Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

       The following list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) is always under construction. New questions will be added from time to time from your questions posed in the "Contact" page of this website.

       Feel free to contact this law office with your question by:

  1. Using the Contact Form on the "Contact" page,
  2. Email to, or
  3. Telephone to 216-289-5100. 

       Your question will receive a personal answer by email or return telephone call, as you direct. Questions with answers useful to the general public will be included on this FAQ page.

1. What are your rights in a claim for a personal injury?

       If you have been in an accident, or a family member has been injured or killed in a crash or some other incident, you have many important decisions to make. This information is not intended as a complete description of your legal rights, but as a checklist of some of the important issues you should consider:

      A. Make and keep records - If your situation involves a motor vehicle crash, regardless of who may be at fault, it is helpful to obtain a copy of the police report, learn the identity of any witnesses, and obtain photographs of the scene, vehicles, and any visible injuries. Keep copies of receipts of all your expenses and medical care related to the incident.

      B. You do not have to sign anything - You may not want to give an interview or recorded statement without first consulting with an attorney, because the statement can be used against you. If you may be at fault or have been charged with a traffic or other offense, it may be advisable to consult an attorney right away. However, if you have insurance, your insurance policy probably requires you to cooperate with your insurance company and to provide a statement to the company. If you fail to cooperate with your insurance company, it may void your coverage.

      C. Your interest versus interest of insurance company - Your interest and those of the other person's insurance company are in conflict. Your interest may also be in conflict with your own insurance company. Even if you are not sure who is at fault, you should contact your own insurance company and advise the company of the incident to protect your insurance coverage.

      D. There is a time limit to file an insurance claim - Legal rights, including filing a law suit, are subject to time limits. You should ask what time limits apply to your claim. You may need to act immediately to protect your rights.

      E. Get it in writing - You may want to request that any offer of settlement from anyone be put in writing, including a written explanation of the type of damages which they are willing to cover.

      F. Legal assistance may be appropriate - You may consult with any attorney before you sign any document or release of claims. A release may cut off all future rights against others, obligate you to repay past medical bills or disability benefits, or jeopardize future benefits. If your interest conflicts with your own insurance company, you always have the right to discuss the matter with an attorney of your choice, which may be at your own expense.

      G. How to find an attorney - If you need professional advice about a legal problem but do not know an attorney, you may contact the law offices of Barry L. Sweet Attorney at Law. You also may wish to check with relatives, friends, neighbors, your employer or co-workers who may be able to recommend an attorney. Your local bar association may have a lawyer referral service that can be found in the Yellow Pages or on the internet.

      H. Check a lawyer's qualifications - Before hiring any lawyer, you have the right to know the lawyer's background, training, and experience in dealing with cases similar to yours.

      I. How much will it cost? - In deciding to hire a particular lawyer, you should discuss, and the lawyer's written fee agreement should reflect:
            i. How is the lawyer to be paid? If you already have a settlement offer, how will that affect a contingent fee arrangement?
           ii. How are the expenses involved in our case, such as telephone calls, deposition costs, and fees for expert witnesses, to be paid? Will these costs be advanced by the lawyer or charged to you as they are incurred? Since you are obligated to pay all expenses even if you lose your case, how will payment be arranged?
          iii. Who will handle your case? If the case goes to trial, who will be the trial attorney?

2. What is a Marriage Dissolution Kit?

      A marriage dissolution is a no-fault divorce in which the wife and husband must agree on all divorce issues prior to filing in court a petition for dissolution of marriage.  The issues include division of all marital property and debts and, where the wife and husband are parents, child custody, visitation, child support, and health insurance.    An attorney guides the parties through the issues but does not negotiate resolution of issues where the parties are polarized in their positions or cannot resolve conflicts of interest.   

      The dissolution of marriage kit consists of all of the required documents, forms and pleadings necessary to get a divorce decree.  The list of documents varies from county to county and whether the marriage has one or more natural minor children under the age of 18 at the time of the divorce proceeding.  All kits include a Divorce Decree or final Judgment Entry of Divorce that the judge signs.  Kits include answers to all questions by legal counsel who will also attend the marriage dissolution hearing before a judge.

       In a dissolution of marriage, both parties must attend the final divorce hearing in person.  Only one attorney who represents only one of the parties is needed at the dissolution hearing.

       In Cuyahoga and Lake Counties where minor children are involved, both parties must attend a one-time seminar for divorcing parents that lasts several hours.       

3.  What is a Marriage Dissolution Kit discount?

      The Barry L. Sweet law firm offers discounts on dissolution of marriage kits. Discounts are available where the parties personally complete all documents necessary for the divorce. Attorneys are available by phone or in person to answer your questions and assist with understanding and completing all forms.

      Dissolution of marriage kits start at a discounted fee of $499.00 which includes a divorce attorney appearance at the dissolution of marriage hearing at domestic relations court.  Where children are involved, discounted kits start at $599.00.   Additional discounted fees for pensions that must be divided by Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or Division of Property Order (DOPO) start at $250.00.

4.  How do I hire an attorney or lawyer? 

       Clients hire attorneys with an advance deposit of an attorney fee or a retainer, or by signing a contingency agreement.   An attorney fee usually covers all expected legal work to be completed during the employment.   A fee package quote is appropriate where the work to be done is certain to follow a procedure planned in advance to a final order of a court and the procedure will not be contested or opposed by any other person.

       A retainer is deposited to employ a lawyer where the work to be done is not necessarily certain to follow a pre-planned procedure.  Where an opposing party will not agree or consent to the demands of a client, or is likely to contest in court some aspect of the case, one or more pre-trial conferences at court, evidence discovery procedures, mediation, or a court hearing or trial may be necessary to resolve conflicting issues in a case matter.   In this event, a retainer is deposited and applied to later attorney fees actually generated by the litigation.

       A retainer is not a signing bonus for the attorney.  An attorney must apply the work done to the deposited retainer at a billable hourly rate, which may vary depending on the complexity of the legal work or amount of time in court.  Barry L. Sweet itemizes all work done by the nearest one-tenth of billable hour and case expenses including court filing fees, copies, court reporters, and postage. 

       A contingency agreement is a contract signed in advance for certain work to be done, and after the work is completed, the attorney is paid a percentage of the value of the recovered damages awarded to the client.   A contingency agreement is appropriate in actions to recover for personal injury from vehicle accidents, acts of negligence or intentional injury, and where medical treatment expenses are established and certain.  Contingency agreements may be appropriate in other cases where liability is clear and the value of the recovery is easily ascertainable in advance.

      Frequently, contingency agreements are appropriate where the client lacks funds to pay the attorney in advance.  Where key evidence is unclear or uncertain, a retainer is deposited in advance, and the attorney will earn a mutually agreed percentage of the final recovery less the amount of the advanced retainer.  Clients normally cover all case expenses from their percentage of the recovery.  

      A written retainer or contingency agreement, signed by the client and the attorney, is the appropriate way to employ legal counsel.  A written agreement best protects the rights of the client as well as the lawyer.

      The law offices of Barry L. Sweet accept cash, checks, money orders, VISA, MasterCard, or Discover credit cards, and Paypal.


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