Do I Stay With My Personal Injury Attorney Or Do I Go?
Date November 2009 - By Jaya Balani | Jason Recksiedler
Once you get in an accident and are injured, you decide to hire a personal injury attorney who comes recommended from a friend or advertises on T.V. How much do you actually know about this attorney? How aggressive are they? Will they take an active role in handling your case or just turn it over to a “case manager”? Most importantly, will they actually take your case all the way to trial if necessary? Many personal injury attorneys are scared to take your case to trial or push for a higher settlement; however this decision can cost you for the rest of your life. Once your case is settled, you cannot go back and ask for more money if your injuries worsen or you require more treatment. It is important to know what questions to ask and what you should know.
You should always remember that if you have suffered an injury at the fault of someone else, chances are you will get only one opportunity to obtain compensation for the injury for the rest of your life. If you hire an attorney who is not capable or willing to aggressively represent you all the way to a jury trial, you may be “short changing” your future. When interviewing an attorney, remember that you are hiring them and in turn they work for you. So don’t be timid in asking what their trial experience has been such as, “what types of cases have they tried, and in which counties and in front of which Judges?” There is a saying in the legal profession, “if you have never lost a case, you haven’t tried enough cases.” This axiom is often true; because most insurance companies and attorneys, even average attorneys settle the easy cases. It’s the cases where there is a dispute as to who caused the accident or the cause or the extent of injuries, which require a jury trial. In this instance, you have every right to know that your attorney is representing you from the beginning with the expectation that they will continue to represent you to the end. Ultimately, it is an attorney experienced in taking cases to trial that effect the best possible settlement, because they have the confidence and knowledge to negotiate the settlement, and the reputation to succeed at trial.
When dealing with your case, just like dealing with your health, you are entitled to get a second opinion from other attorneys. If you do not feel that your current personal injury lawyer is representing your interests they way you feel they should be, at any point during the case you are able to switch to another attorney. However, if this is an avenue that you decide to follow, know that there may be costs that may be owed to your former attorney.
If you decide to wait to hire an attorney for various reasons, make sure immediately following your accident you are seen by a doctor. Also be sure to thoroughly document the extent of your injuries and any expenses you have incurred due to this accident, such as medical bills and lost wages. There is a slight chance you may not need to file a law suit and will not need this information, but if you do need it and do not have it, you will definitely be sorry.