Buyer Beware: 4 Things to Know When Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer

1. Don’t Believe All the Lawsuit Ads on TV

If you’ve watched television in the past decade you may have seen ads for the countless lawsuits brought by victims of a defective product for women – the pelvic mesh.  Now it turns out that many of the women who responded to these advertisements are victims of defective legal representation.

According to the New York Times, the average pelvic mesh jury verdict has been $14 million dollars, while the average settlement has only been $60,000.  That’s a dramatic difference. Moreover, many of the lawyers who have settled large numbers of claims are alleged to have charged excess fees and to have missed deadlines as well.   Worst of all, they are alleged to have arranged for their clients to undergo surgeries that increased the value of their claims, but also exposed their clients to the unnecessary risk of complications.   Sadly, many of the women who settled are finding that their meager settlements are inadequate to deal with the long-term complications they continue to suffer as a result of the defective mesh.

The takeaway here is that choosing a lawyer is an important decision and not one which should be made just because you saw someone on T.V.  This is especially the case for victims of personal injury.

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2. Personal Injury Lawyers Don’t Get Paid Unless You Do

Because personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, they can sometimes have an incentive to settle a case quickly.  The reason is that personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis.  Typically, a lawyer will receive 33 and 1/3 % of any award—regardless of whether they settle the case quickly or if they take it to trial.   As a result, many lawyers will spend heavily on advertising, collect as many cases as they can, and then settle them quickly before they do any work or incur any expenses.  Even though they may not be getting full value for the case, the volume of cases they settle ensures that they profit.  The problem is, of course, that their clients end up getting less than they are entitled to.

3. You Only Get One Chance at Compensation for Your Injury

Here’s the deal: you only get one chance to be compensated for your injury. Timing is everything.  It is only natural to want to receive compensation for your injuries as quickly as possible.  But if you settle your case too quickly, you may regret that decision later.  Right after an accident or injury happens, you may not know the full extent of your injuries.  It’s therefore imperative to make sure that you have a lawyer who cares about you as a person, and who will not settle your case for too little, too quickly.  Some cases need to be litigated a bit before they can be settled, and some cases should not be settled at all.

4. You Only Have a Limited Period of Time to File Your Case

While it important not to rush into anything, every state in the U.S. has some type of limited time frame for filing a personal injury lawsuit. This can range from as short as one year to as long as six years. New York State for example, sets the limit for most types of personal injury at three years. It is also important to act sooner rather than later after you have been injured in order to preserve evidence or seek interviews while memories are fresh.

Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Just because the time to file your personal injury case may be limited, it doesn’t mean you should rush into selecting a personal injury attorney without asking yourself some important questions.

  • Is the law firm located nearby?
  • Are they willing to come to me if I have difficulty getting around because of my injury?
  • Do I get to meet face to face with a lawyer before I’m asked to sign a fee agreement?
  • If I do get to meet with a lawyer before I sign on the dotted line, is that the same lawyer who will be handling my case day in and day out after I’m a client?
  • Does the lawyer carefully explain exactly what he or she intends to do on my behalf?
  • Does the lawyer seem like they are pressuring me into signing the fee agreement, or are they willing to answer questions about it?
  • Does the lawyer demonstrate that he or she is knowledgeable and competent?

The end goal after meeting face to face with a personal injury law firm to discuss your potential case is to try to get a sense if the lawyer thinks of you as a person or just a big fat dollar sign.

Free Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you need assistance, we will provide you with a free, no-risk consultation. We can explain your rights and evaluate your case.  Contact our team of personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth Hiller today.

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