How to Choose the Best Personal Injury Lawyer
5 Common Mistakes & Insider Tips for Choosing the Most Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Case
By: Dr. Nick Oberheiden and James Bell
If you have been seriously injured in an accident, your choice of attorneys could impact the rest of your life. This might sound extreme, but it is true—without a doubt. Just as some doctors are better at treating their patients than others, some lawyers are better at effectively representing their clients in settlement negotiations and in court.
How do you choose the right lawyer for your personal injury case? In this article, we will explain everything you need to know.
Who is Responsible for Your Losses?
When you are seriously injured in an accident, there are two primary questions you need to answer. Until you are able to answer these questions, you simply will not have the information you need in order to recover the financial compensation you deserve. The first of these questions is: “Who is responsible for your losses?”
In order to file a claim after an accident, it is not enough to know that someone else is responsible for your losses. Instead, you need to know who specifically is liable for your injuries. This is because it is up to you to file a claim (or claims) against the appropriate party (or parties). Despite what they say, the insurance companies are not there to help you, and they are not “on your side.” The insurance companies will only pay if they are convinced they have no other choice, and this means you need to be able to convince them that they have a legal obligation to pay.
This is one of the first ways in which an attorney can help—and it is one of the first areas in which your choice of legal representation truly matters. If you have been seriously injured, you need to choose an experienced personal injury lawyer who can identify the party (or parties) that are legally responsible for your injuries. This is not an easy task, and it requires your attorney to go far beyond hiring a private investigator to examine the scene of the accident. You also need to choose a lawyer who will look beyond the obvious potential defendants (i.e. the other driver or your doctor) and identify any other parties that may share liability for your injury-related losses (i.e. a vehicle manufacturer or negligent hospital administrator).
How Much are You Entitled to Recover?
The second critical question you need to be able to answer is: “How much are you entitled to recover?”
Even if you were involved in an “ordinary” type of accident, your case is completely unique to you. This is true not only with regard to the specific facts involved, but also with regard to the specific amount you are entitled to recover for your losses.
As a general rule, if you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or a product defect, you are entitled to compensation for all of the financial and non-financial impacts of your injuries. Some states have special rules for certain circumstances; but, in general, if you have been seriously injured you can expect to fully recover your losses with the help of an experienced attorney. In order to determine how much you are entitled to recover, your attorney will need to thoroughly and carefully assess current and future costs such as:
- Medical, therapy, rehabilitation, and prescription costs
- Repair bills, personal property replacement, transportation costs, disability accommodations, and other out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost income and benefits
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain, suffering, and emotional trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of companionship, consortium, enjoyment of life, services, society, and support
For more information about how our attorneys will calculate your losses, you can read: What’s My Case Worth?
Mistakes to Avoid if You have Been Injured and Someone Else May Be to Blame
Lots of personal injury law firms publish articles about what steps you need to take after an accident, but far fewer talk about the mistakes you need to avoid. The truth of the matter is that the steps you need to take after an accident are all fairly straightforward: Trying to collect insurance information, taking photos, seeing a doctor, and contacting an attorney—these are all things that most people know to do already.
However, the mistakes you need to avoid are not necessarily so obvious. At Oberheiden P.C., we want to ensure that all accident victims have access to the information they need, and we want to help all accident victims avoid mistakes that could jeopardize their recoveries. So, if you have been injured and you believe someone else may be to blame, here are five costly mistakes you need to avoid:
Mistake #1: Delaying Any Longer than Absolutely Necessary
When you have a personal injury claim, you do not want to wait any longer than absolutely necessary. This applies to all aspects of your claim, and it applies to everything you can (and should) be doing to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
In most states, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is somewhere around two to three years. While this means that you have up to this amount of time to file your claim, waiting anywhere near this long will almost certainly make it more difficult to secure financial compensation. From identifying the liable party (or parties) to making sure your claim covers all necessary medical care, the longer you wait, the more difficult it will become to file a successful claim for damages.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will understand the importance of acting quickly, and he or she will begin taking the necessary steps to protect your claim immediately. This includes launching an investigation, and it includes consulting with you about doing everything necessary in order to preserve your legal rights.
Mistake #2: Assuming You Can (and Should) Deal with the Insurance Companies on Your Own
As someone who has been seriously injured in an accident, you are most likely going to have to deal with the insurance companies. Auto accidents almost always involve insurance claims, and falls, medical mistakes, and other types of personal injury cases typically involve insurance claims as well.
However, the fact that you need to deal with the insurance companies does not mean that you need to deal with the insurance companies on your own. In fact, it is strongly in your best interests to engage an experienced personal injury lawyer to deal with the insurance companies for you. There are several reasons why, including:
- While the insurance companies are required to handle your claim in good faith, they do not always do so. Additionally, even when handling claims in good faith, the insurance companies are not required to advise victims of their legal rights.
- The insurance companies do not have to tell you how much you are entitled to recover. While offering a low-ball settlement offer is a form of insurance bad faith, the insurance companies are well within their rights to require victims to prove their accident-related losses.
- There are many complicated steps involved in recovering just compensation after a serious accident. Dealing with the insurance companies is not easy, and protecting your legal rights requires the advice and representation of an experienced attorney.
Also, keep in mind that filing an insurance claim might not be your only source of financial recovery. In many cases, multiple parties will share liability for an accident; and, if you do not have an attorney who is experienced in handling complex and high-value personal injury cases, you could completely overlook an available source of financial compensation.
Mistake #3: Assuming that You Cannot Impact the Outcome of Your Case
Another common mistake accident victims make is assuming that there is nothing they – or an attorney – can do to impact the outcome of their case. They assume that the outcome is already predetermined, and that the insurance companies will simply decide how much they are going to pay.
This assumption is fundamentally flawed. As an accident victim, everything you say and do matters, and everything you say and do has the potential to impact the outcome of your case. This includes both positive and negative consequences. If you let the insurance companies decide what they are going to pay, you are going to end up with far less than you deserve—if you receive any compensation at all. On the other hand, if you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer, and if you continue to play an active role in your case, you can help ensure that you will be fairly compensated for your financial and non-financial losses.
By hiring an experienced lawyer to represent you, you can give yourself the best chance to secure full and fair compensation. An experienced lawyer will be able to identify all liable parties, accurately calculate your losses, and fight to achieve a just result. At Oberheiden P.C., we have secured more than $6 billion in compensation for our clients, and we have done so by taking a strategic, aggressive, and personalized approach to every case we handle.
Mistake #4: Allowing Short-Term Concerns to Compromise Your Long-Term Health and Financial Stability
When you have a personal injury claim, it can be easy to focus on the present—you are in pain, you are out of work, and bills keep coming in. However, in order to protect yourself, you need to focus on the future. If you are facing an uncertain future or a future with chronic pain and suffering, it is absolutely imperative that you receive the full financial compensation you deserve.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you see the bigger picture. Not only that, but an experienced personal injury lawyer can also help you make an informed decision about when (and if) to settle. While it might seem nice to settle quickly and move on with your life, if you settle for too little, you could experience negative consequences every day for years or decades to come.
At Oberheiden P.C., not only do we help our clients recover just compensation, but we also help our clients deal with their short-term concerns. We can work with your medical providers to delay collection while your personal injury case is pending, and we will advance all costs of pursuing your claim so that you do not have to pay anything out of pocket. Additionally, since we charge less than other law firms, we can help ensure that you have as much money as possible to manage the financial and non-financial effects of your injuries.
Mistake #5: Hiring an Inexperienced Lawyer or a Personal Injury Lawyer Who Does Not Take Cases to Trial
Finally, we will wrap up our discussion by returning to where we started: If you have been seriously injured – and if you are serious about recovering your losses – your choice of legal representation matters immensely. First and foremost, you need to hire a lawyer with relevant experience. Personal injury cases are unique and complicated, and not all lawyers have the knowledge and skills required to handle them effectively.
Second, you need to choose a lawyer who takes cases to trial. While settling for just compensation should always be the first priority, in many cases obtaining a favorable settlement takes showing that you are prepared to fight for your legal rights in court. An attorney who regularly takes cases to trial will be able to leverage his or her experience during settlement negotiations, and will be able to utilize his or her experience in the event that a fair settlement offer never comes.
Schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer at Oberheiden P.C.
Would you like to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your legal rights? If so, we encourage you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Oberheiden P.C. To discuss your case in confidence as soon as possible, call 800-810-0259 or tell us about your case online now.