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Importance of Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

The following is an excerpt from an interview with an injury attorney in Maryland.

Why is it important to hire a personal injury lawyer early on in a case?

It is important to hire an attorney as early as possible in order to be protected from the insurance company. Sometimes they get people to record a statement and entice them to settle quickly. They will often ask questions that may appear harmless, but every question they ask is tailored to minimize their payments. It is also important because at the beginning of a case there is a lot of investigation to be done, so the earlier that process is started, the better the investigation will be. Witnesses disappear and memories fade over time, so it is important to get as much evidence, such as photographs or witness statements, as early as possible. That is easier when someone hires an attorney.

What should someone choose the best personal injury attorney for their case?

It is important to work with someone they can get along with and who they don’t feel intimated by in terms of making suggestions and asking questions. It is also important to have someone that they can trust with their time and their efforts. In terms of accolades, it is wise to look for someone who has achievements based on their goals. If having their day in court is important to the person, then they would want someone who has gone to court, done jury trials, and taken cases to verdict. In terms of accolades, awards for their cases would count as an achievement. The person could also look at whether their cases were published, whether they have spoken at any seminars, and whether they are recognized by their peers in the industry. In terms of what someone should ask when interviewing personal injury attorneys, they should ask about the attorney’s approach to a case, what they find important, what the client’s level involvement would be, how long would the case last, how many people would be working on the case, and how long it takes them to return phone calls. It is very important to set out the responsibilities of both parties financially and also in terms of carrying out the case. Some people have the impression that an attorney will wave a magic wand and the client won’t have to do anything, but a client will sometimes have to be active in their own cases. If the attorney makes those expectations clear, then both parties can make decisions they are comfortable with. A client would not want to be stuck working with someone they don’t like and then have to switch attorneys.

What are common mistakes people make in personal injury cases?

One of the most common mistakes people make is trying to handle things themselves, especially with auto accidents and slip and fall cases. Insurance companies will try to give people a false sense of security that they are on their side and that they care about resolving the claim as quickly as possible.  The insurance companies have attorneys who write their policies and evaluate their cases. They are not on the victim’s side; their sole purpose is to minimize their payment. The biggest mistake people make is to believe the insurance company when they say they are on their side.

What advice would you give to someone filing their first injury claim?

The best advice I would give someone is to remind them that they are the person making all the decisions, meaning that they can pick any attorney they like and they should find somebody they’re comfortable with. They shouldn’t rush into anything. One thing that they should expect is that just because a friend, family member, or coworker received a certain recovery does not necessarily mean that they will receive the same amount. Every lawsuit is different. If you get hurt in a car accident, you will not automatically collect $50,000. People should also expect to be very involved in the case and ask a lot of questions. They should understand that sometimes these cases can take a long time; they aren’t as smooth and quick as people think. Having the right circumstances, the right level of participation, and good communication will help. You can’t guarantee a win and you can’t guarantee a loss, but you can put yourself in the best position to win.