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Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident for which you were not at fault, you may want to consider hiring a personal injury attorney, who can help you receive a fair settlement from your insurance provider.

Reasons for hiring a personal injury lawyer include:

· Personal Injury Law Knowledge – Personal injury laws vary by state and situation, making it difficult to know what you are legally entitled to unless you are a law student or a personal injury professional. You should look for an attorney that specializes in personal injury claims and has experience representing injured persons.

· Able to Negotiate Fair Compensation—Insurance companies profit by under compensating injured persons; therefore, many companies may offer a lower settlement to people who are not working with a personal injury attorney. As a result, some people hire a personal injury lawyer before they have been offered a settlement.

· Fair Representation in Court—Other people hire a personal injury attorney when they seek to dispute a claim.

Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, taking a percentage―typically one-third to 40 percent―of the settlement amount. In addition, you could be liable for court fees and related expenses. Inquire about all fees and expenses prior to hiring a personal injury attorney.

When to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

There is no need to hire a personal injury attorney if your injuries resulting from a car accident are minor. However, consider hiring a personal injury lawyer if:

· Your injuries have possible long-term repercussions.

· The other involved driver was uninsured or underinsured.

· You and the other driver dispute who was at fault.

· You feel pressured by the claims adjuster to agree to a settlement quickly.

· You don’t feel you’re being fully compensated for your current and future medical costs resulting from your car accident injury.

· You fear Ohio’s statutes of limitation laws may come into effect before you can challenge the settlement claim.

What to Expect if You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

A fast settlement in the instance of a court case is not likely. While each case is different, it is typical for some cases to take several years before they are resolved. Personal injury lawyers often work on a contingency basis. Therefore, you will be charged based on the court settlement, sometimes as much as 40 percent of your award. Inquire about contingency fees before hiring a personal injury attorney. You also will be responsible for paying all court-related fees.

Initial Consultation Fees

Most personal injury attorneys do not charge an initial consultation fee, but you should confirm this before your initial consultation. Be prepared to present all related documentation, such as the official police report and any correspondence with your insurance company, during the initial consultation. To determine if a lawyer is right for you, ask these general questions during your initial consultation:

· What personal injury law areas do you specialize in?

· Have you successfully represented cases like mine before?

· Will your associates be working on the case as well? If so, can I meet them?

· How long will it take to resolve my case?

· Will you accept my case on a contingency fee basis?

· Do you charge a retainer fee?

· What other fees should I be aware of, such case filing and potential court fees?

· Do you anticipate my case going to court?

· What can I do to improve my case?

· If I have questions, how can I get in touch with you?

· If you are unavailable, is there another person I can speak to?

· What is your education and have you recently taken any continuing education courses?

· If I am unhappy with the settlement offered, will you take my case to court?

· What is your experience as a trial attorney?

· Will you refrain from going to court if I wish to settle for the offered amount?

Retainer Fees

A retainer agreement is the written financial agreement between client and attorney. When a retainer agreement is signed, some lawyers may request a down payment. During your initial consultation, be sure to inquire as to the retainer fee.

Retainer agreements typically include:

· The attorney provided services;

· Corresponding client actions;

· An explanation of fees and expenses;

· The payment schedule; and

· The process for dissolving the professional relationship.

Contingency Fees

Personal injury attorneys commonly accept cases on contingency fee basis, taking as much of 40 percent of the settlement amount from the auto insurance company if you win the case.

Finding a Personal Injury Attorney

You may want to ask friends, family and professional colleagues for a personal injury lawyer referral. You also can consult the Yellow Pages or the Internet or ask the local bar association to ask for a referral.

Knowing what to submit to a personal injury attorney if you are involved in an auto accident may shorten the time it takes to be reimbursed for bodily injuries.

A Checklist of Auto Accident Details

You will need to provide your personal injury lawyer with the following information:

· Your name, driver’s license number and car insurance policy number;

· Names, drivers’ license numbers and car insurance company names of other drivers and passengers involved in the auto accident;

· Date and time of the auto accident;

· Accident location;

· Weather conditions at the time of the collision;

· Copy of the police report and any other accident reports filed;

· Copies of traffic tickets written at the accident scene; and

· Whether a driver was charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

A Checklist of Personal Injury Details

Additional information to provide to your personal injury attorney must be obtained after the accident. For example, visit your physician to be thoroughly examined, which includes obtaining X-rays and MRI scans.

Documents and information to give to your attorney after you are examined by your physician include:

· Physician’s report;

· Medical bills;

· Expenses for ongoing treatments or therapies;

· Number of days and wages lost from work because of the accident; and

· Copies of correspondence between you and your insurance company related to the accident.

Your personal injury attorney might travel with you to the scene of the accident to take pictures. He or she also may interview other parties who were involved in the collision. It is suggested that you maintain contact with your insurance company and your personal injury attorney throughout the settlement proceedings.

When not to Work With a Certain Lawyer

You may not want to select an attorney who typically represents insurance companies now by a lawyer who asks for payment up front, be it the form of a retainer fee or the rejection of a contingency fee. You do not want to be represented by a lawyer who refuses to honor your wishes or refuses to sign a retainer agreement in the first place. Retainer agreements should include the following:

· Attorney rendered services;

· Required client actions;

· Legal fees and related expenses;

· Payment schedule; and

· Process of dissolving an inharmonious professional relationship.


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