Filing a personal injury claim is a complicated process that’s riddled with legal hurdles. A single mistake could be all it takes to jeopardize your entire case. A personal injury lawyer not only can help you avoid costly errors but can also handle the logistics of your claim—from gathering evidence to negotiating with the insurance company to litigating your case if a settlement cannot be reached.
Unfortunately, not all attorneys have the experience, skills, or resources to provide effective representation. Some are overworked and don’t have enough time to devote to each client; others handle cases in many practice areas and don’t have an in-depth knowledge of the case law and statutes pertaining to your claim.
If your financial security is on the line, you’ll want to be confident that the lawyer you hire has the credentials, resources and tenacity to make sure you’re well-represented through every stage of the proceedings. Let’s explore a few qualities you should look for in a personal injury attorney:
1. Experience Handling Similar Cases
An attorney who has won successful outcomes in cases like yours will understand the most strategic approach to take during the investigation, settlement negotiations, and any litigation that may follow. Below are just a few benefits of hiring a lawyer with the right experience:
- Knows the Kinds of Evidence to Gather: Most personal injury cases are filed on the basis of negligence. To prevail in a negligence claim, you’ll have to prove how the defendant breached the duty of care owed to you. You’ll also have to demonstrate how that breach caused your damages and the value of the damages incurred. The types of evidence needed to prove these elements can vary from case to case. An attorney who has helped clients in your situation will know the kinds of evidence to gather, when to bring in expert witnesses, and how to pull together the facts and evidence to build a compelling claim.
- Understands the Most Effective Legal Strategies: The approach an attorney takes during the investigation, settlement negotiations, and litigation depends entirely on the circumstances. An attorney with the right experience will be able to tailor his or her strategies to the facts of your particular case.
- Can Anticipate and Avoid Disputes: If the insurance company disputes liability or the value of your claim, it not only could draw out the proceedings but could also threaten the outcome of your case. A lawyer with the right experience will have a good idea of how your case might unfold and therefore will be able to anticipate disputes before they arise and take steps to avoid or overcome them.
2. A Track Record of Success in the Courtroom
Although most personal injury claims never go to court, the best attorneys approach each case as if it’s going to trial. They perform meticulous investigations, compile all available evidence, apply legal pressure if necessary to obtain evidence, and consult with relevant experts when appropriate.
If you hire an attorney who doesn’t have litigation experience, his or her approach might be less comprehensive. And if a dispute arises, the lawyer might not have the evidence needed to support your claim. Also, the insurance company may not think such an attorney would be willing to go to trial, so they might take a hardline during settlement negotiations.
At the end of the day, you’ll want a legal advocate by your side who has the knowledge and ability to litigate your case if a settlement cannot be reached. Sometimes just being represented by a skilled trial attorney is enough to give the insurance company more incentive to pay a fair settlement.
3. Experience Negotiating Medical Liens
If a health insurance company, government agency, or healthcare provider asserts a lien on your settlement or verdict, you’ll have to address that lien before you receive any compensation. A lien is a claim of a right to repayment for services rendered. If, for example, you were treated by a doctor on a lien basis, such treatment was administered with the expectation that the doctor would be compensated upon the conclusion of your case.
A medical lien can greatly reduce the net recovery in a personal injury case. Fortunately, there are many circumstances when liens can be reduced or when liens are unlawful. An attorney who has experience negotiating medical liens can determine whether a lien asserted on your settlement or judgement is valid.
4. Positive Reviews from Past Clients
If other clients weren’t satisfied with the quality of the legal services they received, it would probably be best to look elsewhere for representation. There are several websites, such as Yelp, that allow people to leave reviews for attorneys. These sites can provide insight into what it might be like to work with the lawyer and may even reveal the attorney’s primary areas of practice.
It’s not uncommon for a single law firm to handle many types of cases, and this might indicate the attorney doesn’t have extensive experience helping clients in your particular situation. If you’re hiring a personal injury lawyer but most of the reviews for that firm pertain to divorce law, criminal law, or another area of legal practice, it might be wise to look for an attorney whose practice is more focused on personal injury law.
5. Willingness to Provide a Direct Line of Contact
Accessibility is a critical yet often overlooked quality to consider when hiring an attorney. Getting prompt answers to your questions and regular updates on your case can make the entire process less burdensome. Also, you might have a decision to make that could impact the outcome of your case—for example, returning to work early or participating in an activity that might aggravate your injuries. It’s important that you’re able to get reliable legal advice when you need it most. The attorney you hire should provide you with a direct line of contact—preferably his or her personal cell phone number—and should be willing to discuss your case after office hours if necessary.
6. Genuine Interest in Your Case
There are all sorts of unexpected complications that can arise during personal injury proceedings. Evidence might surface that brings liability into question. The insurance company might argue that your injury was pre-existing or that your own negligence somehow contributed to its severity. If an attorney isn’t genuinely interested in helping you, he or she might not commit the extra time and effort needed to overcome unanticipated disputes.
Try to find an attorney who makes you feel comfortable. The lawyer should treat you with professionalism and compassion from day one. If the attorney seems apathetic, this may be a sign that he or she is overworked or isn’t able to make a personal connection with clients.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Discuss Your Case with a Personal Injury Attorney in Long Beach
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
Attorney Michael D. Waks believes that every accident victim deserves exceptional representation, no matter the size of their claim. Michael and his outstanding support staff are passionate about helping the injured and their families fight for the compensation they deserve. Schedule a free case assessment today by calling (562) 206-1939, or use our Contact Page to reach us online.
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