What to Look for When Hiring a Lawyer if You Have Been Injured
There are times in our lives when we need assistance from a trained professional. One of those times may be if you’ve been injured in a car accident. There are dozens of questions that may run through your mind if this happens – one of them should be: Do I need a lawyer?
It is important to understand why you might need a lawyer if you have been in an accident. Below are several things to know in order to make a smart first step in protecting yourself.
What will the lawyer do for me?
The lawyer will be your advocate. It’s the lawyer’s duty to ensure that you are fairly and reasonably compensated for your injuries. In order to do so, the lawyer will collect the relevant documents and obtain the appropriate medical opinions.
The lawyer will start a lawsuit on your behalf. It’s his or her job to guide you through the litigation process and to prepare for trial, if that is required.
The case can conclude in one of two ways. In most cases, the parties negotiate a settlement out of court. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the case goes to court and a judge or jury decides on the outcome.
If I am injured in an accident, how long does it take to get a settlement?
The time it takes to reach a settlement depends on several factors, including whether or not you settle out of court and the complexity of your case. It is important to understand that the entire process can – and usually does – takes years, not months. It is a long, drawn-out process.
What compensation will I receive?
At your initial meeting, a lawyer is unlikely to be able to tell you what your case is worth in monetary terms for a number of reasons: a) the lawyer just met you and does not have enough information; and b) your injuries are ongoing and the lawyer does not know when, or if ever, your injuries will resolve.
The lawyer can tell you about different types of damage awards that you may be entitled to receive. For example, you are entitled to damages for pain and suffering caused by the injuries. If you missed work or other economic opportunities, you are entitled to past wage loss. If you are still missing work, then you are entitled to future wage loss. You are also entitled to your out-of-pocket expenses caused by the accident, which are usually for medical treatment or medication. If your injuries are ongoing, you may require future care or treatment as well – and you are entitled to compensation in this area.
What are the risks?
It’s always a good idea to know what the potential downside is in any legal situation. The most common risk for car accident claims is liability. Before you receive any money for your injuries, your lawyer must prove that the other person involved in the accident was at fault or is liable.
If the other driver were not at fault, you would lose your case and potentially owe money to the other party that your lawyer sued.
What will it cost me to hire a lawyer for this type of situation?
Most fees for car accidents are based on a contingency fee. This means that the lawyer collects a percentage of the total award that you receive. If you do not receive an award of money, the lawyer does not charge you a fee. The usual contingency fee is around 30% of the award (the maximum is 33%). This means that if your award were $10,000, the lawyer’s fee would be $3,000 (plus tax).
The lawyer will give you a copy of a retainer agreement setting out the percentage of his or her fee, along with other important terms. You should take it home and read it. Don’t just sign it in the lawyer’s office that day – take the time to review it and think it through.
What else should I know if I have been involved in a car accident and need a lawyer?
When you meet with the lawyer, ask him or her if she will be the lawyer actually working on your file. Ask who will be looking after your case day-to-day. It may not always be the lawyer you are meeting with. Your case may be transferred to another less experienced lawyer. It is important that you know who will be working on your case and what their experience is in this area of law.
Use your common sense. If the lawyer makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, don’t hire him or her. You are meeting with the lawyer to see if you feel that they are a good fit for you and if they will represent you in a way that you are comfortable with.
Want to Know More?
The legal team at Vertlieb & Co is made up of seasoned lawyers with extensive experience in civil matters. From personal injury to fraud to online harassment, we have successfully represented our clients at every level of Court in Canada, up to and including the Supreme Court of Canada.
Contact us to learn more about your rights in a civil matter – firstname.lastname@example.org.