Following an injury, particularly one which has been caused by the negligence of others, you’ll no doubt be wondering if there’s anything you can do in order to seek justice, and possibly compensation.
You can bet your life that the insurance companies will have the resources to be able to hire skilled lawyers on behalf of their clients – lawyers who have a wealth of experience in defending personal injury cases, so how do you go about finding the right personal injury lawyer for your needs? Naturally, the more skilled your own personal injury lawyer, the better your chances of receiving the compensation you’re entitled to.
Here’s the first in our two-part series about the seven essential things you should know before hiring a personal injury lawyer in New York.
The most obvious thing you should be looking for in a personal injury lawyer is experience. An experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer will be able to help your case, with the minimum possible fuss, and in the swiftest time. If the lawyer you are considering giving your business to is not completely au fait with state and national personal injury laws, and dealing with insurance companies and healthcare providers, you should find one who is.
You should also be looking for a personal injury lawyer who has a lot of experience of actually taking a case to court. Since a significant number of personal injury claims are settled out of court, many personal injury lawyers never see the inside of a courtroom, and insurance adjusters know this. They, and their own lawyers, are fully aware of which personal injury lawyers are prepared to fight in court for their clients, and which ones are content to settle out of court. They use this information in order to assess the amount of financial risk to themselves, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that if the lawyer you have chosen invariably settles out of court, the insurance lawyers will use that to their advantage, which will result in a lower award for you. If you want the best shot at getting the compensation you believe you are entitled to, then it’s imperative not only that you hire a personal injury lawyer who is prepared to go to court but also that the insurers believe they could have a court battle on their hands.
Along with experience, you should look at lawyers’ skillsets, and choose a lawyer who specializes in personal injury law. You wouldn’t expect your chiropractor to fix your ingrowing toenail, so why would you choose a general practice attorney to represent your personal injury needs?
Do your research
Instead of conducting a Google search for reviews of personal injury lawyers, where you run the risk of turning up all kinds of bias, it’s far better to seek out peer-reviewed sources because they constitute an official lawyer rating system. Here are three sites you should be looking at when choosing your New York personal injury lawyer:
Fees and Consultations
It’s important to be aware that some personal injury lawyers may imply that they are giving you a special deal by offering a free initial consultation, that they will waive their ‘usual’ consultation fee if you use their services, or that if they don’t win the case for you, you won’t have to pay anything. They’ll dress it up to make it sound like they are giving you a personal guarantee; however, given that it’s pretty much standard practice these days for personal injury lawyers to offer free consultations and to operate on a contingency basis (no win, no fee), it’s really up to you whether you to decide whether they have your best interests at heart, or whether they are so desperate for business, that they are resorting to being less than transparent.
In terms of how much it will cost you to have legal representation, personal injury lawyers who operate on a no-win, no-fee basis means that they will always try to get you the best possible settlement. Their fees are usually around 40% of the amount awarded, and you may have to pay other expenses, such as court fees. Before you hire a personal injury lawyer, make sure you know exactly which fees and costs you will be liable for. It’s worth bearing in mind that free consultations mean you can afford to shop around – you don’t have to go with the first personal injury lawyer you meet with.
Next week, we’ll be covering what to prepare before you meet with your personal injury lawyer, questions you should be asking, and how to tell the bad guys from the genuinely good personal injury lawyers.
At Antin, Ehrlich, and Epstein LLP, our New York personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of personal injury, so if you have suffered a personal injury, you may be entitled to damages, including compensation for resultant medical expenses and loss of earnings. Contact us today on 212-221-5999 to schedule a free, no obligation, consultation to help you understand your rights.