According to DMV.org, “[H]iring a personal injury attorney can help you get the most for your claim. … [M]any auto insurance companies will offer lower settlement amounts to persons not working with a personal injury attorney.”
So how do you know if you’re hiring the right attorney for your case? DMV.org says, you’ve got to “ask the right questions.” Here are DMV.org’s “right questions” (and my answers):
What is your educational background? I attended 2 top law schools: Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in my hometown of NYC (Cardozo is a “rising star” law school that is consistently ranked in the Top 50 US law schools despite graduating its first class in 1979); and Northwestern University Law School (Top 10 US law schools).
Have you taken any continuing education courses in the past few years? The California Bar requires 25 hours of continuing education each 36 months, but I frequently take more classes in areas of law that help my clients, such as trial preparation and strategy.
How long have you been in practice? I have been a California attorney since October 1994. Before moving to San Diego, I practiced law at a large firm in Chicago, IL for 5 years.
How many personal injury claims have you successfully settled? I have successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered millions of dollars for my clients over the years.
Do you typically represent the injured persons or the insurance company, in a personal injury case? I represent people, NOT insurance companies.
Would you be the sole attorney assigned to my case, or do you have an associate with whom you would share the case? While I have associate and contract attorneys who may perform work on your case, I am your attorney. That means I am the best person to talk to for information about your case. I recognize and respect that clients value a personal relationship with their lawyer and I pride myself on maintaining the highest level of communication with each of my clients. My clients can call my cell phone number and know that I’ll answer.
Do you anticipate my case going to trial? Most cases settle before trial, but I prepare every case as if it’s going to trial. IMHO I believe the best way to ensure that you will receive maximum compensation you deserve is to prepare each case as if it’s going to trial. If the insurance company doesn’t think you’re ready, willing and able to take your case to trial, they will have no incentive to offer you anything other than a low ball offer.
What is your experience as a trial attorney? I have successfully represented thousands of clients — some at the negotiating table and others in the courtroom.
If I wish to avoid going to trial by accepting a lower settlement than you think we can recover, will you honor that wish? Yes. I work for you. That means I will give you my best advice. In the end, however, it is not my case, it’s yours. I always respect my client’s wishes.
If I wish to reject a settlement offer you think is fair, will you go to trial for a larger amount? Yes. I work for you.
Will you accept my case on a contingency fee basis? Yes. All my cases are on a contingency fee basis. That means you owe me nothing, until I win your case.
Do you charge a retainer fee? Never.
Are there any additional fees or potential expenses I should be made aware of? I do not charge additional fees, but I do charge for costs. Costs for non-litigated cases typically run approx. $150-$200 — mostly for fees paid to doctors and hospitals to obtain your medical records. I will advance costs and ask only that you reimburse me out of your settlement.