5 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
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In many areas, finding a personal injury attorney is a relatively easy task. Many lawyers may advertise in the white pages or online. However, it is important to be able to compare attorneys against each other to find the right fit for you. Some things to consider before hiring a personal injury attorney include:
Experience Can Differ
A personal injury attorney is someone who handles cases in which one person’s conduct results in harm to another person, usually based on negligent behavior. Personal injury cases may include slip and fall cases, medical malpractice cases, car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of accidents. Other attorneys may focus on one specific kind of case, such as medical malpractice or truck accidents. It is important to hire someone who has experience with the particular type of case that you are involved in.
Attorneys may charge differently for their services. While it is common in personal injury cases for personal injury attorneys to charge on a contingency fee basis, this is not always the case. Additionally, there is a distinction between legal fees and costs. Fees refers to the attorney’s time invested in the case. Often, personal injury attorneys will be compensated for their time only if the case settles or results in a favorable outcome for the client at which time the attorney may take a certain percentage of the award, usually one-third. However, attorneys differ as to how they handle costs, such as costs for postage, calls, doctor reports, copying fees, hiring an expert witness, court costs and deposition expenses. In some cases the client may be required to pay these costs upfront even if they are not successful with their claim.
Different attorneys have different approaches. Some attorneys may try to get out ahead of the case and move for a quick settlement. Others may be more aggressive and file suit when it is clear that insurance companies refuse to settle for fair compensation. It is important to retain an attorney who will take the approach that is best suited for your particular case, facts and circumstance.
Attorneys may communicate in different ways. Some may be so busy that they do not return client calls for days or weeks on end. Others may prefer to use email and may respond quickly. A lawyer should advise his or her client of developments in the case. Be sure that you ask about your lawyer’s preferred communication method and how often he or she will be in touch with you so that you can have a realistic idea about this subject.
While some personal injury lawyers may have handled similar cases to yours, no ethical lawyer should guarantee a result in litigation. There are no guarantees. A conscientious attorney can give a client his or her honest belief about the potential value of the case and its potential for success but cannot say for a fact that the claim will prevail.
Do’s And Don’ts After A Car Accident
After a car accident, it is important to take certain actions to help with any future personal injury case. Here are the important do’s and don’ts to remember after being involved in a car collision:
Do Call the Police
In many areas, it is mandatory to call the police if an accident occurs, especially if someone is injured or there is extensive property damage. However, there are other reasons why it is important to call the police. For example, calling the police gets the accident recorded on paper. You can later request an accident report that will contain important information, such as the other party’s contact and insurance details. It may also contain information that can help substantiate your case, such as the officer’s observations regarding the possible cause of the accident and whether or not the other driver received a citation.
Do Seek Medical Attention
If you are injured in a car accident, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. This can help prevent your injuries from becoming worse. Additionally, it connects the cause of the accident with your medical injury. Be sure to keep track of all of your medical bills and reports and mention the car accident as your reason for seeking treatment. This helps establish a clear record to help substantiate your damages down the road.
Do Call an Attorney
At the end of the day, it is usually an insurance company that you are going to have to deal with. Insurance companies have their own attorneys, so it is important to level the playing field by finding competent legal representation of your own. A personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights and can handle communication and negotiations with the insurance company. Most important, an attorney knows the law and statutes of limitation.
Don’t Agree to a Recorded Statement without Counsel
Insurance companies often try to trick individuals by stating that they must provide a recorded statement in order to receive damages. However, this statement is generally only used to try to refute their client’s liability or the extent of damages. Before providing any recorded statement, discuss it with your personal injury attorney.
Don’t Agree to Settlement without Legal Representation
Many insurance companies will try to quickly resolve claims before a person hires an attorney. In this manner, they can save the company more money by offering a low settlement. However, an attorney can help you assess the real damages that you have suffered due to another person’s negligence. A personal injury lawyer can help estimate the real extent of your damages, such as lost wages and lost earning capacity, especially if the accident resulted in a disability. A car accident attorney has a better idea of what a potential claim is worth.
Don’t Admit Fault
Even saying “I’m sorry” can ultimately be used against you in court and treated as an admission of guilt. Avoid making any conversation with the other driver beyond what is absolutely necessary to get contact information.