When Is It Time to Hire an Attorney
My Husband Made The Call
Accidents are not planned for, nor do they happen at a time when it is convenient. Accidents, by definition are random events that happen without warning. These events can be life-changing, and financially devastating.
I was on my way to work. It was a typical day, just the same old routine. Get up, get my husband out the door, prepare my children for school, get them out the door, while getting ready to go to work myself. I left on time, and was looking forward to an easy day.
Where the other driver came from I do not know. The accident itself took maybe three seconds to occur. All I really remember is the loud noise of being cut out of the car, and the realization that I may in fact die.
My injuries were extensive. I could spend hours telling you about every bump, bruise, broken bone and damaged organ. However, I will get to the main point, my recovery was going to take an extensive period of time and it was not going to be easy.
My husband told me while I was still in the hospital that he had contacted a personal injury attorney. I tried to protest. How could we afford an attorney when I am in the hospital and not working? We were already struggling to get by with two incomes.
He told me that the personal injury lawyer worked on contingency, which meant that he would only get paid when and if we won the case. He told me that someone from the law office would be coming to the hospital to talk to me, and that they would be able to help us once I consent to representation.
I had never dealt with a Lawyer before, and must admit that it added stress to my already painful situation.
When the representative arrived at the hospital, I was really amazed at how nice he was. He was considerate and patient with me when I tried to talk about the accident and injuries without crying. He listened to every detail, and he took notes on everything that I said. He asked if I wanted representation from their firm, and once I agreed, had me sign the paperwork to get things started.
The first thing that I noticed was the change in my medical care. It was almost instant. Prior to signing with the lawyer it seemed like the hospital was not truly interested in my injuries. I seemed more of a burden than a patient. Once I had representation, it seemed like I started receiving top quality care and therapy for my injuries. Coincidence? I am not sure.
My personal injury attorney was quick to demand that the insurance company pay for quality care for my injuries, and not just enough care for me to get by. The exact term used was “make whole again.” I was a little uneasy at the thought of not being “whole,” but grateful for the medical treatment that was easing the pain.
Throughout the process, my attorney aggressively worked with my doctors and the insurance company to determine the outcome of my injuries. My tax attorney asked the hard questions concerning lifelong disabilities or lifelong therapy. He asked if I would be able to return to work. He asked if I would recover completely.
These were questions I did not want to ask, and ones I was not sure if I wanted the answers. I was in so much discomfort; I could not imagine staying that way forever.
My attorney took care of everything associated with my car. The car was damaged beyond repair, but it still had a monthly payment. My attorney worked with the insurer to pay off the car, and there was even some left over so I could make a down payment on a new car when I was able.
As my case progressed, my attorney came to a settlement agreement with the insurer of the other driver. They took into account everything that I would need in the future, as well as covered all my current expenses. I would have continued medical care, and I would receive compensation for lost wages, both past and future that were associated with this accident.
Once all parties were in agreement, I signed the papers and the case was over. My attorney subtracted his fees from my settlement, and I went back to working on my recovery.
If my husband would not have called that personal injury attorney that day, I am not sure that I would be in as good of condition as I am now. It made a difference in my medical treatment, and it helped my family financially.
Choosing a Lawyer for Your Case
Deciding who will help you or a loved one navigate the criminal justice system when faced with a criminal charge, or choosing a lawyer who will represent you in an important civil matter, is one of the most important decisions you and your family may make. That decision could determine whether you or a family member face jail time or financial ruin, or whether you will regain your liberty in a criminal case or recover the damages you’ve suffered in a civil case. It’s a decision you cannot take lightly.
Especially when you’re faced with a criminal charge – whether it’s driving while intoxicated (DWI), possession of drugs, theft, fraud, embezzlement, and whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor – the choice of a lawyer can be one of the most important decisions you will ever make and may make the difference between spending time in jail or prison or going free. It’s important that you choose a lawyer with experience, knowledge, and the attitude to fight for you.
A good place to start – but only to start – the process is to ask friends or family members for recommendations. However, just because a lawyer advertises heavily or once handled a case for a friend does not necessarily mean that he has the expertise you need for your case. Ideally, you will want a lawyer who has experience, skill, and a wide range of knowledge to help you through the legal process. Choosing a lawyer based on a billboard or a television ad – or based even on what you read on a website – should not be the end of your search. You want to be assured that you’re making a good decision after considering a number of factors – experience, background, ability, reputation and track record.
The practice of law, just as in many other professions, has many sub-areas or specialties. Today, the practice of law is – sometimes unfortunately – becoming more and more specialized to the point where a lawyer may know one, or two, areas of the law, but does not have the background and experience in more areas of the law which may be important in handling your case. Specialists are sometimes a good idea; but, you should consider whether a more diverse background of experience could be more helpful and productive.
One of the best ways to objectively determine the legal ability and ethics rating of a lawyer is to review the “Martindale Hubbell” rating. Martindale Hubbell is a worldwide objective legal rating service which rates lawyers and publishes those ratings. Martindale Hubbell, by polling judges, lawyers and other members of the legal community and evaluating those opinions establishes one of three ratings for lawyers: CV, BV or AV. The V part of the rating is the ethical rating and a lawyer will not receive any rating unless he gets a V. That is, unless the lawyer is found to have been nominated by his peers in the legal community to have a high level of ethics, then no rating will be established. The C, B or A rating relates to the lawyer’s legal ability. So, a CV means the lawyer is “good to high” in legal ability, BV means the lawyer is “high to very high” in legal ability and AV means the lawyer is “very high to preeminent.” AV is the highest rating a lawyer can achieve in this system.