PHOENIX PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS – QUESTIONS TO ASK
The Phoenix Personal Injury Attorneys you hire is probably the most important factor in determining how much money you will be able to recover for you injuries. So be careful, and hire the right one. Here are some things to consider and ask a lawyer you are considering to represent you in your personal injury case:
PHOENIX PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS – TRIAL EXPERIENCE
You want to know whether your lawyer has experience taking cases to trial. Your case will probably never go to trial. The vast majority don’t. But it matters a lot that your lawyer has trial experience. Insurance companies (who will likely be paying your claim) know which lawyers go to trial and which ones don’t. Amazingly, many personal injury attorneys have never tried a case, and won’t. Their incentive is to settle the case for as much as they can get before it gets anywhere close to trial. If the case does not settle, then the lawyer will simply drop the case or refer it to another law firm.
Either way the lawyer gets no fee, so he has every incentive to get it settled for something. The insurance companies’ incentive is to make crummy, low-ball offers to settle the claim, knowing that eventually the lawyer will pressure the client (you) to settle for that crummy amount. If the insurance company knows you have an experienced trial lawyer on your side, they have much less incentive to bother with the low-ball offers. Bottom line, the amount of your settlement is likely to be higher if you have a trial lawyer representing you. Besides, how can you know that your lawyer is really willing to go to the mat for you if he has never done it before.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of the fees the lawyer will charge you. The lawyer is required to have a written fee agreement in place setting forth the fee structure. You don’t want any surprises after the case settles and you finally get your check. The client will be responsible for payment of out-of-pocket costs and expenses associated with the case. If the case settles before a lawsuit is filed, then these will likely be minimal (for example, copying costs, postage). If a lawsuit is filed then the costs and expenses become more substantial (for example, filing fees, deposition expenses, expert witnesses).
Either way, these costs and expenses are typically paid off the top of the settlement payment. In addition, there may be liens asserted by your medical care providers on the amount you recover. Most providers are willing to negotiate these amounts down, but they may still be substantial. These amounts are also typically paid out of the settlement. The lawyer’s contingence fee is typically going to be in the vicinity of 33 1/3% of the settlement amount. In some cases, after the costs, expenses and medical liens are paid, and the lawyer takes his third for fees, the client ends up with less than the lawyer does, and maybe substantially less. Some lawyers will agree up front in writing that they will not take more than their client. Ask your potential lawyer about this.
It’s a good idea to get an understanding up front on how you the client are going to be kept informed of the progress of your case. You may want a regular status report. You also want to understand the most expedient lines of communications with your lawyer. Many questions can be answered by a paralegal assigned to your case. Know who that is. If you want to speak with the lawyer directly, he should commit to being responsive. For example, if he can’t take your call at the moment, he will return it within 24 hours.
Have the lawyer explain his process for resolving claims. What does he do to prepare to make a demand on the defendant or, more likely, the defendant’s insurance carrier? Understanding the process will result in less confusion and fewer questions later. Ask how long it takes to get a claim resolved. This is always a difficult question because every claim is different. But the lawyer probably has some understanding of the typical time to resolution.
Ask what you can do to help move the process along. There are often things the client can do to help expedite the process. These may include gathering medical records or assisting your lawyer’s paralegal in that effort. If you haven’t already done so, then take pictures of the scene of the accident, the vehicles involved, and your injuries. Provide a list of witnesses who may need to be interviewed. Keep a log or journal of your injuries, your medical treatment, and the progress of your recovery. Include emotional conditions, such as anxiety or fear that you are experiencing.
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