9 Things to Know Before You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
· Before you meet with your personal injury lawyer for the first time after you've been injured, collect any documents you have relating to your accident and injury and place them in a folder or large envelope. Here's an injury checklist of some of the documents and other pertinent information to take with you to your lawyer, if applicable to your case.
· 9 Things to Know Before You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer Initial consultations are usually free. Many people don't call a lawyer because they believe it will cost too much. A... Experience Matters. Most good lawyers limit their practice to one or two kinds of law. If you are hiring a lawyer to... ...
Different lawyers usually specialize in different areas of the law, and as a result, have specialized skills related to those areas. For the best results, you will want an attorney who is specialized in personal injury law. 2. Has the attorney taken cases similar to this one in the past? How many? How did they turn out?
33-55%Unlike many other lawsuits, attorneys in personal injury cases are most often paid through a contingency fee agreement. If you're asking what percentage do lawyers take for personal injury services, the answer is they usually receive 33-55% of the award as payment fees.
Questions to Ask Your Lawyer During a Consultation1) What kind of experience do you have with similar cases?2) What would be your strategy for my case?3) Are there any alternatives to going to court?4) What are my possible outcomes?5) Who will actually handle my case?6) What is my role in my case?More items...•
The following items will be factored in to a potential settlement:Past and future medical bills.Rehabilitation costs.Pain and suffering.Therapy.Lost wages and/or future income.
How Can I Prove My Pain and Suffering?Medical bills.Medical records.Medical prognosis.Expert testimony.Pictures of your injuries.Psychiatric records.
Tips for Talking to an AttorneyAlways be as honest and candid as possible about the facts of your case. ... Ask questions if you don't understand something that your attorney mentions or explains to you.Approach an attorney about your case as soon as you think you may need one.More items...•
If you are interviewing virtually, all of these tips apply.Do your research. Lawyers are known for being good researchers. ... Be presentable and dress your best. ... Come prepared to ask questions. ... Be personable and show enthusiasm. ... Be genuine. ... Promptly send a thank-you note.
When making an initial settlement demand, the accident victim should always ask for more than what he or she thinks the case is worth. There is no set rule, but it is not unreasonable to to ask for at least three times the amount of the medical expenses.
The negotiation process typically starts with your lawyer providing a written proposal for settlement to the insurance adjuster or the defendant's lawyer. The adjuster or lawyer will respond to your lawyer either in writing or over the phone.
The rough 'rule of thumb' that we generally use to determine the value of a reasonable settlement agreement (in respect of compensation for termination of employment) is two to three months' gross salary (in addition to your notice pay, holiday pay etc., as outlined above).
Some injuries can change a person's life, but are incredibly difficult to diagnose and treat. This is often the case when it comes to injuries such as whiplash, nerve damage, sprains, strains, mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions.
10 Tips for Negotiating Pain and Suffering:Manage Your Expectations for Compensation.Know What Counts as Pain and Suffering.Support Your Claim with Outside Factors.Tell a Vivid Story of Your Pain and Suffering.Describe Your Distress During Recovery.Link Evidence to Your Pain and Suffering.More items...•
Emotional distress falls under pain and suffering damages, but it is not the same as pain and suffering. Emotional distress most often occurs when the victim of an accident witnesses someone else suffer a traumatic injury or death, or they themselves suffer a traumatic injury.
Experience Matters. Most good lawyers limit their practice to one or two kinds of law. If you are hiring a lawyer to represent you in a personal injury case, make sure that lawyer has experience in personal injury cases.
You don't always have to file a lawsuit. While most cases settle without going to trial, some cases do not even need a lawsuit to be settled. A lawyer can sometimes get the important information to the insurance company for the defendant and settle the case without the need to file a lawsuit. This is often faster and less expensive.
Know the Fee. If you hire a lawyer, he has to be paid for his time. Almost all personal injury lawyers work on a "contingency fee." That means the lawyer gets no fee for his work until you get paid. This kind of a fee allows you to hire a great lawyer without having to pay that lawyer upfront.
Expenses Are Not Included. While the fee is often stated as a percentage of your settlement, that fee only pays for the lawyer's time. When a lawyer has to pay someone else for work on your case, he pays what are called "expenses." Most lawyers pay the expenses for you and then bill you for the expenses at the end of the case.
You may have to pay back your insurance companies. The number one misunderstanding clients have in personal injury cases is insurance. If you have health insurance, you may have to pay them back for bills the health insurance company paid.
Cases Take Time Every case takes a lot of time to complete. When you hire a lawyer, ask how long he thinks the case will take. Good lawyers will be able to give you a realistic estimate. Beware of promises for quick settlements or fast cash. They are almost always untrue.
How do you find a top-notch lawyer for a serious personal injury case? There are resources you can check before deciding which lawyer to schedule a consultation with. One of the most reliable ways to research a lawyer’s qualifications is to check sources that rate personal injury lawyer reviews based on what their fellow lawyers (and their competitors) say about them. Please understand that there is no other official “rating” system for personal injury lawyers besides peer review by other lawyers. Here are the peer review rating systems that you should check out:
If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you will be facing many important decisions in the days, weeks and months following an injury. Finding the "right" lawyer to represent you is often the most critical factor in a successful recovery.
They also conduct lobbying activities for the rights of consumers. The most prominent national organization is the American Association of Justice (AAJ). In the State of Indiana, the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) is a statewide organization of plaintiff attorneys dedicated to the rights of injured persons. You can certainly find a lawyer who doesn’t belong to any of these groups, but why would you want that lawyer to represent you in a serious injury lawsuit?
They are asked to speak at legal education seminars because other attorneys want to hear what they have to say. Lawyers who regularly write articles in legal publications are usually the authorities in the field and know what they are talking about. Many personal injury lawyers will list the topics of their speaking engagements or their publications on their website. If you want to know whether a lawyer teaches other lawyers about developments in personal injury law or writes articles about personal injury litigation, you should check the lawyer’s website or ask for a copy of the lawyer’s resume.
What happens to the expenses if the case is lost? Some lawyers have a policy of not asking the client to reimburse the law firm for the “out of pocket” expenses. Other lawyers expect the client to reimburse the law firm for all the expenses if the case is lost. As a consumer who has choices, you need to find out the lawyer’s policy on expense reimbursement in situations where the case is lost. If a lawyer tries to tell you "don’t worry about it, I’ve never lost a case," don’t accept that response. Even the very best personal injury lawyers lose cases from time to time.
A lawyer who offers you a “free consultation” and tells you that he or she will not charge a fee unless there is a recovery in your case (known as a “contingent fee” agreement) is not offering you anything out of the ordinary. Almost every lawyer who specializes in handling personal injury cases will make the same offer.
4. Virtually all personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation and will not charge a fee unless there is a recovery.
When hiring a law firm, it is important to ask questions. Make a list of your top curiosities about legal matters, and also ask the attorney to give you any general advice that normally is given to people in your situation. Remember that law professionals are accustomed to receiving questions of all types, so do not hesitate to ask whatever is on your mind. The attorney knows that the more informed you are, the more thorough of a job the firm can perform on your behalf.
Asking attorneys questions will help you know if they have the qualifications, experience, and resources to pursue your case. This will also help you determine if your personalities are a good fit and if you feel that the attorney will always have your best interests in mind.
At this evaluation stage, the attorney will not be able to give you even an estimated dollar amount of your damages but should be able to tell you if you are legally entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and possibly other categories depending on your individual case.
Do you think the insurance company will settle my case? Insurance companies make low-ball offers in the hope that the person injured will take the money and run even before there can be an accounting of all of their damages. You do not want this to happen to you. Personal injury attorneys who are experienced in negotiating with insurance companies will, of course, not be able to give you a definite answer, but should be able to give you some insight into how this process will work.
An exact figure usually cannot be given upfront, due to unknowns such as liability, discovery, and medical evidence.
Keep in mind that New York has a statute of limitations of 3 years after a personal injury incident takes place.
If a fair, reasonable offer is negotiated prior to trial, it’s possible that a personal injury case could be settled without a jury trial; however, if no amount can be agreed upon by both parties a jury trial may be inevitable.
One of the best places to find an attorney is through a reference from friends, doctors, professional associations, and your state bar.
For the best results, you will want an attorney who is specialized in personal injury law. 2.
Again, the vast majority of attorneys will not have been in any sort of disciplinary trouble, but if they have this can be a big red flag. You will want to know what they did to get in trouble and why, as this might affect things like their ability to effectively represent you, the safety of your money in their trust accounts, etc.
Insurance companies, who usually end up paying for your injuries in a personal injury case, will often offer settlements that are much less than what you might be able to get if your case goes to a trial.
If your attorney charges an hourly fee for a personal injury case, it could become very expensive for you very quickly, and at a time when medical bills are probably also mounting. 6.
The vast majority of personal injury attorneys will not charge you for their services, but will take a portion from any monies you receive should you get a settlement or a positive outcome at trial. This is known as a contingency fee, where the attorney getting paid depends on (or is “contingent upon”) you getting paid.
Just because someone specializes in a particular field does not mean they are particularly skilled at it. They might be new to the area of practice, may only do it part of the time, or might just be generally bad. Most jurisdictions now allow attorneys to provide information about prior cases and results, so when possible you should inquire. Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future results, but at least you will have a better feeling for what has been possible for this particular attorney of firm.
One way to make sure an attorney isn't overpromising is to keep track of the answers from multiple attorneys and see if they are all in the same ballpark. They should be, but if you come across an attorney promising your case is worth significantly more, be wary unless they can adequately explain why they think your case is worth much more. (Learn more about personal injury claim value .)
So if you win at trial or your case settles and you get $100,000, your attorney will get $33,333. But this exact amount is subject to a number of variables.
This can be detrimental for two reasons. First, if your case goes to trial, your attorney won't give you the best chance of winning. Winning in court is as much about experience as it is about skill. Second, it can mean your attorney is afraid of being in court.
The only question becomes when you pay them. If legal costs are paid "off the top," that will usually mean more money for you than if they are paid after your attorney gets paid.
Having an attorney farm out work to others may not sit well with you. But not only is this very common, it helps keep legal fees down.
Also, keep in mind that unless the attorney says otherwise, they won't take your case unless they think they can recover something on your behalf. To accept your case expecting a loss would make little business sense.
When you ask these questions, don't expect a precise answer. In fact, the attorney may be ethically required not to give you an exact answer to avoid exaggerating your case's potential and creating unrealistic expectations. Remember, personal injury lawsuits are unpredictable, and anything can happen, even in the middle of trial. However, your attorney should be able to provide at least a rough prediction regarding your chances of winning and what kind of compensation you can expect should your case settle, or should you win at trial.
“If you want to improve your chances of securing the best lawyer to take your case, you need to prepare before you meet them,” advises attorney Stephen Babcock. “Get your story, facts, and proof together well before your first meeting.” This not only ensures that you understand your own needs, but it helps a good lawyer to ascertain whether he or she can actually help you. “We want the best clients too. Proving you’re organized and reliable helps us.”
“ Winning cases can be lost because of a client who lies or exaggerates just as easily as because of a lawyer who tells the client what the client wants to hear instead of what is true.” So when dealing with attorneys, don’t just look for honesty—be honest.
In fact, a lawyer should try to stay out of court. “In my experience, a good lawyer always finds every opportunity to keep a case from being decided by a judge, and only relents on trying a case before the bench when all alternatives have been exhausted,” attorney, Jason Cruz says.
In choosing your attorney and your plan of action in resolving a dispute, it’s important to consider that despite what you see on television, most cases never see the inside of a courtroom. Typically, they’re settled outside the courtroom because of the time and expense involved, according to attorney Darren Heitner, author of How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know.
On reading a demand letter, the other person will often say, “this isn’t worth the trouble” and they quickly settle. But here’s a secret from Knight: You don’t need a lawyer to write a demand letter. You can do it yourself. Just make it look as formal as possible, and you may find your dispute goes away—no charge to you.
If you feel helpless when faced with an insurance denial, please know that you might be able to appeal with the help of a qualified lawyer, says David Himelfarb, attorney. Insurance companies routinely deny long-term disability claims, for example, particularly because it’s assumed that most people don’t have access to reputable attorneys to challenge the denial. “This is where intricate knowledge of the legal and insurance process, as well as the right team of experts to prove the claim, can reverse the odds.”