After you have been injured in a car crash or a slip and fall accident, choosing whether to hire an attorney to represent your interests is one of the first steps you should take. When choosing to hire an attorney, it is important that you choose carefully, as hiring the right or wrong attorney can be the difference between winning or losing your case. Here are a few things to consider (and to watch out for) when choosing to hire an attorney:
- The attorney is licensed to practice in the state where you were injured.
- The majority of the attorney’s practice is focused on representing injured clients.
- Does the lawyer litigate/take cases to court?
- The attorney’s reputation in the community.
- How the attorney attracts/solicits clients.
- Attorney’s fees.
1. The attorney is licensed to practice in the state where you were injured.
Every state has its own unique laws. An attorney licensed to practice in the state where you were injured should have detailed knowledge concerning that state’s relevant laws. A personal injury claim may involve different areas of the law, such as torts or insurance law. Different states may also follow different rules in comparing liability. For example, Nevada follows the “collateral source rule” for insurance payments and the “modified comparative negligence” rule. These are but two examples of the unique aspects of Nevada law that do not always apply to the laws of other states. Thus, it is important to hire an attorney who has knowledge of how these rules of law work. At Van Law Firm, all of our attorneys are licensed to practice in the state of Nevada and have intimate knowledge of Nevada law.
2. The majority of the attorney’s practice is focused on representing injured clients.
It is important that the personal injury attorney firm you hire dedicates all, or at least most, of their practice to representing personal injury clients. This is important because each area of the law is complex and there are new changes happening every day. It is also important to consider the amount of time and experience the attorney has practicing personal injury law, as this experience will be crucial when negotiating with the insurance company – and, even more importantly, if you have to file a lawsuit. 100% of Van Law Firm’s practice is geared toward representing personal injury clients. Our attorneys live and breathe personal injury law.
3. Does the lawyer litigate/take cases to court?
It is important to ask how often the attorney litigates and about the attorney’s track record for obtaining favorable post-lawsuit settlements or jury verdicts at trial. Often, an insurance company will view a plaintiff attorney’s lack of litigation experience as an unwillingness to fully prosecute an injured claimant’s case. This often results in the insurance company making low settlement offers. It is important to hire an attorney with the experience and willingness to fully prosecute your case, all the way through trial, to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation possible. Our experienced trial attorneys at Van Law Firm are ready to take your case from filing a complaint to arguing your case before a jury at trial to ensure that you receive the maximum recovery possible.
4. The attorney’s reputation in the community.
Like with any other business or service, it is important to check reviews when hiring an attorney. Reviews can come from past clients, as well as other practicing attorneys in the community. Check out Van Law Firm’s reviews and endorsements on our website as well as on other social media platforms such as Yelp, Google, Facebook, and Avvo!
5. How the attorney attracts/solicits clients.
While it is common for attorneys and law firms to advertise their services on television, billboards, or the internet, be careful when hiring a law firm or attorney that engages in “direct solicitation.” Direct solicitation can take the form of a law firm sending unwanted mail to your home, calling your phone or other means of unsolicited communication. A law firm engaging in such behavior should be a “red flag” as such unwanted solicitations potentially run afoul of the state’s professional and ethical rules governing lawyer conduct. Not only are these solicitations possibly unethical, they also indicate that the law firm or attorney is unable to attract new clients through referrals or positive reviews – which should serve as another “red flag”. Regardless of which attorney or law firm you choose, be sure to do your research before deciding to hire one.
6. Attorney’s fees.
Before hiring an attorney to represent you, you should make sure that you discuss and understand the attorney’s fees being charged. Most initial consultations are free, and the issue of attorney’s fees should be discussed with the attorney before you decide to hire them. This is important to prevent an unnecessary dispute later on. It is common for personal injury attorneys to charge a “contingency fee” – which means that they only get paid a percentage of the total recovery should your case settle or win at trial. Common percentages include 33.33% before a lawsuit is filed and 40% after the lawsuit is initiated. It is also worth noting that the attorney’s fee is different from costs.
While an attorney may not be entitled to the fee in the event of losing your case, they may still be entitled to costs. Costs are generated when an attorney works on your case and consist of tasks such as filing documents, sending mail or paying for expert reports. These should all be clearly spelled out in the attorney’s retainer agreement. A good personal injury attorney should be willing to go over and explain the agreement with you and address any questions or concerns you may have.
Attorney’s fees are required under professional and ethical rules to be reasonable. Whether a fee is reasonable depends on many factors, including the experience of the attorney. For example, if an attorney who has two years of experience with personal injury claims and no trial experience is charging as much as a personal injury attorney who has practiced for 10+ years with trial experience, then that attorney is probably charging you an unreasonable fee and you should go with the more experienced attorney.
In conclusion, these are only a few of the things to keep in mind when deciding to hire an attorney to represent you. Of course, there are always more factors to consider depending on the complexity of your case and the specialty and experience of the attorney. However, the above points are useful to be aware of early on so that you know the attorney you are hiring is the right one for your case. With that being said, if you have been injured, please reach out to Van Law Firm today at (725) 900-9000 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys who can evaluate your case and discuss the next steps.