Between mainstay Cellino & Barnes, plucky William Mattar and upstart Connors & Ferris… there’s certainly no shortage of Buffalo legal options in case of personal injury. While their ads are ubiquitous and impossible to ignore, there are a few things you should know before picking up the phone and dialing 8, or 4 or whatever.
1 – Initial consultations are usually free
Many people don’t call a lawyer because they believe it will cost too much. A good lawyer will be willing to discuss the basic facts of your case and tell you whether he believes you have a case, for free.
2 – Experience matters
Most good lawyers limit their practice to one or two kinds of law. If you are hiring a lawyer to represent you in a personal injury case, make sure that lawyer has experience in personal injury cases.
3 – Beware of ambulance chasers
Ambulance chasing is illegal in most States for good reason. If you were in an accident and get a call, letter or mailing from a lawyer right afterward, beware. Check with friends and family about a lawyer before you hire any lawyer.
4 – You don’t always have to file a lawsuit
While most cases settle without going to trial, some cases do not even need a lawsuit to be settled. A lawyer can sometimes get the important information to the insurance company for the defendant and settle the case without the need to file a lawsuit. This is often faster and less expensive.
5 – Know the Fee
If you hire a lawyer, he has to be paid for his time. Almost all personal injury lawyers work on a “contingency fee.” That means the lawyer gets no fee for his work until you get paid. This kind of a fee allows you to hire a great lawyer without having to pay that lawyer upfront. Be sure you understand the fee before you hire a lawyer.
6 – Expenses are not included
While the fee is often stated as a percentage of your settlement, that fee only pays for the lawyer’s time. When a lawyer has to pay someone else for work on your case, he pays what are called “expenses.” Most lawyers pay the expenses for you and then bill you for the expenses at the end of the case. Ask about expenses before you sign the contract.
7 – You may have to pay back your insurance companies
The number one misunderstanding clients have in personal injury cases is insurance. If you have health insurance, you may have to pay them back for bills the health insurance company paid. Good lawyers will work with you and your insurance companies to make sure you get the most possible from your settlement.
8 – Cases take time
Every case takes a lot of time to complete. When you hire a lawyer, ask how long he thinks the case will take. Good lawyers will be able to give you a realistic estimate. Beware of promises for quick settlements or fast cash. They are almost always untrue.
9 – There are no guarantees
If a lawyer guarantees you a result, don’t walk away, run! A good lawyer will give you an honest opinion of what he thinks of your case.