Prior to going to law school and representing injured victims, I was an insurance adjuster. I helped insurance companies settle personal injury claims in Madison, WI and throughout the state. After graduating from law school, I worked for a few years with an insurance defense firm helping insurance companies avoid or limiting what they paid to injured victims from accidents because of the negligence of others. For the majority of my 26 years of practice I have been representing people who have been injured because of the negligence of others. Whether it is because of a car accident, a slip and fall in a grocery store in an icy parking lot, because of defective conditions in a premises or in a work site area or because of the negligence of a professional such as a doctor or another lawyer, I have been asked many, many questions. I have kept track of those questions and will attempt to answer a few of those with hope that they can help you, a friend or a family member.
The adjuster for the insurance company says he/she will take care of me, I don’t need to talk to an attorney do I?
Remember, an insurance adjuster’s job is to pay the least amount of money possible to you for you to sign a piece of paper in which will legally agree never to sue the company or their insured for your injuries. Adjusters are well trained professionals who will not volunteer to advise you of your rights as well as what damages you are entitled. Again, their job is to pay you the least amount of money that you will accept to release their insurance and them from any further legal responsibility. It is always a good idea to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney especially if they will talk to you at no cost or obligation which we have been doing for 26 years.
I do not have as much money as an insurance company, I heard litigation cases can be expensive so how can I compete against the insurance company?
You are correct the insurance companies have more money than you. Insurance companies have more money than our firm but we offer to take these cases on a contingency fee basis in which our fees are a percentage of what we recover and if there is no recovery there are no fees. Costs are also delayed until there is a payment of any costs and expenses above and beyond the attorney’s fees are also not required to be paid until there is a recovery. This allows you to compete against the insurance companies so that you receive the money you are entitled. As a result, there are no monthly obligations and there is no retainer payment required for you to be represented by an experienced personal injury attorney with only your best interest at heart. We represent people on a 33 1/3 percent basis. Some firms will take a lower percentage if your case is settled before suit and a little higher percentage if it is settled before trial and even a higher percentage if your case has to go to trial. We have paid 33 1/3 of whatever we recover whenever we recover it. There is an incentive for us to work as hard as possible in the early stages of your case to get a reasonable and acceptable settlement which is a benefit to you, your family as well as to our firm. Our experience is that firms that take cases on a sliding percentage scale depending upon the time of your case do not put the time and energy necessary early on which ultimately may cost you money. If we don’t recover anything for you we do not get paid our fee.
I don’t want to hire an attorney if I don’t know what I will get, so how much is my case worth?
An attorney who can within minutes of discussing your case with you tell you the value of your case is an attorney who is guessing and not being honest. The value of your case depends upon a multitude of factors that cannot possibly be known at the time of the initial consultation. The value of your case depends upon many factors. One is responsibility. If you are equally responsible for injuries as the other party then whatever the value is of your case it will be reduced by the percentage of your responsibility. If your responsibility for the accident is more than the other party then you may not have any recovery. Many times, your share of responsibility will reduce the value of your case. Whether your injuries are permanent has a factor on the value and, if permanent, how restricting are they on your ability to enjoy life and make a living has a big impact on the value of your case.
The type of injury and the type of medical treatment has a bearing. Broken ankles that are surgically repaired have a higher value than a sprained ankle with no surgical intervention. The amount of your medical bills and the amount of your lost wages are also factors that go into determining the value of your case. We determine the value of the case based upon our experience of representing injured victims for more than 26 years. If your case is one with an injury of which we are unfamiliar we research the value of those types of cases by contacting other attorneys and other legal publications and resources to determine the value of your case depending upon the many, many factors that go into the process.
These are just a few of the questions. I hope that I have answered some of your questions but if you have more questions or I have not answered all of your questions please contact me to discuss at no cost or obligation to you about your case or a family or a friend’s personal injury case. Be sure to keep following my blog for answers to more questions and please share your comments.