1I've been seriously injured, how do I find a lawyer I can trust?
Look for a lawyer who specializes in the area that you need help. For example, if you have been injured in an auto accident in Sacramento or Elk Grove CA, don't hire a lawyer who doesn't regularly handle auto accidents. Hire a lawyer who specializes in the area of law that is specific to your case type. The lawyer will have a better understanding of your situation and can offer more effective representation.
Ask your friends and family about lawyers in Sacramento or Elk Grove CA they know or have used. The best way to truly find out if a lawyer is good is to talk to someone you trust that has been represented by them.
Ask questions and expect answers. Most lawyers offer free consultations, so you are able to meet with as many as you like. If the lawyer is shifty and evasive, steer clear! Also, beware of lawyers who belittle you or make you feel like you are a waste of time. By the same token, good lawyers are busy people. They may be blunt and sometimes say things you don't want to hear. Above all, choose a lawyer you feel most confident about and comfortable with to handle your case.
Look for experience. Find out how often the law firm you are thinking of hiring, actually goes to court. Lawyers who prepare cases for trial usually get better settlements without having to go to court. There's an old adage, "A case that is prepared for trial will almost always settle; a case that is prepared to settle, will almost always have to be tried." If your case does go to trial, you better have a lawyer who knows what they're doing.
2What documents should I bring with me when I meet with a lawyer?
The more information the lawyer has, the better his advice to you will be. You should supply any documents that might have a bearing on your case. Accident reports, for example, contain eyewitness accounts and details about auto accidents. Copies of medical reports from doctors and hospitals will describe your injuries. Information about the other driver's insurer is extremely helpful, as are any photographs you have of the accident or of your injury. The more information you are able to give your lawyer, the easier it will be for him or her to determine if your claim will be successful. If you haven't collected any documents at the time of your first meeting, don't worry. Your lawyer will be able to obtain them as well.
3What kind of information will a lawyer need from me?
For any kind of claim, a lawyer generally needs information regarding the medical treatment you have been receiving to treat your injury. Usually, the lawyer will need the name and address of your current treating medical provider, as well as any other medical provider you have seen by referral, such as a physical therapist. In addition, you should be prepared to provide the name and address of any medical provider you have seen during the five year period preceding the injury, because your pre-injury medical condition can often affect the value of your claim. If you were injured in a car accident, it is important that you provide information regarding your own automobile insurance coverage as well, so your lawyer can determine whether medical payments coverage or uninsured underinsured motorist coverage applies to afford additional coverage for you.
4What can I expect at the first consultation?
Your lawyer should be able to tell you if you have a legal claim that has merit. If so, he or she will likely ask you to sign a retainer agreement. A lawyer cannot represent you without a written retainer agreement. Once that agreement is in effect, your counsel should start gathering the information he or she will need to try your case. No competent lawyer should tell you what your case is worth at the first visit. In order to arrive at a figure for damages, your lawyer will need to determine the extent of your injuries, including pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, the cost of medical treatment, and lost wages. He or she then provides your damages figure to the other person's insurer. If the insurer considers it a valid claim, the case is likely to be resolved early on and won't have to be tried in court. But, any good lawyer will assume that the case will be tried, and will begin every case preparing it for being tried. Being ready to go to court, and having the reputation of doing well there, is the only way to get top dollar in settlement negotiations.
5How do I know if I have a personal injury case?
You must have suffered an injury to your person or property. Second, was your injury the result of someone else's fault? It is not always necessary to have a physical injury to bring a personal injury lawsuit, however. Suits may be based on a variety of nonphysical losses and harms. You also may have an action if someone has attacked your reputation, invaded your privacy or negligently or intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon you.
6What does it mean to settle a case?
Settling a case means that you agree to accept money in return for dismissing your claim against the person who injured you. You'll actually sign documents releasing the other side of any further liability. To help you decide whether to accept the settlement offer, your lawyer will be able to provide a realistic assessment of whether a lawsuit based on your claim will be successful, a range of possible verdict amounts and how long it will take to get through trial. Settlement also can take place at any point in a lawsuit once it is filed, including before trial or even after a case has been tried but before a jury reaches a verdict and after trial while the case is on appeal. At The Law Offices of Laskin Balma in Sacramento and Elk Grove CA, we believe that you are the person who must make the final decision to accept or reject any offers, but we will give you our advice. Sometimes we will recommend a settlement and sometimes we will recommend that you reject a settlement offer, but the final decision is always the client's.
7I am not happy with the lawyer who is handling my case, and want to replace him. Can I simply fire him and retain another lawyer? Do I still have to pay the lawyer who I want to replace?
Yes, you have a right to replace your lawyer at any time. As a client you are entitled to be treated with courtesy and consideration at all times, to have your questions and concerns addressed in a prompt manner, and to have telephone calls returned promptly. If you are dissatisfied with the legal representation you are currently receiving you can withdraw from the attorney client relationship at any time. Regarding legal fees, your lawyer may have a claim against you for the value of services rendered up to the time you dismiss your lawyer. If your legal matter is a personal injury case handled on a contingency fee basis, your lawyer may be entitled to a fee for services rendered; however, you are not required to pay this legal fee to the outgoing lawyer when he or she is discharged. Instead, at the conclusion of your case, both the outgoing and incoming lawyer will share the contingent legal fee. Either the outgoing lawyer and the incoming lawyer will come to an agreement as to how the total fee will be divided, or the judge will make that determination. The total legal fee is not increased as a result of replacing your lawyer.
8How long should I wait before contacting a lawyer?
The sooner your lawyer can get started working for you the better. Remember the insurance adjuster you may be dealing with settled hundreds of cases in the past year alone. He or she is also highly trained at negotiations. It is often important to be very careful and cautious when talking with an insurance adjuster and you very well may need a lawyer to help you through the process. Also, letting your claim languish could affect its value as often witnesses and memories of the accident fade away. It is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible about any potential claim because you should get legal advice on your time limits for filing a lawsuit or claim. The investigation of claims can be lengthy. Remember that you should not accept legal advice about your claim from anyone other than a qualified lawyer.
9Do I have to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster?
You are not obligated to give a recorded statement, and if you do, it may later be used against you. If you do choose to give a recorded statement, be sure to ask for a copy of the transcript.
10What do lawyers charge in personal injury cases?
Most personal injury lawyers take cases on a "contingency-fee" basis, which means they take a fee out of any recovery that is made. If there is no recovery, there is no fee. All accident cases accepted by The Law Offices of Laskin Balma in Sacramento and Elk Grove CA, are handled on a contingency fee basis. This means that there is no fee charged to you unless we recover money. Fees and expenses are paid at the conclusion of your case.
11What is my claim worth?
This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on the nature of the injuries and the several other factors such as your health and physical condition prior to the accident. What is most important to remember, however, is that you want to be sure your condition is stabilized before you sign any sort of release. Problems often take months or even years to fully develop.
12I was injured in an accident that was partially my fault. Can I still recover money damages for my injuries?
Yes. In California, a person may recover monetary damages for his/her injures, even if the injured party was partially at fault. However, the recovery will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to the injured party.
13I am receiving state or federal disability insurance payments, Workers' Compensation benefits, Welfare or public assistance benefits, and was injured in an accident. Can I bring a lawsuit for my injuries?
Yes, but the agency or insurance company providing the benefits may have a lien against your monetary recovery for the amount of the payments you may recieve.
Please note that the above answers to these FAQ's should not be construed as legal advice as all situations differ and you should always consult the advice of an lawyer before making any decisions regarding injury claims or other legal matters referred to herein. These answers are intended to provide general information only.
Do you feel you may have a potential injury case in Sacramento or Elk Grove CA ? Contact us today for a free personal injury case consultation or call (916) 329-9010 for a free injury accident case consultation.