The attorney you choose may be a critical element in deciding the success or failure of your case. Such a choice should be made carefully. Unfortunately, for those who have never gone through the claims process, selecting a lawyer may be scary. You may be justified in being cautious about hiring a lawyer with questionable ethics or limited competence. We seek to allay such anxieties in this chapter by providing a basic approach to locating a personal injury lawyer.
To begin, keep in mind that attorneys, like physicians, sometimes focus their practices on a single field of law. If you need hip replacement surgery, you should most likely see an orthopedic surgeon rather than a cardiologist. Additionally, you may want that surgeon to conduct hip surgery on other patients regularly rather than just a few times a year.
Similarly, if you are involved in an accident, you will not want to engage in a divorce, real estate, or business law attorney. Similarly, you generally do not want an attorney that handles just a few personal injury cases per month or year, in addition to other sorts of matters. While a non-specialist lawyer may be able to assist you, he or she will almost certainly lack the expertise and abilities of a lawyer who practices personal injury law daily.
Nobody can accomplish everything. The same is true for attorneys who concentrate their practice on a specific field of law. A personal injury attorney who specializes in this area of law is likely to be familiar with the unique complexities of the legal, procedural, and factual issues that arise while defending accident victims. They will also have a greater understanding of and ability to execute effective methods for maximizing the value of your injury claim since they deal with these difficulties daily.
What is it that a lawyer can accomplish that I cannot?
You may wonder if you should employ a lawyer at all, rather than dealing directly with the insurance company and its adjuster. You should keep in mind that, although the insurance adjuster may seem kind and accommodating, he or she is working for the insurance company that will pay for the settlement of your claim.
If the insurance adjuster can convince you to settle your claim for less than it is worth, this is beneficial to the insurance company but detrimental to you. In contrast to a hired lawyer, the insurance company is under no legal obligation or financial incentive to treat you properly!
As an illustration: A working-class woman was seriously injured in a collision with a commercial tractor-trailer. She sustained injuries in the crash and her car was rendered unusable, all of which caused difficulties for this mother of three little children. The next day, a representative from the truck driver’s insurance company paid her a visit at her house.
The insurance adjuster was adept at generating an expectation that he was there to assist her in resolving the issues produced by the accident. After finding that she had medical insurance, he assured her that based on his expertise and her ability to move about her house and carry one of her children, he felt she would make a full recovery.
He gave her $2,000 to fix her damaged car and $1,000 to reimburse her for any inconvenience or discomfort she may have had based on this assessment. All she needed to do that day was take the cash and sign the release, which precluded her from making any further financial claim.
Despite her wanting to accept the money, she chose to see a lawyer. After consulting with a lawyer, she discovered that she had sustained significant damage to her shoulder and would need therapy and tests to see whether she might heal without surgery. Fortunately, she healed without surgery after essential therapy and was reimbursed properly and completely.
her months of agony and loss. In the end, she got roughly 100 times what the adjuster desired. As you would guess, this client and her family were ecstatic that they retained a lawyer rather than dealing directly with the insurance company.
Myths and realities
Several fallacies are surrounding personal injury attorneys. The following are what I believe to be the most pervasive fallacies that might keep someone from making the best option while searching for an attorney:
Myth: All personal injury attorneys get the same level of training and experience.
Fact: Attorneys’ experience levels vary significantly. Some have decades of expertise, while others are just getting started. Even an attorney with decades of legal expertise may be unfamiliar with personal injury law.
Myth: Any lawyer who has graduated from law school is qualified to litigate a personal injury lawsuit.
Fact: Successfully prosecuting a personal injury lawsuit involves an in-depth knowledge of insurance law, common injuries, and other highly technical subjects. Simply passing the bar does not imply that an individual is a specialist in the subject of personal injury.
Certain lawyers operate “settlement mills” for the express purpose of accepting and resolving matters out of court as rapidly as feasible. These lawyers amass a large number of cases yet pay little attention to them, and seldom or never aim to bring a case to trial.
While this is a convenient method for an attorney to earn fees fast, it may be detrimental to accident victims, who may be better represented by an attorney ready to go to trial even if it prolongs the duration of the case.
Insurance companies often dislike going to trial. They may be more ready to provide a fair sum if they know an attorney is prepared to go to trial if necessary to get the damages their client requires.
Indeed, they are two quite distinct branches of law. While it is conceivable for a rare genius to possess a thorough knowledge of each specific topic of law, an attorney who focuses only on personal injury law is considerably more likely to grasp all of the subtleties of your case.
Additionally, some personal injury lawyers do not want to defend DUI charges while simultaneously defending victims of drunk driving.
Myth: A personal injury attorney who advertises on television must be an excellent lawyer and very successful, otherwise he could not afford the costly advertisement.
Warrior Motorcycle Accident Lawyers has indeed sponsored television advertising to spread the word about our legal practice. However, we also have a track record of outstanding case outcomes that speak for themselves. When evaluating a legal company, don’t rely just on their television advertisement—settlement mills, which may generate substantial revenue for lawyers, also have significant advertising budgets.
Again, just because a legal practice has a healthy cash flow does not always guarantee that their clients are receiving the maximum amount of money from their cases. Consider the real financial worth of individual cases, not the legal firm’s overall revenue.
Fact: When you contact a referral service, there is no assurance that the person you talk with is a legal practitioner or even has the necessary knowledge to grasp the circumstances of your case. Lawyer referral services earn money by gathering “leads” and redistributing them to legal firms that pay them for their services. Their primary priority is earning money, not ensuring that the legal firm with whom you talk is the greatest match for you.
Myth: A lawyer’s ability to advertise as a “personal injury expert” is determined by the bar organization.
In Colorado, attorneys are not permitted to promote themselves as “personal injury specialists.” No legally recognized difference designates someone as an “expert” in a particular topic of law. The Colorado State Bar Association does not certify lawyers or accept certificates granted by other jurisdictions.
Myth: The personal injury attorney whose advertising you read will always be the attorney who handles your case.
Fact: Typically, legal firms designate a partner to serve as the firm’s “face” in ads. Frequently, this is the founder of the company. This does not imply that the business employs just one person. While large businesses may employ hundreds of lawyers, small firms often employ just a handful. I am the primary attorney at Warrior Motorcycle Accident Lawyers, and I am responsible for ensuring that your case is handled effectively and professionally.
I am engaged in the strategic choices affecting each case handled by my law practice. However, other lawyers in the firm may assist me in pursuing the case by taking depositions, reviewing documents, drafting motions and court papers, and doing other regular tasks that most cases involve.
Bear in mind that not all attorneys are created equal. Likewise, this is true for personal injury attorneys. Make certain you do due diligence while selecting a lawyer. The choice you make in your injury lawsuit may have positive or negative implications.
When you contact a law firm for the first time, you may speak with a lawyer, a paralegal, a case manager, or an intake specialist. This individual will inquire about your basic information as well as the circumstances surrounding your accident. A lawyer will do an initial review of your case and may arrange a session based on your responses. If you are unable to go to the law office, many personal injury attorneys will meet with you over the phone, at your home, or in the hospital. We make every effort to assist clients and prospective clients with this sort of requirement at our business.
During the first consultation, you will be questioned about the circumstances surrounding your accident and injuries. Because details can be difficult to recall and some clients may feel intimidated or stressed during this meeting, we recommend that clients bring all documents about the accident, including police reports, hospital bills, medical records, photographs, witness statements, and your insurance policy.
Do not be concerned about a lack of knowledge. Often, the lawyer will be able to get the necessary papers or reports. We constantly make an effort to put clients at ease and to explain everything completely, without resorting to “legalese.”
A lawyer is likely to ask the following questions during your first consultation:
Did anybody get a ticket?
Was there a police report filed? If that is the case, do you have a copy?
Have you photographed the car?
Have you documented your injuries?
Have you made any statements to law enforcement, insurance adjusters, or anybody else?
Were any eyewitnesses, and if so, was their contact information obtained?
What was the extent of the damage to your car? Do you have an estimate for the repair?
Have you had any medical treatment to date?
What medical therapy, testing, or follow-up is your treating physician(s) now recommending?
How are you feeling right now?
How do you pay your bills?
Which insurers are involved?
Will the attorney charge me for this consultation?
A knowledgeable, experienced personal injury attorney should not present you with a cost after this kind of the first session. After all, you are still considering whether or not to engage in a contract with them; you do not have a commercial connection with them until you sign their contract. Attorneys recognize that speaking with prospective clients is a necessary aspect of conducting business, even if some of those people opt not to engage an attorney or proceed to meet with another firm. While we are always delighted when a customer chooses Warrior Motorcycle Accident Lawyers to represent them, we do not want to put prospective clients under duress. We believe that clients should retain our services because they trust us, not because they feel compelled to act immediately.
Even after the contract is signed, your attorney should normally not seek payment in advance. Attorney costs are often paid out of the money you earn from a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit. This is something you should address with your attorney at your first meeting. Please feel free to contact your attorney if you have any concerns about how this procedure works. A competent, ethical attorney will spend the time necessary to ensure that you comprehend any arrangement you engage in.
After a full discussion of the matter, the lawyer should explain the fee calculation process. The majority of qualified personal injury attorneys charge on a contingency basis. This implies that the attorney’s fee is a portion of any recovery obtained on your behalf. With a contingency fee arrangement, you are not compelled to pay for legal services in advance or at all until the case is won. The lawyer should have a fee agreement in place that details the method by which the charge is computed. The contingency fee might vary from 25% to 50%, or even more in complicated and high-risk cases. Occasionally, the cost will change based on whether the lawsuit is resolved or litigated. The majority of lawsuits are resolved outside of court. However, if it does, there is often much more effort involved, and so a greater charge may be warranted.
This structure may seem unusual, yet it continues to be popular because it enables regular citizens to pay the greatest attorneys to represent them. The majority of individuals lack the financial means to pay a qualified lawyer $300 or $400 per hour. The contingency fee agreement effectively “levels the playing field,” allowing someone with less financial means to retain the services of a competent attorney. The contingency fee agreement is a critical and crucial component of our legal system, ensuring that everyone has access to justice regardless of their income or background.
What is the subsequent step?
When you discover the correct lawyer, you will sign a contract legally engaging him or her as your attorney, granting you all client rights. To begin the case, your lawyer may order workers to get your medical records, physicians’ notes, and test results, as well as a copy of any police or accident report and any insurance information or statements recorded by the insurer. If required, the attorney may also employ the services of a private investigator to unearth critical but elusive facts concerning your case. This whole case development process takes time. At Warrior Motorcycle Accident Lawyers, we’ve discovered that clients like being kept updated, regardless of whether there is anything substantial to share. As a result, we appoint dedicated staff members to communicate with clients frequently on the progress of their cases.
During this first step, your lawyer works diligently to ascertain the facts and strength of your case. After constructing the case, your attorney may begin negotiating with the opposing party to get the most compensation feasible under the rules of your state and the circumstances of your particular case. You may wind up resolving the lawsuit out of court or defending yourself in a full trial. Later in this book, you will learn more about this procedure, the phases of a lawsuit, and your duties.
What happens if my case is denied?
Regrettably, attorneys are sometimes forced to decline situations for several reasons. To take a case, a lawyer must assess a variety of variables, including the severity of the victim’s injuries, who was at blame, any conflicts of interest, legal limits, and time restraints. If the firm determines that it is unable to handle your case, this does not necessarily indicate that you do not have a case; rather, it means that the company is unable to take your case at the current moment.
Turning down cases is one of the least favorite areas of our business at Warrior Motorcycle Accident Lawyers. When we are unable to accept a client’s case, we make every effort to recommend them to a local bar organization or another competent lawyer who may be able to assist. Additionally, we attempt to offer instructional tools, such as this book, to assist people in better understanding the system and how their cases may fit within it.