In our experience, it is particularly important that people who have suffered personal injuries get legal advice, since the insurance companies you are dealing with are professionals who have an interest in settling for as little money and as quickly as possible.
Take advantage of the free first interview that most lawyers offer. No cost consultations are a great way to connect with a law office and determine if the team is right for you.
Remember, you are hiring the lawyer, not the other way around. At Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota, our lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means you won’t be required to pay for services up front. We get paid when the case is settled.
The following questions will help you determine whether the lawyer you are interviewing is right for you:
Does this lawyer spend at least 80% of his or her time practicing in the area of Personal Injury?
Has this lawyer’s name been referred to you by past clients or current caregivers in a positive way?
Does this lawyer act only for injured people, and never for insurance companies or the at-fault driver?
Does this lawyer do his or her own trials, and actually take cases to jury trials?
When you met this lawyer, did you feel comfortable and that you could accept this person’s advice? Will this be a good working relationship for you?
Is this lawyer a successful mediator, and will mediation be used to attempt to settle your claim?
Will this lawyer take your case on a contingency basis (which means the lawyer does not get paid unless they win your case)?
A good lawyer will review your case and give you an unbiased opinion on whether you need legal representation or not. If you have been injured and have lost time from work, or are suffering from the injury for more than a few days, you should hire a lawyer.
Typically you have to deal with an insurance company to get compensation for your injury. You need a lawyer to represent your interests to the insurance company for the following reasons:
The insurance adjuster is not your friend. Insurance companies make a profit by collecting as much in premiums as possible and paying out as little as possible in benefits. The insurance adjuster’s job is to pay you the least amount of money possible.
The insurance adjuster will take a statement from you that can be used against you in court.
The insurance adjuster will often obtain your pre-accident private medical history, whether or not the nature of the case requires disclosure. This is an invasion of your privacy. Your lawyer can determine what information is relevant and provide only that.
The insurance adjuster may appoint a medical specialist of his or her choice to assess you. This choice of specialist may not be in your best interests. With a lawyer, a fairer choice will be made.
Often, the first insurance adjuster that you meet will be a front line “nice” guy who is supposed to keep you from seeing a lawyer. Later, after the insurance company has organized the medical evidence to keep the size of your claim down, a different adjuster may take over and play hardball. If you wait until then to see a lawyer, evidence hurtful to your claim may have already been gathered against you.
The insurance adjuster may not offer you all of the rehabilitation care that you are entitled to. Getting better should be a main priority – a good lawyer will help this happen.
If you don’t accept the settlement that the insurance adjuster offers you, the adjuster will often threaten you with a “Jury Trial”. In British Columbia, the insurance companies select jury trials in most personal injury cases because they believe that juries will award less than judges.
Most clients who come to lawyers do so because the insurance company is refusing to pay for the treatment that the client’s doctors recommended, or because an unfair settlement offer is made. Most clients have more money in their pocket after payment of their lawyer’s fees than they would have had if they had settled on their own.
A lawyer’s contingency fee is the same whether you retain the lawyer early or late. Why not have the benefit of a lawyer right from the beginning?