Over the years I have spoken to thousands of people injured in accidents and have heard the frustration and fear of countless good people who are involuntarily put into a system that requires a certain level of knowledge of medicine, insurance, car repairs and law. Finding the right source of knowledge, someone you can trust, is a great comfort in working through this process.
I was in law school when my wife and children were injured in an accident. I went to visit my professor who taught insurance law with some specific questions about the insurance claims process. He explained that he taught the theory of insurance law but and had very little knowledge on the day to day operations of processing an insurance claim successfully. I was confused and frustrated with the inconsistent information I was getting. I have since learned that information is power and access to information is a very comforting feeling. Choosing the right injury attorney can give you the peace and confidence to focus on your family, work, and health knowing that the insurance claims are being handled properly.
How do you find the right attorney that can work with you? First, visit with the potential attorney on the phone and in person. If the attorney won’t come to the phone before hiring him don’t believe for a moment it will be better after you hire the attorney. The attorney should be able to sufficiently explain what to expect from the process and you should feel comfortable enough to ask the attorney to answer any questions that remain.
What about the attorney you already know? You may have had an attorney draft your will or know an attorney from church that is honest. Honesty and a comfort level with an attorney are crucial but there are other factors that are also extremely important as well. Significant experience dealing with the insurance company is also a must. Keeping current on the laws, new cases, and new tricks and traps from the insurance industry are necessary to safely bring a case to its best conclusion. Attorney’s that spend most or much of their time in other areas of law, don’t have the same depth of experience as one who limits his or her practice to protecting the rights of the injured.
Ask what other areas of law the attorney practices and what approximate percentage of time he or she spends on each. You can compare this to the lawyers yellow page ad and internet ads. While most cases can, and do settle, your attorney should be willing to take your case to a jury trial and have done so successfully in the past so that the insurance company knows they will be held accountable if they do not present a fair offer.
Financing a personal injury action is unlike other areas of the law. You should not have to pay an hourly attorney fee or pay as you go on your case. The costs should be advanced by the attorney generally. Initial consultations should be free in injury cases and the attorney fee should be contingent, meaning no fee to the lawyer if money is not recovered.
Because hiring an attorney is largely about trust and communication, it makes no sense to have a free consultation with a paralegal. Some lawyers have no staff to assist them and some are overstaffed so you never get to talk to your attorney. Some Idaho firms have the phone ring in another state and have much of the work done in another state. When you set an appointment with the law office, find out who you will be meeting with, and who will actually be doing the work on your case. You should be able to meet with the attorney handling your case so that you can make the determination if this person is someone that you can work with, and confirm that they are someone that is worthy of the great trust of handling your case.