One of the things that sets good attorneys and dubious lawyers apart is their approach to case evaluations and their investigatory processes. The first step any injury or property damage victim should take following their accident is a search for legal representation. Part of that search should be contacting potential attorneys for a “free case evaluation.” During this evaluation, you should be discussing an array of issues with the lawyer in order to determine whether they’re the right person or firm to represent you.
There are many attorneys out there who will represent clients in virtually any legal case. There’s an old saying that is apt for these types of attorneys, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Although often well intentioned, an attorney who represents clients in divorce and DUI cases as well as personal injury and property damage may not be the best to handle your accident case.
This is generally true for any legal issue you may face, even if it’s not personal injury related. If your business has a contract dispute an attorney who only deals with criminal law likely doesn’t possess the experience or skill set to adequately represent you against opposing counsel who has focused their career on aggressively advocating for clients with contract disputes.
Knowing who will be handling your case and communicating with you throughout the process is also essential. Some law firms will pass off your case to a paralegal or inexperienced staff members. Before you make any agreements with a law firm, it’s imperative you speak with the person who will actually be representing you. The lawyer you speak with on the phone may be very impressive and boast decades of experience, but if they hand your case off to a brand new associate or a paralegal, that confidence-inspiring experience won’t help win your case.
Fee structure is also a must-know before your sign any agreements to be represented by a law firm. If you’re filing a property damage or personal injury claim, you’re likely struggling financially following your accident.
If you were injured you may not be in adequately physical condition to work. Medical bills are piling up and you could be facing months or years of rehab before you’ll even be capable of going back to work. In some situations, injury victims will no longer be capable of returning to their career due to the lasting repercussions of their injuries, further jeopardizing your ability to recover financially from your situation.
If you’re experiencing this type of scenario, the last thing you need is a huge bill from your law firm. Ask the attorneys you consult with whether they operate on a contingency basis or if they use some other type of fee structure.
Attorneys who work on a contingency basis essentially represent you for free until they win your case and you get paid. Once they are successful and you receive your settlement or a court verdict in your favor, you will pay them a previously agreed upon percentage of the compensation you receive from the negligent party.
If you and your family are native Spanish speakers, you should definitely ask your attorney if they or their staff are fluent in Spanish. Personal injury and property damage cases are complicated, and the laws, strategies and investigatory process often requires in-depth, clear communication between attorneys and their clients. Even if you can speak English relatively well, many of the concepts and discussions are best communicated in the native language with which you are most comfortable. Misunderstandings are things you can’t afford when your livelihood and the future of you and your family may be on the line.
The question on our list that has yet to be discussed is the one regarding strategy. Although the other questions are important as well, this one requires a narrower focus due to its importance in determining whether or not your claim will ultimately prevail.
An experienced personal injury or property damage attorney should have no problem answering this question. Although no two cases are the exact same, the strategy and investigatory approach utilized by attorneys representing personal injury victims should share some commonalities.
Fast action and detail-oriented thoroughness are almost always key components to an effective personal injury strategy. This is also why it’s so important to begin scheduling case evaluations with attorneys as soon as possible following your accident.
Evidence has a way of getting weaker the further you get from the date of the event. Witnesses will remember the event less clearly. Injuries will begin to heal. Physical evidence of an accident may be cleaned up or repaired. Video or photographic evidence may be deleted or recorded over.
You and you attorney should immediately go into evidence collecting mode following an accident. No detail is too small to be discarded in a personal injury case. The more statements you have from witnesses, the more video or photographic evidence, the more medical reports you have, the better your chances will be for a successful case outcome.
An experienced personal injury attorney may not be able to give you all of the specifics regarding past cases, but they should be able to give you some general examples of cases similar to yours they’ve represented in the past, how they approached those cases in terms of investigation and strategy, and tell you how those cases eventually concluded.
You should focus on getting better after your accident. Your second priority should be finding an experienced attorney who will aggressively advocate on your behalf. A competent, experienced attorney may be able to help you receive the compensation you need to pay for your medical treatment and recovery so you can move on with your life without being stuck in a bad financial situation. Do your research and ask good questions, as the choice you make in regards to your representation may be one of the most important decisions of your life.