You need to know the key questions to ask an attorney so that you know you are hiring an attorney with the experience and expertise to maximize your recovery. Lastly, you need to understand the different ways in which personal injury attorneys are compensated for their services. So, take a couple of minutes to read this guide so that you can find an attorney you can trust.
Insurance Adjusters Are Not Your Friends
I will bet that you did not know that the insurance adjuster has a responsibility to the insurance company to settle your claim for as little as possible. In fact, many adjusters have a whole host of tactics designed to drag out your claim and weight the evidence in favor of the insurance company. The most common tactic is to contact you quickly after the accident in order to get a statement from you. This is called "locking you in." Adjusters know that many accident victims do not realize the extent of their injuries until well after the accident. By getting a statement early, the victim might omit certain injuries that are not yet apparent.
Furthermore, the adjuster will delay the settlement of your claim by asking you for multiple estimates, photographs, inspections, medical examinations. The adjuster knows that, over time, evidence is lost and witnesses disappear. Also, you might miss important deadlines or at least get tired and agree to settle. Now, that you understand who you are facing, you need to learn how to select a personal injury attorney of your own
Personal Injury Lawyers Are Trial Specialists
Many accident victims fail to understand that personal injury law is a specialized form of civil practice. In fact, most states have a certification or specialization for personal injury law. So, picking an car accident attorney out of the phone book or in response to a flashy television ad is just not smart. Instead, seek the referral of a trusted friend or relative.
Then, research the candidate using the internet to review firm websites, attorney search services and state bar websites. Once you have a potential personal injury lawyer, conduct an interview to determine the level of expertise and experience, the size and capability of the law firm and any certifications held by members of the firm. Once you have selected an attorney, you need to have a frank discussion about how the attorney is going to recover compensation for his services.
What Is A Contingency Fee?
In the United States, personal injury attorneys often take their cases on a contingency fee. This means that the attorney pays the costs of litigation up front and you pay nothing, unless the case settles or you win at trial. If you recover money, the attorney gets his costs back as well as a percentage of the net proceeds remaining. This percentage is usually between 33% and 40% of the net recovery after costs.
Where the case is not as clear cut, the attorney might offer to take the case on a modified contingency fee basis. Under this arrangement, the client posts a certain sum of money to cover costs of litigation. When the case settles, the client gets his costs first and the balance is split between the attorney and client. The client should demand that the attorney take a smaller percentage because the client is shouldering some, or all of the risk of loss. Lastly, if the attorney does not believe that you have a case, he should tell you so.
Avoid A Big Mistake: Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer
Now that you know more about how to handle a personal injury claim, you can conduct your attorney search in a whole new light. Do not give a statement or submit to a medical examination until you have talked to a personal injury attorney. Find a qualified personal injury attorney using personal referrals or internet research. Avoid television and telephone advertising.
Discuss attorney's fees up front and get the agreement in writing. If you put all of these tips to use, you should have no problem finding a personal injury attorney that will competently and efficiently represent your best interests.