Hiring a Lawyer
If you’ve been injured or are in need of other legal representation, hiring a lawyer can be a stressful process. We’ve written this article to ease that process and to provide information about the often-times confusing process of hiring an attorney.
How do I know which lawyer is right for me?
The best way to see if a lawyer is right for you is to ask. You can ask if your lawyer has a specialty, or if he or she is more a “Jack or Jane of all trades.” If the lawyer has a specialization, you can ask if it’s for the area of law relevant to your case. Some lawyers are good for personal injury lawsuits but not medical malpractice suits, some lawyers are good at minor criminal defense and not divorce litigation.
Once you know your lawyer’s area of expertise, it’s important to determine how experienced he or she is with the area of law concerning your case. Even if a lawyer specializes in your relevant area, it’s possible the lawyer is relatively new to the field. Hiring a lawyer who’s not only specialized, but experienced in the area of law relevant to your case is key: not only will your counsel be more deft, but because insurance companies offer higher settlements to lawyers with good track records for trial victories, you will likely walk away with more money. To be clear, insurance companies don’t want to go to trial. If your lawyer is known to win trial cases, you’re better positioned to be offered a higher settlement before your case goes to court.
Do I want a lawyer who seeks a settlement or one who frequently goes to trial?
If your aim is to walk away with the highest possible compensation for your injuries, it is best to seek out a lawyer who frequently goes to trial. As we noted in the previous question, lawyers with good trial victory track records are routinely offered higher pre-trial, out-of-court settlements from insurance companies. In fact, many insurance companies keep records of lawyers’ court performances, and make settlement offers based on a lawyer’s experience.
So, let’s say you have a lawyer with a good trial track record, and you’re offered a large out-of-court settlement. You step back, and wonder, “Why would the insurance company offer so much money?” The answer: the insurance company is trying to dissuade you from taking the case to trial for fear they will be forced to pay more money. Therefore, you should take your case to trial – and if you have already hired a lawyer who’s specialized in your area of law and who has a good track record, you’re much more likely to win, and to win more money.
What is a “contingency-fee basis”?
A contingency-fee basis is a billing method many lawyers and law firms use, wherein all legal work is free unless the client wins his or her case. In this way, the law firm’s pay is contingent upon whether they recover compensation for their clients. Accordingly, there is no upfront cost to hire a firm working on a contingency-fee basis, making legal aid accessible for all those in need.
How long will it take to settle my case?
How long it takes to settle your case depends on several factors. First, how complicated was your case? (Were there just a few, or were there many parties involved? Are relevant witnesses easy to find?)
Next, it’s important to know that your case usually will not be settled until you are fully recovered from any injuries suffered, or reached a state of “maximum medical improvement,” in a doctor’s opinion. Sometimes, people suffer injuries that require long-term treatment, even though improvement may not be expected. Once you reach a state where improvement isn’t expected, you have achieved “maximum medical improvement,” and your case is ready to be settled or go to trial.
This is important, because if you try to settle your case before you reach maximum medical improvement, you will not be able to recover compensation for medical costs incurred later.
Once you’ve recovered and you organize all your bills related to your injury, your lawyer can submit a claim to your insurance company and offer an appropriate settlement figure to your insurer. This process often takes 6-8 weeks. Next, your insurance company will respond, often with a low-ball offer. This usually takes about a month. Negotiating back and forth can take anywhere between two and ten weeks or so.
If you don’t end up agreeing with your insurance company on a settlement and end up going to trial, it will take longer to recover compensation, but the likelihood that you take home more money increases.
When a case goes to trial, it can end quickly or take months to complete. Much of this depends on the complexity of your case and the amount of money involved in your case. Cases with larger amounts of money involved usually take longer than ones involving less money because insurance companies will fight harder to protect higher dollar figures.
If youʼve come to the conclusion that you need a lawyer experienced in personal injury, call the attorneys at Justinian PLLC. Weʼll help you achieve the maximum compensation you deserve. Call or contact us today! (512) 980-0000