If you are reading this, you probably are thinking about hiring a lawyer. Let’s go over a few key issues you should understand before meeting with a lawyer.
Why hire counsel now?
Regardless of where you are in the process, now is always the best time to talk to an attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer Bangor ME trusts may advise that you do not need representation, which is true in a minority of cases. However, most personal injury clients need immediate access to counsel because the playing field is so uneven and time is of the essence. Insurance representatives are highly trained to gather information that is helpful to their case, undermining or at times eliminating your valid claim. You need someone to investigate your accident on your behalf and stand between you and the insurance company. Personal injury lawyers are the only professionals specially trained to get you the justice you deserve and beat the insurance companies at their own game.
What will a personal injury lawyer cost me?
This depends, but the answer is directly tied to what benefit the personal injury lawyer can bring to your case. Unlike buying a house, where the attorney’s fees are anticipated and built into the purchase price, accidents obviously are unplanned. No one saves up money to hire counsel in the event of a potential accident.
Lawyers understand this and agree to charge no fee in personal injury cases unless and until they recover damages for the client. Most lawyers charge one-third of the total recovery, plus expenses fronted on behalf of the client. In my cases, the increase in value the lawyer brings to a case almost always overcompensates for the lawyer’s fee. In other words, if an injured person tried to investigate the accident and then negotiate settlement without counsel, the highly trained insurance representatives would have an unfair advantage. Your un-counseled recovery would very likely be less than your net, in-pocket recovery with the assistance of counsel.
How should I discuss my legal case with my doctor?
Short answer: you shouldn’t. Your legal affairs are none of their business. Doctors sometimes will mention lawyers, settlements or lawsuits in medical records. Insurance adjusters and defense lawyers will seize upon those statements to suggest that you are more concerned about a legal recovery than a medical recovery.
It is best to deflect any “medical” inquiries regarding representation by politely stating that you do not want to discuss your legal case and do not want any mention of your legal affairs in their records.
Will my case settle and when?
This is an important, obvious, and unanswerable question from a general perspective. Every case is different. Most cases settle after the client’s injuries have either completely resolved or at least leveled off. However, because not all cases settle, it is best to have a personal injury lawyer working your side of the case so you are prepared for a trial if need be.
Lack of income because of the accident.
This is the real and unavoidable injustice of personal injury work and takes planning. Sadly, insurance companies capitalize when injured persons lose work due to their injuries. Cases settle lower because injured persons are desperate. It’s not fair. The accident was not your fault, but forewarned is forearmed. You must be very financially conservative now so you can limit the leverage that will come to bear later.
That brings up the issue of loans while cases are pending. Lawyers are ethically bound not to loan money to their clients. Lawsuit loan companies will attempt to exploit that gap by offering loans at unconscionable interest rates. Lawsuit loan companies often misleadingly express the interest rate as a reasonable number that you assume is a yearly rate but is actually a monthly rate. The 3% you are quoted is actually a 36% annual rate, which is extremely high. Granted, the risk to these creditors is high as well, but their lack of honesty should give rise to extreme caution. Some companies even charge interest on the fees they charge. The interest paid on lawsuit loans is often several times the original loan value and can actually eliminate any net recovery for the client. Steer clear of lawsuit loans if at all possible.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from David Bate Law Office for their insight into personal injury practice.