third type is punitive. These damages are punishments imposed by a judge because the level of negligence called for them.

Those who support non-economic damage caps believe that the caps help keep premiums and rate hikes low. Many judges have allowed plaintiffs verdicts in excess of these caps based on the argument that they do not, indeed, reduce premiums — and because they certainly are not fair to the injured party.

Judge Jose M. Rodriguez recently ruled that a Florida law limiting non-economic damages was unconstitutional for this reason and harmed thousands of victims of medical malpractice. He said that the very concept of non-economic damages was outdated and violates “equal protection under the Constitution.”

Part of the reason he gave is inflation. The law limited caps to $350,000 which would be $750,000 when he made the ruling in 2018. This had been the plaintiff’s argument and the judge agreed.

There are other “caps” that have nothing to do with damages. For example, we’ve all heard the phrase “statute of limitations.” These legal codes essentially place a cap on the amount of time a person has to make a particular case. Many states limit personal injury cases to two to five years.

Will A Personal Injury Settlement Affect My Social Security Disability Benefits?

When a United States citizen becomes disabled, he or she might become a recipient of social security disability benefits (SSDI). These are only applicable when the potential recipient has worked long enough to receive those benefits — they usually aren’t available to just anyone. For example, an undocumented worker wouldn’t be able to apply and receive SSDI (we hear a collective sigh of relief from our more conservative readers).

That said, anyone in “need” can apply for and receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) without paying into the pool.

We receive a number of inquiries from SSDI recipients who have been injured by another party wondering if a personal injury lawsuit and settlement would affect their benefits. We receive a number of inquiries from people who are still waiting on SSDI after turning in an application. In these latter cases, the people seeking compensation via civil litigation usually only applied for SSDI because of the injury that led to said litigation.

In either case, SSDI benefits will not be impacted by any damages repaid through civil litigation. Anything you win through a settlement or in a courtroom verdict is generally yours to keep, minus the portion your lawyer sucks away. The same is true if you’re a Medicare recipient. SSDI also remains unaffected by other insurance benefits, excluding workers comp.

However, if you’re an SSI recipient, a personal injury settlement would likely mean your eligibility status would be revoked — so it’s important for you to know the difference before mounting a big lawsuit.

A social security law firm can help facilitate collaboration between different law practices when necessary. This is especially necessary when you seek SSDI at the same time as another lawyer is helping you build a personal injury case against a negligent party. And if you’re not 100 percent sure whether you’re on SSI or SSDI, then you should speak to your social security law attorney about the difference — because your personal injury attorney would benefit from a civil settlement, and there’s no reason to suggest a potential conflict of interest when you don’t have to.

There are ways of “protecting” SSI benefits if you still wish to mount a personal injury case. One way to do this is to create a special needs trust (SNT) for any personal injury settlement damages. If you win the case, into the SNT they go. You would still be able to access the funds, just in a different way. Again, the best way to consider this course of action is to speak with your attorney first.

Unfortunately, if you still work but collect SSDI and are injured (again) at work, then your workers comp might be impacted by the SSDI you already collect. There are exclusions based on certain expenses — including legal fees — that you can use to offset the difference. Speak to your attorney!

What To Do When A Bank Saddles You With More Debt Than You Can Pay

It’s an understatement to say that big banks give big loans to people who will never be able to repay the debt. These predatory loans have left many people financially ruined. Suffice it to say, it’s a two-way street where blame is concerned. Anyone who wants a loan should seek financial counseling first. And banks should be more responsible before approving someone for a loan. Here’s what you can do when a bank saddles you with more debt than you could ever repay.

You know that old piece of advice where you find that daily vice, and slice it away? It might be a shake from McDonald’s, a coffee from Starbucks, or something as simple as a candy bar from the grocery store. Well, it’s good advice. Those pennies and dollars really add up. If you’re an impulsive shopper, never go to the store on an empty stomach. Find a way to limit online spending. And be sure to pay off your credit cards as soon as you make a purchase (although for the purpose of this article we’ll assume your credit cards are nearly maxed).

The point is this: a few lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Think about sustainability. Live out in the country, or anywhere else where you can own animals? Consider purchasing a couple hens. They take care of your egg needs and all they require for sustenance are the scraps from your table. Use coupons and cash-saving apps. Start eating healthier. Drink tap water instead of bottled. Don’t go out to eat. Use the library or websites to watch movies and shows (i.e. “cut the cable”). Unless you’re living out of a vehicle, you don’t need a gym membership.

Start using cash to pay for purchases. Psychologically, this is the way to go. When you pay with cash, you actually take note of the “loss,” so to speak. When you pay electronically, it’s much easier to part with money. Don’t make it so easy.

Another method is to list every debt you owe, and pay them off in the order from highest interest rate to lowest. Pay minimum payments on any other card, but use the lowest interest card for purchases.

Negotiating debt is one of the scariest actions you will ever take — in large part because your entire future depends on the outcome. But when all else fails, you need to do this. Find a financial consultant and a debt settlement attorney, and go to town making plans. Many banks sell debt to a third party, while more predatory banks — like Bank of America — will go after you themselves. Don’t make it easier for them.

Debt settlement isn’t just for credit cards. You can use it for help paying off medical bills, personal loans, retail cards, cash advance loans, student loans, and even car loans (if your vehicle has already been repossessed). Get cracking!

Are Sexual Abuse Or Sexual Assault Settlements Rare?

First, it’s important to recognize that the vast majority of victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault remain quiet throughout their lives — and they carry the burden of that solitude with them. That means increased stress, depression, anxiety, and a higher likelihood of turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with pain. Only a minute percentage of sexual assault cases result in the defendant prosecuted at all, much less in jail. But what does that mean for civil suits?

The process for obtaining compensation via civil litigation is easier than it is for criminal law, and the burden of proof isn’t as great. So are sexual abuse or sexual assault settlements as rare as criminal prosecution? 

In a word: Yes. But they’re “less rare” than the percentage of prosecuted criminal cases, which means whenever you’re ready to tell your story, you should tell it. One California lawyer recently won millions for survivors of boy scout sexual abuse. To those kids who went through the pain and anguish associated with that abuse, the payments were probably worth it.

A recent settlement was approved for Harvey Weinstein’s victims, which means that the survivors won’t go through the pain of being dragged into the courtroom to confront him. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Mary Walrath said, “Eighty-three percent of the victims have expressed very loudly that they want closure through acceptance of this plan.”

The settlement was reached after victims and their attorneys decided that further litigation would likely be unpredictable in court, and that the settlement was indeed fair. 

Walrath said, “I will not get into an analysis of whether one victim’s claim has more validity or more value than another’s. Every victim of Harvey Weinstein was victimized and deserves to have a say into the plan confirmation. If they choose not to release Mr. Weinstein, they have the right to a have a jury trial. … Eighty-three percent of the victims have expressed very loudly that they want closure through acceptance of this plan.”

Although sometimes victims will want to look at an abuser in the eye to show strength in the face of fear and weakness, others will not. The reaction is completely natural. But not every victim felt the same in Weinstein’s case, nor did every attorney.

Attorneys Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer displayed their feelings in The Hollywood Reporter recently: “We look forward to continuing this fight on behalf of survivors who seek to hold Harvey Weinstein and his corporate enablers accountable.”

Counselor Beth Fegan said on behalf of the class-action suit: “This bankruptcy plan guarantees that Harvey Weinstein’s survivors will have the opportunity to be heard in a safe and confidential process. Although there will never be enough compensation or redress to right these wrongs, we’re immeasurably honored to represent our brave and resilient clients who, in the face of adverse rulings, continued to advocate for a fund for all survivors.”

Will The Election Result Certification Affect My Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Election results have been certified in 20 states up until today. The results in 30 states are still pending. These 30 states include critical swing states that Trump needs in order to retain the presidency for another term. Right now, it looks like his administration’s lawsuits are aimed at slowing down the certification process so that the day when all states must be certified on December 8, 2020. What happens if he succeeds? Probably nothing. But who ends up in office might change the pace at which your personal injury lawsuit moves forward.


Lawsuits really have nothing to do with politics in general, which is why the president in office won’t really change anything about your case. But right now, coronavirus is still placing a huge burden on many workers around the country — and the incoming president, Joe Biden, will have a lot of say in how to change policies regarding the U.S. approach to slowing down or containing the virus.

For example, Biden could choose to shut down the country for another couple weeks to wipe out the virus completely (although that wouldn’t actually work). Biden has strongly said that he would not consider this action. But suppose he reversed course and shut down the country anyway. That would ensure that all pending lawsuits and court cases are put on hold until the two weeks elapsed. And during this time, new cases would pile up. By the time the lockdown ended, old cases would be delayed more than just the two weeks.

There have already been large delays for those seeking personal injury judgments. There is good news mixed with the bad, though. Those who have been waiting a long time may have noticed that the statute of limitations on their cases is about to expire. Worry not: these are the products of state laws, and most are being extended to give victims a fair chance to seek compensation even during this pandemic.

Some personal injury proceedings will be allowed to take place remotely (more than there are now). One of the downsides of delays on remote communication is the likelihood that a victim takes the low-ball offer instead of waiting for the settlement amount to increase. Cases are much less likely to go to trial now than they were a year ago. That’s because people need quick cash, having lost their jobs for no good reason.

Certain states with large, liberal-leaning cities — like New York City, New York or Los Angeles, California, or even Chicago, Illinois — won’t have a large impact regardless of when their election results are certified. There’s really no chance of these results being overturned. Trump hopes to focus his efforts on states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and several rust belt states that were closely decided in Biden’s favor.

Donald Trump has mismanaged the pandemic from the beginning — which has adversely affected our personal injury cases — and we can only hope a President Joe Biden will do better.

Can I Sue President Trump If Joe Biden Wins In 2020?

Maybe not so surprisingly, we’ve received a number of inquiries from United States citizens who lost a job — and therefore health insurance — after the coronavirus resulted in a large number of layoffs. They want to know whether or not they can hold President Donald J. Trump liable in civil class action litigation for his failure to effectively respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Why does this question arise? How would it play out in court? Is it even legal?

The basis of the case would theoretically depend on whether or not President Trump’s failure to act led to the economic crisis that cost people their jobs, and indirectly their health insurance — putting them at increased risk of financial ruin or the inability to pay hospital bills after a coronavirus infection.

It wouldn’t be a difficult case to argue in court. Donald Trump knew about the dangers of coronavirus. He failed to notify the public of those dangers. He overruled steps taken by organizations like the USPS — which had initially sought to send five masks to every American household before Trump said no. He has consistently spread misinformation about the efficacy of masks. The list goes on. So it isn’t hard to prove how Donald Trump made this crisis worse than it had to be.

Unfortunately, such civil litigation is not legal anymore.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision on Nixon v. Fitzgerald that former President Richard Nixon could not be held liable in civil court for the consequences of his actions when in office. From a legal standpoint this makes sense. After all, in today’s hyper-polarized political world, every president would be sued by millions of citizens. 

It’s important to note that the initial trial during Nixon v. Fitzgerald resulted in rulings against the president in both the original trial and the appellate court. The Supreme Court had the final say — and it ruled differently, providing the president with immunity.

But this does not mean President Trump cannot be tried in criminal court, though.

What Constitutes A Class Action Law Suit?

A class action lawsuit is basically when more than one person or a group of people who have suffered the same injuries or damages bring a lawsuit against a single defendant.

The lead plaintiffs in the case need to request a class action certification from the court in order for it to be deemed a class action suit. These types of lawsuits are only related to civil action where monetary compensation is being claimed for injuries and damages that the plaintiffs have experienced.

The burden of proof is on the plaintiffs to provide evidence that the defendant is liable due to their negligence, direct or indirect actions. In other words, it needs to prove in a court of law that the defendant is at fault in causing the damages or injuries.

The plaintiffs may be represented by more than one lawyer or attorney in a class action suit. However, the case needs to be brought as one suit and be represented as such. This means that all the plaintiffs need to be in agreement regarding the best way to bring the case to court.

If the lawsuit is successful, the compensation lawsuit awarded by the court will be shared among the plaintiffs. Some plaintiffs may receive more or less depending on a number of damages, medical or other expenses that they may have incurred.

Lawyers and attorneys normally take on class action civil suits on a contingency basis. This means that they require no payment for their services and will receive a portion or percentage of the settlement amount or compensation awarded by the court. The remainder of the claimed amount will then be shared among the plaintiffs.

If the case is not taken on a contingency basis, the intellectual property law firm may require a retainer. This is an amount that will need to be paid upfront to cover the initial fees and charges related to the case. Future charges will need to be paid on an ad hoc basis in order for the legal representation to continue.

This can become quite and expensive exercise, especially in class action cases that are complicated and drawn out. Class action suits are by nature complicated and it is necessary to plan for future legal expenses. The plaintiffs may club together to pay the retainer as well as other expenses from the legal team representing them.

As A General Rule, The Government Will Not Tax A Personal Injury Settlement

Have you been awarded a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit for your severe car accident injuries? Now that you have your money, you may be wondering are personal injury settlements taxable? The last thing you need is to get in trouble with the IRS because you missed a necessary tax payment.

Most personal injury proceeds are not taxable either under state or federal law. It also doesn’t matter if you settled before filing the lawsuit or after, the settlement is still probably not taxable. It also doesn’t matter if the award was decided between the two parties and their attornies or awarded by a jury or judicial decision following a trial.

The general rule when it comes to personal injury settlements is that the Federal government will not tax any damages that were received because of physical sickness or personal physical injuries. These are not included in the gross income of a taxpayer.

The reason for this is that personal injury damages are considered as compensation for such things as pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical bills, lost wages, attorney fees, and loss of consortium. These monies are not to be taxed as long as they are compensating for a physical sickness or personal injury.

A physical sickness is defined as one that occurred because of the negligence of another. For example, if a person is exposed to something that made them sick, damages recovered would not be taxable.

There are some exceptions to this general rule. If you receive damages that were a result of an injury caused by a breach of contract, they may be taxable if the breach of contract is why you filed a lawsuit.

If you receive punitive damages, they will be taxable. Your attorney should always ask the jury or the judge to separate any damages into punitive and compensatory awards. This means you can prove to the IRS that part of your award is not taxable.

If you have received a tax benefit on anything that relates to this case, your new settlement may be taxable. A good example is if you take a deduction for your out-of-pocket medical costs on your tax return, the monies awarded as part of the personal injury settlement for these costs will be taxable.

For the most part, any monies you receive as part of a personal injury settlement will not be taxed. It is best to check with your accountant or your lawyer to determine if you need to pay taxes on any of the monies you receive.