By: Karen Piso Nadeau, Esquire – There is a lot of noise on television about what personal injury attorneys can do for you and why they are special, and you should hire them. Sometimes, there are three personal injury ads in a row from three different law firms in the same half hour telling you that they are the best and why other firms you may be considering are bad. Recently, I have encountered many questions and concerns from both new clients and old clients about some of the things these men- for the most part- are saying on tv. Here is the truth. This is based on my handling personal injury cases since 1992 and also representing the insurance company and their insured who caused harm to someone for many years before deciding to represent only the victims injured due to the fault of someone else. I am speaking from experience and having handled many personal injury trials and court cases over the years.
1. “We are Free”
Clients are calling asking if we are free like the guy says on tv.
WE ARE ALL FREE UNLESS WE GET MONEY FOR YOU.
I don’t know one reputable personal injury attorney in Massachusetts in my over 25 years of doing this that isn’t free unless they recover money for you.
There is nothing special about this.
We all do the same thing. Any lawyer claiming that their firm is special because they do this should be questioned- what about other personal injury firms? Aren’t they free too? YES!
We have a contingent fee agreement with you. The agreement says that you do not pay a legal fee unless we recover money for you. The next question is – what is the fee? The typical fee is 1/3 of a settlement prior to the case being filed in court. Some firms charge a lot more, so you need to ask: what is your fee? You may be shocked to find some firms claiming to be free charge a 40% fee, a lot more than 33.33%.
2. We Get You A Lot of Money
This may be true in some cases, but it is not true for every case. If there is only a small insurance policy and no other insurance available, then you aren’t typically getting a lot of money- I don’t care who the personal injury lawyer is. In most cases, the most you will ever get is the insurance policy limit. To get more, it means going after the person or entity and often, this is not fruitful. Why? Because often the person or entity that caused you harm has nothing- they have no assets. Sometimes they even declare bankruptcy to avoid paying any money to you. Chasing someone in court for 3 years or longer incurring thousands of dollars in litigation costs- separate from the lawyer’s legal fee- and never seeing a penny from the person that hurt you is not uncommon. Trying to collect on a judgment you get in court is not easy and often impossible.
The truth is this: getting you a lot of money depends upon a lot of things and the most important thing is how much insurance there is. Anyone claiming they will get you a lot of money and millions of dollars on your case without knowing the facts is not telling you the truth.
3. Bigger is Better
The size of the firm does not matter. The lawyer matters. I don’t care if you have 5,000 lawyers all over the country. If you end up with the wrong lawyer in the Massachusetts law firm, it does not matter if they have 5,000 lawyers. I can promise you, the other lawyers don’t know you or your case. It is all about the lawyer representing you, meeting you, talking to you on the phone, doing the work on your case, reading your medical records, talking to you and your loved ones and the insurance company and with you every step of the way from day one to the end of your case. It is the lawyer who goes to your accident scene in person in Massachusetts and takes photographs of where your car accident occurred or where you tripped and fell and talks to the witnesses. I have experience with many big law firms and many small firms on both sides of the case, representing the injured party or the party that caused the injuries to someone. It doesn’t matter the name of the firm or how many lawyers work there. It is about the lawyer on your case that knows your case and knows you.
Any client that works with me will tell you that I answer their phone calls, they have my cell phone number, I answer their texts, I go to their accident scenes, I read their medical records, I know their treatment and injuries and communicate regularly with them and I am available to answer their questions and address their concerns. I truly care. I have over 25 years of personal injury experience backing me up. I am there to advise my clients about their case and what a good settlement means for them in their case. Yet, I am one lawyer in a firm. It doesn’t matter to them big or small. They got me and I am committed, compassionate, transparent and relentless in making sure they get the best result for them and their family. You know what you get with me. With a big firm and thousands of lawyers all over the country, who are you getting when you call them to represent you in an accident case? How many years have they practiced personal injury law in Massachusetts? Will they answer your phone calls? Read your medical records?
4. Going To Court
Clients are asking about going to court and trial and whether this is needed to get the money they deserve. The short answer is no- you do not need to go to court or have a trial on your personal injury case to get the compensation you need after suffering injuries in an accident. Having court and trial experience is important and any personal injury lawyer you hire should have many years of litigation experience where they handle personal injuries in court and have trials. However, more often than not, your personal injury case can be settled out of court for maximum value. This is often best as it saves you time and money. As to time, court cases can go on for years and it is not unusual to have a court case stuck in the court system for 2 or 3 years. As to spending money, once you file your case in court, the expenses on your case go up dramatically. The expenses are in addition to the contingent legal fee for the lawyer’s services on the case. Litigation expenses may include court filing fee, service costs to serve the defendants with the complaint, deposition expenses for court reporters for testimony of witnesses on the case, subpoena expenses, and expert witness fees. These litigation expenses add up and can be tens of thousands of dollars. These costs are typically paid in advance by your personal injury attorney, but you must reimburse the attorney for all these expenses when the case settles, and the litigation costs are subtracted from your settlement money. Having trial experience and litigation experience for over 25 years certainly helps our clients get the compensation they deserve.
With an experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyer, your case can be developed from day one and a powerful presentation to the insurance company before any lawsuit is filed in court often results in your case being settled for the highest possible value without incurring the court expenses and without the long delays in court.
5. Your Case Is Not Worth a Million Dollars Unless You Are Badly injured
Some commercials on tv are leading some smart people to think that a certain lawyer can get you a million dollars no matter what. But once you ask yourself, “What does this lawyer know about me and my accident and my injuries?”, you realize this can’t be true. The lawyer on tv doesn’t know if you suffered a neck fracture requiring surgery -that may be a million-dollar case or more, or if you suffered neck stiffness and pain for several months with just a few months of physical therapy-this case with only soft tissue injuries and only several months of treatment is far from a million dollar case. It is likely worth less than $20,000.00.
It doesn’t matter who your lawyer is. They can’t make a small injury case worth a big injury case. Your case value depends on several factors including the type of injury you suffered, the diagnosis, the treatment you need and the treatment you actually get, your prognosis and future medical needs and the permanent nature of your injury.
What we can do- as a dedicated and experienced personal injury lawyer who has handled thousands of injury cases – is maximize the value of your particular case and get you the most money for your harm and your injuries.
At Nadeau Harkavy LLC, we have over 50 years combined experience representing injured people and their families when they have been involved in an accident. We have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients over the years to help them get on with their lives after suffering the consequences of a serious accident. We make sure everything is done to protect your interests while you and your family concentrate on getting better. We handle all types of accident cases including wrongful death, car accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, trip and fall, slip and fall, dog bite, construction site, and catastrophic injury accidents. If you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of another’s wrongdoing, call us today for a free consultation about your legal rights at 617-674-7640.