If you have been injured in an automotive accident or slip-and-fall and are considering hiring a personal injury lawyer, this article will help you understand a few factors to consider, together with the typical lawyer-client relationship involved between the personal injury lawyer and the injured client. If you would like to speak to an injury lawyer, call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a call today.
Essentially, you are attempting to establish that another party is responsible for an injury you sustained. As a result, you are asking to be reimbursed for the expenses, pain and suffering you’ve already sustained, and then additionally asking to be compensated for the same in the future. While every client agrees there’s no amount of money that can make up for lost health, the goal is to obtain fair value for you if you’ve been injured.
Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer
Some clients wrestle with the idea of hiring a personal injury lawyer. Perhaps you feel like you’re not the “kind of person who sues people,” or maybe you’re concerned that you could do better settling on your own without paying a lawyer fee. Both of these are legitimate concerns, but we encourage you to move past them. If you’ve been injured, you deserve the protection provided by having someone represent you. Our experience is that hiring a personal injury lawyer generally leads to better results for clients, as compared to taking on the case by themselves.
Your Inexperience Is A Detriment
A primary concern is that the insurance company may try to take advantage of your inexperience. This will manifest itself in seemingly minor ways, but in the end, they add up to a significant difference for you, the injured party. You’ll find you’re only being offered the low end of value for your personal property damaged in a car accident; your injuries are being downplayed by the adjuster; your lost wages are being challenged as excessive, and your medical treatment is sometimes characterized as excessive. These are common strategies employed by the adjuster as negotiation techniques. If you take them to be facts because you aren’t accustomed to negotiating these items, you’ll end up settling for something less than full value.
Our firm receives calls every day from clients who have been told by the insurance adjuster that their claim is being denied based on contributory negligence. This is yet another common strategy employed by insurance companies to devalue the claim of the injured. While contributory negligence is an issue in North Carolina, it is often used to convince the injured party they aren’t entitled to be compensated. An experienced personal injury lawyer will examine the facts associated you’re your claim, research the existing case law for similar fact patterns, and identify situations where juries in the past have found in favor of the injured party in circumstances like yours. This assists dramatically in overcoming the contributory negligence argument.
Your personal injury lawyer not only has his or her own experience regarding past clients with similar injuries, but also has access to the collective knowledge of other personal injury lawyers in the community, and databases of research which help to determine the reasonable value of a claim based on injuries and factual circumstances. This helps to ensure you’re not settling to less than you deserve.
Negotiating Your Claim
Your lawyer will assist tremendously in negotiating your medical bills. This adds immediate value to your claim because it means more settlement dollars go to you instead of your medical providers. North Carolina has statutory protections for some medical providers which result in medical liens against personal injury settlement awards; however, your lawyer can present a proposed settlement to those medical providers and encourage them to accept a reduced amount of their bill in exchange for getting the case settled quickly. This involves presenting information to the medical providers which shows them not only their pro-rata share as compared to other medical providers but also establishes with them the uncertainty of proceeding with a lawsuit which could result in the medical provider recovering nothing.
Your Time Is Valuable
Most personal injury cases take months to resolve, especially if the company feels they are not responsible. When you are represented by an injury lawyer, the stress and anxiety associated with communicating with the insurance company falls on the law firm, not on you. You’re able to get on with your life, knowing the law firm is moving your case forward by collecting medical records, medical billing, and negotiating your settlement with the adjuster.
The Contingency Fee
You will find that most personal injury law firms—including ours—work on what is known as a contingency basis. This means that the law firm only gets paid if they successfully reach a settlement or court award for you. If the firm does reach a successful outcome for you, the payment is typically based on a percentage of that settlement or court award.
The contingency fee is unique in that it allows individuals access to legal representation at no up-front cost. Without the contingency fee, individuals deserving of legal representation would not be able to afford that protection. It is our opinion that personal injury lawyers who work on a contingency basis play an important role in keeping auto insurance companies and premises liability carriers (Think: Grocery Store Slip And Falls) in check. Individuals injured by the negligence of others not only deserve representation, but they need it, to be sure they are treated fairly.
Why We Like The Contingency Fee
There are many cases or claims that personal injury lawyers take on, which do not pan out. This means the firm works tirelessly in hopes of achieving a good result for the client, and in the end, loses the case. The downside of course is that neither the injured client nor the law firm receives any compensation.
That being said, we actually like the contingency fee for a few additional reasons. Often, during the course of the representation, the client will need to rely on the advice of the lawyer. It could be that the lawyer is advising the client that the offer received is the best offer we are going to receive. It could also be that the lawyer feels the offer is low and a lawsuit should be filed. In any case, the client finds themselves at a crossroads—whether to accept the offer or not. Because the law firm is getting paid a percentage of whatever they recover for the injured client, we believe the client can trust their lawyer during these critical conversations. The decision is always the client’s in the end, but the lawyer is the trusted advisor.
The Personal Injury Process
We have written about the process of a personal injury claim in the past (How Long Will My Personal Injury Settlement Take?). It is important to establish expectations at the outset with clients. Often, the process is long and drawn out. First, the client must finish treatment. This could mean surgery and recovery time for physical rehab. Second, the law firm must gather medical records and medical billing. Providers are slow to respond and process these requests and it requires diligence on behalf of the law firm—and the delay often frustrates clients. Third, the law firm must put together a demand package for submission to the insurance company in hopes of negotiating a settlement. Many times, after all of these efforts, the lawyer and client do not receive a settlement offer and must consider filing a lawsuit. If so, the timeline starts over again. Finally, once an agreement is reached, medical billing and medical liens can often be negotiated by the law firm to benefit the client’s bottom line from the settlement.
While I never promise specific results to clients, our experience is that clients’ rights are better protected with a personal injury law firm on their side. That protection manifests itself in many ways, one of which is knowing you’re receiving full value for your claim. Once a claim is settled and you release the insurance company and the at-fault party, there is no turning back. Our belief is it’s in your best interest to have professional guidance during this process.
Choose Your Personal Injury Lawyer Carefully
Care should of course be taken when hiring a personal injury lawyer. You will work hand in hand with your lawyer for quite a long time. Frustrations can grow if phone calls are not returned, or if progress is not being made on the file. We are sensitive to this, of course. While you should not expect to be able to speak with your lawyer every day, it is important to establish that there will be regular updates to keep the client informed.
Most personal injury law firms operate as a “team” in the office. Each attorney has one or two paralegals assisting with processing the file, gathering information, and keeping the client informed. Our firm is no different. This means you have numerous individuals you can contact for an update at any time.
Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you have been in a car accident, a slip and fall, or have been injured in some other way, we would love to hear from you. The call is free, and the consultation is designed to help you understand your options. Plus, you get a chance to speak with the lawyer who you may be working with if you decide to move forward with our firm. Call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a call. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.