Honesty, Integrity & Respect
Honesty. Integrity. Respect. Three words, unfortunately, not commonly associated with a personal injury lawyer–but three words that we take to heart. Whether you have questions about an auto accident, a dog bite, or premises injury liability, we handle every case as if it was our only case, and we treat clients and other attorneys with the honesty, integrity and respect that they deserve. When choosing a personal injury lawyer, there are a variety of concerns that clients should think about. Please read on to learn more about things to consider when hiring a personal injury lawyer in the Bay Area.
Things to Look for in a Lawyer
It has been said, “A person who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Likewise, it is foolish to hire an attorney that you do not trust. Your relationship with your attorney is unique, as he or she will be “representing” you, or “acting in your place.” Lack of trust destroys any personal relationship and the client-attorney relationship is no exception. If you do not trust your attorney, you probably won’t communicate important things to him or her. And as a result, your attorney will not fully understand your needs, or your case, and will not represent you well. If you do not trust your attorney, you will not trust his or her advice, and you may make the wrong choices.
It’s your case, not the attorney’s!
A good attorney should take time to personally understand your needs. Attorneys who do not return your phone calls, do not listen attentively, who are arrogant, or who do not follow your instructions may be looking out for only their interests, not yours. How can you find an attorney you can trust to be on your side? Ask lots of questions, and listen carefully. Personal interaction is most important.
Personal Interaction is the basis of trust.
When you call for the first time, does the attorney relate to you well on a personal level? Does the attorney show a sincere concern for your injury? Does the attorney try to pressure you, or does he or she evaluate your case carefully, and offer to help you at your convenience? You deserve respect when you call, and the attorney should be helpful, providing you with information to help you decide what is best for you. When you meet the attorney, ask yourself, “Do I relate well to this person? Can I trust this person?” Do you feel dignified in the attorney’s office, or do you feel belittled?
Does the attorney belong to attorney associations or other groups that can help you if misunderstandings arise? Does the attorney ask you the right questions? If you have been injured as a result of an auto accident, does he or she ask about insurance, medical payments coverage, the liability of the other driver, police reports, damage to the cars involved, and the nature and extent of your injuries? Does the attorney offer to help you get to the right kind of doctor for you, and consider your preferences without pressure? Does the attorney show that he or she knows what to do day-in and day-out and how your life has been adversely altered by your injury, and does he or she ask the right probing questions to get all pertinent information to evaluate your case properly?
Is the attorney’s Retainer or Fee Agreement plainly written in regular type? Or is it in small type, full of legal jargon? Does the attorney take the time to go over the agreement with you so you understand it fully before you sign it? Follow this rule: Don’t sign an agreement unless the attorney is willing and able to explain every section in the agreement. If the agreement is full of difficult language, it usually indicates the agreement written for the attorney’s advantage, not yours. Don’t sign! Simply state that you need some time to think about it, and walk out.
Your initial consultation is a free visit where you meet with your attorney and talk about the specifics of your case. Most attorneys who specialize in personal injury law will provide a free initial visit to determine if they can help you with your case. It is important to bring all of the documentation you have to the attorney’s office. For a car accident case, if possible, you should bring the names of the insurance companies, your insurance documents, the license numbers of vehicles involved, and the police report. Of course, if you do not have all these things, don’t worry, the attorney will get them as he or she collects information needed to present your claim.
Attorney Contingency Fees
A contingency fee means that you owe no fee to your attorney, unless he gets money for your case. But be careful. Most attorneys incur costs while working on your case, such as the costs of getting records and investigation fees. Make sure your attorney will not bill you for costs if no money is recovered. Let the attorney take the risk of not recovering the costs. The amount of a contingency fee is usually a percentage of the amount recovered. Most injury attorneys have graduated fees that increase depending on when the recovery is made. Most attorneys charge one-third of the amount of the recovery if your case is settled without litigation. “Litigation” is considered to begin with filing a lawsuit with the court, or demanding arbitration, and extends to all the work necessary to bring the case up to the actual trial or arbitration. Fees may increase to 40% or even 50% depending on the stage your case is completed.
Costs and Expenses
Although most personal injury cases are handled by attorneys on a contingency basis, the costs of developing your case, such as paying other service providers for investigation or records, are separate from the attorney’s fee. Usually they are deducted from your settlement or award in addition to the fee. As stated above, make sure your attorney will not bill you for costs if no money is recovered. You have a right to an accounting of the charges. If you do not understand a particular charge, or feel you were charged incorrectly, you should bring it up immediately. Chances are, it is either a mistake in the accounting or a misunderstanding.
Personal Service And Peace Of Mind
After considering all of the questions above, we think that you will find that the INJURY LAW CENTER satisfies all of the important criteria that clients look for in a personal injury lawyer. We stress both results and client service, and understand that to our clients, their case is the only one that matters and that we need to get things right the first time. Clients who choose us receive the following benefits:
- Free initial consultations with an experienced personal injury lawyer
- Emergency service and flexible office hours
- Home and hospital visits upon request
- Contingent fees in all injury cases – never an out-of-pocket charge or expense
- Personal service and attention by a law firm that really cares
To learn more about our personal injury practice please contact us at our offices in Walnut Creek, Los Gatos-Santa Cruz, Fremont-Hayward-Fremont – Hayward area, or San Jose, California, today. We represent injury accident victims throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont, Pittsburg, Hayward, Richmond, Dublin, Concord, Fairfield, Benicia, Vallejo, Napa, San Jose, and other communities in the counties of Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, and Solano. For immediate assistance call Toll Free 1-800-300-8561.