GOT QUESTIONS

It’s not just your case, it’s your life.

More than anything else, The Colvin Law Firm wants to provide you answers your questions.  Life after loss of your employment, a serious injury or death of loved one can be scary, lonely, confusing and frustrating.  Spencer understands this and knows it can feel like nobody is listening and nobody cares, especially insurance companies and hospitals.  Torrance Colvin is an experienced and successful attorney based in Washington, D.C., who will stand by your side and provide you with the advice and guidance you deserve so that the employers, insurance companies and hospitals realize you are not alone.

Since receiving his law degree Torrance Colvin has investigated, developed and prosecuted employment, medical malpractice, birth injury, nursing home, product liability, car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability, personal injury, wrongful death, uninsured/underinsured, equitable garnishment, life insurance and breach of contract claims resulting in millions of dollars in recoveries for his clients.

GENERAL FAQs

What types of cases does your law firm handle?

We represent employees in disputes against their current or former employers for most claims of wrongful conduct that occur in the workplace. Most of our practice is devoted to pursuing claims of discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, and wage & hour violations on behalf of employees against their current or former employers. We are also experienced in handling a wide variety of civil disputes, including medical malpractice, significant personal injury cases, as well as white collar criminal defense and tax controversies. Finally, we provide advice and training to small employers, but do not defend employers in employment litigation matters.

What types of cases does your law firm not handle?

We do not handle worker’s compensation cases, traffic or parking matters or fines, and landlord-tenant disputes. If you have questions whether we can handle your case or dispute, please contact us.

If I was partly at fault for my injuries, can I still recover an award?

Not in the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia has adopted the law of contributory negligence, which means that if you, as the plaintiff, were partially at fault in causing your injuries, you cannot recover against the defendant. Other states have different laws, however, so you should consult a knowledgeable attorney about this issue. Even if you think you were partially at fault, you should still consult an attorney in the District of Columbia because an attorney may feel that you have a reasonable chance of getting a settlement or verdict.

How can I become a client of your firm?

Please call the firm and identify yourself as a potential client. A member of our staff will speak to you and obtain information regarding your needs. We will try to determine why you believe you have a viable case and what your needs are. We will meet with you in person as part of the process where we determine whether we will represent you. We do not charge an initial consultation fee. We make every effort to inform you whether we will take your when we initially meet with you.

What if I can’t travel?

If your injury prevents you from traveling to our office, an attorney from The Colvin Law Firm will meet with you at your home, the hospital, or any meeting place you designate.

How long can I wait to file a personal injury lawsuit?

While each case is unique, statute of limitation laws impose certain time limitations on how long one can wait to file a personal injury lawsuit until it is “too late.” Essentially, an individual only has a certain period of time after they are harmed by the negligence of another in which to file their claim. As a result, we advise that you contact us immediately so we can evaluate your case.

What is expected of me as a client of your firm?

We expect you to be honest, responsive, and diligent throughout the litigation process. We want you to ask us any questions and inform us of any concerns you have. You will ordinarily be deposed at some point in the litigation and we expect you to prepare for that deposition diligently by meeting with us and reviewing key facts in the case.

What can I expect to receive if my case settles?

Although most cases settle, the settlement amount varies based on a number of factors. The overwhelming majority of our plaintiff clients are satisfied with the settlement amount we have obtained on their behalf. Some of the factors include the strength of the evidence in your case, your performance at your deposition, the financial resource of your employer, whether or not your employer has insurance that covers the litigation, your willingness to take the case to trial, and the number and quality of witnesses that will support the allegations you make against your former employer. A partial list of settlements in the cases we have handled is provided on our firm profile. In addition to any monetary compensation you may receive, you may also benefit from feeling that justice was done, changes will be made at your current or former employer, and you can now move on with your life.

When we represent defendants, we try to achieve the most cost-effective solution, taking into consideration your tolerance for risk and need for closure. We have been very effective in representing defendants as well as plaintiffs.

What are your fees?

We work on contingency, hourly and flat fee bases, depending on the type of case.  We NEVER take more than a 25% contingency fee.

Is it possible to sue a government?

Yes. It is possible to sue a government or governmental entity for their negligence as well as the negligence actions of their employees. The claims process involving government entities is very different and involves different statutes of limitations than other claims. Since the statute of limitations is different, be sure to consult with an attorney at The Colvin Law Firm to find out if your claim involves a government entity of any kind and avoid missing these important deadlines that if missed will forever bar your claim. The attorneys atThe Colvin Law Firm deal with government claims on a regular basis and can help you recover compensation for any injuries caused by the negligence of a governmental entity.

PERSONAL INJURY FAQs

What is personal injury?

Personal injury is when one person suffers physical and sometimes emotional damages because of someone else’s negligence. Common causes of personal injury are car accidents, premises liability, and medical malpractice. Anyone who is wrongfully injured can recover compensation through a personal injury claim.

How much is my claim worth?

It is not possible to determine exactly how much you will recover through your claim. Each personal injury case is unique and involves unique factors. Some of these have a set monetary value, such as medical bills and property repairs, while others have no set value, such as emotional pain and suffering. In order to have the highest possible chance of maximum compensation, you need to hire a personal injury lawyer who can properly evaluate your damages. Attorney Torrance Colvin has over 15 years of experience and can provide a solid estimate of the extent of your injuries. Unfortunately, we cannot provide a definite value of the worth of your claim.

What is a catastrophic injury?

Catastrophic injuries are severe injuries, particularly those that result in long-term or permanent impairment, disability, or disfigurement. Examples include broken bones, severe burns, eye injuries, brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. Any of these injuries can have a lasting impact on the victim’s ability to enjoy life. Victims may never be unable to return to the standard of living they held before their accident. Catastrophic injuries deserve even more compensation due to their traumatic nature. Our firm can fight to make sure that your compensation reflects the serious nature of your catastrophic injuries.

Who is liable for my accident?

One of the most important steps in any personal injury case is to establish liability. In order to do so, your attorney will investigate your case and gather evidence to prove that you were not responsible for your accident. Police statements, witness statements, photographs, and medical evaluation records can all be used to establish liability and ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.

My baby was born with a serious injury, do I have a case?

You may have a case. The most tragic injuries can happen during a birth. Sometimes the injury is caused by negligence or malpractice. When this is the case, the pain and suffering and financial burden it causes can be eased by an award that compensates you for the full consequences of the injury and its long-term effects. In most cases, both the baby and the parents have the right to compensation. The first step when dealing with a tragedy like this is to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Who brings a claim on behalf of children that are hurt?

Typically, it is the parents or guardians of that child. We have extensive experience with injury cases or wrongful death claims involving children and understand the complexities of negotiating and these types of claims.

Do I need a personal injury attorney?

Yes! If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you need a personal injury lawyer. Only an attorney will have the experience and reputation necessary to take on the big insurance companies and win the settlement or verdict you deserve. Our firm has the skill and experience that your case needs, so do not hesitate to learn what we can do for you!

GENERAL EMPLOYMENT LAW FAQs

When and why should I consult with an employment law attorney?

Whenever you believe that your rights have been violated, whether or not you are “sure” that they were.  Even if it turns out that your rights were not violated, you can at least put your mind to rest.

Do not wait until it is too late.  Do not wait until you are one month from hearing to contact an attorney.  Do so as early as possible to ensure no mistakes are made and that your legal interests are represented to the greatest extent possible.

What does it mean to be employed “at-will”?

Many states are “at-will” states. Under the at-will employment doctrine, an employer can terminate an employment relationship (aka fire an employee) for good cause, no cause, or even for reasons that are subjectively or morally “wrong,” so long as the termination does not violate any employment laws.  The at-will employment doctrine also means that employees are free to end the employment relationship (aka quit), whenever they so choose and for whatever reason(s) they so choose.

When and why should I hire an employment law attorney?

The answer to this question depends on where you are in the legal process; however, one thing holds true no matter what: do not wait until it is too late.  Do not wait until you are one month from hearing to contact an attorney. Do so as early as possible to ensure no mistakes are made and that your legal interests are represented to the greatest extent possible.

If you have not yet filed anything with the District of Columbia Human Rights Commission (DCHRC) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is never too early to hire an employment law attorney; however, you should do so only after your employment situation has been thoroughly analyzed and it has been determined that you have a viable claim. You should try to find an employment law attorney who is willing to work with you from the start, such as the employment law attorneys at The Colvin Law Firm.

If you have already filed a complaint with either theDistrict of Columbia Human Rights Commission (DCHRC) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you should consult with an employment law attorney to review what has been filed and provide a thorough analysis of your claim(s), and potentially represent you going forward. An employment law attorney can guide you through the legal process and submit information on your behalf.

If you have already received a determination from the District of Columbia Human Rights Commission (DCHRC) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you should consult with an employment law attorney to review everything that has been filed and provide a thorough analysis of your claim(s), and potentially represent you going forward.  An employment law attorney can guide you through the legal process and use their knowledge and experience to increase your chances of success.

What is the difference between District of Columbia employment discrimination laws and federal discrimination laws?

In the District of Columbia, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation are prohibited by the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA).  Federal laws that, combined, provide similar protections are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).

The DCHRA and federal law are highly similar in most respects, with language that generally mirror each other.  The following forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation are covered by both the WFEA and federal law:

  • Age Discrimination/Harassment (ADEA)
  • Creed/Religious Discrimination/Harassment (Title VII)
  • Disability Discrimination/Harassment (ADA)
  • Family & Medical Leave Interference or Retaliation (FMLA)
  • Genetic Information Discrimination (GINA)
  • Military Service Discrimination (USERRA)
  • Pregnancy Discrimination/Harassment (Title VII through the PDA)
  • National Origin/Ancestry (Title VII)
  • Race/Color Discrimination/Harassment (Title VII)
  • Retaliation for Opposing Discrimination (Title VII, ADA, ADEA, USERRA)
  • Retaliation for Participation (Title VII, ADA, ADEA, USERRA)
  • Sex Discrimination/Harassment (Title VII)

What is the statute of limitations for bringing an employment lawsuit?

It depends on the particular statute under which the employee seeks to assert a claim.  Under many federal laws, for example, an employee generally must file a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the alleged discrimination; then, after the EEOC issues a “right to sue” notice, the employee has 90 days to file a lawsuit in court.  In contrast, under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA), an employee has only one year from the date of the alleged discrimination to file a lawsuit in court.  Other statutes (e.g., FLSA, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, FMLA, etc.) have shorter or longer limitations periods.  Thus, different statutes have different limitations periods.  They also have different procedural requirements.  Consequently, employees should consult a qualified employment lawyer about any workplace problems as soon as they arise.     

What are my employee rights?

In the District of Columbia, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation are prohibited by the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA).  Federal laws that, combined, provide similar protections are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).

Employees also have certain rights as it pertains to wage, hour, and commissions issues. In the District of Columbia, District statutes outline employee rights in these respects, whereas on the federal level, many laws are in place that cover wage, hour, and commission issues, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Equal Pay Act (EPA), and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. In addition, disparities in pay may be covered under anti-discrimination laws, such as Title VII or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

When is it okay to quit my job?

Before you do anything, contact an employment law attorney. An employment law attorney can analyze your situation, help you through it, and advise you of your options so that you do not hastily do something you may later regret.

This is particular true if you have any indication that you may be the victim of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in the workplace.  In such scenarios, the law generally expects you to grin and bear it until the employer takes a drastic adverse action, such as terminating your employment.  For this reason, it usually will not benefit your potential claim(s) to quit, while it may benefit you personally and emotionally.

Even if you have absolutely no reason to believe that you are being subjected to discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, you should consult with an employment law attorney before quitting.

What can I get out of an employment discrimination case, how much is my employment discrimination case worth?

There is no easy answer to this question, as a case’s “worth” is literally a case-by-case analysis.  No two people’s damages are exactly the same.

That said, damages that an individual is generally entitled to are back pay (lost wages), reinstatement (reemployment if you lost your job), and attorney fees and costs.  At the federal level, an individual can also attempt to obtain compensatory damages (pain and suffering) and punitive damages (damages assessed against the employer as a punishment), although individuals are not entitled to such damages.

If you have been handling a case by yourself and an employer has contacted you to schedule a mediation or discuss settlement, you should heavily consider, and we would recommend, speaking with an employment law attorney.

What do I do if I my unemployment claim was denied?

If your unemployment claim was denied and you disagree with that denial, your first step is to file an appeal.  Immediately after filing your appeal, contact an employment law attorney and schedule a consultation to discuss the facts and circumstances leading up to your loss of employment. Remember that after you file an appeal, your case will be set for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

DISCRIMINATION FAQs

What should I do if I think I am being discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against in the workplace?

It may sound biased, but if you believe you are being discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against in the workplace, contact an employment law attorney.  You owe it to yourself to talk to an employment law attorney about your situation.

Can I have an age discrimination case if I am under 40?

Unfortunately, under both the District of Columbia Human Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), individuals are only protected from age discrimination once they turn 40.  So, if you are under 40-years-old, you are not protected.

What can I get out of an employment discrimination case, how much is my employment discrimination case worth?

There is no easy answer to this question, as a case’s “worth” is literally a case-by-case analysis.  No two people’s damages are exactly the same.

That said, damages that an individual is generally entitled to are back pay (lost wages), reinstatement (reemployment if you lost your job), and attorney fees and costs.  At the federal level, an individual can also attempt to obtain compensatory damages (pain and suffering) and punitive damages (damages assessed against the employer as a punishment), although individuals are not entitled to such damages.

If you have been handling a case by yourself and an employer has contacted you to schedule a mediation or discuss settlement, you should heavily consider, and we would recommend, speaking with an employment law attorney.

SCROLL DOWN TO READ MORE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THE COLVIN LAW FIRM.

“Don’t be afraid of the answers, be afraid of not asking the questions.”

Jennifer Hudson

TERMINATION & DISCHARGE FAQs

What is wrongful termination?

Wrongful termination is a phrase often used to describe a termination that someone feels was “unjust” or “unfair.” However, in the District of Columbia, wrongful termination is actually a specific form of retaliation that occurs when an employer terminates an employee because they refused to perform an illegal act or reported their employer’s unlawful or illegal conduct.

Is wrongful termination different from an unlawful termination or unlawful dismissal?

All three phrases are often used when someone feels they were fired for an “unjust” or “unfair” reason. In the District of Columbia, “wrongful termination” specifically relates to a form of retaliation. Wrongful termination retaliation occurs when an employer terminates or fires an employee because they refused to perform an illegal act or reported their employer’s unlawful or illegal conduct.

In the District of Columbia, can I be fired for no reason?

Yes. Employment is at-will in the District of Columbia. This means that unless someone has an employment contract stating otherwise, an employer can fire an employee for a good reason, no reason, or even for reasons that are could be considered morally wrong. As long as the termination does not violate any employment laws, it is legal in Wisconsin.

When is it okay to quit my job?

Before you do anything, contact an employment law attorney, such as those at The Colvin Law Firm. An employment law attorney can analyze your situation, help yhou through it, and advise you of your options so that you do not hastily do something you may later regret.

This is particular true if you have any indication that you may be the victim of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in the workplace. In such scenarios, the law generally expects you to grin and bear it until the employer takes a drastic adverse action, such as terminating your employment. For this reason, it usually will not benefit your potential claim to quit, while it may benefit you personally and emotionally. An employment law attorney can help you and advise you of your options so you don’t do anything you’ll regret later.

Even if you have absolutely no reason to believe that you are being subjected to discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, you should consult with an employment law attorney before quitting.

My unemployment claim was denied, what should I do?

If your unemployment claim was denied and you disagree with that denial, your first step is to file an appeal.  Immediately after filing your appeal, contact an employment law attorney and schedule a consultation to discuss the facts and circumstances leading up to your loss of employment.

Remember that after you file an appeal, your case will be set for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. An employment law attorney, such as those at The Colvin Law Firm may be able to represent you at the hearing and increase your chances of success.

WHISTLEBLOWER AND RETALIATION FAQs

What or who is a whistleblower?

The term whistleblower describes an employee who reports or complains about unlawful conduct happening at work. A wide variety of statutes and laws protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers.

For information about laws covering whistleblowers, take a look at our whistleblower page.

Can my co-workers be retaliated against for assisting me in my employment law case?

Under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, witnesses, including current or former co-workers, are protected from retaliation for helping you with your claim.  It is important illegal conduct is reported and punished. This is why employment laws adamantly provide protection for you and co-workers that help with your claim.

HARASSMENT FAQs

What is a hostile work environment?

Hostile work environment is often used by individuals to describe a workplace that it is uncomfortable, gossipy, or otherwise not pleasant and hostile.

In the legal context, a hostile work environment exists when an employee experiences harassment in the workplace that substantially interferes with their work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Hostile work environment claims are often seen along with sexual harassment claims. However, they can be created by other forms of harassment, such as racial harassment.

What is the difference between harassment and discrimination?

The biggest difference between harassment and discrimination is the presence of adverse employment action. An adverse employment action is something that affects your employment status such as being fired, having hours reduced, or not receiving a promotion, among many others.  Harassment, on the other hand, relates to conduct that is offensive. Offensive conduct can take the form of jokes, cartoons, written or verbal comments, and unwelcome touching, among other things.

What is sexual harassment in the workplace?

Sexual harassment can be:

  • unwelcome sexual advances
  • requests for sexual favors
  • verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
  • deliberate, repeated, unsolicited gestures or comments of a sexual nature
  • deliberate, repeated display of offensive, sexually graphic materials unnecessary for business purposes

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