Who will be handling my case?
Your case will be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney who knows what it takes to get the results you deserve. The practitioners at our firm have over 70 years of collective trial experience. Our credentials and qualifications are extensive, including an “AV” Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell and membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. More importantly, we have a first-hand understanding of how insurance carriers operate because we represented clients insured with major insurance companies for nearly 20 years before we made a choice to change sides so that we could help the people who need us most – individuals just like you.
How will I be able to afford an attorney?
At Brais Law Firm, we handle maritime accidents, personal injury, and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay any legal fees unless we successfully win your case. If we recover financial compensation for you, we collect a percentage of the gross recovery before deducting costs. If there is no recovery, you will not pay any fees to the firm. Our firm also offers free, no-obligation consultations where you can learn more about our fee arrangements and how we can best assist you with your case.
What should you do in the event of injury?
- If you are hurt on the property of another, notify them immediately, i.e., a store, place of business, cruise ship, yacht, parking lot, etc. If you are hurt in a car (driving or passenger) or bicycle accident, call 911.
- If you are hurt while working or as a passenger on a cruise ship, notify your supervisor (for the crew) or a crewmember (for the passenger), ask to be treated in the ship’s infirmary, inform the vessel’s safety officer and, depending upon the severity of your injuries, ask to be treated shoreside at the next port of call.
- If you were traveling as a passenger on a cruise ship and were sexually assaulted or raped, contact the FBI.
- If your injuries are life-threatening, the Cruise Line must divert the ship to the nearest emergency shoreside medical facility or air evacuate you.
- Get the names, telephone numbers, emails, and home addresses of all witnesses to your accident, i.e., those who saw the accident, know the condition of the accident scene, spoke to you after the fact from the cruise line, or treated you aboard the vessel or off.
- Have the people who witnessed your accident and the condition of the accident scene write a short statement on what they saw and a description of the accident scene. This is very important as often; people forget specific details of what happened or how things looked as time passes. These details may have an important impact on your case.
- Take photos! Many cell phones are equipped with cameras if you don’t have a good camera. Take multiple pictures of the scene and your injuries from different angles. Take photos even if the cruise line, store owner, or other driver takes photos.
- Get a copy of all documents, i.e., statements, medical reports, medical records, medical films/scans, reports, police documents, etc.
- Follow-up with all recommended medical treatments.
- Keep notes and a daily log of all events having anything to do with your accident. Note dates, times, places, names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, the severity of pain on a scale of 1 – 10, etc.
- While it is very difficult to think about protecting yourself after an accident, do NOT let too much time go by before you contact an attorney specializing in the type of law governing your claim. It is your attorney’s job to protect you in the event of litigation.
What types of financial compensation can I recover?
Every cruise ship accident and maritime injury case is unique, and the compensation you are entitled to recover will depend upon the specific facts of your case, the injuries suffered, and the governing law. For instance, if you are an injured crew member who qualifies as a “seaman” under the federal Jones Act, you may have three potential avenues available to collect compensation: (1) Filing a lawsuit against your employer for negligence under the Jones Act; (2) Suing the owner of the vessel for damages under the doctrine of unseaworthiness; and (3) Collecting maintenance (lodging and food) and cure (medical expenses) and sick wages against your employer and even the ship itself under an “in rem” claim.
If you are a passenger injured on a cruise, a cruise ship accident lawyer at our firm will work to help you recover a wide range of damages, including compensation for past and future medical care, lost past and future income, diminished earning capacity, and pain and suffering whether emotional, psychological or physical.
Is it expensive to hire a lawyer?
Though concerns over the “expense” of hiring an attorney are generally dependent on the nature of the legal matter at issue and the financial resources available to the client, there are many situations in which hiring a lawyer will cost you nothing up-front — primarily cases involving plaintiff’s-side litigation.
For example, if you’ve been injured while traveling aboard a cruise ship, you may be entitled to bring a lawsuit against the cruise line for damages. Many plaintiffs worry about the cost of doing so, but there are no up-front costs. When you pursue a personal injury lawsuit, whether in the maritime context or otherwise, you will (typically) hire an attorney on contingency.
How Do Contingency Fee Arrangements Work?
Contingency fee arrangements are designed in such a way as to reduce the friction of working with an attorney. Attorneys who work on contingency are not paid unless and until their client secures compensation for their injuries (whether through a verdict or negotiated settlement compromise).
When you hire an attorney on contingency, the vast majority of various costs associated with comprehensive litigation, such as the cost of working with a subject matter expert and filing fees, among other expenses, are advanced by their firm. You do not pay out-of-pocket for any costs incurred by a firm advancing your case, including those required to pursue litigation. You bear only your costs; for example, if you must travel to the forum where the issue is pending to attend your deposition, a compulsory physical examination, or a mediation, these are the only costs you will be asked to advance.
The contingency fee payment only comes into play once the case is resolved. If you do not secure a recovery, then no fees will be owed to the firm. If you secure a recovery, however, the attorney will take a percentage “cut” of the compensation they helped you obtain. The percentage taken through contingency can vary from case to case and depending on when the matter is resolved — if the matter proceeds to trial litigation, for example, then the contingency fee percentage will increase to 40 percent.
This can be a bit confusing without further context, so let’s use a brief example to clarify how a contingency fee plays out in real-world situations.
Suppose that you are injured in a cruise ship accident. You hire an attorney on contingency. If you cannot successfully prosecute the claim and certain damages, then you will owe no fee to the firm and will owe costs to the firm only if the case proceeds to trial against the advice of your attorneys. If you do secure damages of $100,000 through an early negotiated settlement, then the attorney will take their percentage cut out of that $100,000 amount (say, 1/3rd of the recovery before any deductions, or $33,333.00 in this example). If the negotiated settlement is obtained later in the litigation, for example, anytime after the other side files an “Answer” to the complaint, the attorney will take 40% of the recovery before any deductions.
Contingency fee arrangements are advantageous because they significantly limit a plaintiff’s risks of a negative result from a lawsuit and create a favorable dynamic in litigation for the plaintiff. When an attorney is hired on contingency, the goals of the attorney and client are aligned — the attorney will only be paid a fee if they can successfully obtain compensation for their client. Further, the attorney will increase their pay if they can maximize the total recovery. As such, the attorney is incentivized to invest time, attention, and resources toward the client’s case.
Brais Law Firm can provide legal assistance if you’ve been injured due to the fault of another in a maritime and admiralty law scenario, whether you are a passenger, employee, or bystander. Contact our firm to schedule a free and confidential consultation.