Reasons to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Accidents happen all the time— in the car, at work, while shopping at the grocery store. They can range from being as minor as little spills, to being in a serious car crash.
Obviously, not every accident calls for taking legal action. Even minor car accidents like dents, scratches and fender benders won’t always necessitate filing a claim as long as nobody involved is injured in any major physical, mental or financial capacity.
But when an accident does result in serious health and monetary issues, those injured may have to sue in order to receive a fair settlement from an insurance company or the responsible party. In this scenario, DMV.org pinpoints three main benefits to hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you:
Knowledge of Personal Injury Laws
Becoming familiar with personal injury laws is complicated for a number of reasons: For one, they can vary by state, county, and municipality. Second, the legal guidelines for making a personal injury claim differ based on the type of injury that occurred. For instance, establishing liability in a dog bite case is nothing like determining fault in a car accident, and the statute of limitations is longer in cases involving fraud compared to product liability. In other words, different types of injury lawsuits have different rules that apply to them.
Most importantly, knowledgeable attorneys are able to decipher which laws pertain to your particular case and calculate how much compensation you are entitled to. Sure, you can look up the laws for your specific injury in your state, but only a personal injury expert will be able to translate these laws into applicable parameters for your case.
Negotiating for Just Compensation
Many personal injury cases can be resolved outside of court. If both parties involved in a legal dispute can agree on a settlement amount, then the cost and effort of bringing a case in front a judge can be avoided altogether. This is a popular course of action with insurance companies, who will often automatically lower their settlement offer to plaintiffs who do not have an attorney representing them.
For this reason, it is important to hire a personal injury attorney prior to engaging in settlement negations in order to get the full amount of compensation possible. An experienced attorney uses both their in-depth knowledge of personal injury law and their position to get you fair compensation.
Fair Representation in Court
In the event that settlement negotiations break down, it is the job of a personal injury attorney to fight for fair compensation on behalf of their client in front of a judge. Hiring a lawyer with extensive trial experience not only tends to increase settlement amounts, it also makes sure plaintiffs have the representation necessary to seek payment for damages in a court of law.
Most attorneys work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning they charge a percentage of the final settlement amount. Therefore, you only pay if they win your case. Each lawyer’s percentage of legal fees is different so that is something you will have to ask during your initial consultation.
Tips for Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
Hiring a lawyer when you or a loved one has suffered from an injury can be daunting and complicated. You do not know much about the law or lawyers, and figuring out where to even start can be difficult. Below you will find tips to help you on your search for the best lawyer to handle your case.
When working with a lawyer, communication is crucial for several reasons.
- You want to ensure that your lawyer is a good communicator because that is precisely what you are hiring him/her to do: communicate your case to a judge, jury or another attorney while using the law to argue for an outcome in your favor.
- You need to understand how often your lawyer will communicate to you the details of your case; staying informed is important. Your lawyer will communicate with you about how your case is progressing, how long it should take and how much it should cost.
- Be sure to choose a lawyer who is willing to spend time with you to learn your case, inside and out. This shows dedication, thoroughness and professionalism.
Your first conversation with an attorney should address your fees and costs with clarity.
Serious legal matters require experienced attorneys. Experience can be measured in many ways. You should certainly ask any attorney how many years of experience, and in what types of cases, he or she has. But you also want to know not just about the individual attorney but the law firm it self.
Is your potential lawyer an expert in a particular area of personal injury law? Do other lawyers refer their clients to him/her because of that expertise? All personal injury lawyers do not handle every type of P.I. case. Look for an attorney with experience and an intricate understanding of the law for your specific type of case.
5. Lawyer-client relationship dynamic
Know what your relationship will be like with your lawyer. Ask a potential lawyer what your working relationship will be. Certainly, you should meet with and work with the lawyer, not a staff member or assistant. The lawyer-client relationship must be based on trust and understanding. If you will be working with staff members, you cannot develop a successful lawyer-client relationship.
Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer
Choosing to file a personal injury claim is a big decision – and one that should never be taken lightly.
The outcome for victims can be enormous in terms of both financial compensation and their resulting quality of life. And while the litigation process can be an intense, emotionally charged experience – with those affected wanting compensation right away – it’s important to remain calm and think strategically about how to achieve the best outcome for your case.
One of the most important steps in the process is in choosing the right personal injury attorney to work with. Unfortunately, many people think that all lawyers are the same and that any seemingly qualified individual will due. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth.
Selecting the right attorney can make all the difference between having a satisfying outcome to your case or merely heaps of frustration and regret instead. Here are a few elements to consider when deciding on who to partner with.
Do They Have Experience with Personal Injury Cases?
Just like with any other profession, working with attorneys who specialize in a particular area of law generally leads to better results. Be sure the lawyer(s) you approach have actual experience in handling personal injury litigation cases.
Be warned, some may say they handle these types of cases, but don’t just take their word for it. Ask for specifics:
How many personal injury cases have they handled? How do they approach their work?
Which cases were similar to yours?
What were the outcomes (wins vs. losses, compensation, etc.)?
Although each case is unique, and past performance is never a guarantee of future results, a strong track record in comparable cases is often a good place to start.
Who Exactly Will Be Handling Your Case?
As strange as it may sound, the attorney you initially consult with may not be the same person that manages your claim. This holds especially true in many larger firms where senior partners intake clients but hand them off to junior attorneys afterward.
While the majority of paralegals and junior lawyers are well-qualified to handle routine tasks, it’s comforting to know seasoned professionals are the ones actually in charge of your case. It’s also nice to have a single point of contact for questions that may arise as the situation unfolds.
How Much Are Clients Expected To Participate?
Everyone would like to think that they can just file a claim, put their feet up and wait for a check to arrive – but that’s simply not reality. Good injury attorneys make it a point to get to know their clients and expect them to actively participate in their case as well.
Any lawyer who tells you that your input is not needed or required is someone you should avoid. After all, the best outcomes require hard work from everyone involved – yourself included.
When Will You Start Working On My Case?
Some injury attorneys have a bad habit of signing up clients but then letting their cases sit until the last possible minute. Why? So they can work on other claims until right before the statute of limitations runs out.
While this delay tactic is standard practice for many in the industry, it’s just not a good way to do business. Acting on cases quickly helps to preserve evidence, mount a stronger defense and increases leverage when it comes time for negotiations.
Keep in mind that medical bills, lost wages and other debts will continue to mount while you’re waiting to get underway. So make sure you have a clear understanding of what to expect timewise throughout the process.
How Much Are My Injuries Worth?
Granted, even the most experienced attorney won’t be able to give you an exact dollar amount for your injuries, but they should be able to provide a reasonable ballpark estimate. Even better, ask them to include examples from similar cases they’ve handled in the past.
On the other hand, anyone who promises you a specific dollar amount from the get-go should be red-flagged. There are just too many variables involved for anyone to be certain of a final settlement. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
What Resources Do You Have Available to Put Towards My Case?
Some lawyers care about profit more than people. They may take on more cases than they can competently handle, save money by not hiring staff, or be reluctant to spend money on experts’ fees. This is not who you want to take your case.
Instead, you want a lawyer who has the resources necessary to thoroughly investigate your case, build your claim, negotiate your settlement, and litigate on your behalf if necessary.
How Long Will My Case Take to Resolve?
It’s wise to ask how long the lawyer expects your case to settle, and how much the lawyer expects you will receive. This is helpful for two primary reasons: First, it gives you a ballpark idea of how much time and energy you will need to devote to the case, as well as what you’ll get out of it.
Of course, there is no guarantee of a timeline, but if the attorney doesn’t want to answer the question, then they may not have much experience.
An experienced attorney should be able to give you a rough estimate based on their personal experiences with similar cases. These are important considerations when deciding whether or not you want to move forward with your case at all.
And secondly, the answers to these questions can serve as a red flag – if the attorney promises you’ll receive millions or that your case will be resolved before you know it, you should search for someone else. In either case, keep in mind that such estimates are hard to predict without a full review of all of the evidence of your case.