Let’s face it, if you’re like most people, you probably either don’t trust or like attorneys. Attorneys definitely get a bad rap, which is somewhat deservedly so. But even if you dislike or distrust attorneys, you should definitely find a good one to help you with a California personal injury claim, because a good attorney will help you make sure your medical bills are taken care of, help get you access to medical specialists, recover lost wages, and get you the maximum compensation possible.
That being said, let’s take a look at the top reasons why people don’t want to hire attorneys — and the myths surrounding the process.
This concern is definitely real. When hiring an attorney to represent you regarding an accident or personal injury, most attorneys work on contingency. This means that the attorney is paid a percentage of your settlement / judgment amount once the case is resolved. The good news is that if the attorney is unable to get any money for you, you don’t have to pay him/her. In addition, the larger your settlement or judgment the more money that both you and the attorney will collect. So, your interests are aligned with your attorney in that regard.
However, all cases are going to incur costs, and most of the time, there are medical bills and/or insurance payments that need to be reimbursed. If your costs and reimbursements are really high, then you might end up not collecting very much, while your attorney’s fee being much larger than what you end up receiving. We have a simple solution to this – do not allow your attorney’s fee to be larger than what you end up taking home. This is how our firm operates – our fee will never be larger than what you take home.
You’ll have to make sure that this is specified in the initial contract you sign, but if the attorney won’t agree to this key term, find a different attorney who will. When an offer eventually comes in, make sure you’re given a full accounting so that you see where all the money is going. If you make sure that the attorney’s fee is never more than what you take home, you won’t have to worry about an attorney taking all of your money, and you’ll be able to work together in confidence.
I’ve heard this statement many times from potential clients, and most of the time it’s simply not true. Our firm actually has had other attorneys, and insurance brokers, approach us on handling their personal injury claim for them, because the insurance company is low-balling them. If you hire an attorney, the insurance company will have to take your claim seriously. I know that sounds frustrating, but it’s the truth even if you happen to be an attorney.
Your attorney should also negotiate and reduce any liens that your case may have. For example, I recently had a client who had an ER bill of over $24,000. The hospital took a lien in her case because she didn’t have health insurance. At the time of settlement, I was able to negotiate and reduce that bill down by more than 50%. By hiring an attorney, she saved $13,000 in medical expenses. Our firm has also had success at convincing some hospitals and health insurance companies to waive their lien completely. Make sure that your attorney negotiates reductions in any liens that your case may have.
As mentioned above, whenever a settlement offer comes in, have your attorney show you a full accounting of where all the money would go. That way you can see if they’ve been able to reduce any of your liens. Good attorneys will always try to reduce your bills, keep you informed, and show you the numbers.
I’ve heard this excuse a lot and understand where it comes from but settling a personal injury claim with an insurance company is not a transparent or easy process. Let me ask you this – would you rather be able to simply call your attorney to get status updates, or would you rather deal with all of the doctor offices you visited, any hospitals you treated at, ambulance companies, your HR department, and insurance companies? Think waiting in line at the DMV for a few days. Aside from that, none of these offices or companies have your best interest in mind.
A good law firm will take all the complexity out of the case and allow you to focus on healing and treatment for your injuries. You won’t have to worry about dealing with an insurance company and their minions.
If the insurance company refuses to pay a fair value for your claim, a good attorney will be willing to go to court for you as well. Without an attorney, this can be very time consuming and confusing. A good lawyer will take the necessary time dealing with the law and insurance companies so that you have the time to get better.
The best thing you can do is to find a local, reputable attorney, that you can meet face-to-face with. If you call a law firm, and then won’t schedule a time for you to meet, in-person, with an actual attorney, you should hang up the phone. How do you find a trusted, local attorney? I’d recommend that you call local doctors that you know and trust. Usually, they’ve worked with local attorneys and will be able to point you in the right direction. Using Google or a search engine is helpful as well, but make sure that the firm is local, you can meet in-person, and has good reviews from actual clients.
Our firm policy is that we return all phone calls or emails within 24 hours. If you’re having a hard time speaking with your attorney, you might want to politely let him / her know that if you they can’t return your calls then you’ll have to seek new counsel.
Attorneys also have a reputation for being difficult to work with. You want your attorney to have a backbone so that they get the best result for you. When you first meet with your attorney make sure that you get a good sense for their personality. If you think that they would be difficult to work with, then you can always meet with someone else to see if you get a better feeling from them. This is another good reason why it’s SO important to actually meet your attorney.
Attorneys definitely don’t always have the best reputation (and some of them might deserve it). However, if you’re hurt in an accident you can almost guarantee better results if you hire a reputable attorney. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, motorcycle accident, dog bite, hurt at a store or restaurant, or otherwise injured, we offer free, in-person consults. We have 6 convenient locations – Richmond, Napa, Vallejo, Fairfield, Vacaville, and Woodland.