Common Questions In Injury Cases
Question 1: Do I need a lawyer?
Answer 1: Many people believe that in a normal automobile accident case, slip and fall or other “typical case” that they do not need a lawyer. They may have been told that if you have to pay a fee to a lawyer that it will result in them receiving a lesser amount. What that fails to take into account, however, is the various pitfalls encountered in every case involved. See an Example
You must remember that when you are contacted by the insurance company for the other driver or the place where you were injured, that adjuster is not looking out for your best interests. The adjuster’s job is to pay as little as possible to get you to sign a general release. If you resolve the case without an attorney’s assistance you could lose very important rights. Most attorneys would be happy to give you an initial free consultation and we would urge you to contact an attorney before signing away any of your rights to recover for your own or a family member’s injuries.
Question 2: Since I feel okay, can I settle my case without consulting with a lawyer?
Answer 2: In many auto cases or other cases of traumatic injury, an injured person may at first not feel any pain. When the shock wears off then they truly appreciate the amount of injury done. It is also typical to see a period where the injury appears to go away, only later to come back even worse than before. If during this initial period of healing you sign a general release with an insurance company you give up your rights to later recover even if your injuries are found out to be very serious. Think carefully, before agreeing to waive your rights. It is always better to wait several months before agreeing to settle your case. Typically, the insurance company will still be willing to settle your case even with the additional delay.
Question 3: If I meet with a lawyer from your office or hire your firm to handle my injury claim will I have to pay you up front or come up with money for your fees before I know if I have a “good case”?
Answer 3: No, in accordance with the applicable rules in both New York and Pennsylvania, our attorneys will review and handle your claim on a contingent fee basis. This means that we only charge an attorney’s fee if your claim is successful and that fee is not paid until the case is over. In addition, our firm will advance the out of pocket costs associated with investigating and handling your claim. To boil it down, you will not need not pay any fees or costs up front to have our attorneys look into your injury case. You will get our opinions on your case “free of charge” and, if you case warrants our proceeding ahead, you will owe no attorney fee until the matter is resolved.
Question 4: If I bring an injury claim, won’t the responsible party get mad at me or have to pay my settlement out of their own pocket?
Answer 4: While no one can predict exactly how someone will respond if a claim is brought against them, our experience is that the person or company responsible for your injury has very little reaction to a claim. This is due to the fact that in almost every case we handle, the responsible party has liability insurance. The liability insurance company, which is usually a multi-million or multi-billion dollar business, is the one that pays your settlement and since it is their money, the insurance company really controls how your claim is handled and they provide the responsible party with a lawyer for free. Since the responsible party is not in control and their own money is not at stake, very often they are accepting of what they did to cause your injury and there is no “ill will”.
Question 5: Will I get a larger settlement or verdict if I pick a law firm from Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh or Erie?
Answer 5: Although many of these law firms from the bigger cities advertise throughout this area, advertisement does not guarantee success or better results. In many cases you will be better served by a local attorney. An attorney in your area may very well know the climate of the courtroom better and has the same resources available to them as the big city firms. Attorneys in this area may have as much or more experience than attorneys in the city firms. At the same time, attorneys in this area have more ties to the community and are always open to assist you with any problems as your case progresses.
Question 6: If I get a lawyer won’t people know I am “suing” someone and won’t my settlement be published in the newspaper?
Answer 6: On occasion you may have read in the newspaper or heard on the radio of a friend or person in the community receiving a large settlement on being involved in a civil suit. Of course if a case goes to verdict then the verdict is a matter of public record and cannot be kept confidential. However, if the case is settled outside of court then the amount of the settlement or even the fact that there was a settlement can be kept private. At Black, Lyle & Habberfield, LLP we feel it is in our clients’ best interest to keep any settlement confidential (who wants their private business broadcast across the community?) and whenever possible we will not disclose this information to anyone.
Question 7: Won’t my insurance rates go up if I report my accident?
Answer 7: The mere reporting of an accident will not cause your insurance rates to go up. Instead, only if you are found at fault for the accident and only if your insurance company pays a certain amount of money will your insurance rate be affected. If you fail to report the accident to your insurance company, it could result in a loss of rights you may have, as well as leaving you exposed to a lawsuit from another driver. Remember you have spent a lot of money over the years for this insurance and the reason you paid all that money was in case of an accident.
Question 8: What should I look for in picking a law firm to represent me or my family?
Answer 8: It should go without saying that in selecting an attorney you must be comfortable with the firm’s experience and integrity. You should ask or investigate if the lawyers in a firm have been the subject of disciplinary complaints or actions. You should ask or investigate whether the attorneys in the firm have actually tried a case in front of a jury. You should ask or investigate what results they have earned in the past. Finally ask your family members, friends and people in the community about their experiences with a particular law firm. Just because a law firm spends millions of dollars in advertising does not mean that they are the right firm for you or that they will obtain better results. Would you select a doctor on the basis of who advertises more?