When you need a personal injury lawyer and when you don’t
Some cases don’t require hiring a lawyer. If the damages are not serious and the settlement offer is reasonable, hiring a lawyer won’t make sense. But you also need to be careful when making decisions on whether to hire a personal injury attorney or not.
Some cases that should be handled by an experienced personal injury accident attorney may appear simple at first, but end up becoming complex later. Sometimes the injury may take a couple of days or even months to reveal itself. Remember, you can’t file a lawsuit twice, and the insurance company won’t agree to compensate you again. Here are some of the times you need to hire a professional personal injury attorney:
1. Multiple parties are involved
For the case of an auto accident, it might involve several vehicles and parties. In such a case, a personal injury lawyer will help you identify all the parties that share the liability of the case. The lawyer will also help you determine who among all those involved in the accident is the defendant.
2. Denied claim
Sometimes the insurance company doesn’t want to take its responsibility. If the insurance company is taking longer to compensate you or have denied your claim, you should get professional advice from a personal injury attorney. If the attorney finds out that you are worth getting compensation, he or she will help you file a lawsuit against the insurance company.
In most cases, filing a lawsuit against an insurance company without an experienced attorney on your side, you will be doing zero work. Insurance companies have lawyers who are always ready to fight for them. These lawyers know that you don’t know all your rights and some legal procedures. They will take advantage of your inexperience in legal matters to make sure the ruling will not be in your favor.
3. The insurance adjuster is offering a settlement
It is wise that you consult an attorney before accepting any settlement offer from the adjuster. In most cases, the first settlement offer is less than what you deserve. Some insurance companies use this technique to get rid of cases as quickly as possible so that they can minimize their payout.
Here are six of the most important questions to ask when you are considering hiring a personal injury lawyer:
How long have you been practicing?
At one time or another, every lawyer was brand new and just out of law school. But if you have suffered a moderate to severe injury for which you are trying to recover compensation, there is too much at stake for you to be their “guinea pig”. Ideally, the lawyer you work with should have at least a decade or more of personal injury experience. With that much experience, they will have handled a lot of cases and dealt with many of the complexities that can arise. The only way you should ever consider working with a lawyer who is young and inexperienced is if they are with a firm that is headed by more experienced attorneys. Even then, you will want to clarify who exactly will be working on your case.
How much of your practice is dedicated to personal injury law?
As we touched on earlier, there are attorneys who are “general practitioners” and those who focus mainly on one or two areas of law. A general practitioner may do personal injury along with family law, criminal law, immigration, bankruptcy, and maybe some others. Personal injury is a highly complicated area of the law that covers numerous scenarios, and it takes years to learn and understand the complexities of these types of cases. Just like you would not want a general physician to perform open heart surgery, you would not want a general practitioner attorney to handle an important personal injury claim like yours.
How much experience do you have with cases like mine?
Along the same lines as the previous question, you will want to know how much experience your lawyer has successfully pursuing cases like the one you are involved in. For example, if you were injured in a commercial truck accident, you will need to work with someone who has in-depth familiarity with the laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry, and the proven ability to recover compensation from the various parties that could potentially be at fault for the accident. Someone who has never done a case like this would probably not be a great fit for your situation.
How much personal attention will you devote to my case?
There are lawyers who have the experience and knowledge, but they may not have the level of commitment you are looking for. The kind of attorney you want is one who will give each case the attention it deserves, no matter how big or small. Find out how much personal attention they will dedicate to your case, and just as importantly, what their communication policy is with their clients. Will they communicate with you regularly? Will they give you frequent updates on the progress of your case? Will they respond to your calls, texts, and emails in a timely manner? Look for an attorney who is willing to provide a high level of personalized representation.
Are you willing to take my case to trial if needed?
This is a very important question, because there are attorneys and firms out there that never litigate any of their cases. These are sometimes referred to as “settlement mills”. Essentially, their business model is to bring is many cases as they can through the door and settle them for whatever they can get. While this might be good for them, it is very bad for you. If the other side knows that you will never go to trial, they have no incentive to offer you a reasonable settlement. Although settling the case without the need for litigation is often in your best interest, your lawyer should have extensive trial experience and be willing to try the case (if necessary) in order to recover the just compensation that you deserve.
What is your fee structure?
Most people who have suffered personal injuries cannot afford a high retainer fee and expensive hourly rates, not to mention the costs associated with bringing in outside experts when needed to help substantiate a claim. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not have to pay any upfront fees. Instead, the lawyer is paid a percentage of the compensation they recover on your behalf.
Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer
There are a few important factors to consider when deciding on a personal injury lawyer.
As you look at different personal injury lawyers, you should ask:
- Have you successfully handled lawsuits similar to mine? The lawyer should show you how they have helped people who have been in your shoes before, why they were successful, and how they can use their experience to help you.
- Are you part of a nationally recognized firm? Lawyers at national firms have access to more resources and information from all around the country, which they can use to build a stronger case on your behalf.
- Will you work on a contingency basis? When a lawyer works on a contingency basis, you do not have to worry about paying for legal fees. A small portion of your compensation will cover the cost of retaining a lawyer — but only if your case is successful.
- Are your clients satisfied with your work? Your lawyer will be the one who helps guide your case, and you need to be comfortable and confident in their abilities. There should be an element of trust and connection even before filing your lawsuit.
Things Personal Injury Attorneys Don’t Want You to Know
With all of the personal injury lawyer ads you see on TV, it can be difficult to know who to trust. At the Scranton Law Firm, our goal is to give you the help & information to best improve your life after an accident or injury. When choosing an injury attorney, remember these 10 things:
1. All Personal Injury Law Firms have the “No Fee Guarantee”, it is an industry standard for fee collection. Only upon settlement are fees actually collected per our contracts.
2. Discounted fees are mis-leading, and like the old saying ….. “You get what you pay for.”
3. Small law firms don’t have the available cash for “Up-front Fees” such as court costs, investigators, Medical treatment, etc.. These costs can be $1000’s of dollar which are paid in advanced on your behalf. Without the ability put cash upfront for your case, the case value will diminish quickly.
4. Most firms will refer your case out to other lawyers who specialize in the area of practice that fits your case, and simply take a commission for doing nothing and not performing any work.
5. Most firms don’t want you to look at their reviews on Yelp or they don’t even have a Yelp account in good standing.
6. Everybody gives out free advice. Most won’t tell you how to take care of your own case should you chose too. We will provide the right information you will need if you elect to go it alone. Although, we rarely find that people elect to act as their own attorney.
7. Everybody has an answering service that operates 24/7. We on the other hand have associates that will follow up on calls 7 days a week.
8. There are lots of good lawyers that don’t want your case because its value is too low in their minds. We are far more likely to handle your case no matter what the value. More importantly we have the right staff to handle it.
9. Lots of Lawyers make claims they will fight for you and yield a larger settlement. The reality is settlements are based upon what can be proven and not emotional commentary by your lawyer.
10. Lots of Law firms claim to have a large support staff … which is rarely the case. Every case requires time and effort to get results which means you have to have lots professional staffing to handle the mundane tasks to get the case on the fast track. Most Law firms simply don’t have the the team it requires to get the job done.
Why is it important to choose the right solicitor?
Complex and Serious Personal injury claims involve large sums of money and can take many years to fully resolve. It is therefore important that you have confidence in your solicitor and trust they have the knowledge and skill to get you full compensation. The difference between a good solicitor and a bad solicitor can be the difference between winning or losing your case. Or the difference between negotiating a great settlement or accepting unnecessary and costly compromises. In personal injury cases, the Defendants are almost always represented by large insurance companies, who have the budget to instruct specialist teams of experienced lawyers. They work hard to reduce the amount of compensation you receive. You require an experienced professional to fight and win on your behalf.