Accident, Injury & Settlement Tips – I Want To Fire My Attorney!

A previous article in this series explored what your attorney should be doing for you in a personal injury (PI) case. This article addresses how to deal with an attorney who’s not doing what he’s supposed to do.

It’s always amazed me how some PI attorneys sit on a case. Think about it. PI attorneys are usually paid on a contingent fee – meaning, they get a percentage of whatever they can get for you. Why then would your attorney let your case sit idle? To be sure, the attorney’s overhead expenses aren’t sitting idle.

The answer falls neatly into two categories – either your attorney is too busy, or he’s too lazy. While the former is certainly better than the latter, neither is good for you.

Here’s the steps you should take if you suspect your attorney is too busy or too lazy:

1. Speak to or meet with a top PI attorney in your area to find out what a real attorney would be doing on your case.

These consultations are almost always free.

How do you find the top attorney in your area? Not on TV and not in the Yellow Pages. If you like, you may call me or email me and I’d be glad to help you. The best way to email me is to get your claim value by filling out the 10 questions in the Claim Calculator link below. That will give me both your email address and specific information about your case (amount of property damage, medical bills, wage loss, etc.) I’m able to find, through trial lawyer association list-serves and other means, the top attorneys in every area of the United States. I communicate directly with the attorney about your case particulars, and if he’s willing to meet with you, I connect you with the attorney so you can schedule a time to meet or speak about your case.

How do you know an attorney is one of the best in your area? Simple – he posts his million dollar results right on his website. Attorneys that I help people find are the best – their results speak for themselves. An attorney that doesn’t post their results on their website is not proud of their results. You can rest assured an attorney that has repeatedly recovered over a million dollars for individual clients knows how to successfully handle your file. Successful attorneys also have reputations that insurance companies are aware of. That reputation can make a big difference when the insurance company is deciding whether to settle for a reasonable amount or jerk around your lazy attorney until he persuades you to take a low-ball settlement.

2. Fire him or make him quit?

What happens if you hire him? It varies state by state, so check with the new attorney you meet with. Typically, attorneys are entitled to be compensated for the work they’ve done on the case up till the time you fire him. Usually, this is determined by the number of hours he worked multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate (based on his experience). He must release the file to you (it belongs to you). He may keep a copy of the file, but usually the ethical rules require the copying be done at his expense. The attorney can place a “lien” for the time he spent on your case – which is only paid if and when you get a recovery with your new attorney.

Important: If your new attorney really wants your case (and you ask for it), the new attorney will often pay the old attorney lien out of the new attorney’s 1/3 fee. In other words, switching attorneys won’t cost you anything extra. In fact, for the same 1/3 attorney fee you were always going to pay, you now have a much better attorney who will get you even more compensation for your injuries.

What happens if he quits? If your attorney quits, he can’t claim an attorney lien for the work he has done. If your attorney quits, you don’t have to worry whether your new attorney will agree to absorb the attorney lien within his contingent fee. And the new attorney doesn’t have to worry about fighting the old attorney on an unreasonable attorney lien.

A lazy attorney will usually grow tired of a client who persistently calls the attorney demanding proof the case is moving forward. Frequent calls to the attorney usually do the trick, although it never hurts to “pop by” the attorney’s office and ask to meet with the attorney, or if he’s not available, his paralegal. If no one’s available by phone or in person, insist on a day / time to meet in person. Tell them you’d like to review the entire file. When you do meet (or speak by phone), find out when the attorney intends to file suit. Filing suit forces the insurance company to hire an attorney (i.e. pay money). It also triggers deadlines the insurance company must meet. Without deadlines, the insurance company is happy to keep your money in the stock market – which is really how insurance companies have historically built wealth. That’s why insurance adjusters are trained to delay the claim as long as possible. By repeatedly demanding that your attorney file suit, or withdraw from the case so you can hire an attorney that will, you may be able to get rid of that lazy attorney.

Feel free to contact me (through the free Claim Calculator below) if you have any questions.

How to Handle an Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney

It never hurts to be prepared for any situation, so here is some advice on how to handle the initial consultation with a personal injury attorney.

1. Research the attorney. First, if you have not already done so, do a little internet research about the attorney. Take a look at the attorney’s website. See if anyone has provide any review of the attorney. This type of information will give you some insight into the attorney and their qualifications prior to the consultation.

2. Call the attorney’s office and speak to an intake paralegal. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get a hold of the attorney on the first telephone call. Attorney calendars usually stay full and the attorney may or may not even be in the office. Nevertheless, ask to meet with the attorney in person for a short consultation. Also ask what information you should bring to the meeting.

3. Get your ducks in a row. Before the meeting, get together documentation which may be relevant to your case. These items will likely include your auto insurance policy, photographs, police reports, and any other relevant evidence you may have which is relevant to your case.

4. Tell the attorney everything. At the consultation, tell the attorney everything. Usually the best way is to quickly tell the attorney your story and then allow the attorney to ask you questions to help the attorney better understand what they consider to be the important aspects of your claim.

5. Be forthcoming a truthful. At the consultation, be fully forthcoming and truthful about the facts of your case. You should not be afraid of this. If there is an ugly part of your case which you believe may be unfavorable, failing to tell you attorney about it will serve you no benefit. Often, if an attorney finds out something negative about their client or their client’s case early in the representation, the attorney is able to effectively minimize the impact of that negative. However, if you allow your attorney to be blindsided by the opposing party late in you case, your attorney may not be able to effectively reduce the impact of the negative. Furthermore, if you are caught in a lie, it will only hurt your case and if the lie is big enough you may well lose your case entirely.

6. Ask your attorney questions. Once your have completed the foregoing items, ask your attorney all the questions you want to know about them and your case.

Follow these simple steps, and you will be prepared and able to effectively handle an initial consultation with a personal injury attorney.

Hire a Trial Attorney for Your Personal Injury Case

A personal injury attorney, also known as a trial attorney, focuses his or her practice on helping clients injured because of the negligent or reckless conduct of others. These litigators investigate injury claims and determine the parties responsible for their clients’ injuries. A personal injury attorney is paid a percentage of the final settlement or verdict.

Insurance companies like to deal with injured people not represented by an attorney. Since most people only deal with a personal injury claim once or twice in their lifetimes, insurance adjusters possess a lot of leverage against these victims. Insurance adjusters will typically make an offer to make a case go away, but an unrepresented claimant will never get a top dollar offer from the adjuster.

How a Personal lnjury Attorney Can Help You

Claimants might wonder what a personal injury attorney can do to strengthen their bargaining position. Although each case is different, a trial attorney will typically take the following actions when accepting a new client.

1. Investigate the Facts

A personal injury attorney has tools and resources unknown to the general public. The lawyer may hire an investigator to track down witnesses or obtain asset checks on the defendants. An attorney can easily obtain a copy of the police report and will feel comfortable speaking with the investigating officer about any liability issues. An experienced trial attorney will immediately focus on available insurance and will send a letter to the negligent party or the insurer for the negligent party to verify insurance coverage.

2. Determine the Client’s Injuries

Most clients may not even truly understand their injuries. They will understand the pain and suffering. They will understand how their injuries affect their ability to work or just perform activities of daily living. However, they may not understand what treatment is needed to alleviate the pain. An experienced personal injury attorney will speak with the client’s medical providers to determine how long the client may need to treat and when the client’s injuries will fully heal.

3. Attempt to Settle the Claim

Litigation is expensive. Even filing a lawsuit requires a court filing fee and a fee to serve the opposing party with the civil complaint. An experienced trial attorney seeking to save his client time and money will make a good faith effort to settle her client’s claim without a lawsuit. Typically the lawyer will send a demand letter outlining the liability issues and the client’s injuries, making a demand for a specific amount of money. The insurance company will respond after reviewing the materials and make an offer. Back and forth negotiations can take weeks, months or even years, depending on the applicable statute of limitations.

4. File Suit

If a case cannot be resolved, the trial attorney will file a lawsuit on behalf of his client. The complaint will outline the various claims and describe the injuries sustained in the accident. The claimant is now called the plaintiff, and the party accused of negligently or recklessly injuring the plaintiff is called the defendant.

5. Litigation

Rules of civil procedure vary between the federal rules and the rules of different states, but typically the attorneys involved in a civil lawsuit will draft written questions called interrogatories and requests for production of documents. Each side will answer the opposing side’s interrogatories and requests, and then the attorneys typically schedule depositions. During depositions, the parties are questioned under oath about their claims, injuries and defenses.

6. Mediation

Most civil cases are settled during the litigation process. Only two percent of federal cases ultimately go to trial. Some cases are settled with a series of phone calls, emails or letters, but a large percentage of cases are settled at mediation. Mediation is a formal settlement conference involving a neutral third person, called a mediator, who brings the sides together and tries to help them resolve the case.

7. Prepare for Trial

Although few cases go to trial, a competent personal injury attorney will anticipate the possibility from the start of the case. By fully investigating the accident, understanding the client’s injuries, and thoroughly using the discovery process to obtain information from the opposing side, the attorney will be ready to protect his client’s rights at trial.

Hiring an Attorney for Your Personal Injury Lawsuit

Choosing the right attorney to represent you in a lawsuit can be stressful, but is also very important. This one decision will impact every step of your litigation as your attorney is the lynch pin you will be counting on for information, professional advice and timely action. Here are a few tips that will be useful to you in choosing the right attorney for your personal injury lawsuit.

1. Start your search by asking friends and family for referrals, not by picking an attorney randomly from a TV or phone book ad.

Finding a lawyer in the phone book or choosing a lawyer based on a TV ad is bad decision. A flashy ad or TV commercial does not necessarily translate into the best attorney to meet your needs. Although all lawyers are in the phone book, you don’t want to rely on which ad pops out at you the most. There are many qualified lawyers who don’t have to buy the biggest ad to get business. What counts is the attorney, not the ad. If you are not impressed with the person who is representing you, a judge is not going to be either.

Asking family, friends, and trusted acquaintances for recommendations is much more likely to be beneficial; most people have worked with attorneys at some point or know someone who has. Their input is a great way to start or narrow your search for a personal injury attorney.

2. Utilize the Internet to learn more about the lawyers that have been recommended to you or to find other qualified attorneys in your area.

Using the Internet to do research is a much better way to find a lawyer that will be a good fit for you. The internet can be invaluable when looking for a lawyer. It can not only help you choose a lawyer, but understand what it is that lawyer can do for you.

Once you’ve received recommendations you can do some research on the recommended attorneys via a search for their web site and a review of the information you find there. An attorney’s site should provide information on the areas of law they specialize in and the depth of their experience.

3. Make sure the attorney you choose for your case specializes in personal injury lawsuits.

Always be sure when picking a lawyer that the one you choose is the right kind of lawyer for you. For example, if you need a lawyer for a personal injury or wrongful death case do not hire an estate or criminal law attorney. Making sure that the lawyer you choose practices the kind of law that you need is the best way to ensure that you’ll a happy with your choice.

4. Meet your attorney and look into their background before signing an agreement to have them represent you.

Arranging a brief meeting with your potential attorney is a good way to figure out if they are the right one for you. Most attorneys will agree to a first consultation free of charge. This is a great opportunity to ask the questions that you want answered. You can also request a list of previous clients as referrals and ask the attorney about cases like yours that they have worked on in the past, as well as the outcomes of those cases.

Check on the attorney’s background. Their education and work experience is important, and you may want to see how they manage their practice. These are all factors that can shed light on how well a certain attorney will be able to help you.

5. Be involved in the strategy for your case!

Be certain that you have your lawyer detail the strategy he or she intends to follow for your case. What benchmarks are there likely to be along the way? For example, there are a number of steps you need to follow within the legal process. Your attorney should clearly explain what you can expect before, during, and after each step of the process. Once you know exactly what your lawyer’s plans are and then hold them to their own schedule.

Asking your potential attorney questions is important. Some of the following are examples of things you should know about your attorney. Have they ever handled a case similar to yours? If so how many cases have they won that are similar to your own? What are the alternative ways or resolving the matter? How long will it take to resolve?

Finding a lawyer can be a stressful and difficult but following these simple steps can help to take away some of the doubt that can come with the process. The person you choose to represent you should have your complete confidence. The process of gaining all the facts about your potential representation will also work to put your own mind at ease so that you can feel confident that you are in good hands.

Business Laws Unveiled

Each and every person in this world must have at least once thought about opening some sort of business to increase his or her income. No matter if you are thinking about opening a small family business or a larger company, you cannot do anything but obey the business laws! If you don’t, you and your business can get into serious trouble!

In case you are under the impression that you need to be a graduate of a business law college or have a business law major in order to understand and use some of the basic ideas of small business law and corporate business law, you are making a very big mistake. Perhaps you have heard form the news and the headlines that employment law for business is one of the most dangerous fields, as a person can easily break the business laws and regulations.

The least any business man should know is that he or she must meet the general international business laws. You must also consider the export laws, import laws and but, by all means, one must obey to the specific laws of the country in which your business is situated.

Should you own a company that operates in your home country, then you must get to understand the business laws there. If you cannot manage to get a business permit or license, you can find yourself in a great amount of trouble, as your business can get shut down. Not to speak about the inconveniences due to business and hefty fines and penalties!

If you thought that Internet and online businesses do not need to take these rules seriously, then you can have the unpleasant surprise of getting serious problems. Of course these types of business need to obey the business laws, but they are called Internet compliance laws. Therefore, should you be operating a website of any kind and do not care about all these rules and regulations, criminal prosecution and hefty fines are waiting for you right across the corner.

Well, if all these bad things have made you fear doing business of any kind, you must know that no one expects you to be able to navigate the complexities of any type of business law by yourself! The best option for you is asking for help from a qualified professional of a business law firm. This way you will never get into trouble of any kind!