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TIPS ON HIRING A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

If you are considering hiring a personal injury attorney you need to first do your homework. When you are going on a vacation or looking for a good restaurant, what do you do?  No one uses a telephone book anymore. You search on your computer or cell phone and see what information you can find. For better or worse, that is now the way most people hire a personal injury attorney.  Here are some of the major search engine sites for lawyers.

AVVO claims that it is the largest online legal marketplace with ratings and reviews to help you hire the right lawyer and make informed legal decisions.

THUMBTACK is an online service that matches clients with attorneys in your city and also has lawyer reviews.

LawyerRatingz.com is another personal injury attorney review site.

You're not hiring a marketer or web designer so don’t rely on slick TV ads or flashy websites. You are seeking an attorney that will listen to you and be available if you have questions. You need to feel comfortable with their approach to the law and the way they take care of clients. The words they use are much more important than the look and feel of their advertising. You also want to be sure who will actually handle your case. Will the attorney in the ad be your attorney or will you be shuffled off to an associate that has just graduated from law school or possibly even a paralegal?

INTERVIEW THE ATTORNEY

You can only be certain that you will have a good fit with an attorney by talking with them over the phone or in person. Some lawyers will talk with potential clients on the phone while some won't. Some will provide a free consultation while others charge from the start or provide a flat fee for an initial meeting. Most personal injury attorneys will provide a free consultation because if they take a case it will involve a considerable amount of work with a potentially significant payoff in the end. When you do talk to the attorney, here are some questions you may want to ask before deciding to hire him: How long have you been in practice? What fields of law do you practice? What documentation or information to you need for the initial meeting? Are your fees negotiable? Are you willing to actually try my case in front of a jury? When is the last time you actually tried a case? Will you actively negotiate with  my medical providers, health insurance company, Medicaid, etc. to reduce their claims. 

HOW DOES THE ATTORNEY CHARGE

In South Carolina, the standard attorney fee for a personal injury claim is one third of the gross proceeds. This is called a contingency fee. This system allows the injured party to hire an experienced lawyer without having to front the cost of legal fees. What is sometimes not fully explained is that the fee is usually plus costs such as depositions, expert witness fees, medical records, postage, court fees, etc. These costs and expenses may be high, especially if settlement does not occur until close to trial. The personal injury lawyer’s final percentage with all fees, costs, and expenses may end up totaling between 45 and 60% of the settlement. While you will see many advertisements that say “no fee unless you win”, this does not include the costs for which you are still responsible. If you can read the fine print on those TV ads you will see that each has a disclaimer such as “Recovery amount presented is before fees and costs deductions”.  In fact, the attorney may drop your case if you do not pay the costs on a monthly basis. Be sure that you have a full understanding of how your attorney calculates the costs and how they are to be paid. For more information, see MANAGING PERSONAL INJURY COSTS.

BEFORE HIRING THE ATTORNEY, ASK IF CAN YOU NEGOTIATE THE FEES AND COSTS

Before hiring your personal injury attorney, ask if his fee is negotiable. Some attorneys will negotiate their fee and some won’t. An attorney is likely to agree to a reduced fee if you have already investigated your accident, obtained all the documents pertaining to your claim and received an offer from the negligent party’s insurance company. It is important to bring all your documents to your initial meeting with the lawyer and show the lawyer the organized file you have put together. This allows the attorney to properly evaluate your claim and decide whether a reduced fee schedule is appropriate. For more information, see DOCUMENTING YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM.

BE SURE THAT YOU AND YOUR ATTORNEY ARE ON THE SAME PAGE

One of the most common complaints the South Carolina Bar receives is for lack of communication with a client. For example, true story, the attorney talked with the client on the phone for over an hour on Sunday evening. On Monday morning, the client called the attorney leaving a voice mail at 9 am, again at 11 am and then filed a complaint with the Bar at 2 pm because the attorney had not responded. Be sure that you understand the best way to communicate with your attorney (email, phone, text, etc.) and when you can expect a reply. Some attorneys respond fairly promptly while others may take a week or more. Most personal injury attorneys carry a substantial workload and often months may go by without any need for communication. This does not necessarily mean that the attorney is not working on your case, just that he has nothing substantial to report.

To contact a personal injury attorney, simply click on the link below and answer a few basic questions about your situation.

or continue to our SHOULD I ACCEPT THE SETTLEMENT page.

        CLICK HERE TO CONTACT A SOUTH CAROLINA PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY

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