If you’ve suffered a life-altering injury in a car accident or other incident, you may be wondering whether you need to hire a top rated personal injury attorney to help you get fair compensation. You may be unsure whether a “big name” attorney is worth it in your case, or whether you can even afford to hire an experienced car accident lawyer to seek an optimum financial outcome for you through settlement or trial.
Hiring a good lawyer is crucial when you’ve been seriously injured because of another’s negligence. Here are three important questions to consider:
- Is it better to hire a “big name” law firm?
- Will a top rated lawyer cost more?
- If you hire a well-known lawyer at a big firm, will that lawyer actually handle your case?
- What do you need to know about a lawyer’s trial experience?
It’s wise to learn whether an attorney has received a top 10 score from a ratings agency and whether they have 5-star reviews from clients. It’s also important to understand why victims should focus on finding a highly rated attorney versus just a “big name” lawyer.
Serious injuries often result in challenging situations beyond just recovering one’s health, such as accumulating medical bills and lost wages. In a search for counsel to represent their interests, victims may call up a large firm with a well-known name simply because they’ve received solicitations from them in the mail (such firms buy information from law enforcement agencies and news outlets) or because they’ve seen print or TV ads.
The truth is that the famous name on the letterhead of that large firm may belong to someone who is no longer actively engaged day-to-day in the firm. In some firms, your call goes to whichever associate is next in line to pick up the phone. More important than a “big name” is to find a lawyer who has a proven track record of and reputation for obtaining fair compensation for clients. When looking for the best personal injury attorney for your case, consider that when you go to a boutique firm you are likely to sit down with, and be represented by, the lawyer whose name is on the door.
When it comes to cost, it’s important to understand that most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing up front and the lawyer is paid a percentage of your settlement or verdict if you win. In Minnesota, the fee is commonly one third of the award. Because the law firm usually fronts the costs of pursuing the case until it is resolved, it is important to hire one with the financial resources to see the case all the way through trial if settlement can’t be reached.
On average, victims represented by lawyers obtain 3.5 times the compensation amount as those who go it alone, even after attorney fees are paid, according to a study by the Insurance Research Council. Every case is different. There are no hard and fast answers to the question, “How much is my injury case worth?” unless the answer is “zero.” A knowledgeable attorney will look at the specific facts of a crash or other incident, and the injuries sustained, and will guide clients in making informed decisions about how to proceed.
The overwhelming majority of personal injury and wrongful death cases end in a settlement agreement without ever going to trial. Still, a lawyer’s trial experience matters a great deal, even if your case never needs to be tried before a jury, because insurers treat lawyers differently based upon their records
Injured people who are represented by an experienced litigator who has won at trial are in a stronger bargaining position. Insurers are well aware of which lawyers have obtained top verdict awards on behalf of clients and which are likely to encourage clients to accept a quick settlement. Even if your case does settle out of court, having counsel with the expertise and capability to see a lawsuit all the way through to a verdict is a crucial asset.
The benefits of hiring a well-regarded litigator are obvious when a case is one that is more likely to end with a jury deciding issues of fault and award amounts.
Here are some reasons a case might end up in trial:
- Multiple, or large corporate, defendants
- Questions of liability (who is legally responsible for the harm)
- Catastrophic injuries that require large payouts by insurance companies
Civil trials are not common today. If you’ve suffered a serious injury in a car accident * or other incident, contact us today. Suk Law Firm has focused on personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1988 and we are certainly not afraid to sue large corporations. Attorney Jim Suk is a certified civil trial specialist who has obtained record trial verdicts, including a recent $15 million award in a dram shop trial.
Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.
*A note about language:
Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”