From looking at television and billboards, listening to radio commercials and reading refrigerator magnets which arrive on a new phone book, you’d think personal injury (“accident“) lawyers are supposed to smile and pose for the camera outside fake courtrooms giving press conferences that never happened. Hardly. What you’re seeing is nauseating marketing, spin, snake oil, the “old con game.” The same marketing for useless drugs, scamming department stores, rip-off insurance companies, toilet paper, or used cars. It’s just commercials. Those are only Billboard-TV-Settlment lawyers (BTSL). They don’t tell you what they’re going to do for you.
This article discusses what an injury lawyer should do when you hire them.
When you’ve been injured, your life is interrupted in a bad way. You have a whole new set of problems on top of the daily tasks you had. These are problems you never had before. The problem is when you try to look for a lawyer there are so many billboard, TV, radio, internet, bus-stop bench full of lawyer advertising. It seems like that’s the only kind of lawyers there are. And every one of those ads is promising it is “for the people, ” “we fight for you” “free case evaluation” (that’s required by the Florida Bar). Finally, you pick one because that lawyer has the most ads. You think: “He (or she) must be good, s/he advertises so much.” However, you know what your problems are and that they’re not getting addressed by this BTS lawyer you hired. If that’s the case, you know there’s a difference. You wouldn’t be googling around if the lawyer you have is really helping you.
There are several things you want out of a lawyer. Right away, you need help with and relief from the problems the injury has caused. You need someone to handle all the problems from your injury while you get back your life. You need someone who’s got experience, someone to guide you, someone knows how to get back what was taken from you. You need guidance of an experienced lawyer’s advice, counseling, and you need action against the insurance company that is giving you no help. These needs must be legally analyzed and get fixed. The right lawyer delivers on these needs. You don’t want to hire a lawyer you have to make excuses for or you regret calling. So, you need to know what an injury lawyer should do for you.
There are several things to expect out of an injury lawyer. Some of them are basic but all of them follow a common theme: service. The lawyer is supposed to be doing a service for you. He is working on your behalf to make sure our system of justice gives you exactly that. At the end of your case, if you don’t feel like you understand what happened and you were not given personal service, you may regret ever watching that lawyer’s commercials or calling that BTSL.
The qualities of a good lawyer start with your first meeting. If you open the door to your house and the person you saw on the Billboard or the TV is not there, don’t be surprised. All of these billboard TV settlement lawyers (BTSLs) send out “runners,” with no legal qualifications,”investigators” (whatever that is), “case managers” (whatever that is) or people they call “paralegals” to meet you. They do this because they are worried you’re going to call another BTSL. You will never get to counsel with the person on the TV or billboard ever. You might not even speak with him or her or even a lawyer for that matter. All of these are big red flags you are not getting the work of a lawyer.
There are several things which the Florida Bar actually requires of your lawyer. These are spelled out in a document called “Clients Statement of Rights.” If you don’t get a copy of when you meet with your lawyer, it’s another big red flag. Of course, this isn’t ethical, but that doesn’t stop many of these people. You also must get an “Authority to represent.” That is actually the contract between you and the lawyer. Sometimes they have you sign a copy without the lawyer’s signature. If you don’t see that lawyer signed that agreement, you don’t know whose signature that is. This is yet another big red flag.
So, here’s a round up of the things you should get when you hire a personal injury lawyer
1. Meet Personally You should meet with him personally at the beginning of the case. If you’re turning over one of the worst things ever happened to you, interfered with your life, destroyed your transportation, took away your ability to earn a living, took away your ability to use your body, you probably deserve to meet the person that’s going to help you and look at that person in the eye. A lawyer has to be there to answer your questions. One of the comments I hear all the time is:”I’ve never been through this before.” That’s right, most people haven’t. That’s why you have to have a lawyer, there, with you to answer all your questions
2. Get Any Property Damage Fixed. When you hear a BTSL talk on television or radio one thing they don’t and won’t tell you is: they won’t and don’t take care of your property damage. “We are just your Bodily Injury lawyers” one said to the wife of a catastrophically injured client. None of them do this. Why? Think about it: your case is only one of the 300 they got from the TV radio and billboards advertising just today. They don’t have time to do everything for you. So, unbelievably, the BTSL will make you you negotiate your property damage with the professional adjusters at the insurance company of the person who injured you. Doing that is not protecting you. What other information do those adjusters extract from you when you talk to them?
3. Give Counsel. A good lawyer should talk to you personally. Paralegals, legal assistants and case managers have their place in a law firm: helping the lawyer. They should not be doing the “lawyering.” The lawyer should be there to counsel the injured person and the family. When I started working in South Florida, I worked for a large law firm which was operated by a BTSL. I remember one time Preparing for deposition with with clients who said “are you our lawyer now?” They had been shoveled from case manager, to secretary, to lawyer they didn’t know who was representing them. The good lawyer is going to talk with the client and counsel them about their recovery process, how they’re going to recover and discuss the solutions available. With the clients permission, a good lawyer will explain tactfully to the family what can be expected as he guides the client through the recovery process.
4. Provide Information About the Process. Right after the crash, your body has been traumatized. Ofttimes in automobile crashes, you have trauma to your brain. You’re not thinking clearly, you’re concerned about your health, welfare, your car, your job, who’s going to pay the bills and how is your car getting fixed. These are all things
your lawyer must take time to explain. If you made a mistake and hired a BTSL, you still need this information; they just have too many clients to answer “all your questions.”
I explain to my clients: “If you don’t understand what’s going on, I am not doing my job.” Insurance companies for years have been required to provide an explanation of the PIP law. It is about five pages long. Much of it is in “insurance company talk.” Your lawyer should provide an explanation and answer any other questions. Such questions as “Why does my insurance have to pay for my medical bills?” “What is uninsured motorist coverage?” “If two people caused the crash, who is supposed to pay?” “What happens when the other person has no insurance?” (This is a real problem). “I was in my friend’s car but I don’t have a car myself, am I covered?” These are questions you want answers to. The lawyer you hired should explain the process.
5. Contact the Insurance Companies. Not just the ones who will pay ultimately, but all the insurance companies and look for every one that’s available. Many people don’t realize just all the types of insurance there may be available to them. In an automobile insurance policy there can be seven different kinds of coverage available to you. It is the lawyer’s job to find every insurance that will pay. In short, when you hire a lawyer, the injured person’s job is to get well and get on with their life. The lawyer should do everything else.
6. Contact the Doctors. Right off the bat, your doctors need to be contacted and provided with the insurance information so they can send the bills to the correct place. There’s a special situation that exists in bicycle and motorcycle cases. This crash was not your fault and somebody else needs to pay. Your lawyer should tell your doctor which insurance company that is.
7. Investigate– find all the witnesses that may have seen your injury happened. That includes digital witnesses. If you have a dash cam, like so many people have now, the video must be preserved. There are other folks may have a dash-cam. Everybody has a cell phone camera now. In the event of a crash, or somebody has fallen, cell phones are out and video gets taken. Your lawyer must take the time and search for that evidence; important evidence to prove the severity of your injuries and the liability of the person who or Corporation which caused those injuries.
8. “Sue the B*stards.” for years I had a small porcelain statute of lawyer in court with the caption on the base: “Sue the B*stards.” A real courtroom is not where you find a BTSL. If you hire a lawyer known to all the insurance adjusters to have too many cases, they already know your lawyer: a “paper tiger” who settles his or her cases. They now know you have no ability to fight. They will only offer you nuisance value. The lawyer you hire must give you straight answers about what your options are. He must know what it’s like in court, what the judges are like, what the juries are like, how to put all the evidence together for your case and explain all of this to you. If he doesn’t, you’re not getting a lawyer, you’re just getting somebody with the clerk. Sometimes going to court is the only way you can get justice.
9. Do Good in the Community. You don’t want to hire a lawyer lives in another town, across the state or even out-of-state. You want here, somebody who you can feel good about hiring, somebody who has done something good for the community, who is an advocate for safety, makes the community that you live in a better place. You can hire a lawyer that has good commercials, but what has he or she done for your community lately? This spirit of community centered deeds indicates your lawyer isn’t just out for the money, he wants to make your community a better place. This means he will care about the citizens in the community – you and your family.
With a good lawyer, settlement is an option, so is going to trial. You need to know that your lawyer has the time, will put in the effort, and knows how to do it.
Stop clicking now if you are injured and searching for an attorney.
I am a full-service personalized, personal injury lawyer with a statewide practice in all 67 counties. I have 31 years of experience to put to work for you. Call me so I can answer your questions: 1-800 – 535 – 3002. Email: JSteele@JSteelelaw.com Skype: ScienceCan Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JSteeleLaw/ Twitter: @JSteeleOlmstead or @FlaBicyleLawyr Whatsapp: J. Steele Olmstead Instagram: jsteeleolmstead.
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