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Q&A: Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney

Posted on Tuesday, July 12th, 2011 at 5:16 am    

Why do I need an attorney?

What will it cost to have an attorney represent me?

Do I have a case?

Will I have to go to trial?

How long will it take to resolve my case?

What is my case worth?

Who decides how much to settle my case for?

If my case goes to trial, who decides the ultimate outcome or resolution of my case?

1. Why do I need an attorney?

Whenever you are injured in an accident, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to handle your claim. The job of the adjuster is to settle your claim for as little cost to the insurance company as possible. To the adjuster and insurance company, you are just one more case.

By contrast, most clients have no training on how to negotiate with an adjuster or in how to determine what is a fair settlement for their case.

With an attorney, the playing field is leveled, and you are protected from the stress which often accompanies negotiations and direct dialogue with the adjuster. Additional stress is the last thing you need.

2. What will it cost to have an attorney represent me?

I will handle your case on a contingency fee basis which means that my fee will be a percent of what I recover for you. Additionally, I will advance all costs associated with handling your case so that you do not have this additional burden or worry while you are recovering from your injuries. When I resolve your case, you pay my fee and reimburse me for the costs advanced in handling your case out of any settlement I achieve. If I am unable to recover for you, you do not owe me any fees nor are you obligated to repay any of the costs which I have advanced in handling your claim. Some examples of the costs that we might incur in handling your case include such things as the costs of medical reports, police incident reports, charges of your physicians for their testimony, deposition costs, filing fees, and expert charges.

3. Do I have a case?

Each case is different. I will use my years of experience as an attorney to address this question and explain the strengths and weaknesses of your case. I will thoroughly research any legal questions relevant to your case and explain those issues to you so that you can understand the legal issues. Similarly, I will also investigate the facts of your case, and hire experts, when necessary, in order to determine whether we can prevail and recover for you.

4. Will I have to go to trial?

Statistically, the majority of cases will settle before going to trial. Indeed, many cases settle without a lawsuit ever being filed. There are many practical reasons for this, including the expense that the insurance company will incur in litigation. Whether or not a particular case goes to suit and/or trial depends on the facts of that particular case. While it is very possible that your case will settle without the need for trial, I handle and prepare each of my cases as though it may go to trial to make sure I am ready to present the best case possible for you, should litigation be necessary in your case.

5. How long will it take to resolve my case?

Each case is different and therefore it is hard to make generalizations. How long your case may take to be resolved depends upon how long it will take for you to recover from your injuries, and whether or not your case can be settled without litigation or trial. Generally, cases that can be resolved through settlement rather than through litigation are concluded sooner. Unfortunately, the rules which govern litigation have built in delays and some Defendants may even try to use the rules to delay getting your case to trial. And, there is a backlog of cases waiting to be tried.

6. What is my case worth?

Again, each case is unique just as you are a unique person. No two people respond to the “same” injury in exactly the same way. I will use my years of experience with personal injury cases and numerous resources to help evaluate your case and guide you in terms of what a fair settlement is for your case. When appropriate, I will consult with experts who will provide us with information to help in making this determination.

7. Who decides how much to settle my case for?

You do. Although I will provide you with guidance based upon my training and experience, you make the decision. Before I begin any settlement negotiations with the Defendant’s insurance company, I will sit down with you and thoroughly explain the strengths and weaknesses of your case, the negotiation process, and what I believe would be a fair settlement for your case. At that time I will answer any questions that you might have regarding the negotiation/settlement process. Furthermore, I will keep you posted as to each and every step of the negotiation so that you will always know where negotiations stand. And no offer will be accepted without your prior approval.

8. If my case goes to trial, who decides the ultimate outcome or resolution of my case?

You have the right to decide when a suit is filed whether or not you prefer to have your case decided by a judge or a jury. In certain situations I have found that it is preferable to have cases decided by a jury. In a trial by jury, the jury has the ultimate responsibility for determining how much money you will receive if you prevail. The judge will oversee the trial and provide the jury with guidance and an explanation as to the applicable law.

The information provided is generalized, it should not be relied upon as a legal opinion. There are always exceptions, special situations, etc. For a free consultation about your situation, contact me at 717.392.6362.