MISTAKE #1: Choosing a lawyer who doesn’t have enough experience.
The most important factor in choosing a personal injury lawyer is the amount of his/her knowledge, skill and experience handling injury claims. This includes (1) experience handling injury cases, and (2) experience taking injury cases to trial. In most cases, the money you recover for your injuries will come from an insurance company, either the other person’s insurance company or your own. And one of the reasons insurance companies have so much money is because they pay accident victims as little as possible, often less than you deserve. Make sure the lawyer you select has in-depth experience handling personal injury cases.
MISTAKE #2: Choosing a lawyer only because you like his advertising.
A flashy TV commercial, Yellow Page ad or website doesn’t mean anything. Advertising can make almost any lawyer look like an expert. Don’t choose a lawyer solely because you like his/her ad. Make sure you ask questions about the attorney’s experience in handling injury claims.
MISTAKE #3: Choosing the lawyer who promises you the most money.
The amount of money you’re entitled to recover, called “damages,” is based on many components: (1) the length of your recovery from injury, (2) the dollar amount of your medical bills, (3) the dollar amount of lost wages, (4) pain and suffering, and (5) the severity of your injuries. No one can tell you exactly what your case is worth until they gather all the facts. Any lawyer who promises you a certain amount of money before all of this information is known is making a promise that cannot be kept.
MISTAKE #4: Choosing a lawyer because he expects to settle your case.
Most injury cases are settled without going to trial. If you hope to get a fair settlement for your injuries, your lawyer must be willing to take the insurance company to court. Otherwise, the insurance company has no reason to offer you a fair amount of money for your injuries. Although it may not be your intent to go to trial, it is often important to make the insurance company aware that you are ready to do so if its offer is not fair. If you hire a “settling attorney,” one who usually settles his cases and won’t go to court, you can expect to receive less money for your injuries than if you hire a skilled trial attorney. Remember: your most important weapon is your willingness and ability to take your case to trial.
MISTAKE #5: Choosing a lawyer because of a referral from a friend.
When a friend refers you to a lawyer, be careful. Yes, your friend probably means well. But your friend may not be the best source for a referral. People often select a lawyer because they like him/her. But you need a lawyer who is much more than just a nice person. You need an attorney who has the trial experience to fight a billion-dollar insurance company. Insurance companies hire experienced investigators, adjusters and lawyers to work against you. You need experienced lawyers and investigators working for you. Your best choice is an experienced personal injury firm with a proven track record and reputation for success.
MISTAKE #6: Choosing a lawyer merely because he/she appears successful.
A handsome office and an expensive car don’t tell you everything about the lawyer’s experience. Don’t judge a lawyer merely by appearance. Choose a lawyer with the knowledge, skill, experience and willingness to (1) sue the other party, and (2) take your case to trial, if necessary. That’s the best way to make sure you recover the amount of money you deserve.
MISTAKE #7: Not reviewing the lawyer’s track record.
You can get a good idea of a lawyer’s experience by reviewing his track record of cases. Ask the attorney about cases he/she has tried in court and cases he/she has settled. This will give you a way of determining the level of the attorney’s experience.
The personal injury attorneys of Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C. have provided sound legal advice and experienced legal representation to clients throughout Wisconsin for more than 30 years. Your questions will be answered. Your case will be investigated and claims presented to obtain the best possible settlement for your injuries.
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