Californians rely heavily on automobiles as a form of transportation, and as a result there are a high number of auto accidents in the state each year. Personal injury cases often have a great deal at stake for both the injured individual and the defendant. With your future in the balance, you are likely to have many questions related to your case.
Below are some of the most common frequently asked questions when hiring a lawyer.
Q: Do I need to hire an attorney, or can I settle the claim on my own?
A: Although many injured individuals attempt to settle auto accident claims without retaining a lawyer, it may be advisable to retain an attorney experienced in the area of personal injury. A 2004 study entitled “Paying for Auto Injuries” commissioned by the Insurance Research Council contains statistics showing that insurance settlements paid out on auto accident claims are 4.8 times higher when a personal injury lawyer is involved in the claim than when an injured individual settles the claim on his or her own. Thus, to obtain the highest accident settlement amount, injured individuals should consider retaining an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Q: What should I look for in a personal injury attorney?
A: Of course, it is important to retain a lawyer who is educationally qualified. However, all attorneys must pass a standardized exam before receiving a license to practice law in California. Therefore, when deciding between a number of qualified lawyers, experience is often a determining factor. If a lawyer has a proven record of wining personal injury cases, he or she can put that experience to work for you. When deciding on a personal injury lawyer, make sure he or she has experience handling matters like yours.
Q: Do I need any money to get my case started or to secure legal services?
A: Some law firms charge hourly rates for legal services, and others require a sizeable retainer up front to cover attorneys’ anticipated time and legal fees. Some law firms take cases on contingency; these firms will cover costs throughout the negotiation or litigation of a claim, and they will take a percentage of the client’s recovery to cover legal fees and costs.
The Law Office of Albert Lee Crosner handles all personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that no up-front payment is necessary and legal fees are paid out of any settlement amount or judgment.
Q: What will my lawyer expect me to do?
A: Your lawyer will work with you to uncover evidence for your case, gather details about the accident, your injuries, and your lifestyle before and after the accident. In addition, you may be required to attend mediation meetings, court dates, and legal proceedings. You will also be responsible for forwarding any pertinent correspondence about your case to your attorney, and you will need to make yourself available for questions or clarification as your case progresses.
Q: How much is my case worth?
A: There is no magic formula or process by which an attorney can predict with certainty the amount of money a person is entitled to receive, especially where damages are awarded for subjective elements such as “pain and suffering” and “loss of enjoyment of life.” However, experienced personal injury lawyers may have a pretty good idea of a reasonable settlement range after your medical condition has stabilized. Relevant factors include the extent and permanency of your injuries, the effect your injuries have had on your life, the amount and duration of your medical treatment, prior jury verdicts and/or arbitration awards received for similar injuries, and the skill and experience of your personal injury lawyer.
Albert Lee Crosner
Attorney at Law
1501 Gates Avenue
Tel: (310) 318-5883
Fax: (310) 318-5880