A slip and fall can result in devastating injuries that take weeks or even months to heal. Some victims never make a full recovery. It’s not easy to stay positive when you’re dealing with the physical, emotional, and financial impacts of such a traumatic event, but if another person’s negligence was the cause of your fall, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.
The path to a fair settlement is riddled with legal hurdles that can be difficult to overcome without an attorney. Unfortunately, not all lawyers offer high-quality representation. The importance of finding an attorney with the skills, experience, and resources to handle your case cannot be overstated.
Read on to learn six qualities you should consider before hiring a slip and fall lawyer:
1. A History of Success in Slip and Fall Cases
Even if an attorney practices exclusively in personal injury law, there can be a world of difference between slip and fall cases and claims involving car accidents, dog bites, or other torts. A lawyer who has a track record of success in cases like yours will know the most strategic way to approach the investigation, settlement negotiations, and any litigation that may follow.
Such an attorney will be better able to anticipate and avoid complications that could delay the proceedings or reduce your final recovery. A lawyer with the right experience will also know the types of evidence that will be needed to ensure your case is as strong as possible before settlement negotiations begin.
During your initial consultation, ask the prospective attorney about settlements and judgements he or she has won in slip and fall cases. Also, find out if the lawyer accepts cases in multiple areas of law such as divorce law, criminal law, immigration law, and personal injury law. Attorneys who narrow their scope of practice tend to employ more effective legal strategies and usually have a more comprehensive knowledge of the relevant statutes and case law.
2. Positive Reviews
Reading positive reviews on Google, Yelp, and similar websites can give you confidence that the prospective attorney has the skills and resources to provide high-quality representation. Conversely, reading negative reviews can help you avoid hiring an attorney who doesn’t deliver results.
Reviews from past clients will give you an idea of what it’s like to work with that lawyer. And since personal injury cases can last well over a year, this is an important factor to consider. Whether the attorney is kind and genuine or apathetic and impersonal, these traits will likely be reflected in online reviews.
Browsing through reviews will also give you an idea of the attorney’s primary areas of practice. If all the reviews are about divorce law but you need help with a personal injury case, it might be best to look elsewhere for representation.
3. Litigation Experience
Attorneys who have a track record of success in court tend to be respected by insurance companies and judges. In fact, simply hiring a lawyer with a reputation for tough litigation can give the insurance company more incentive to settle a case out of court.
If your attorney doesn’t have a background in litigation, he or she might be reluctant to take your case to trial even if it’s in your best interests to do so. And if the insurance company doesn’t think your lawyer would go to court, they may be more inclined to offer a low settlement and see what happens.
During your first meeting with the prospective attorney, ask about trial verdicts he or she has won in slip and fall cases. If the lawyer has not litigated cases like yours or has only taken a few cases to court, you might be better off searching for a more experienced trial attorney.
4. Experience Negotiating Medical Liens
Your attorney’s ability to negotiate medical liens could have a huge impact on the amount of compensation you ultimately recover. A lien is a claim of a right to payment from the proceeds received in a settlement or judgment.
Depending on the circumstances, a medical lien may be asserted by a health insurance company, a medical professional who provided treatment on a lien basis, Medicare or Medicaid, a Med-Pay insurance provider, or hospital emergency services. Medical liens can sometimes be so costly that the injured party walks away with no net recovery at all.
A skilled attorney will have a refined knowledge of the statutes and case law related to liens and will be able to determine whether a lien is valid. In many circumstances, a lien may be reduced or waived entirely. For example, health insurance liens may be reduced if they include co-pays or do not account for legal expenses. They may also be reduced if the insurance policy of the person who caused your injury was insufficient to make you “whole” again, meaning that the coverage limits were too low to pay for your injuries and pain and suffering. A Medicaid lien may be reduced or waived if it would cause undo hardship to the beneficiary.
There are many other scenarios when a lien may be reduced or waived. It’s important that your attorney has the knowledge and experience to handle lien negotiations and help you fight for the maximum compensation possible.
During the initial consultation, ask the prospective lawyer about his or her experience negotiating medical liens. If the attorney seems confident about the subject, this is a good sign that he or she will be able to provide effective representation.
The process of filing a slip and fall claim can be long and stressful. When your financial security is on the line, it’s easy to lose sleep as you contemplate the potential outcomes of your case and what those outcomes might mean for your family.
Getting prompt answers to your questions is one of the best ways to reduce any anxiety you are feeling about the proceedings. Also, when a lawyer returns your phone calls and emails without delay, it’s a good sign that he or she is not overworked and therefore has enough time to devote to your case.
During your initial consultation, ask for the attorney’s direct email address and cell phone number. Find out if the lawyer is willing to make a genuine commitment to returning your calls and emails promptly.
6. A Kind and Welcoming Demeanor
Because personal injury cases can take several months to well over a year to resolve, it’s important that you find an attorney who genuinely cares about your situation. Hiring a lawyer who has a kind and welcoming demeanor can make the proceedings far less stressful. These attorneys also tend to have the interpersonal skills to be effective negotiators, which will be an invaluable asset during settlement negotiations, litigation, and negotiating medical liens.
The best attorneys won’t hesitate to express genuine sympathy for the adversity that you and your family have faced. They make eye contact and put their clients at ease from day one. You should be concerned if the lawyer seems apathetic about your circumstances.
Discuss Your Claim with a Long Beach Slip and Fall Attorney Today
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
At the Law Office of Michael D. Waks, we are dedicated to helping the injured and their families fight for the compensation they deserve. With decades of experience in high-stakes settlement negotiations and litigation, attorney Michael Waks has the skills and resources to help you navigate every step of the proceedings.
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