How to Choose your Car Accident or Wrongful Death Lawyer
Keep Your Recovery
Finding the right car accident attorney or wrongful death lawyer can be stressful. The most common concern I hear is, “Will an attorney add enough value to the case to make it worth it?” If this is a concern of yours, please be sure to read my blog about the cost of hiring an injury lawyer. However, one concern many people overlook is whether the lawyer is maximizing the amount of money their client’s will receive – not just the amount that goes to the lawyers pockets. This is called “Keeping your recovery.”
Who is Looking Out For You?
Car accident victims and survivors who have lost loved ones in wrongful death claims should always seek to find a lawyer who will look out for their interests. After all, everyone else involved in the incident does – the at-fault party, the insurance companies, and the doctors all have someone looking out for them.
When hiring a car accident attorney or wrongful death lawyer, prospective clients should be upfront with any concerns they have at the outset. Your meeting is protected by attorney-client privilege. The meeting also allows you an opportunity to speak with the lawyer and have your questions answered. One question every injury victim or survivor should ask is how the lawyer intends to look out for your financial interests.
The “easy” answer to this inquiry is, “We will work to maximize the recovery in your case and work to reduce medical bills.” This is the “easy” answer because this is the answer every injury attorney should know. However, “easy” does not mean “right.”
All injury attorneys are contingency fee attorneys, meaning that all the costs we accumulate are charged to the client, if there is a recovery in their case. As such, wanting to know whether an attorney is going to look out for the financial interests of the client throughout the case is a very appropriate concern.
There are many ways throughout a case to spend more money than needed. This is important. All this money will eventually be paid back by the client from whatever is recovered!
The more money the lawyer spends, the less money the client may receive. Some of the most common and unnecessary expenditures I see are 1) utilizing the US mail system unnecessarily, 2) paying too much for medical records, or 3) additional charges in the contract.
Utilizing the US Mail System Unnecessarily.
Now, if you’re thinking “Justin, the post office is how we send letters so, of course, we need the US mail system!” Let me just say you’re not wrong, but you’re not right either.
Most correspondence sent to medical facilities, insurance companies, experts, and clients, can be sent electronically. Each letter sent through the post office costs our clients at least $0.50. That is at least $0.50 for each letter that my client pays at the end of the case. If I can send the same letter electronically, I have just saved my client that money on each and every letter. Utilizing electronic means to send correspondence can save my client’s hundreds of dollars.
An added benefit with electronic communication is you never have to look for the letter that came in the mail. Emails are stored forever. With a simple search, my clients can review all correspondence sent to them on their case.
Some firms, like mine, try to go as paperless as we can. Some letters are required to be sent through the post office. However, where we can save money, we do.
If you are looking to hire a car accident attorney or wrongful death lawyer, ask them how paperless their office is. Many firms have begun to transition to a paperless environment. Going paperless increases firm efficiency while reducing costs ultimately paid by the client. If the firm you are speaking with is not paperless, understand you will pay them more money from your recovery.
Paying Too Much for Medical Records.
Medical records drive injury claims or wrongful death actions. Some medical facilities charge absurd amounts for the records they produce. Many attorneys simply pay whatever charges the facility bills them for. Typically, this is because the lawyer’s office thinks it’s not worth their time. The lawyer would rather spend their time on items that will make the lawyer money – even if it ultimately costs their clients more.
Clients pay back the costs of medical records. Every lawyer does this. How much is paid back on depends on the lawyer. Does the lawyer ignore the potential cost savings to the client by just paying invoices? If so, the client may ultimately pay more back to the attorney and receive less of their recovery.
Not all invoices can be negotiated. However, where they can be, they should be. We have saved our clients thousands of dollars by negotiating invoices from medical facilities. We directly pass on these savings to our clients without our office seeing one extra penny. As a result, our clients get to keep more of their recovery – instead of paying it back to my office.
Ask your lawyer how they handle invoices for medical records. If the answer is similar to “We will ask the medical providers to send them to us” then they are only thinking about how to obtain the records and not whether there is additional costs savings to you.
Additional Charges in the Contract.
When you hire a contingency attorney, you only have to pay that attorney when the contingency occurs. In the case of car accident claims or wrongful death, that contingency is the recovery of money. Once financial recovery is made on your case, you will be responsible for paying your attorney.
Typically, injury attorney contracts require the client to pay back either 1/3 or 40% of the recovery for the fee. In addition to the fee, all contracts require clients to pay back the costs expended in the case. However, some contracts go further than these two lawyer repayments. Some require the client pay an “administrative fee,” “storage fee,” or even interest on the costs expended.
If stated in the contract and agreed to by the client, this has been allowed. Your signature on the contract is your agreement to these terms.
Review your contract carefully before signing it. If your contract has these provisions in them, ask to have them waived upfront. If the law firm will not waive them, you will need to decide whether you wish to sign their contract or seek someone else.
The right injury or car accident lawyer, or wrongful death attorney, will look out for your interests throughout your claim. Competence in the handling your claim should be the foremost concern. Competent lawyers consistently recover more than incompetent lawyers. However, the goal should be obtaining a higher recovery and reducing unnecessary expenditures. This is how you can maximize your recovery.
At Presser Law, P.A., we pride ourselves on maximizing our clients’ recoveries. We do this by fighting for fair value on their cases and eliminating unnecessary expenses.
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If you have been injured in a car accident or recently lost a loved on, contact Presser Law for a free case review with an attorney to determine your legal rights. Put my experience to work for you. For over 10 years I have represented injury victims throughout Central Florida in their times of need and I would be honored to help you as well.
Presser Law, P.A. was founded on the idea that injury victims deserve aggressive and straight forward representation to help them through some of their most difficult times. “Fighting for Justice. Fighting for You.” is more than a motto. It is our promise and reminder to our client’s that we will be with them, fighting to make sure they receive the compensation they deserve.