Thousands of car accidents happen across the country every day. Suffering an injury after a car accident can have a traumatic effect on your life. The economic consequences of a car accident can be devastating, even with adequate health insurance and auto coverage. Other costs might include lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and home modifications. If another driver’s negligence caused your car accident and subsequent injury, you might be able to build a personal injury claim against them. A personal injury lawyer can assist you with the process of obtaining the compensation you deserve. Let’s go over some of the benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer after your car accident.
One of the most important jobs your attorney will handle is talking to the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf. Many insurance companies are focused on minimizing payouts to victims and will do whatever possible to dismiss the value of a claim or deny it altogether. Our skilled attorneys have good relationships with many insurance providers, and they know how to counter any attempts to deny claims unfairly.
You Can Focus on Your Health
Building a convincing personal injury claim is tedious and challenging. You may need to gather medical records, eyewitness reports, interview specialists and experts, secure official police reports, track your expenses, calculate future costs, and negotiate for a settlement. Keeping track of these tasks is exhausting and overwhelming for clients. You can focus on getting better while our experienced team handles everything for you by hiring an attorney.
When it’s unclear who is at fault or the other party disputes liability, certain kinds of evidence can strengthen your claim. For example, crucial eyewitness testimony could ultimately help prove the defendant was at fault for the crash. When you hire an experienced personal injury attorney, you will gain access to valuable legal resources, including experts and professionals who can speak on various elements of the case.
Your Lawyer Will Negotiate a Settlement
Once your claim is prepared, your attorney will help to negotiate a favorable settlement. When determining the value of your claim, our attorneys consider the damages that you have sustained, such as:
Any future medical treatments
Any other income that you may lose due to lasting effects of the accident
By working with an experienced and competitive law firm, you can rest assured that we will negotiate the best possible settlement for your injuries. We here at Snyder Law Group are proud to offer our clients a level of service that they can’t find anywhere else.
When you’re looking for a personal injury lawyer, you want to make sure you end up with the right person for you and your case. And that expectation can work both ways. Every lawyer wants a “good client” if at all possible. But what is a “good client,” and how much of being a “good client” is actually within the client’s control?
In a nutshell, a good client does whatever is necessary in order to ensure that the case goes as smoothly as possible and that the best outcome (a fair personal injury settlement, or a win in court) can be reached. That means:
1. Respond to Your Lawyer
Clients get pretty upset when their lawyer doesn’t return phone calls. And lawyers feel the same way. If you don’t return your lawyer’s phone calls, emails, or letters promptly, you’re not just wasting your lawyer’s time, you could also be hurting your case.
2. Attend All Medical Appointments
Your health care provider will note any appointment that you miss, and, if you miss too many, the insurer adjuster (or the jury) is going to assume that you must not have been hurt as badly as you claim. This will cost you and your lawyer money. Be sure to keep all of your appointments.
3. Cooperate in the Discovery Process
If you end up filing a personal injury lawsuit in court, the defendant will send your lawyer written questions called interrogatories, as well as document requests. Your lawyer will send these on to you. You will need to promptly answer the interrogatories and provide your lawyer with the requested documents, or your case could be dismissed. Help your lawyer, and help yourself. Respond to all discoveries as quickly as you can.
Practice for your deposition. Your personal injury deposition is a very important step in your case. Your lawyer is there to help you prepare, offer guidance during the proceedings, and even step in if the other side is taking a questionable approach. Follow your lawyer’s advice and recommendations.
4. Don’t (Always) Blame Your Lawyer
Personal injury clients who are annoyed that their case isn’t going well will often turn on their lawyer and say that it must be the lawyer’s fault.
Some things are indeed a lawyer’s fault, and any client needs to be attuned to that. But some problems that arise in personal injury cases are the client’s fault, and other obstacles are no one’s fault. Some personal injury cases just aren’t that strong (meaning there’s little or no chance of reaching a favorable outcome). Don’t blame the messenger if your lawyer brings bad news. It’s not going to help your case. Get more tips on how much your personal injury case might be worth, and how long the process may take.
For many lawyers, whether they’ll admit it or not, the perfect client is one who does what he or she is told and doesn’t hound the lawyer for updates at every turn. But it’s not in most clients’ best interests to try to live up to that model. There are times that you have to speak up.
If you sincerely believe that there are problems in your case, you can’t always be the “good client.” You have to ask questions. Remember that it is your case, not your lawyer’s. You are the one who was hurt. You have an absolute right to be kept informed about what is going on. It may seem like you are being pesky by asking pointed, probing questions about your case, but you need to protect your interests by staying informed. Learn more about getting help from a personal injury lawyer.
Despite what some popular jokes insinuate to the contrary, lawyers are people, too. They understand that it’s common for potential clients to be nervous or anxious when meeting for the first time. Try to remember that attorneys are there to help you. Knowing what to expect can ease your mind.
Being prepared will organize your thoughts, refresh your memory, and do wonders for your comfort level. It will also help to focus the meeting so your attorney can give accurate and relevant advice.
• Gather all significant documents. If your attorney has sent you forms to fill out, complete them in advance and bring them with you.
• Write down a brief timeline of events.
• Make a list of all the issues you are concerned about and any questions you want to be answered before you commit to hiring the lawyer. Sample questions include: What kind of strategy would you recommend for handling my case? What are your rates? What additional costs am I expected to pay? Who else in your office will work on my case?
• Think about what you would like the outcome to be, which will help the lawyer determine whether your expectations are attainable.
The meeting is an opportunity for you to tell your story, but it’s also important to get to know each other a bit to make sure you feel comfortable working together. Regardless of the reason you are seeking legal advice (personal injury, criminal defense, divorce, bankruptcy, etc.), be honest and as accurate as possible when describing the events. The lawyer will ask questions designed to focus the discussion on the background facts he or she feels are important.
If the lawyer is willing to take your case and you wish to proceed, you will be presented with a retainer agreement, which should be fully explained to you. Do not sign until you understand it. This agreement is a contract that describes your obligations to the lawyer and the lawyer’s obligations to you, including such details as to how you will receive updates about what’s happening with your case, how much the lawyer is charging to handle your legal issue, whether you’re required to make an upfront deposit and how frequently payments are due.
If you need a lawyer for a case that doesn’t involve a claim for money (seeking a divorce, criminal defense, filing bankruptcy), then you will have to pay a “retainer” in advance for the work and then pay by the hour once the retainer is spent. Usually, attorneys with more experience have higher rates than novice attorneys, but the cost often evens out because they may take less time to do the same work. Some lawyers are willing to work out a payment plan so you don’t owe everything at once. If you can’t afford the costs that the lawyer outlines, ask if alternative arrangements can be made.
For cases seeking money, such as personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, the lawyer often agrees to accept a fixed percentage of the amount recovered by the client. This is called a contingent fee arrangement and although percentages vary, one-third (33 percent) is common. If you win, either through settlement or trial, the lawyer is paid for the recovery. If you lose, you don’t have to pay the lawyer anything (of course, you don’t get any money either). The lawyer’s fee is different from filing fees and similar court costs, and, win or lose, the client is usually responsible for their payment.
By the end of your meeting, you should leave with a clear understanding of what you have accomplished and what is happening next. If all goes well, you’ve found an attorney with whom you’re comfortable and who wants to represent you. While meeting with a lawyer for the first time is a new experience, it doesn’t have to be an intimidating one.
Locating a good lawyer who can efficiently help with your particular problem may not be easy. Don’t expect to locate a good lawyer by simply looking in the phone book or reading an advertisement. There’s not enough information in these sources to help you make a valid judgment.
A better approach is to talk to people in your community who have experienced the same problem you face — for example, if you have a claim of sexual harassment, talk to a women’s group. Ask them who their lawyers were and what they think of them. If you talk to half a dozen people who have had a similar legal problem, chances are you’ll come away with several good leads.
But don’t make a decision about a lawyer solely on the basis of someone else’s recommendation. Different people will have different responses to a lawyer’s style and personality; don’t make up your mind about hiring a lawyer until you’ve met the lawyer, discussed your case, and decided that you feel comfortable working with him or her.
Also, it may be hard to find a lawyer through a personal referral with the expertise you need (for instance, if your friend had a great divorce lawyer, but you need incorporation advice, the referral may not do you much good).
Many sites, including Nolo.com, offer a way to connect with local lawyers based on your location and the type of legal case you have. You answer a few questions about your case and your contact information, then the right type of lawyers contact you directly. Talk to a local lawyer.
Nolo’s Lawyer Directory
Our service offers a unique lawyer directory that provides a comprehensive profile for each attorney with information that will help you select the right attorney. The profiles tell you about the lawyer’s experience, education, and fees, and perhaps most importantly, the lawyer’s general philosophy of practicing law. Nolo has confirmed that every listed attorney has a valid license and is in good standing with their bar association.
Businesses that provide services to key players in the legal area you are interested in may also be able to help you identify lawyers you should consider. For example, if you are interested in small business law, speak to your banker, accountant, insurance agent, and real estate broker. These people come into frequent contact with lawyers who represent business clients and are in a position to make informed judgments.
Lawyer Referral Services
Lawyer referral services are another source of information. There is a wide variation in the quality of lawyer referral services, however, even though they are required to be approved by the state bar association. Some lawyer referral services carefully screen attorneys and list only those attorneys with particular qualifications and a certain amount of past experience, while other services will list any attorney in good standing with the state bar who maintains liability insurance. Before you choose a lawyer referral service, ask what its qualifications are for including an attorney and how carefully lawyers are screened.
What you may not get from any lawyer referral service, however, is the insight into the lawyer’s philosophy — for instance, whether the lawyer is willing to spend a few hours to be your legal coach or how aggressive the lawyer’s personality is.
Here are a few other sources you can turn to for possible candidates in your search for a lawyer:
The director of your state or the local chamber of commerce may be a good source of business lawyers.
The director of a nonprofit group interested in the subject matter that underlies your lawsuit is sure to know lawyers who work in that area. For example, if your dispute involves trying to stop a major new subdivision, it would make sense to consult an environmental group committed to fighting urban sprawl.
A law librarian can help identify authors in your state who have written books or articles on a particular subject — for example, construction law.
A women’s or men’s support group will probably have a list of well-regarded family and divorce lawyers.
Consider a Specialist
Most lawyers specialize in certain areas, and even a so-called “general practitioner” may not know that much about the particular area of your concern. For example, of the almost one million lawyers in America today, probably fewer than 50,000 possess sufficient training and experience in small business law to be of real help to an aspiring entrepreneur.
It can pay to work with a lawyer who already knows the field, such as employment discrimination, zoning laws, software design issues, or restaurant licensing. That way you can take advantage of the fact that the lawyer is already far up the learning curve. Sometimes specialists charge a little more, but if their specialized information is truly valuable, it can be money well spent.
Interview the Prospective Lawyers
When you get the names of several good prospects, the next step is to talk to each personally. If you outline your needs in advance, many lawyers will be willing to meet with you for a half-hour or so at no charge so that you can size them up and make an informed decision.
Pay particular attention to the personal chemistry between you and your lawyer. No matter how experienced and well-recommended a lawyer is, if you feel uncomfortable with that person during your first meeting or two, you may never achieve an ideal lawyer-client relationship. Trust your instincts and seek a lawyer whose personality is compatible with your own. Look also for experience, personal rapport, and accessibility.
Communication and Promptness
Ask all prospective lawyers how you will be able to contact them and how long it will take them to return your communications. And don’t assume that because the lawyer seems friendly and easy to talk to that it’s okay to overlook this step.
Unfortunately, the complaint logs of all lawyer regulatory groups indicate that many lawyers are terrible communicators. If every time you have a problem there’s a delay of several days before you can talk to your lawyer on the phone or get an appointment, you’ll lose precious time, not to mention sleep.
Almost nothing is more aggravating to a client than to leave a legal project in a lawyer’s hands and then have weeks or even months go by without anything happening. You want a lawyer who will work hard on your behalf and follow through promptly on all assignments.
Willingness to Work With You
When you have a legal problem, you need legal information. Lawyers, of course, are prime sources of this information, but if you bought all the needed information at their rates — $150 to $450 an hour — you’d quickly empty your bank account. Fortunately, many lawyers will work with you to help you acquire a good working knowledge of the legal principles and procedures you need to deal with your problem at least partly on your own.
If you are hoping to represent yourself and use a lawyer only for advice, make sure the lawyer is open to that type of setup. Likewise, if you’re going into business and will draft your own bylaws or business agreements, ask the lawyer if she’s open to reviewing your drafts and making comments.
Choosing a lawyer for your personal injury or wrongful death case is a decision that is similar to picking a partner for marriage. It may be a long relationship and it is always one that commands the two parties, the attorney, and the client, to trust each other. If one party does not trust the other, the common goal of justice cannot be obtained. This is because justice without trust in the result is no justice at all.
I am writing this entry to encourage face-to-face interaction with those seeking legal representation and the actual lawyer who would be trusted with that case. My biggest competitors are out-of-town, big-city lawyers who, in my estimation, rarely actually meet with the injured/aggrieved parties in my area. So it is no surprise that I often get calls from nearby clients of these lawyers telling me that they are not happy with their lawyer because they don’t know what is going on with their case and they do not trust in what they are being told. I always encourage these folks to try to work it out with these lawyers and I do press them to seek a face-to-face meeting, as that nearly always satisfies client concern, at least for the short term.
I know a great deal of my competitors, and I will say that most of them are very good lawyers and that their firms are usually reputable. But, to me, there is no substitute for the old-fashioned face-to-face meeting. And I do believe there is still something important in the ability to look someone in the eye.
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” – Albert Einstein
Before I talk about the benefits of personal interaction for personal injury clients, I want to stress the benefit of the lawyer to meet with the client. I nearly always demand to meet with my potential clients face-to-face before my attorney-client relationship begins. I’ve been doing this long enough to be able to identify most potential trust issues early on. For example, when I ask a potential client if they’ve ever had the medical condition that they are complaining of now and they either look down or away, fidget, leave moisture on my glass table, and they answer “no,” then I know to pause and inquire further. I advise them that it does not usually matter if they did have prior issues and that I value trust over preexisting injuries in my clients. If they persist in their denial, I have other methods of verifying the truth, but if I get a bad feeling about a potential client, I will turn down cases on that alone. If I can’t trust my client in the initial meeting, I realize that a jury may have a hard time trusting them at trial.
For injured victims of negligence in Ohio, choosing a personal injury lawyer is easy. If you are in a car accident, your mailbox will likely be flooded with mailings with catchy phrases, DVDs, and all kinds of letters from lawyers all over the state. You can be in Portsmouth, call a lawyer in Toledo, and have a lawyer at your doorstep in a matter of a few hours, or less. But choosing a personal injury lawyer you trust is something entirely different. In the instance of this traveling Toledo lawyer, you will likely never see this person again. He or she is probably just a runner, paid to sign you up as a client. Who is actually handling your case – – at all stages, is a whole other story. While you may still get quality representation, you won’t be able to lock in trust because you will likely feel a void in the relationship.
When new clients don’t meet with the actual lawyer will end up handling their case, they are many times deprived of judging sincerity, which goes directly towards how that person can rely on the lawyer. Meeting with the actual lawyer on your case can also give you the opportunity to judge for yourself that lawyer’s commitment to your case, which goes hand-in-hand with whether you believe that person has integrity. Lastly, by meeting face-to-face with your lawyer, you can judge for yourself their competency and whether you feel they will be consistent in providing results.
If you don’t like the lawyer you meet with, move on to the next one. Because if you don’t like them, a potential juror might not, either, and it is important that you find someone you feel comfortable talking to. And to me, there is no substitute for sharing a cup of coffee with the folks I’ve asked to trust me.
If you were injured in an accident and are looking for an experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer to handle your potential case, then you need to know who you may be hiring, and what you may be getting yourself into when you hire them. Our team has put together a list of things you should expect:
1. Invasive questions- When you go to a personal injury attorney to determine your legal rights and options after an accident, be prepared to answer many detailed and sometimes invasive questions. To fully analyze whether you have a claim, your personal injury attorney needs the details, even if they are difficult to recall. Your lawyer can handle your case appropriately and efficiently when they know everything that may be relevant to your claim.
2. Challenges to your story- In most situations, your account of what happened will not perfectly align with the other party’s story. This is to be expected. Every car accident has some gaps or contradictions. Because of this, your lawyer may challenge you. They may question you regarding the truth or validity of your account. All of this is to prepare for the other party’s stance and to find the weaknesses in your case that you may need to address.
3. A wait- Most personal injury cases are not resolved quickly. You may have to wait weeks or months for medical treatment and recovery. Before then, you may not have any reliable way to predict your current and future medical expenses. Depending on the complexities of your case, you may have to go through months of research, legal procedures, and negotiations before you reach a settlement agreement. If your case is going to go to trial, it may take even longer. During this time, you should have full access to your attorney. However, there may be periods of time when you do not hear from your lawyer. Speak with your attorney about the tentative timeline for your claim, and when/how you should expect to hear from them.
4. Realistic expectations– You may not like what your attorney has to say about your case. Once your lawyer has had a chance to listen to your story, do some more research, and fully analyze your situation, they will provide an objective opinion regarding your chance of obtaining compensation. Your lawyer will explain the worst and best-case scenarios and the probable outcome that falls in between. Your lawyer may also not recommend fighting over every issue. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows when it benefits you to fight, and when it is time to compromise.
5. A contingency fee- Many personal injury lawyers are compensated based on a contingency fee. This means you do not pay your lawyer unless you successfully resolve your case, either through a settlement or a court award. When you “win,” a percentage of your compensation is paid to your attorney. You may have to pay for court fees or hire an expert witness, however, you will not be forced to pay a large upfront fee or an hourly rate throughout your case. Your attorney will explain what expenses you are and are not responsible for, and the percentage of the contingency fee if you win your case.
Let Our Personal Injury Attorneys Help You
At our service, we understand how difficult it is to handle all of the ramifications of an accident. It may be both physically and emotionally painful to address your current circumstances, including injuries, medical treatments, and a potential lawsuit. Our team of attorneys is here to help you with all of the legal and administrative consequences of this accident.
When it comes to acquiring clients for personal injury law cases, it is important to have a well-defined marketing plan. Similarly, your firm should have a system of goals and analytics to make sure your efforts are streamlined and keeping up with the competitive marketing arena of 2020.
Consider These 5 Factors of Motorcycle Personal Injury Marketing Success
Given this, we’ve compiled a list of five key factors that every law firm marketing campaign needs to thrive. Read on to learn how you can create a valuable funnel for client acquisition and retention.
1) KNOW THE MARKETING NICHE OF PERSONAL INJURY LAW CASES
This concept applies to how your firm portrays itself in your community as well as any digital efforts to get personal injury cases. Regardless of the overall case scope of your personal injury attorneys and associates, it is vital to market your firm’s specific expertise in personal injury law to get the best potential clients.
This is because in the cutthroat world of digital marketing in 2020, consumer behavior will favor specialists who target their niche. Your firm can have multiple fields of expertise, but try to narrow your scope to the point where you can demonstrate authority on a topic.
Law Tigers has succeeded by being one of the top firms in representing motorcycle accident injury cases. By working in this specific practice area for a long period of time, we have been able to position ourselves as leaders and authorities. This translates to more powerful content marketing, and we recommend aiming for a similar role.
2) TRANSLATE YOUR MARKETING INTO LEAD GENERATION
Many law firms have scattered marketing funnels that may be effective or not, but there is no data to back results up. In order to best understand what to continue doing and what to change, we recommend the following:
Track how your customers hear about you
Monitor your social media content metrics closely
Be diligent about A/B testing for all digital collateral
Pay attention to CPC, even if your paid ads are profitable; you can always be more efficient.
Create multiple methods of contact and re-targeting for already existing clientele.
Once you have already earned a customer’s trust, they will bring you more business and be advocates; this is why conversion efficiency is so important.
3) CREATE A FULL BILLING STRUCTURE FOR YOUR FIRM
Personal injury lawyers make the majority of their money by winning cases or settling out of court. There are often contingency fees associated with winning, and in the event of a negative result, fees and waivers are often waived.
While this is standard and a practice we recommend, this is also where it helps to have a strong niche and repeat customers. This can especially be lucrative if you are working with large organizations on retainer rather than individuals, and your research and associate time can be billed hourly.
4) CHARGE RATES THAT ARE APPROPRIATE FOR YOUR FIRM
One way in which many personal injury firms hamper their profits is by not charging enough for their services. Law Tigers has created an authoritative presence in the motorcycle accident injury field, and as a result we are positioned as industry leaders. Due to this, we are able to charge a proper premium, and our clients are happy to pay for the good service.
This is especially important because personal injury law in and of itself is not highly lucrative relative to some higher-profile fields. Many firms and attorneys are in personal injury because they care about the ethics of these cases. We can speak from long-term personal and professional experience.
If you create a full-service and specialized firm, you will be able to do well in personal injury law. The type of clientele you want to appeal to will understand that they are paying for results and integrity within a personal injury firm. So long as you are fair and consistent in your rate increases, this is a no-brainer long-term.
5) MARKET A FULL-SERVICE PERSONAL INJURY FIRM
This is not the opposite of finding a niche; in fact, it is an accessory to it. While a focus on several key aspects of personal injury law will get you a strong client base, you do not want to exclude requests from anyone. Part of the goodwill a firm can earn is the willingness to explore all options within their expertise, and also be able to refer certain cases to trusted partners.
Studies have shown that clients feel more comfortable when your associates show a willingness to defer a case to another firm. Similarly, you can create a vast network of referring partners from different law offices who will recommend you for your niches. In this sense, sharing the wealth short-term can create massive long-term returns.
Maximize Client Acquisition with Law Tigers
Motorcycle personal injury law is a complex practice that requires efficient marketing to sustain growth. This doesn’t mean that legal marketing itself has to be a source of stress and confusion. At Law Tigers, we have found decades of success by positioning ourselves as the industry leaders in motorcycle accident injury representation.
This knowledge of niche law has allowed us to be valuable marketing consultants to other motorcycle accident law firms. If you are interested in learning how to maximize your team’s efforts for client acquisition and retention, please reach out today; it is a conversation well worth having.
If you’re looking at prison time or a hefty fine, it’s a good idea to look into hiring the best criminal defense lawyer possible. You may have the ability to get a court-appointed lawyer if your income qualifies.
Simply put: the legal system is designed to make competently representing yourself in criminal trials almost impossible. Even if you have an abnormally high IQ, the system does not work in your favor. Hiring an attorney to represent you in your criminal trial is a necessity.
Because no criminal case is exactly like another, criminal defense lawyers are trained to pick out the parts of each case that make them unique.
In essence, they use their knowledge to find subtle evidence and reasons why you should win the case.
Also, the best criminal defense lawyer for you may be able to spot certain arguments and factors that could mitigate or even negate any potential crime. Even if you are guilty and the evidence is against you, they may be able to help you reduce fines and jail time.
Daily Responsibilities of a Criminal Lawyer
The day-to-day of being an attorney might not seem glamorous. Generally, it involves:
Contacting clients through email, phone calls, video calls, or in-person meetings
Reading case documents, evidence, and statutes (laws)
Taking notes on what would be helpful for the case
Forming a strategy for the case
While these activities may seem boring, they are the essential building blocks to making a strong case.
Criminal attorneys often spend months preparing for a case. The preparation can take much longer than actually being in the courtroom. This way, when the case goes to court, things can move as quickly as possible, and there are no surprises in the case.
What Specific Work Does a Criminal Lawyer Do That I Can’t Do?
After the research and strategy are done, a criminal defense lawyer has many jobs. While in court, they will call witnesses in your defense and cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses.
They need to be dynamic and trustworthy, explain complex topics to a jury, and be prepared to discuss any aspect of the case. And this is just the beginning of the tasks ahead of them.
Specialties and Duties: Plea Bargains
Your criminal defense attorney may work with you and the prosecutor to negotiate a “plea bargain.”
A plea bargain can reduce your potential sentence or eliminate some of the charges brought against you. However, prosecutors are often unwilling to negotiate with defendants that represent themselves.
If you’re found guilty, your criminal defense attorney may be able to change your sentence. Often, they are changed in a way that would prevent you from winding back in the criminal justice system.
For instance, instead of going to prison for ten months for a drug possession conviction, your criminal defense attorney may suggest a prison sentence of six months and then four months in a drug treatment facility. This approach aims to help you with the drug problem that landed you in trouble in the first place.
Specialties and Duties: Case Outcomes
As hard as it might be to hear, an attorney has the experience and training to provide you with a reality check.
Defense lawyers know what’s going on much better than you will during your criminal trial. They also can predict how a case is going and what the judge or jury’s outcome may be.
Your defense attorney has the advantage of:
Remaining objective throughout a proceeding
Offering realistic insights into how the trial is actually going
These assessments and reality checks are often essential when a criminal defendant is trying to decide whether or not to accept a prosecutor’s plea bargain.
Specialties and Duties: Rules and Regulations
You can read books on criminal defense, but it takes years of study to grasp this area of law. Your attorney will point out important legal rules and regulations that you most likely wouldn’t find on your own.
Many rules about criminal prosecutions are buried within regulations and laws, and even prior court decisions.
For example, if you were to represent yourself, you may never know if the search that the police conducted of your apartment was lawful or not. To know this, you must understand the many nuances and intricacies surrounding the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Specialties and Duties: State-Specific People and Systems
Most people will find it hard to navigate their case through the state legal system where the case is being heard.
There are written rules, such as the local rules of court, that must be obeyed and followed. There are also often many “unwritten rules” that go along with each jurisdiction.
For example, let’s say only certain prosecutors can make and approve plea bargains. Your criminal defense lawyer may save you time (and maybe even jail time) by talking to the right person the first time.
Specialties and Duties: Consequences of Pleading Guilty
Your attorney can easily explain some of the “hidden costs” that come along with pleading guilty. Many people that represent themselves never think about the consequences of pleading guilty if it could lead to a shorter sentence.
For example, if you plead guilty, you may find it very hard to find a job once you’ve completed your punishment. An attorney will make sure you understand all your options before you plead.
Specialties and Duties: Handling Witnesses
Your attorney is trained in working with witnesses. They will be able to more easily gather evidence and statements from witnesses that are going to be called by the prosecution. Handling this without experience can be challenging for someone representing themselves.
Many witnesses, understandably so, refuse to give statements or information to people that were allegedly involved in a crime for fear of their own safety. However, these witnesses are often much more willing to talk to an attorney about their upcoming testimony.
Specialties and Duties: Handling Investigators and Experts
Part of the case will require finding and hiring investigators and expert witnesses.
Investigators can investigate not only the alleged crime but also the prosecution’s witnesses. If these investigators can find evidence that would make a witness’s testimony less believable, this could help your case tremendously.
Similarly, expert witnesses may be able to present evidence that would tend to show your innocence. They can also rebut evidence that the prosecution presents, making the prosecution’s case less credible.
Reading Books Can’t Replace Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Some criminal defendants seek to represent themselves by researching and reading books. However, reading books that spell out crimes, punishments, and defenses probably won’t lead you to victory in your case.
As any seasoned lawyer will tell you, there’s quite a vast difference between reading about the law and actually practicing the law in court.
Nothing Replaces Courtroom Experience
Understanding the ebbs and flows of a criminal trial can make the difference between winning and losing your case.
“Prosecutorial discretion” is a prime example of these ebbs and flows. Even the simple decision of what to charge a criminal defendant with can be complex. This can make all the difference in how a case is handled.
For example, what may appear to be a simple crime on paper could realistically be cast to be a multiple count indictment or a simple misdemeanor. Criminal defense lawyers are skilled at negotiating with prosecutors to figure out what counts to charge.
What Does Someone Need to Do to Become a Criminal Lawyer?
A degree in criminal law requires:
A four-year degree from an accredited university
Three years of school from an accredited law school
A Juris Doctor degree
Passing the bar exam in the state they wish to practice in
A license to practice from the state
Law students can appear in court while in school if a licensed attorney supervises them.
Many law students will also intern at a law firm before they are hired at a firm. Once hired, attorneys will likely shadow more experienced attorneys to learn the ropes before taking major cases.
Experienced attorneys will have years under their belt in and out of court. Still, newer attorneys are often cheaper to hire. Consider which level of experience better suits your needs.
What Questions Should You Ask a Criminal Lawyer?
Most criminal law attorneys don’t handle every type of criminal case. There is a large difference between defending a DUI and defending a client charged with murder. It is crucial to hire an attorney who has experience in the charges you are facing.
You should also communicate well with the attorney and feel comfortable being honest with them, and the approach they will take in court. Not every attorney is a fit for every client.
You should ask a prospective attorney these types of questions:
How long have you practiced law?
Have you handled a case like this?
What percentage of your time is spent on this specific type of case?
Do you focus on a certain area of criminal law?
What information do you need/should I prepare for our first meeting?
How do you handle fees? (Hourly, on retainer, per case, payment plans, credit cards, etc.)
Get Professional Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney
As you can see, a good criminal defense lawyer can make your job easier. They can also improve your chances of winning your case or obtaining a more favorable plea bargain.
Even if you qualify for a court-appointed attorney, there’s nothing keeping you from speaking with an experienced attorney to obtain a second opinion on your case.
If you’re really set on representing yourself in court, you should, at the very least, retain the best criminal defense lawyer possible to act as a coach during your trial.
You can find an experienced criminal defense attorney near you and start by reading reviews and testimonials or having a free phone consultation to ask questions about your case.
If you’re the defendant in a criminal case, the best thing you can do for yourself is choose the most reputable criminal defense lawyers possible. And while we all know that the Sixth Amendment provides criminal defendants with the right to legal representation, the right to a speedy trial, and the right to confront witnesses, finding the best possible criminal defense attorney takes a little more expertise than simply reading the Constitution. While you search for the right criminal defense attorneys for you, here are some essential dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
DO: Strongly consider experience
Experience is one of the most important qualities for a criminal defense attorney to possess. Even if they stayed at the top of their class throughout law school and are more passionate than any lawyer you’ve ever seen, they won’t be able to handle your case unless they’ve handled countless others like it. You wouldn’t trust a heart surgeon to operate on you without having substantial experience, and the same principle applies with criminal defense lawyers. Real life experience is absolutely critical.
DON’T: Forget to check references
Another imperative part of your criminal defense attorney search is making sure to check references. Any confident and established criminal defense lawyer will be happy to give you a list of satisfied clients they’ve personally helped. Better yet, ask your friends and family for suggestions if you feel comfortable doing so. The most professional criminal defense attorneys should always come with a recommendation.
DO: Compare fees
Obviously, comparing lawyer fees is an important part of the research process. While you do want to work with the most professional lawyer you can afford, it’s critical to not let money cloud your judgment. Again, your criminal defense attorney is there to argue your case to the absolute best of their ability, and the fact is some can simply do it better than others. Don’t assume that the most expensive lawyer is automatically going to provide the best service, and don’t assume that the more affordable lawyers are always less qualified.
DON’T: Ignore your gut instinct
More often than not, your gut can tell you whether or not a lawyer will truly do what they say they are able to do. If that gut instinct tells you that one criminal lawyer will be better or worse than another, listen to it.
Ultimately, these are just a few important dos and don’ts to consider when selecting a criminal defense attorney to represent you. Keep an eye out for the next post, where we’ll discuss even more tips for finding the best attorney possible.
Finding the “right” lawyer to represent you is often the most critical factor in a successful recovery.
Insurance companies have the financial resources to hire skilled lawyers who specialize in defending personal injury claims. The experience and skills of your lawyer will play a pivotal role in the amount of compensation you receive.
Most injury victims do not know that the best, most successful personal injury attorneys in your community charge fees that are the same as inexperienced lawyers who have no track record of success in the courtroom.
Don’t make the mistake of choosing a personal injury lawyer from ads alone. There are unscrupulous lawyers who will settle your case quickly for whatever the insurance company will offer because these firms work on a “high volume” and “quick turnover” basis. Every community has a number of personal injury “wannabe” lawyers who would like to grab your case and settle it quickly for low dollars for you (but a high return for the lawyer’s time investment).
So how do you find a good lawyer for a serious personal injury lawsuit?
Like most important decisions, you need to do some “homework” on the lawyers in your community. When you decide to meet with an attorney to discuss your case, you need to ask the right questions to find out if the attorney has a proven track record of success.
The purpose of this free report is to provide you with insights that most injury victims never bother to learn about lawyers who handle personal injury claims. If you follow the advice contained in this report, it may make the difference between winning your case or going home with nothing or significantly less than your case is worth.
1. There are sources that rate personal injury lawyers based on what their colleagues say about them.
How do you find a top-notch lawyer for a serious personal injury case? There are resources you can check before deciding which lawyer to schedule a consultation with. One of the most reliable ways to research a lawyer’s qualifications is to check sources that rate personal injury lawyer reviews based on what their fellow lawyers (and their competitors) say about them. Please understand that there is no other official “rating” system for personal injury lawyers besides peer review by other lawyers. Here are the peer review rating systems that you should check out:
The Martindale-Hubbell Bar Registry (www.martindale.com) has peer review ratings of more than 1 million lawyers across the country. It publishes short biographies of these lawyers. For over 130 years, Martindale-Hubbell has been the most respected source of authoritative and reliable information about members of the legal community in the United States. An “AV” rating identifies a lawyer and a firm with a very high to preeminent legal ability and is the highest reflection of expertise, experience, and integrity and overall professional excellence. Martindale-Hubbell ratings are established by attorneys for attorneys and it states: “clearly indicates a demonstration of the highest professional and ethical standards.”
The Best Lawyers in America. (www.bestlawyers.com) The lawyers listed in Best Lawyers been selected by their peers as “the best” in 57 specialties, including personal injury and medical malpractice law.
Superlawyers. ( www.superlawyers.com) Super Lawyers is an annual listing of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Law & Politics performs the polling, research, and selection of Super Lawyers in a process designed to identify lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only five percent (5%) of the lawyers in each state are named Super Lawyers.
2. Ask the lawyer, “What percentage of your cases are referrals from other lawyers”?
If you want to know who the top-notch personal injury lawyers are in your community, ask the lawyers who practice there. It’s important to find out whether a significant percentage of a lawyer’s caseload comes from referrals from other lawyers. In any field or profession, the professionals who work in the field usually know who’s good and who’s not. If you have an attorney or a friend who practices law, that might be a good place to start. Even if he or she doesn’t handle injury cases, they are bound to have colleagues who are familiar with the personal injury or malpractice lawyers who are recognized by their peers as being the best in your community.
3. Be careful about lawyers who send “solicitation” letters to your home following an accident.
Recently, an increasing number of personal injury lawyers have been hiring runners or “gophers” to obtain traffic accident reports prepared by local and state police officers. Once the accident reports are obtained, a member of the law firm’s staff will comb through the report to find the name and address of the accident victim. The law firm will then mail a “solicitation” letter to the injury victim informing him/her that the law firm is ready and willing to represent the accident victim in a personal injury case. In our community, it is not unusual for an accident victim to receive fifteen to twenty solicitation letters from law firms. There is a law firm in southern Indiana that sends a solicitation to every single traffic accident victim in the entire state where there is a police report. There are law firms that will continue to send solicitation letters after the initial letter is sent and will even have a staff member call the accident victim and ask if they received the solicitation letters.
The vast, vast majority of law firms that rely on solicitation letters operate on a “high volume, quick turnover” basis. They have difficulty attracting referrals from satisfied clients or other lawyers so they resort to sending out hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of solicitation letters hoping that they will receive responses to their mass mailings. It’s probably safe to say that injury victims who choose an attorney based on a solicitation letter they receive in the mail aren’t doing a lot of research on the law firm they are hiring. Many states are in the process of enacting rules and laws to prohibit lawyers from sending solicitation letters to accident victims.
4. Virtually all personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation and will not charge a fee unless there is a recovery.
Anyone who has ever seen or received any type of advertisements (TV commercials, yellow pages, internet sites, direct mail solicitation letters, etc.) from personal injury firms quickly learns that every injury lawyer makes the same offers:
“No fee if no recovery.”
“Free initial consultation.”
“We will visit you at home or in the hospital.”
A lawyer who offers you a “free consultation” and tells you that he or she will not charge a fee unless there is a recovery in your case (known as a “contingent fee” agreement) is not offering you anything out of the ordinary. Almost every lawyer who specializes in handling personal injury cases will make the same offer.
5. What does it mean when a lawyer says “no fee if no recovery”?
Almost every personal injury lawyer handles injury cases on a contingent fee basis. A “contingent” fee means that there is no attorney fee unless there is a recovery and the fee is a percentage of the amount recovered. (i.e. usually 33.33% of the amount recovered). That means that the lawyer will not charge the client a fee unless there is a recovery. Sounds simple, right? Not so fast. This is an area where personal injury victims need to be careful before they make a decision on a lawyer for their case.
If a lawyer agrees to handle your injury case on a contingent fee basis and loses the case, there’s not going to be an issue on whether you owe the lawyer anything for his or her attorney fee. You don’t owe anything. One-third of nothing is nothing. However, consumers must understand that there is a big difference between attorney fees and the case “expenses.” Almost every personal injury case will entail some case “expenses” that need to be paid in order to prepare the case properly. Case expenses are monies paid to third parties to keep the case going: expert witness fees, court reporter fees, charges for medical records, charges for physician reports, filing fees and the many other expenses that go into a personal injury lawsuit.
Case expenses are handled differently by different law firms. In a typical motor vehicle accident case, where the settlement is less than $100,000, the case expenses are usually less than $5,000. However, in a serious personal injury case involving permanent or catastrophic injuries, or in a medical malpractice case, the litigation expenses can run up to $50,000 or more. There are different ways these ongoing litigation expenses are handled by different firms, depending, in large part, on the firm’s philosophy and the firm’s financial resources:
One way is to require the client to pay all or a substantial share of the litigation expenses at the start of a case or on an ongoing basis. That method can create serious financial issues for a client.
Another way is for the lawyer to pay all the expenses as the case goes along, with the client reimbursing the lawyer out of any recovery at the end of the case, after the lawyer’s contingency fee is deducted. For example, if the recovery is $270,000, and the lawyer and the client have agreed to a one-third contingent fee plus reimbursement of the expenses advanced by the lawyer, and the lawyer has advanced $10,000 toward the case expenses, the final disbursement of the settlement will look like this:- you will receive $170,000
– the lawyer will receive $90,000 for his attorney fee;
– $10,000 will be paid back to the lawyer to reimburse expenses.
What happens to the expenses if the case is lost? Some lawyers have a policy of not asking the client to reimburse the law firm for the “out of pocket” expenses. Other lawyers expect the client to reimburse the law firm for all the expenses if the case is lost. As a consumer who has choices, you need to find out the lawyer’s policy on expense reimbursement in situations where the case is lost. If a lawyer tries to tell you “don’t worry about it, I’ve never lost a case,” don’t accept that response. Even the very best personal injury lawyers lose cases from time to time.
Finding a personal lawyer? Just contact us for more information.