DID YOU KNOW THAT…
A personal injury is any injury to your person. You may be able to recover money for any physical limitations, disfigurement, physical or mental pain and suffering, or loss of income, if someone else’s negligence or a defective product cause those injuries.
Simply because there was an injury does not mean that someone was at fault or that you are entitled to receive any compensation. You must prove that a defective product or someone else’s negligence was responsible for your injury.
Personal injury claims can result from a number of sources and/or situations including automobile accidents, medical malpractice, a slip or fall, animal bite, injury on the job, injury on someone’s property or injury from a defective product, including drugs.
Keep in mind that some attorneys who invest heavily in the local phone book, billboards, television and radio advertising may not have experience trying cases locally, or even trying cases at all, being a good lawyer is not a requirement for taking out an ad. In fact, some of the biggest advertisers do not try cases and simply refer their cases to other attorneys in exchange for a generous referral fee.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY?
As you would before hiring any professional to help you with important life matters, do some research. The huge settlements advertised on TV, billboards or in the Yellow Pages may be misleading. Ask other attorneys or friends and family who are familiar with the legal community for a reference. It’s important to find a lawyer with expertise in your type of case and who is responsive to your calls and questions.
Check the attorneys’ credentials by visiting Martindale-Hubbell (www.martindale.com), the American Board of Trial Advocates (www.abota.org), and “The Best Lawyers in America,” (www.bestlawyers.com), which compiles lists by specialty based on attorney recommendations.
Ask the attorneys you’re considering whether they teach Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses. Attorneys who teach these courses are teaching other attorneys and are usually the most experienced in their field.
When interviewing attorneys, ask who will try your case. While it is common for less experienced attorneys to work on your claim, a senior attorney should be involved from start to finish. Ask the attorney if they have trial teams and who makes up the teams. Your relationship and comfort level with the attorney and firm is important. Look for a firm that is courteous and is considerate of your time. Don’t ever feel pressured to make a decision on the spot.
WHEN SHOULD I CALL A LAWYER?
If you need medical attention immediately or soon after an accident, you should seek legal advice, especially if you believe your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence or by a defective product. More often than not, the sooner you call an attorney, the better.
There are statutes of limitations and other deadlines for filing claims – some as short as 30 days. It is also important to obtain and preserve evidence early on in the legal proceedings.
Remember: No reputable personal injury attorney will charge you for an initial or any subsequent consultation. At the very least, talking to an attorney soon after an accident can protect your rights in the event you decide to proceed with your case at a later date.
HOW MUCH OF A RECOVERY SHOULD I EXPECT?
Recovery depends on a range of factors: the degree of injury, the degree of negligence and the applicable law. Any good attorney should be able to explain the likely costs and outcomes of your case.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RESOLVE A CASE?
It varies. Some cases can settle in a few weeks or a few months, while others can take two or three years if the case goes to trial. Your attorney should walk you through the process and keep you informed throughout. A good attorney should be able to create opportunities for settlement or will move the case forward as quickly as appropriate when settlement is not an option.
Once you hire an attorney to represent you, that person must continue to handle your case throughout the proceedings, even if you are unhappy with his or her representation. True or False?
What is the standard fee that personal injury attorneys charge: 25 percent, 33 percent, or 40 percent of any recovery?
If you are partly responsible for an accident, you may not sue for compensation from anyone else who may also be partly responsible for that accident? True or False?
Because personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, their clients do not have to pay any attorneys’ fees unless and until their case is resolved successfully. True or False?
QUICK QUIZ ANSWERS
False. If you are not satisfied with your legal service, you generally have the right to withdraw from the attorney-client relationship at any time.
Virtually all personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee, which means that they get paid only if you do. The standard fee is no more than one-third of the settlement, after expenses are paid. li>False. Even if you were partly responsible for an accident, you may still be entitled to compensation from anyone else who was also partly responsible for the accident.
True. Clients pay attorney fees only if the case is resolved successfully and they recover damages. Clients are responsible for litigation expenses, however, even if there is no recovery. When there is a recovery of damages, litigation expenses should be deducted before attorney fees are calculated. Attorneys receive a percentage of the net recovery, after expenses.