If you’re a plaintiff in a personal injury case or planning to file an injury claim, one of the first orders of business is to find an experienced attorney in your area. A skilled injury lawyer will understand the law, how to apply the law to your particular situation, and the nuances of civil court procedure. It’s their job to represent your interests, but attorneys have their own interests and motivations that don’t always line up with those of their clients.
That’s why it’s crucial for plaintiffs to be armed with the right information before embarking on an injury case. The following are 10 important considerations your attorney may not tell you.
Attorney’s fees are not set in stone.
When meeting with prospective attorneys, they will provide their fee schedule and terms of the relationship. But these fees are generally negotiable. While there’s plenty of truth to the statement that you get what you pay for — and an excessively cheap personal injury lawyer should raise suspicions about their ultimate value — you should feel comfortable negotiating with an attorney in order to arrive at fees that work for both of you. It helps to have a general sense of the attorney’s track record and reputation prior to your first meeting.
The attorney you call is not necessarily the attorney you’ll get.
Some law firms make their presence known across a wide swath of media — including billboards, television commercials, radio spots, online banner ads, and even the sides of buses. They often feature the image and voice of a supposed attorney, enticing prospective clients to call them for expert legal assistance. But these are often just attorney referral services that make their money by farming you out to various law firms that have paid for leads. The firms that pay for these leads may be perfectly legitimate, professional operations — but their connection to the referral service is typically just a transactional one.
The attorney you first meet with may never handle your case.
Like any business, law firms know the importance of making a strong first impression with clients. Therefore, the initial consultations are often handled by senior-level attorneys at the firm. They will listen to your case and take careful notes, perhaps even suggesting a general course of action. But keep in mind that firms employ paralegals, legal secretaries, and even non-attorney case managers for much of the heavy lifting. That doesn’t mean your case won’t be handled professionally, but the attorney whose hand you shake at that first meeting may not be personally involved in your case once you leave their offices.
You may not even need an attorney (although you will for lawsuit funding)
You’re not an attorney, which is why you’re seeking professional guidance for your personal injury claim. But if your injuries are severe, your damages well-documented, and the other party’s insurer is willing to cooperate, an attorney may not be able to do much for you. Even if they know their services are not necessary, unscrupulous attorneys may see it as an opportunity for easy money. But paying attorney fees when you don’t need to can take a bite out of your award.
Many small firms don’t have the financial resources for important upfront costs.
In order to successfully represent their clients, injury attorneys often pay for private investigators, forensics experts, and other specialists that can make the difference in whether you win or lose your case. While a successful case may require more upfront costs — for which you would be charged — failing to take on some of these costs could mean you don’t collect at all. It’s important to find an attorney with the necessary resources to help your case prevail.
Firms may not want you to search for online reviews.
In today’s world, one of the best ways to find a quality service provider, whether it’s a plumber or an injury attorney, is to search online reviews at sites such as Yelp. While some former clients who lost their cases may be too quick to criticize the firm that represented them, you can get a general sense of a law firm’s track record by conducting a search of reviews. Keep in mind that reviews posted on their firm’s website may have been hand-selected for marketing purposes.
They may decline your case because it’s not lucrative, not because it lacks merit.
If a prospective injury law firm declines to take on your case after your initial consultation, they may not be upfront about the reasons why. They may be vague in their reasoning or say it doesn’t look like a good case. However, it’s important to understand that even a slam-dunk personal injury case may not be seen as worth their time if it won’t offer a lucrative-enough payout for the firm.
Firms may claim they can secure larger-than-realistic settlements in order to get your business.
In some instances, this may be true — an attorney may have special expertise handing cases such as yours and know how to get a particularly large settlement on your behalf. But whatever settlement they help you get is separate from the fee they will charge. In other words, an attorney making bold claims about large settlements may be simply trying to outbid other firms. Of course, they won’t put such claims in writing because it’s often not clear how a case will play out in the end.
Attorneys won’t necessarily tell you about legal funding.
After an attorney takes your case and you’ve settled on the fee structure, they’ll want to know how you’re going to pay for their services. Some firms don’t collect until they’ve won your case (and won’t charge fees if they don’t). But they may not voluntarily inform you about lawsuit loans, given the shady reputation some of these organizations have. For instance, some of them charge compound interest, which is essentially interest charged on the interest already charged (rather than charging interest on the principle only, called “simple interest”). This can result in obscenely high rates that cut deeply into your lawsuit settlement.
Uplift Legal Funding charges its clients simple rates and will match or beat a funding contract from any of our competitors. What’s more, you don’t have to repay your loan if you don’t prevail in your case.
Personal injury lawyers may refer you to their preferred lawsuit loan provider rather than encouraging clients to shop around.
Injury attorney firms sometimes have an existing relationship with a lawsuit loan provider and will refer their clients to that one firm; in fact, most lawsuit lenders focus on forming relationships with firms rather than individual plaintiffs. The attorney will probably extol the virtues of this preferred lender — and it very well may be an industry leader — but you just never know. You don’t have to go with their lender and have every reason to shop around. You want a lender with relatively low rates (particularly those charging simple, not compound, interest), keeping in mind the cost of their inherent risk.
Are you a plaintiff in an injury case in need of funds? Depending on the strength of your claim as determined by correspondence with your attorney, you may be eligible for a no-risk lawsuit loan from Uplift Legal Funding. We provide competitive rates and don’t care about your credit rating; plus, you won’t have to repay you loan unless you win your case.