Some car accident cases have lasted four or five years. The length of the case is always dependent on a number of factors. The biggest factor is the nature and the extent of the injuries. An attorney cannot go ahead in good faith and settle a case, if he doesn't know where the client is medically, because once the client settles the case, they sign a general release, and the case is over.
So if a doctor says that in six months, you may need surgery, sometimes we might have to wait those six months to see what happens. We can write to the insurance company and tell them that a doctor says in six months my client's going to need surgery, but the insurance companies believe they are from the state of Missouri. They are like, “show me.” So until that person goes in to have the surgery, they are not giving them the money for the surgery.
Is there Anything Someone Can Do to Expedite the Process?
Follow the doctor's advice. If the doctor tells them they need to go to the physical therapy three times a week, they need to go to physical therapy three times a week. If the doctor tells them they need to stand on their head, they need to at least try to stand on their head.
What are the Qualities that I Should Be Looking for in a Good Attorney? What are Some Red Flags?
There are a lot of good lawyers out there and there are a lot of competent lawyers out there. Probably the biggest factor in someone retaining a particular lawyer or not is whether it's someone that they can get along with and somebody that shares their value system. This is the reason why: they're going to be living with that lawyer for a year or two years in most cases, so it's good if they're on the same page and are comfortable with each other.
If you're somebody who wants contact once a week with your lawyer and your lawyer says I am just too busy handling my 3,000 cases, I can't do that, I'll only contact you once every six months; the relationship is doomed to failure. If you're somebody who wants email, and the lawyer doesn't email and wants you to come into their office all the time, the relationship is doomed to failure. Those are probably some of the biggest things that I see causing problems between lawyers and clients.
If you want a lawyer that's going to pump you up and tell you your claim is worth a million dollars, what happens when the day before the statute of limitations tell you that your case is only worth five thousand dollars? You have to decide as a potential client, what your value system is and what matters to you in a lawyer, otherwise it's just not going to work. Hiring a lawyer just because they put up a billboard that says they got somebody a million dollars, what does that mean? Yeah they might have gotten a million dollars, but you want to know something? It could have been a six million dollar case and they under-settled it and they got the person one million dollars instead.
The insurance company got away with that case. Then you could have a guy who just handled the case great, and the guy got 35 thousand dollars for their client. The guy did A++ lawyering but you want to know something? The insurance only offered the person five grand. That lawyer got that client seven times more money than the insurance company offered them. You can't make your decision based on that type of fluff that's out there without knowing the whole story. You need to meet with a lawyer, you need to find out how they handle this case, you've got to see if they've got the proper demeanor. You've got to find out if they actually are going to work the case or is it going to be some six month associate.
I pride myself on the fact that I am also a doctor, I know the medicine, I don't need to talk to experts to determine what carpal tunnel is or how to explain carpal tunnel syndrome to a jury or to a judge. Everybody has unique characteristics, so you as a client have to determine what you really want, because otherwise it's never going to be a fruitful relationship. You need to go to a lawyer and tell them your expectations! If you come into my office and say, “I was involved in a car wreck, I had really no property damage to my car, I have this little whiplash but I want you to get me 50 grand,” I am going to let you know I am just not the lawyer for you because that is not happening based upon what you told me.
What Would You Tell Someone who is Hesitant to Hire an Attorney Because of the Costs?
In a personal injury case, the way that it works is that we take these cases on a contingency fee basis. That means that if we don't receive any recovery, the client doesn't have any attorney's fees. So we become partners, the partnership is this: you put your trust in me and I put my time, my energy and my money into you. At the end of the case, if you did your job, and I did my job, you're going to have your money!
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