FAQs

Get Answers Right Now!

Here are our 8 most often asked questions and links to detailed answers…

What’s the best way to find a good lawyer?

If I hire a lawyer, what will he or she do for me?

How much will it cost me to hire a good lawyer?

I’ve just been in an accident. What do I do next?

How do I get my vehicle repaired or replaced after a collision. What are my rights?

Why do I need a lawyer? Can’t I save money and handle my case on my own?

I have a personal injury. Do I have rights? What compensation am I entitled to?

My family has experienced a wrongful death. What are our rights? What should we do next?

Other Common Questions…

What is the best way contact you?
Why should I hire a lawyer? Why not try to settle my own case?
How is a lawyer paid? What is a contingency fee?
What should I do if I’m in an accident and it was not my fault?
I was injured in an accident. What should I do next?
I was hurt in an accident that was not my fault. Who pays for my medical bills?
Can an insurance company tell me which doctor I need to see?
What do I do if I have to take time off from work?
What do I need to know about getting my car repaired after an accident? Am I entitled to a rental car?
Common questions in automobile, motorcycle, and large truck accident cases
Common questions about injuries and damages in a personal injury or wrongful death case
Common questions about police and police reports
Common questions about police and police reports
9 good questions you should ask EVERY lawyer you interview

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Q:  What is the best way to contact you?

A:  The best way to contact us is to use our toll free telephone number which is 800-661-7044 .  You may also contact us by email, live chat, or web template. Whatever works for you is fine with us!  Click here for our contact page!
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Q:  Why should I hire a lawyer?  Why not try to settle my own case?

A:  Good questions and here’s our detailed answer…
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Q:  How is a Lawyer Paid?  What is a Contingency Fee?

A:  A contingent fee is a fee for services provided where the fee is only payable if there is a favorable result.   The law defines a contingent fee as “a fee charged for a lawyer’s services only if the lawsuit is successful or is favorably settled out of court…contingent fees are usually calculated as a percentage of the client’s net recovery.”

For many injured consumers, the contingent fee is their key to the courthouse doors.  It makes it easier for people to protect and pursue their civil rights—especially in personal injury and wrongful death cases. If the right attorney is selected, a contingent fee is an excellent way to hire one of the best lawyers in your state without having to pay his or her up front retainer or hourly fee.  Truly a win-win for the consumer.  Click here to read an excellent article explaining all you need to know about California contingency fees…
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Q:  What should I do if I am in an accident and it wasn’t my fault?

A:  The fact of the matter is that motor vehicle accidents are a regrettable part of modern life.   It doesn’t matter whether you drive in a large city or a small town.  ooner or later, you can expect to be involved in an accident.   If you’ve suffered a personal injury then you need to take a close look at this “California Personal Injury” report.

If a family member has experienced a wrongful death, then we strongly suggest you review the important information found in our “California Wrongful Death” report.
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Q:  I was injured in an accident. What should I do next?

A:  See a doctor right away!  This will help determine the extent of your injury and if necessary, get you the medical assistance you need as soon as possible.

Most of the victim we represent have sustained very serious, and in some cases, life threatening injuries.  However, you should keep in mind that there are many injuries in a motor vehicle accident that are not apparent at the time of the accident.   Because of this, it is a good idea to get a medical examination after an accident to be sure that you have not suffered an injury that will not manifest itself until sometime in the future.  The bottom line is to know all the facts about your injury so that you can make smart medical decisions.

You may also want to keep a daily log of your medical condition.  List any symptoms or pain and how long you suffered.   Include descriptions of the pain you feel and any restrictions on your normal activities.   You may also want to keep a record of your trips to see the doctor or anyone else he or she sends you to see.  Keep track of the mileage and the time it takes and any money you have to spend because of the trips.
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Q:  I was hurt in an accident that wasn’t my fault. Who will pay for my medical treatment and bills?

A:   The person who caused the accident, or his or her insurance company, is responsible for paying for all of your reasonable and necessary medical treatment and billings.   If you have medical payment coverage with your insurance company, you may have additional benefits you can use to help pay for your medical bills.  A good lawyer can explain all the details to you.

We also recommend that if you have health insurance, you use it to help take care of your bills.  At the end of your case, your automobile medical payments and health insurance may be partially reimbursed should you receive a full settlement and are “made whole” by the settlement or verdict.   Please keep in mind that under California law, you cannot be penalized and your rates cannot be increased simply because you utilized your own automobile insurance medical payments or uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits to help protect you in an accident.
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Q:  Can the insurance company tell me which doctor I have to see?

A:  Absolutely not.  You can and should see your own doctor.  No one can tell you what doctor you have to use.  If you need a referral to a specialist in your area, most experienced lawyers are happy to recommend a good physician or other healthcare provider.
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Q:  What do I do if I have to take time off work?

A:  Keep a record of the time you miss from work, even if you still get paid because you use sick time or vacation.   Keep track of the amount of money you lost by not being able to work.  The person who caused your accident is legally responsible for all reasonable and necessary lost time from work.   Prior to settlement or trial, we normally use a special form and obtain a sworn declaration from your supervisor itemizing and documenting all loss of earnings.
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Q:  What do I need to know about getting my car repaired after an accident?  Am I entitled to a rental car?

A:  It is up to you to decide who you want to repair your vehicle.   Do not be bullied by the insurance company into thinking you have to have your vehicle repaired by the shop giving the lowest bid.   You are entitled to the lesser of either having your vehicle repaired to the same condition it was in before the accident or, to be paid the value of the vehicle less salvage and certain DMV related expenses.

We normally recommend that our clients coordinate having their vehicles repaired with their own insurance company.  Why?  Because your insurance company has a fiduciary duty to place your best interest before its own and to make sure your vehicle is repaired properly.   This is not the case when dealing with the other side’s insurance company.  If you are not at fault and you do use your own insurance company, your rates may not go up pursuant to California law.   In most cases, your insurance company will be reimbursed by the responsible party’s insurance company for any payments made.

While you only need to get one estimate, you may want to get more than one estimate if you are not comfortable with the estimated damage or, not sure where you want to have your vehicle repaired and you want to compare different shops.   Your attorney can help you by recommending repair shops that have good reputations for quality work.

While your vehicle is being repaired, you are entitled to the rental of a similar vehicle.   Many times our client’s own insurance policies provide for 20-30 days of rental car coverage.  Another option might be a company specializing in providing cars to people whose vehicles are being repaired.   Ask your attorney and review the “Auto Body Repair Consumer Bill of Rights” for more info.
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Common Questions in Automobile, Motorcycle and Large Truck Accident Cases

Here are answers to the most common questions we’ve heard over the past two decades.   Please take a couple of minutes and review this information carefully.

Q:  I’ve just had an accident. What should I do first?

A: The first thing you must do if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident is to stop. Accidents happen to even the most careful drivers, but no one can ever have a valid excuse for failing to stop after an accident. In most states hit and run offenses are felonies, with increased penalties is someone has been injured in the accident.

Q:  After I have stopped what should I do?

A: Check each person involved in the accident to see if they have been hurt. Call the police. Call an ambulance if necessary.

Q:   If someone is hurt should I try to help?

A: Yes. If the person is seriously injured, do not attempt to move him or her unless it is absolutely necessary to protect him or her from further injury. Get someone to call the police or 911 if an ambulance is needed. Do what you can to make the injured person comfortable until paramedics or the police arrive.

Q: The injured person has been taken care of. What is next?

A: You and the other driver(s) must exchange information. You will want the driver’s name, address, phone numbers, driver’s license number, insurance carrier, policy number, agent, and a phone number for the agent. You will be expected to provide the same information to the other driver(s).

Q: What information about the motor vehicle do I need?

A: You need to note the make, model and year, its color and license plate number. Be sure to check the expiration date of the license plate.

Q: Do I need to get the same sort of information from the passengers in the other motor vehicle?

A: Yes. You need to obtain the name, address and telephone number of each passenger in the other motor vehicle. Take a moment to observe each of the passengers, where they were sitting or riding and whether they appear injured or unharmed by the accident. Look for slurred speech, glassy eyes and difficulty in remembering when you talk to them and note how they appear.

Q: What should I do about other people in the vehicles?

A: Take down the same information that you gathered from the passengers in the other motor vehicle (name, address, telephone number, where sitting.) Take a moment to observe each of them as they tell you their names and addresses to see whether they are exhibiting signs of injury.

Q: What should I do if there were witnesses?

A: Before the witnesses leave you should obtain their names, addresses and telephone numbers. You should record where the witness was when the accident occurred and if possible a short statement of what the witness observed.

Q: I’ve got the witness information, the other driver’s information and a list of the passengers. What now?

A: If you have a camera or cell phone camera, take pictures of the accident scene. Take pictures of the motor vehicles, the street in both directions for the accident (including skid marks, if any), any stop signs or other traffic signals or signs. Also take pictures of the accident from the direction of travel of each of the automobiles involved. A video camera is especially useful in recording the behavior of the other driver, which may be useful if the other driver has been drinking or using drugs.

Q: What should I do if I do not have a camera with me?

A: Make a diagram of the accident, indicating the direction each motor vehicle was traveling, the speed of each, and what happened. Measure any skid marks. Record the condition of the street (wet, dry, under construction, lots of gravel, big potholes) and signs restricting the free flow of traffic. Record the posted speed limit and anything else that will help you remember later what occurred prior to the accident.

Q: I can get a camera when I get home. Is there anything I need to take a picture of then?

A: Take pictures of the damage to your motor vehicle as soon as you can. Take close-up and farther away pictures to show the damage. Take pictures of yourself and any passengers in your motor vehicle who were injured. Again take full body pictures and close-ups to show the injuries.

Q: Should we move the motor vehicles?

A: Whether you should move the motor vehicles depends on the severity of the accident and where it occurred. A serious accident with injured people should be left alone until the police arrive. You may have to direct traffic around the accident, set flares or station someone in a position to warn oncoming motorists. A fender-bender during rush hour that threatens to tie up traffic for miles might be moved out the driving lanes after you have determined that no one was hurt.

Q: What should I do if I have an accident in a parking lot?

A: In most states the police will not respond to an accident in a parking lot that does not involve personal injury. The parking lot is private property and the minor accidents there are generally outside the jurisdiction of the police. You should exchange personal, driver’s license and insurance information with the other driver.

Q: If the police do not come and investigate the accident what should I do?

A: You should make a report of the accident within 24 hours at the nearest police station. The counter report, sometimes called a cold report, should explain the accident and identify the parties involved.

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Common Questions about Injuries and Damages in a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Case

Q: What can I expect to get from the insurance company?

A: You are entitled to “be made whole,” which is legal language for your right to be put back in the same position after the settlement as you were in immediately before the accident. Some of the process of making you whole is easily calculated and other aspects are more difficult.

Q: What will I get for my vehicle?

A: You will get the amount of money necessary to repair your vehicle to the condition it was in immediately before the accident. At times the amount of money necessary for repairs exceeds the value of the vehicle, in which case the insurance company may opt to declare the vehicle as a total loss. You would then be offered the amount the vehicle worth, based on industry price-setting guides (like the Kelly Blue Book), and the vehicle would not be repaired.

Q: What will I get for my injuries?

A: You are entitled to be fully compensated for your injuries. The amount necessary to compensate you fully obviously causes the most problems in arriving at a settlement figure acceptable to both sides. There is usually little argument over the compensation for time missed from work and lost wages, doctor and hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, transportation to and from the doctor and therapists. You will have receipts for these expenses. The controversy arises when you attempt to put a dollar value on the more intangible injuries you have suffered, such as loss of consortium, loss of sexual capacity or desire, emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of future earnings and loss of future enjoyment of life.

Q: What is loss of consortium?

A: Your husband or wife has a right to your company that has been damaged by the accident. Based on the time spent in the hospital or disabled, your husband or wife is entitled to recover from the person causing the accident for the loss of your companionship.

Q: You can put a value on the loss of sex?

A: Yes. If the accident has disrupted your sex life, the person who is responsible for the accident should pay for what he or she caused. It is your right to enjoy your sex life without interference.

Q: What is emotional distress?

A: An accident is a traumatic event that causes emotional distress to those involved. Obviously, not every fender-bender causes distress in the persons affected, but major accidents can cause severe emotional distress. It is a serious problem in some accidents.

Q: How do you know what pain and suffering is worth?

A: Finding an acceptable amount for your pain and suffering requires experience with many similar cases. Pain and suffering awards are necessarily subjective and usually are based on similar cases, so the attorney’s knowledge of the community and insurance companies is most important here. Online databases are available to your attorney that keep track of all of the settlements and verdicts across the state and nation. Your attorney can check these databases to get an idea of the range of compensation you may be entitled to.

Q: What is loss of future earnings?

A: If you have been seriously injured, you may not be able to resume the same type of work you did previously or be able to work as hard or as long. Since your decreased ability to work was the result of the accident, the person who caused the accident should compensate you for your loss in earning potential. In the same way, you have a right to be compensated for any decrease in your ability to enjoy the things you did before the accident that are now not possible for you (loss of future enjoyment of life).

Q: How do I know how much money I should get?

A: Insurance companies count on you not knowing the true value of your claim. They try to tell you what it is worth and settle with you before an experienced attorney reviews the facts of the case. Your attorney knows how much money will be necessary to fully compensate you for your injuries and the insurance companies know that. Talk with your attorney so that you will know how much is fair in your case.  Also make sure to watch out for insurance company representatives trying to “low ball” you or worse, avoid paying you compensation you may be entitled to.  Click here to watch a good video about dealing and negotiating with insurance companies…

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Some Common Questions About Police and Police Reports…

Q: What happens when the police arrive?

A: You will be asked to show a valid driver’s license, current registration for your motor vehicle and, in many states, proof that the vehicle is insured. Answer the questions the police officer asks and try to remain calm.

Q: What should I do if the other driver has been drinking?

A: If you notice the other driver appears intoxicated or smell alcohol on him or her, be sure to mention this fact to the investigating officer.

Q: Do I have to be able to prove I was wearing my seat belt?

A: Make sure the police officer notes in the report that you were wearing your seat belt. You will probably be asked if you had it on as part of the report procedure. If you notice that the other driver was not wearing a seat belt, mention this to the investigating officer.

Q: Anything else I should do?

A: Make a note of the investigating officer’s name, badge number and whether he or she is a city police officer, highway patrol officer, or county sheriff deputy. Ask for a report a case number and where and when you can pick up a copy of the report. Be polite at all times.

Q: Is there anything I should not do?

A: Do not admit fault for the accident to anyone. Do not tell anyone how much insurance you carry. Do not sign anything. (You will have to sign a citation if you are issued a traffic ticket by the investigating officer. This signature is not an admission of guilt; you are merely acknowledging that you received the ticket.)

Q: If the other driver gets a ticket does that mean that he or she caused the accident and has to pay for it?

A: No. The fact that the police officer issues a citation to the other driver does not assign blame for the accident. The investigating officer is only giving his opinion as to what happened and whose fault he or she thinks it was. The officer still has to convince a judge or jury that the ticket was justified if the driver does not plead guilty. The ticket has no bearing on your case. The same result occurs if you are ticketed; the ticket is not proof that you caused the accident.

Q: How soon do I need to tell my insurance company that I have been in an accident?

A: You should notify your insurance carrier as soon as you can. The sooner they can begin processing your claim, the smoother the process can be. Be prepared to tell them the investigating officer’s name and badge number, the report number and what happened.

Q: Is there anything else I should expect when dealing with the police?

A: You might be required to prove that you are financially responsible after you have been involved in an accident. You might have to submit proof of insurance coverage or proof that you have sufficient assets to cover any damage you might cause as a driver.

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What Kind of Insurance Should I Have?

Q: What kind of insurance should I have on my vehicle?

A: Many states set minimum mandatory insurance requirements that you must meet to drive your vehicle in that state. The terms used by the insurance industry include:

Liability- protection for the person or property that you unintentionally damage when driving your vehicle. In states that require insurance coverage, liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage of a certain amount is required.

Collision- pays for damage to your vehicle whether caused by you or someone else who cannot be found.

Comprehensive- pays for fire, theft or vandalism or your vehicle and contents.

Medical Payment- covers medical expenses for anyone in your vehicle.

Uninsured Motorist- pays if the driver at fault is not insured.

Underinsured Motorist- pays your expenses above the amount the other driver’s insurance covers.

Determining the appropriate amount of insurance protection to carry depends on the circumstances of your life. The more wealth you have, the insurance can benefit you by protecting your wealth from the astronomical costs of a serious motor vehicle accident. Adequate insurance coverage that can pay for the damages of an accident permits you to devote your energies to getting well again, knowing that you do not have to worry about how you will pay for your necessary medical treatment and living expenses. Your insurance agent and your attorney can help you calculate the amount and types of insurance coverage you and your family need to protect yourselves.

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Before hiring a lawyer, what 9 questions should every client ask?

Here are 9 questions we think EVERY victim of personal injury or wrongful death should ask EVERY lawyer.  To help make sure you are meeting with the right lawyer, we also share our thoughts about what the right answer to each question should be.  The full report is also posted here…

Question No. 1: How Long Have You Been Practicing Law As A Licensed Attorney?

The attorney’s answer to this question is important and can be very revealing.   It literally takes many years to become proficient in the legal profession. We recommend that you make sure any attorney you are thinking about hiring has, at a minimum, at least 10-15 years of substantial litigation experience in personal injury and wrongful death matters.

Sure, there are exceptions to this rule and we know of several very good, ethical attorneys with less than 5 years of experience.   What they lack in trial experience they make up for with intelligence, drive, passion and the intelligence to associate in experienced counsel to help them with trial if, and when, it becomes necessary.  Unfortunately, these “exceptions” are far and few between and frankly, why take a chance? Let’s move on to the next question…

Question No. 2:  What Percentage Of Your Practice Is Devoted To Catastrophic Injury And Wrongful Death Cases?

For the past 10-15 years of his or her practice, at least 90% of the attorney’s time should have been focused on representing personal injury clients in major catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases.  Why not 100%?  There are two good reasons.

First, the reality of the situation is that good personal injury and wrongful death trial lawyers (trial lawyers also make the BEST negotiation and settlement lawyers) are hard to find and most experienced attorneys will handle the litigation needs of past clients and friends in other areas of law such as business, criminal or estate planning litigation.  They find it interesting and challenging to take on other cases and help people succeed in other areas of law (it’s a competitive nature that top lawyers have and frankly, it’s difficult to hold back).

Second, we truly believe that the experience and knowledge gained in taking these other types of cases to trial allows a personal injury attorney to gain new insight to various “outside-the-box” litigation approaches he or she may not normally be exposed to during personal injury litigation.  In the long run, this can prove to be very beneficial to the client in a personal injury case.

We’ve taken various trial techniques we’ve learned in civil, business and criminal trials and successfully used the approaches in complicated personal injury cases and trials. In our opinion, this made a huge difference in the ultimate favorable outcome to our clients in these cases.

Another way to look at the questions and answers to the above two questions is to use the metaphor of a medical surgeon. Let’s say, God forbid, you need open heart surgery. How would you like to be the very first patient that particular surgeon has ever operated on? Not a pleasant thought is it? The fact of the matter is that you want YOUR surgeon to be a successful specialist in performing open heart surgery and also one who has done the procedure hundreds and even thousands of times before. As with medicine, in law it’s important to get things done right the first time.

Here’s something else to think about. Believe it or not, the successful handling of a catastrophic injury or wrongful death case is many times more complicated than what your heart surgeon is required to do during surgery. While bypass surgery may take several hours (with the surgeon actually involved for only 20-30 minutes), your legal case may take months or even years. The surgeon may be required to make dozens of important decisions during the heart procedure. Your lawyer will be required to make hundreds, and even thousands, of legal and procedural decisions during the handling of your personal injury case.

Why in the world would someone who’s life is turned upside down by because of a serious personal injury or wrongful death ever settle for anything less than the best? The answer to this question is that most consumers simply just don’t know any better. Now you do! Be smart and be thorough when it comes to selecting your personal injury attorney.

Question No. 3:  How Many Court And Jury Trials Have You Had And What Were Your Results?

Have you had any court trials? How about jury trials? When was the last trial you had? How many of these trials involved serious catastrophic injury or wrongful death? What were the results and verdicts?

Many years ago when we first started to practice law, we read an interesting statistic that in California. Apparently, most California lawyers have only tried an average of 3 trials during their entire career. As supported by the facts and contrary to what you watch on television, most lawyers are not trial lawyers and most cases never make it all the way to trial.

In our opinion, the handling and trial of a personal injury or wrongful death case demands a much higher level of expertise and commands a great deal more pre-trial and trial related work and effort than most other types of legal cases. For example, in criminal cases, rarely do the prosecution or public defenders do their own pre-trial preparation (they each have huge governmental support staffs to help them with the work). In work comp and bankruptcy practices, in most cases the “trials” are actually hearings which only take a couple of hours or days.

In a catastrophic injury or wrongful death case, there are generally many complicated and intertwined issues involving medical bills, loss of earnings, property damage, liability and health insurance, civil liability, procedure, negotiation, settlement, damages, jury, trial and appeal issues. On almost a daily basis, a personal injury lawyer literally holds the value and quality of a client’s life in his or her hands and there truly is no greater burden, challenge or privilege. The right personal injury lawyer will recognize this fact and step up to the challenge.

The lawyers that do handle and try other types of cases are all incredible lawyers and we tip our hats to each and every one of them, especially when it comes to juggling the high volume of cases many are forced to handle. But having said that, we believe that a catastrophic injury or wrongful death case, litigated all the way to trial, is substantially more work and exponentially more difficult. So when you ask your potential attorney how many cases (or more specifically, personal injury cases) he or she has taken to trial, make sure you get a clear and accurate response.

Because insurance defense attorneys and insurance companies all know which personal injury lawyers try their cases and get the best results for their clients, you want to be represented by an attorney who has a strong reputation for obtaining consistently large settlements and judgments.

Question No. 4:  Will I Be Interacting Directly With You Or Someone Else In Your Office?

The attorney you hire should have the time to meet with you in his or her office and talk with you over the telephone. The attorney you hire should be the attorney appearing in depositions, hearings and court on your behalf. The attorney you hire should be the attorney who will negotiate and if necessary, take your case to trial.

Here’s a little unknown truth that many people are not aware of- After you meet with the senior partner during your initial consultation, many busy law firms have secretaries, law clerks and paralegals do all the work on the file and young inexperienced associate lawyers work the file and appear in court on your behalf. The senior attorney or partner may rarely work or look at the file and you will never really know who is working on your file.

For this reason, if your initial consultation is scheduled with a clerk, paralegal or new associate attorney because the “experienced” partner does not have time to meet with you, we strongly suggest that you turn and run the other direction as fast as you can.

What we’ve observed about these types of law firms is that your file will not get the attention it deserves. In more cases than not, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. The last thing you need is to have your file used as a “test” or “learning” case for a new paralegal or associate.

While standard paperwork can and should be delegated and handled by an experienced and trained support staff, it is important that you establish a personal “one on one” relationship with the actual attorney who will be handling your case. Make sure that any written retainer agreements you agree to sign clearly spell out that the attorney you are retaining is the attorney who will be handling your file and personally representing you during the entire litigation process and trial. As a courtesy, we’re always willing to review other attorney’s retainer agreements and advise you on whether or not they comply with California law.

Question No. 5: Are You “AV” Rated By Martindale-Hubbell And What Other Awards Or Ratings Have You Received?

“Yes” is the only answer you should settle for. Most consumers are not familiar with the “AV” rating but this is why it is so important. According to the 130-year-old independent company named Martindale-Hubbell, an “AV” rating identifies a lawyer and firm as having (1) very high to preeminent legal ability and (2) the highest level of expertise, experience, integrity and overall professional excellence.

What is key about this rating is that the actual independent review and rating of an attorney is made by other attorneys and judges in the local community. The attorney who is being reviewed does not even know the process is taking place.

By presenting the attorney with an “AV” rating, Martindale-Hubbell is making the statement that other attorneys and judges in your community clearly believe that the “AV” rated attorney consistently “shows a demonstration of the highest professional and ethical standards.”

Once again, while there are many good lawyers practicing law who have not yet been awarded an “AV” rating (only about 2 out of 10 receive this honor during their legal career), unless you know the attorney personally, why take a chance with someone who is not highly rated by his or her peers? You can easily confirm an attorney’s rating status by going to www.martindale.com

Question No. 6: Are You An Active Member In The Local, State And National Trial Lawyer Organizations? How About in Your Local Community?

Good personal injury trial attorneys share tips, tools, information, and techniques with other attorneys across the state, country and world. It’s important for your attorney to be “plugged into” these organizations so that you can benefit from the exchange of information.

In Orange County, we have the Orange County Trial Lawyer Organization. At the state level, we have the Consumer Attorneys of California. Nationally, many excellent personal injury and wrongful death trial lawyers belong to the American Association for Justice.

All of these organizations work hard on a daily basis to educate personal injury attorneys and consumers on issues involving their important consumer rights. We share information, pleadings, discovery and documents with each via personal relationships, our web site memberships and email lists.

When it comes to community service, find out if your potential lawyer is active. For many reasons, it’s extremely important for your lawyer to be “connected” to his or her local community. Interacting with other lawyers, experts and even judges outside the courtroom and in a community service setting will directly and indirectly foster new relationships and strengthen old friendships. Besides, it’s just the right thing for your lawyer to do and more than once we’ve seen something positive come back to benefit a client.

Question No. 7:   Can You Provide Me With The Names Of 5-10 Past Clients Who Are Willing To Share Their Experiences With Me About Your Representation And Firm?

You can sit all day in the attorney’s office and listen to the attorney tell you just how great he or she is when it comes to handling a personal injury case or taking a wrongful death case to trial. While the attorney may be very convincing, how do you know if he or she is telling you the truth? We believe it’s much smarter, and better, to independently and objectively confirm the lawyer’s abilities by talking with some of his or her past clients.

We suggest that you ask for a list of 5-10 names and numbers of past clients you can contact for a reference. These are people who have already agreed to have you contact them to independently confirm what you’ve been told or have read about the attorney.

It is not OK for the attorney you are interviewing to respond with something like, “my cases are confidential and I can’t disclose this information.” The defense attorneys and insurance companies know what cases the attorney has handled and so should you. If you get this kind of response, be very cautious.

Good lawyers have plenty of happy clients who are more than willing to share their experiences with you. The smart attorneys have already made arrangements to share client names and numbers with you. If the attorney does not already have a list available, we guarantee that he or she will put one together in no time if they are truly interested in handling your case and if they actually do have happy clients.

Question No. 8: Do You Have Testimonials From Past Clients And Other Attorneys Which I Can Take With Me And Read?

Client testimonials are an excellent way to see what people have to say about the lawyer you are meeting with. Good lawyers with satisfied clients will have plenty of written client testimonials for you to take with you and review. If an attorney does not have, or cannot give you client testimonials, you need to ask yourself WHY NOT!

It’s true that some very good attorneys simply do not take the time to ask for testimonials but on the other hand, how do you know if this is the case with the attorney you are sitting across from. The attorney may not have testimonials because he simply put– he does not have any happy clients. Just as with the unbiased Martindale-Hubbell “AV” rating discussed above, getting independent third party confirmation and validation as to the attorney’s ability is the smart way to go.

Question No. 9:   As My Case Works Its Way Through The Legal System, Will You ALWAYS Look Me In The Eye And Tell Me What You HONESTLY Think And Believe As Opposed To What You Think I Want To Hear?

We think this quality in a personal injury trial attorney is very important for the following reasons. If you have a good case, you want your lawyer to tell you. If your case is weak or has other difficult legal issues you need to know about up front or that you may not be able to overcome, then you want to find out right away and before spending all of your time and money on a difficult or unwinnable case.

You always want your lawyer to be truthful and honest with you concerning his assessment of the case and your options. The last thing you ever want is to have your lawyer tell you what she thinks you want to hear rather than what you need to hear.

When it comes to getting advice from your lawyer, honest opinions and feedback are absolutely necessary. It’s not unusual for us to tell 18 out of every 20 incoming potential clients that we don’t think they have a strong case.

How’s that for being brutally honest!

The problem is that these people then continue to call other lawyers until they finally find someone who will agree to represent them. They then end up being led down the wrong legal path to dissatisfaction and in some cases, financial disaster. The bottom line is that it’s just better to have a lawyer be up front with you about the merits of your case from the very beginning.

Suggestion- directing your attention back to question number 7, ask the past clients if the attorney your are meeting with expressed his her honest opinions during the handling of their case.
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