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Lawyers. They are the people that most do not want to ever have to deal with. But, at the same time, they are the people that you could end up needing the most.
Imagine one day you were just minding your own business, and then you fell, hurt yourself, and were out of work? What if you got into an accident? What if that accident not only put you out of work but left you with a permanent injury?
That is where a personal injury lawyer comes in. They are the people that can get you the compensation claims or disability that you rightfully deserve.
The question is, how do you find that lawyer? With 1.35 million lawyers in the United States, the selection process can be a little intimidating.
So, you probably would ask yourself, what should you even look for in a personal injury lawyer? These are some of the things to keep in mind.
One of the first things you should expect from your personal injury lawyer is an established record in cases similar to yours.
This can be one of the most important things that factor into what lawyer you decide to hire. In this study, 81% of people said that a lawyer’s years of experience were important to them and 66% of people said that past case results in a case similar to theirs were important to them.
Naturally, you would feel a lot more secure with a lawyer that handled a slip and fall case and got the client a lot of compensation if you were in a slip and fall situation yourself.
On that note, if one lawyer just had one case like that in his first year, and another lawyer had 10 cases like it in five years, that is where the years of experience would come into play.
You should expect a lawyer to be able to show that they have a record in the case type that you are about to enter, and ideally show you that you are in reliable hands for this situation.
Another thing you should keep in mind for your personal injury case is the financial costs that may come with it. About 76% of people in the survey above had financial costs of a lawyer as one of the major factors for who they would hire.
Understandably, you do not want to put yourself in a financial hole by going with a lawyer that you cannot afford. You also want to make sure that you know all of the possible costs of the lawyer that you are considering hiring.
Let’s say that you have a burn injury that may take time to even get a proper prognosis on. You will want to know what costs you are getting into on top of potential medical costs for your upcoming case and if those costs are even worth claiming a personal injury.
Lawyers typically request about 30-40% of the potential money awarded to you in this type of claim. That number is on the lower side for settlements and on the higher side for lawsuits.
Besides the percentage, some lawyers may want case-related costs as insurance if your case is not successful. This is something that you may have to pay upfront.
So, say you want $500,000 as a settlement for your burn injuries. You may have to give the lawyer $133,000 of that settlement. If it goes to trial and you end up losing the case, not only will you not receive any money, but you will be on the hook for several thousand dollars in costs.
Evaluate these options carefully with your potential lawyer and have them reveal these potential costs to you as soon as possible.
Types of Personal Injury Claims
For those of you new to the legal process, you may not even be familiar with if your type of claim would even qualify. In other cases, you may end up looking for the wrong type of lawyer for what you are facing.
If you are not confident if your situation fits what a lawyer is more known for dealing with, do not be afraid to ask more about it. There are some very common personal injury claims like car accidents, slip and falls, assault, drunk driving, accidents at work, and even wrongful death.
Go over this with a lawyer and see if your case even fits this type of situation. There may be circumstances where you may not have even been aware that your situation would qualify.
Say there is an accident, injury, or even death because of a drunk driving accident. Sure, the driver can be liable and in serious trouble for whatever happened to the victim and get a DUI. But, in Georgia, there is a liability from the bar, restaurant, or any other establishment that might have over-served someone who was clearly intoxicated.
So, that means that you may have a personal injury case against an entire business rather than just one person. This is something that you may not realize on your own and could be a benefit of talking to a personal injury lawyer.
Do not be afraid to go consult with a lawyer and see if your potential claim is bigger or smaller than you might imagine.
Chances of Winning
Something that you really should get an analysis on before you proceed is your chances of actually winning your claim. The last thing that you want to do is potentially be on the hook for thousands of dollars when someone with enough legal knowledge of your situation could have told you in 30 seconds that it was a losing battle.
When it comes to personal injury claims, not many of them actually go to trial. In fact, about 95% of cases are settled before a potential trial.
Some of the main reasons for that are time and cost. In some cases, even reaching a settlement deal can take up to two years. Adding a trial on top of that would take a lot more time.
People may not have the patience, confidence, or financial time to be able to wait for a bigger claim. The defendant can end up throwing a reasonable number out there after some haggling with your lawyer that you may end up being satisfied with.
Also, there is a cost to going to trial. As said above, a lawyer tends to get a bigger contingency fee if the case goes to trial rather than getting settled out of court. Plus, if the case goes to trial, you are taking the risk of having to pay your lawyer fees if you lose rather than being guaranteed to come out with money in a settlement.
This can be a lengthy process that not many have the stomach for. You should have a good idea of what the chances are of you getting a decent settlement and what the risk and reward would be if you went to trial.
This is part of the legal guidance that your personal injury lawyer should be giving you so that way you know how your actions can impact the result of your case. Sometimes, you may not have to do anything but show up.
But, other times, you might need to be active in your involvement in the case. This could be anything from providing medical records, listening to doctor’s orders, possibly providing proof of where you were when the injury took place.
A lawyer should be able to tell you exactly what you need to do (if anything at all) to improve your chances of winning your claim. This prevents the possibility of negligence on you and your lawyer’s part in the courtroom and the possibility that you contradict yourself or make a mistake that ends up costing you your claim.
So, say you are dealing with an accident at work. You may need to provide proof that you were even on the property that day. But, you may not want to sit in deliberation if you accidentally confess that you were doing something that you were not supposed to at your job or if you have some strong negative feelings towards your co-workers or company.
Do not be afraid to ask a lawyer what you need to do to help your case and if you should be helping with your case.
Length of Case
Legal cases are known to be long battles. If you have medical bills because of a personal injury, then it may be even more important to you to have the payout from your claim quickly.
You should ask your lawyer how long they think that your case could take, and they should have a pretty good idea depending on the type of case that you are presenting to them.
If it is a straightforward settlement, the case can be done in as little as two months. But, if the case drags on, that can take two years. It can take even longer than that if there is an extended trial, especially in criminal defense.
You should find out what you are getting into for your time. Be prepared to either get a payout quickly or having to potentially go to deliberations and court hearings for the next couple of years.
Finding out an accurate length of time your case may take could help you decide if you even want to pursue the case at all. In other circumstances, it may encourage you to go through with the claim or prepare you to face a longer battle than you might have expected.
But, if your case takes longer, it may be a good thing. Cases that are on the longer side tend to have a great likelihood of a successful claim than those on the shorter side.
Finally, a personal injury lawyer will give you the most important thing you are seeking out besides your claim, and that is legal counsel.
This is everything above from telling you how much your case is worth, how long your case might take, what your role in the case should be, and what the chances of you actually winning your case are.
On top of that, a lawyer can give you information on the laws in your area, do more digging to find a potential loophole or conviction proof, plus give you legal representation in a courtroom to be able to speak for you in an environment that they are experienced in.
A personal injury claim can end up being a really big case. This is not something that you want to take lightly or do incorrectly. Plus, a lawyer could be the person that tells you that you actually have a claim to work with in the first place.
If you are not someone that is very confident about gambling with the settlement money, a lawyer can give you the reassurance that it is worth pursuing. You may be the type to get intimidated by a defendant that is a big company easily, but a good lawyer can push through that.
Say you were offered a settlement for $10,000. You might be tight on money and that could be a dollar amount that really helps you out.
However, a lawyer might know that your case is easily worth $100,000 and can tell you this to hold out for the money that you deserve.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Reading this, you should have a good idea of what to expect from a personal injury lawyer and what you have to gain by hiring one. The question is, are you ready to get the claim that you deserve?
If you are in the Athens area, read more here about compensation claims and call 706-543-8596 for a free consultation.