If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where you’re injured as a result of a car accident, slip and fall, or other similar situation, you’re probably wondering whether to deal with the insurance companies on your own or to hire a lawyer. And with so many misconceptions surrounding personal injury lawyers, it can feel like a tough choice to make. How should you proceed?
Challenging 4 Common Myths
If you haven’t had the need to work directly with a personal injury attorney, then you’re probably anticipating some crazy guy in a gorilla suit, on a local cable TV network, telling you that he’ll put cash in your wallet the next day. But for every outlandish personal injury advertisement, there are a number of honest professional attorneys ready to fight for your rights. And no matter what anyone tries to tell you, take the following myths with a grain of salt:
You Don’t Need an Attorney if You Have Insurance
Many people think that having insurance is a suitable replacement for having a lawyer, but this is poor advice.
“Just because you have insurance – or the person responsible for your injury has insurance – doesn’t mean you should proceed without an attorney,” Scott M. Brown & Associates explains. “The insurance companies are not on your side. You need someone to aggressively fight for your best interests.”
See, the insurance company is in the business of paying out as little money as possible in order to keep profit margins high. Even if you’re their client, they’ll inevitably attempt to lowball you in order to save money. And if it’s an insurance company representing someone else, then you can rest assured that the negotiations will begin will below where they should. An attorney will represent your best interests and help negotiate a fair settlement offer (or take it to court, if necessary).
Lawyers are Mean and Self-Serving
This one is somewhat silly, but it’s a fairly common belief. The general public believes that lawyers are mean and self-serving – only making decisions that help them advance their careers or pad their bank accounts. However, the truth is that most people get into law because they love helping people. Yes, the money can be good, but it’s not the primary motivating factor. Many attorneys are compassionate and selfless – particularly when they’re dealing with victims who are in dire circumstances.
Lawyers Take Your Money Even if You Don’t Win
Someone may have told you to stay away from hiring a lawyer because they can take your money even if you don’t win your case. However, this is generally untrue. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency-fee basis. In other words, they only get paid if you win your case. This motivates the attorney to work hard and allows you to rest easy knowing you aren’t paying for something you’ll never get.
Lawyers Only Make Things More Complicated
Finally, there’s a misconception that lawyers only complicate matters and lead to situations where cases go unresolved for months and years on end. And while it is true that cases can drag on, this is rarely the lawyer’s fault, per se. Lawyers understand how to maximize value and will do everything possible to help their clients’ achieve maximum payouts/benefits. So, while it can take a little longer, the outcome is typically worth the wait.
Hire the Right Lawyers for Your Needs
Now that we’ve addressed some of the misconceptions surrounding lawyers and shown that lawyers have value – particularly in personal injury situations – let’s discuss some of the characteristics, traits, and markers you should be looking for when hiring one:
- Experience. A young attorney fresh out of law school may have a lot of book knowledge, but they aren’t experienced in practicing law. You need someone who has been in negotiations and courtrooms hundreds of times before and won’t be surprised by anything.
- Specialization. It’s not enough to have experience. After all, an experienced tax attorney isn’t going to do you much good when you’re trying to maximize a car accident claim. What you need is someone who specializes in exactly what you’re dealing with.
- Track record. Is the attorney known for obtaining favorable outcomes for clients? Do clients typically end up being satisfied with the results/experience? An attorney’s track record should speak for itself.
- Tenacity. You want an attorney who is poised, yet tenacious – particularly when it comes to dealing with insurance companies. Someone who is too polite will end up getting pushed around at your expense.
If you can find an experienced lawyer who specializes in your type of injury and has a track record for tenaciously winning cases for his clients, then you’ve found someone you can trust to come alongside and help you achieve your goals. Cut out the noise and don’t listen to the myths. Hiring a good personal injury lawyer will be one of the smartest decisions you ever make.