FAQs: Hiring an Attorney
After a serious accident, you may need to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent your interests in negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If you cannot secure a fair insurance settlement or negotiations break down, you and your personal injury lawyer may decide that filing a personal injury lawsuit is necessary. Hiring a qualified attorney is an important decision, and you should make sure that your attorney is someone you can trust. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Do I really need a personal injury attorney?
If you were involved in a minor accident and did not suffer serious injuries, it may be possible for you to negotiate a fair settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company on your own. If you were involved in a more serious accident or settlement negotiations with the insurance company break down, you probably need to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent your interests. There are some cases that almost always require representation by a qualified personal injury attorney.
You should know that you have nothing to lose by consulting with a personal injury lawyer in your area. Most personal injury lawyers offer all potential clients a free, no-obligation consultation. A reputable attorney will give you a realistic assessment of your legal options and tell you whether or not legal representation is recommended based on the facts of your case.
Hiring a personal injury attorney offers you the best chance of securing an insurance settlement that fully accounts for your injuries and other losses after an accident. Because filing a personal injury lawsuit requires special skill and training, as well as a thorough understanding of the legal system, you should never file a personal injury lawsuit without a lawyer.
What does a personal injury lawyer do?
A personal injury lawyer is an attorney who specializes in helping injured people recover compensation for their injuries after an accident. Personal injury attorneys can represent you in negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If you and your lawyer determine that filing a personal injury lawsuit is necessary, your lawyer will represent you in court should your case not settle prior to trial.
A personal injury lawyer will gather facts about what happened in your accident to determine how much compensation you are entitled to receive.
Your lawyer can write a personal injury demand letter to an insurance company and engage in settlement negotiations with the claims adjuster. If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer will prepare the paperwork necessary to initiate the lawsuit in the appropriate court.
Your lawyer may try to engage the other party and his or her attorney in settlement negotiations in an effort to avoid going to trial, which can be costly. If your case does not settle prior to trial, your lawyer will argue your case in court. If you prevail in your lawsuit, your lawyer can help you recover the judgment and deal with any liens you may have incurred.
How much does a personal injury lawyer cost?
Most personal injury lawyers represent clients on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee (or contingent fee) is a payment arrangement in which the client pays no fee if his or her claim is unsuccessful. If your claim is successful, you will pay your lawyer an agreed-upon percentage of your judgment or settlement amount.
How long does it take to resolve a personal injury case?
Because so many different factors influence how long it takes to settle or resolve a personal injury claim, it is not possible to give an exact estimate of how long your case will take from start to finish. Most personal injury lawyers will not begin to engage in serious settlement negotiations with the at-fault party until you have sufficiently recovered from all of your injuries. If a lawyer acts too prematurely, you may not be able to recover compensation for unforeseen health complications or other losses.
The speed at which the insurance company investigates and ultimately resolves your claim will play an important role in how long it takes to resolve your case. The more evidence you provide to the insurance company about your accident and injuries, the easier it will be for the insurance company to offer you a fair settlement within a reasonable time frame. If an insurance company has unreasonably delayed making a decision about your claim, it may be engaging in bad faith insurance tactics.
If you and your personal injury lawyer decide that filing a personal injury lawsuit is necessary, it could take several months or more than a year to resolve your case. Among many other factors, the time it takes to bring a personal injury lawsuit to settlement or trial depends on how clear it is that the other party was negligent, whether the other party is willing to settle before trial, how much discovery is needed, and how busy the court or judge is.
An experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to give you a rough estimate of how soon your personal injury claim may be resolved. Be wary of any lawyer who makes guarantees about resolving your case within a short period of time, such as a month. Even the most experienced lawyers can’t always predict how long it will take to resolve a claim.
How should I find the right personal injury lawyer for me?
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is an important decision. Your attorney is someone with whom you will work very closely, so you should make sure you are comfortable with this person before signing a representation agreement. Today, most people find their personal injury lawyers by searching online or asking for a referral from someone they know. You can easily search for attorneys in your area using Google or Avvo.com.
Do not be afraid to ask potential attorneys for references from past clients. You should also be sure that your attorney has brought cases similar to yours to trial before. To learn more about questions to ask potential personal injury lawyers, click here.
Disclaimer: Information provided on this site is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always get a formal case evaluation from a licensed attorney if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.