Several times throughout any given year, I receive calls from people who have decided that they aren’t getting the kind of attention they deserve from their personal injury attorney. Typically, these people have signed up with one of those big firms that advertises a ton on television, radio, magazines and billboards, but these clients have discovered that their personal injury case – which is consuming their entire life – represents a tiny drop in the bucket at the giant firm they chose. These folks didn’t have any experience hiring someone for their personal injury case.
I find these calls upsetting for many reasons, though I’m always happy that they found me in the long run. Honestly, the stories that these people tell me remind me of the horror stories we hear about puppy mills, where the goal is all about numbers (quantity of dogs sold versus the quality of their lives and the quality of the breeds). Truly, some law firms behave like personal injury mills, similar to puppy mills. They play a number game with personal injury cases and the people whose lives have been forever changed by an accident are treated inhumanely.
So, I thought I would write about some of the things you should expect from a high-quality personal injury law firm. There are many out there, including The O’Sullivan Law Firm, but in order to find them, you need to know what to expect when you’re seeking someone to represent your case.
I’m going to share these thoughts in the order that you might experience them; for example, from the moment you call the firm until the moment your case is settled.
Expect to Talk to an Attorney
You should expect a seasoned attorney to handle your personal injury case and for that attorney to be your main point of contact. So, when you call the first time, you should expect an attorney to talk to you. (Someone else may answer the phone initially, but they should direct you promptly to an attorney.) Of course, like everyone else, attorneys are busy people so if they aren’t available the moment you call, you should expect a personal return call within 24 hours.
Expect an Attorney to Handle Your Case
At the “personal injury mills,” clients are often given access to an attorney initially, but after that first call or meeting, they are then handed off to a case manager or paralegal. This person is not a licensed attorney and cannot represent you in court. And while most personal injury cases settle before ever getting to court, you need a licensed attorney to represent you from the very beginning so that your case is thoroughly examined – otherwise, how can you know if you should settle or go to court? Only a seasoned attorney can take those steps for you.
An attorney should be eager to hear every detail about your personal injury case.
Expect an Attorney to Take Time and to Listen
When you make contact, you should expect the attorney to listen earnestly to your story. The attorney should be “all ears,” letting you share the details from your accident, the issues you’ve faced since and the fears you’re managing. In order to understand the full extent of your injuries and the legal ramifications of your accident, your attorney must take time – often a lot of time – to understand your case.
Expect an Attorney Who Doesn’t Charge you a Dime Until Your Case is Settled
Legitimate personal injury attorneys should not charge you anything to take your case or to investigate your case. That is their job. Their compensation comes once you receive your settlement or jury award.
Expect an Attorney Who Understands the Law
This seems like common sense: if you call a personal injury attorney, you expect them to understand the law. But this is actually not something you should take for granted. It truly takes a long time in the field to understand the subtle nuances and potential pitfalls of Colorado laws. Don’t trust your case (and your future) to an attorney without extensive experience in personal injury law.
Expect an Attorney to Understand All the Potential Sources of Financial Compensation
If a personal injury attorney simply looks at your insurance and the other driver’s insurance to determine the potential value of your case, then he’s not doing his job. There are many, many sources that may be available to you given the details of your unique case. Again, these can only be discovered by an attorney who is willing to listen and to spend time with you on your case.
Beware of the attorney who tells you he can get you hundreds of thousands of dollars for your fender-bender.
Expect an Attorney to Be Honest – Even If It’s Not What You Want to Hear
Beware of the attorney who tells you he can get you hundreds of thousands of dollars for your fender-bender. Sometimes, being a good personal injury attorney means that you have to tell clients the hard truths. And believe me, it is better to hear these truths early in your case than to have an attorney who churns on your case for two or three years and finally reveals that you aren’t going to get anything.
Expect an Attorney to Invest in Your Case if Necessary
In order to fully understand your case, your attorney should be willing to hire outside experts who can share objective opinions on your medical condition, the facts behind your accident, and other details. While these efforts are not necessary in every case, your attorney should be willing to take these steps when the information could help you. (And make sure that the experts your attorney hires are truly objective and respected in their field. You will not be served better in the long run by a quack “expert” who is only saying what your attorney wants him/her to say.)
Expect an Attorney Who Knows How to Go to Trial
Yes, a lot of personal injury cases settle before they ever get to court, but you’d better have an attorney on your side who isn’t afraid to take your case to court, and who has plenty of trial experience, too. If the insurance companies aren’t playing fair (and they often don’t), your attorney must be willing and able to aggressively pursue your rights in court.
Expect an Attorney Whose Work is as Much Vocation as Business
Most people become lawyers because they want to help people. Sometimes, however, they get pulled into giant law firm machines that are more concerned about their bottom lines than their clients. Suddenly, these attorneys are less concerned about being good lawyers than they are about being good business people. You should seek an attorney who is still connected to the reasons that he or she went to law school in the first place: to help people.
I am proud to say that The O’Sullivan Law Firm achieves all of these expectations for our clients. If you have any questions, or would like to talk to me about your case, contact us today.
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