5 Tips for Choosing the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
As scary as it is to admit, you never know when you will need a personal injury lawyer. Nobody ever thinks they will find themselves in a scenario that requires an attorney, and most people don't expect to fall victim to a serious injury. Unfortunately, accidents and injuries happen to people every single day – even to careful individuals who have done nothing wrong. By nature, you can't prepare for an accident (whether that’s a car accident, a pedestrian accident, a slip and fall accident, or something else), but you can plan what you will do in the aftermath. One of the best things that you can do to protect yourself in the event of an accident is to find the right legal help – but that requires to you know how to choose a personal injury lawyer. Being prepared and knowing what questions to ask can make all the difference in your case, from the amount of money you’ll be able to recover for your injury to the level of stress you have to deal with throughout the legal process. Make sure you choose an attorney who will provide you with the level of support you need, as well as someone who is qualified to get you the best outcome possible for your accident case. To help you navigate the process of choosing the best personal injury lawyer in California or elsewhere, read the tips below. 5 Steps to Take in the Lawyer Selection Process Below are a few steps you should take when researching and evaluating attorneys for your personal injury case. 1. Evaluate their experience. The more experience a lawyer has in personal injury law, the more likely they are to succeed in your case. That’s because they’ve seen it all, so they know how to handle even the biggest obstacles, from proving the damages of highly complex, catastrophic injuries to seeing through the tricks of manipulative insurance companies. An accident lawyer with years of experience under their belt is likely already familiar with the kind of personal injury case you’re bringing to them. To properly assess an attorney’s level of experience, make sure to ask the following questions: Is personal injury one of the main practice areas they focus on as a lawyer and as a firm? (For some general-practice law firms, personal injury could be one of a dozen types of law they practice, meaning they only deal with these cases from time to time, and they might not have the right level of experience.) How many years has the attorney and law firm been handling these types of cases? Does the attorney have extensive trial experience? Are they well-recognized and well-respected in the personal injury law community? (This recognition might be in the form of professional awards, membership/leadership in personal injury or trial lawyer associations, etc.) Do they have experience handling the specific type of case you’re dealing with? (For example, if you suffered from a brain injury, does their firm have experience winning compensation in brain injury cases?) 2. Ensure they have a strong track record for success. Keep in mind that there are many attorneys who have years of experience but still do not actually have a strong track record of success. For example, they may be known for giving in to low-ball settlements from the insurance company, or they might not have proven results for winning the toughest, most high-value cases. As you consider an attorney, review their case results and ask these questions: Have they consistently recovered multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts for clients? Do they have experience winning cases involving catastrophic injuries and even wrongful death claims, not just accidents involving minor injuries? Have they won any awards for their settlements and verdicts? 3. Pay attention to how they engage with you. Trust your judgment. The attorney-client relationship is important, so make sure that you like the way that you are being communicated with and treated by any lawyer you are considering hiring. It’s important to pay attention to the following: Are they ready and willing to answer any questions you have? Are they friendly and professional? Are they strong communicators? (Do they clearly explain the legal process, call you back promptly, etc.) Are they willing to travel to you as needed? Do they seem genuinely concerned about your well-being? 4. Understand their payment model. Make sure to read the fine print carefully when hiring a new attorney to ensure that you fully understand their payment model so there are no surprises later. A few good questions to ask include: Do they offer a free initial consultation? Do they work on a contingency-fee-basis? (This means you only pay the firm legal fees if they win your case. Additionally, your legal fees are taken out of your settlement, or paid by the defendant, so you don’t have any upfront fees related to your legal representation.) Can they provide a cash advance to cover costs before your settlement or verdict? 5. Consider what additional resources they offer. It’s important to think about the additional resources your prospective injury lawyer can provide. Some personal injury law firms offer a higher level of assistance with various elements of stages of the case, creating less hassle for you and a smoother experience overall. Make sure to ask the following: Do they have a network of medical professionals they can use to help you find the treatment you need? Can they help you find doctors who are willing to work on a lien basis so your medical expenses can be taken out of your settlement or verdict? Can they assist with additional services related to your case such as property damage valuation and liens negotiations (i.e., negotiating costs with your medical providers)? Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in the First Place? After being injured in an accident or another incident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be wondering if you actually need to hire a personal injury lawyer. The quick answer is YES, you do! Why? Because there will be an opposing party in your case that will be working against you, either to prove you were at fault for your own injuries or to give you the lowest settlement possible. In most cases, this opposing party will be the insurance company of the person or company that caused your injuries. Insurance companies deal with injury claims day in and day out, so they’re experts at using manipulative tactics to lower their payout to injury victims. This is why you need a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney on your side protecting your right to fair compensation. A good lawyer will investigate your case, prove liability by the at-fault party, and handle all negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf. They will also make sure you don’t get short-changed, fighting for the highest settlement or verdict to which you are entitled. But make sure you do your homework before choosing a lawyer. Not every personal injury lawyer will be qualified to get you the best result possible in your case. Remember to choose wisely using the tips in this article! About the Authors This article was written in collaboration by Wilshire Law Firm and Atkins Markhoff Adler (AMA Law). Wilshire Law Firm is an award-winning personal injury, employment, aviation, and class action law firm that has been ranked as one of the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report two years in a row, in 2020 and 2021. The walks side-by-side with its clients, fighting to obtain maximum compensation on their behalf in California, throughout the United States, and even internationally. With extensive litigation experience and a strong track record recovering more than $850 million in settlements and verdicts for clients, Wilshire Law Firm is the firm that other lawyers refer their most challenging cases to. Wilshire Law Firm works on a contingency-fee basis, which means clients do not pay any legal fees unless the firm wins their case. AMA Law proudly serves clients throughout Oklahoma. As a full-service personal injury and accident law firm, the firm strives to help their clients make decisions that will benefit them in the long-term. The firm’s legal team understands that accidents happen, many of which are out of the victim’s control. With more than 100 years of combined experience, AMA Law has helped clients pursue legal action and damages for cases covering a wide range of legal issues. Specializing in personal injury, criminal defense, and drug injuries, AMA Law works tirelessly to help meet our clients’ various legal needs. Established in 1996, AMA Law brings an expert level of legal ability, dedicated work ethic, and unparalleled communication to each and every case.
Did Your Subaru Just Get Recalled?
Subaru has announced two new recalls which affect more than 400,000 vehicles If you drive a Subaru Impreza or a Subaru Crosstrek made between 2017 and 2019, your car may have just been recalled. Subaru announced on Thursday, October 24th that two separate issues were leading it to recall more than 400,000 vehicles in the United States. The Japanese automaker said that 466,000 Imprezas built from 2017 to 2019, as well as the 2018 to 2019 Crosstrek sport utility vehicles, are susceptible to short circuiting and a blown fuse. According to Subaru, the engine computers in the above models can continue to power the ignition coil even after motors are shut off, which leads to overheating and a short circuit. The second recall announced by Subaru covers the 2018 Crosstrek SUVs as well as 205,000 Imprezas built from 2017 to 2019 and may involve a complete engine replacement in some cases. The automaker announced that crankcase ventilation valves made with aluminum can deteriorate over time, eventually falling into the engine and causing a power loss. Both recalls are scheduled to start December 13th, 2019. To find out if you vehicle was affected, visit the Subaru USA website.
Southwest Pilots Sue Boeing Over 737 Max Grounding
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, or SWAPA, sued Boeing Co. this week, claiming at least $115 million in lost wages and legal fees as a result of Boeing rushing production of their 737 Max jet to stay competitive. Following two 737 Max crashes that killed a total of 346 people in October of 2018 and March of 2019, respectively, aviation authorities around the world were forced to ground more than 387 aircraft from a total of 60 airlines. The lawsuit, filed in the District Court of Dallas County on Monday, October 10th, claims that SWAPA signed off on flying the new 737 Max aircraft only after Boeing falsely misrepresented the plane as both airworthy and essentially the same as the previous 737 model that SWAPA members were used to flying. SWAPA, which represents close to 10,000 Southwest pilots, alleges that Boeing misled the union by failing to disclose design flaws that ultimately made the 737 Max unsafe to operate. Had the company disclosed the flaws to SWAPA, the pilots would never have agreed to operate the aircraft, the suit claims. As a result of the 737 Max grounding, Southwest has been forced to cancel over 30,000 flights, causing an estimated 8% reduction in passenger service and a loss of nearly $225 million in revenue by the end of 2019.
Johnson & Johnson Hit With $8 Billion Punitive Judgement
After a series of high-profile (and costly) legal setbacks, the hits keep coming for Johnson & Johnson. Tuesday, October 8th saw a Philadelphia jury award a Maryland man $8,000,000,000 in punitive damages after he said his use of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal as a child caused him to develop enlarged breasts. Yes, BILLION, with a “B.” The award was the largest to date among more than 13,000 lawsuits which generally claim that Risperdal led the plaintiffs to develop a condition called gynecomastia, a side effect which Johnson & Johnson was allegedly aware of but understated when marketing their product to doctors. Originally approved in late 1993 by the Food and Drug Administration, Risperdal was originally approved for treating schizophrenia and episodes of bipolar mania in adults before eventually being expanded to treat symptoms of autism. The plaintiff in the case—Nicholas Murray, 26, of Maryland—originally won a $680,000 compensatory award over the same claims. Although the punitive damages are likely to be reduced some, the move by the jury sends a message to companies that gross misconduct and wrongdoing will not be tolerated. Tuesday’s verdict is just the latest in a string of high-profile blows to the wider reputation of Johnson & Johnson. An August ruling in Oklahoma ordered the company to pay the state $572 million for their contribution to the state’s opioid crisis; similarly, a St. Louis jury found that Johnson & Johnson should pay $4,690,000,000 to 22 ovarian cancer victims and their families after use of the company’s baby powder allegedly led to the ovarian cancer diagnoses.
Dozens Killed in Boat Fire off Santa Cruz Island
In one of the worst maritime disasters in California history, the 75-foot commercial scuba diving vessel Conception caught fire early Monday morning, appearing to claim the lives of dozens of passengers. A total of 39 people were onboard the Conception at the time of the incident—6 crew members and 33 passengers—with 5 crew members the only known survivors. Santa Barbara County officials did not expect to find additional survivors—as of late Monday night, 20 bodies had been recovered by Coast Guard crews. Conception, which had embarked Saturday on a three-day dive excursion off the Ventura County coast, was anchored on the north side of Santa Cruz Island when the blaze began Monday morning. Shortly after sunrise and just a few hours later, the vessel lay 60 feet below the surface, charred and inverted on the seafloor. Officials, however, stressed that it was too early to determine if negligence had contributed to the blaze. Truth Aquatics, the owner and operator of the Conception, is well-regarded within the diving community, and the boat was in full compliance following its most recent annual inspection by the Coast Guard. According to the Truth Aquatics website, the ship featured a built-in barbecue, although it remained unclear if this played a role in the incident.
Driving During an Earthquake? DON'T Do This
Credit: National Park Service (NPS) Photo Since the magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake in 1994, Los Angeles and Southern California have been lucky to avoid other major significant seismic activity. But that period of relative quiet ended with some fireworks on the Fourth of July in 2019 when a magnitude 6.4 quake in Ridgecrest, California, rocking communities from Las Vegas to Baja California, followed by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in the same area the next day, as well as numerous aftershocks. Because you never know when another big one is going to strike, it’s important to always be prepared, and that includes knowing what to do if you’re on the road when an earthquake hits. What NOT to Do When Driving During an Earthquake Most Californians know to drop, cover, and hold during an earthquake, but those rules go out the window if you’re driving when the quake occurs. Before the ground starts shaking and you’re left unsure of what to do, below are a few tips of what not to do in an earthquake while driving. Do NOT… Brake Suddenly: When you stop suddenly, you risk surprising other motorists and causing accidents. Sudden braking can lead to a rear-end collision and multi-vehicle pileup. Try to Out-Drive the Quake: Although it might be tempting to try this, you’re not going to be able to out-drive the earthquake. P Waves can travel up to 14 kilometers per second, which is significantly faster than whatever vehicle you happen to be driving. Get Out and Run: Do not get out of your vehicle and start running, either. Not only are you unlikely to escape the radius of a major earthquake, but large cracks, strong shaking, and fallen power lines, debris, glass, gas leaks, etc. are a recipe for disaster when you’re on foot. When you are in the car, you should avoid leaving it unless remaining in the car puts you at immediate risk. Drive Under or Over a Bridge: Bridges are at high risk for earthquake damage, especially during large earthquakes. You should avoid them if at all possible, including immediately after the quake. It is best to avoid driving over bridges if you notice shaking. Use Your Phone Unless Necessary: Avoid using your phone unless absolutely necessary, such as if you need to call 911 because you’re injured. It is important to keep lines clear so that emergency calls can go through and emergency personnel can communicate. Only use your phone if absolutely necessary. How to Avoid an Accident During an Earthquake The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services have partnered together to create a list of recommended protective actions that will reduce injury and damage in the event of an earthquake. If you’re hoping to avoid a car accident or motorcycle accident during an earthquake, you should do the following. DO… Reduce Speed Gradually: During an earthquake, reduce your speed gradually to avoid surprising other motorists and getting into a rear-end accident or multi-vehicle pileup. Pull Over: Pull over to the side of the road away from bridges, overpasses, power lines, and other hazards. If there is no clear space to pull over, keep driving until you find one. Park: Set your parking brake, turn your vehicle off, and leave on your seatbelt. Your car is a safe place to be during an earthquake, as long as it is not in the path of anything that could be dangerous, like a bridge, power line, or pillar. Turn on the Radio: During an earthquake, instructions from the government or local authorities are broadcast over the radio. Leaving your radio on is the best way to stay informed of the situation and avoid the risk of further danger. Wait: Occupants of a vehicle should remain in the car until the shaking stops. Only leave your car if staying in the vehicle poses an immediate safety hazard. Stock your car with emergency supplies or an earthquake survival kit to be on the safe side. Once the shaking has subsided, proceed carefully. In the wake of the Ridgecrest quake, and with the Big One still sure to hit California someday, planning for an earthquake has never been more important than it is now. For more information about earthquake safety and help with emergency planning, review FEMA’s Earthquake Safety Checklist. Additional Precautions to Take After the Quake Even once the strong earthquake has passed, it is important to act with caution. An earthquake can damage the integrity of buildings, roadways, and services. Once the shaking stops and it’s safe to drive again, you should proceed with caution. Drivers should make sure to avoid driving under or over bridges, near downed power lines, on highway ramps, or other structures that may have sustained damage during the quake. You should also be aware that earthquakes might have aftershocks. These can be dangerous. If you notice further shaking or tremors, it is best to pull over again. The biggest danger during an earthquake is not the quake itself but the environment where you are when the earthquake happens. More often than not, accidents and injuries during an earthquake result from damage to a nearby man-made structure or building. The highest death tolls from earthquakes in history, going as far back as 1556 and as recently as the 21st Century, are due to improper building conditions. Computer analysis suggests that an 8.0 earthquake in Los Angeles would cause about 10,000 more deaths during the day than it would at night because the population would be on freeways and in large buildings. While structures are a huge factor, injuries can also occur from accidents involving other drivers on the road, which could be caused by the shaking itself or by those drivers not taking the correct precautions for road saftey during and after an earthquake. Wilshire Law Firm: Experienced Car Accident Lawyers As experienced car accident lawyers, we do whatever we can to promote road safety, which is why we’re bringing you these helpful tips. While no one can know when an earthquake is going to strike while they’re driving, there are many types of avoidable motor vehicle accidents, including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, and more that are caused by another person’s negligence (i.e., traffic violations, drunk driving, distracted driving, etc.). When these accidents occur, our injury attorneys are here to help. Recovering more than $850,000,000 in compensation on behalf of our clients, we’re committed to helping injury victims get the best results possible in their cases. To find out how we can assist you, call us today at (800) 522-7274 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.