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Hiring an Attorney
Hiring an Attorney is a huge decision to make and it should be someone that is trustworthy and honest, but also someone who has experience and skill. Some people want an attorney that has been practicing for many years; other people want someone that is aggressive; however one of the most important things someone needs to look at in deciding whether to hire a lawyer is their trial experience.
Insurance companies know which attorneys try cases and which ones don’t. If an attorney does not try cases, the insurance companies know that and will most likely never offer them the reasonable value for their case. While approximately only 1% of cases are tried, it is probably the most important 1% of all the cases for your attorney.
The reason for this is multifaceted, but one of the main reasons is that a case only has the value of what the jury says it has, and if a lawyer is not trying cases, they don’t know the value of their cases. Second, as I discussed earlier, unless an attorney is willing to try a case, insurance companies will rarely offer even close to the full value of that case. You will not receive the most amount of compensation that you can receive.
Insurance Companies are Not Fair
Insurance companies are not fair. Their business model is not to be fair. Usually, it’s to save money and book more profit so they can pass it onto their stock holders. This is especially apparent with injury claims, as the payout is much more than normal property damage claims. This is something that insurance companies try to move through the system as quickly as possible because of the lower dollar amounts.
However, when you’re talking about higher dollar amounts that come with most bodily injury claims, fair is not something that most people will associate with the way insurance companies handle injury cases. It is up to the attorney to make sure that the insurance company pays the full value of the case and not simply settle for what the insurance company is willing to offer. The only way insurance companies will ever pay the full value is if they know the lawyer will try the case.
Things to Consider When Hiring an Attorney
Other things you need to consider when hiring an attorney is the actual experience level of the attorney. Another thing to consider would be the intelligence and experience level of that attorney. Sometimes it can be deceptive as sometimes older lawyers that have been practicing 30 or 40 years may not be anywhere as good as a lawyer that has been practicing 10 or 15 years.
The reason for this is that some lawyers are simply not as aggressive and diligent in keeping up with the law and not as detailed and thorough as other lawyers. While experience and the amount of time that someone has been practicing law certainly matters when determining who your lawyer is, you need to also look at their experience level, their intelligence and the underlying ability of the attorney you are considering in hiring.
Some of the ways to make this determination is:
- Ask the attorney how many cases, like yours, they have handled over their career;
- Ask them the amount of trial experience they have. Certainly attorneys that try similar cases have a better understanding of the value of the cases and will be in a better position to represent you in your case;
- Ask them how many cases they are presently handling like yours and how many they have handled over the last 5 years;
- Ask them what were the results of the cases like yours;
- Ask them the results they have had with the particular insurance companies that you will be dealing with in your case (see blog – difference between insurance companies and how they handle cases);
- Ask them if they have been asked to speak in lectures to other lawyers on legal issues and trial strategies;
- Do they hold any positions within the legal organizations?
This will allow you to judge how they are perceived by other attorneys. Many times lawyers will elect their colleagues who are most respected in their areas to positions of prominence. An attorney who holds such a position will most likely be someone you would want to hire.
Don’t Settle for ‘Settlement Lawyers’
Some lawyers are just settlement lawyers that will take any offer the insurance company makes, whether their last offer is fair or not, the right value of the case or in the best interest of the client. These lawyers are in everyone’s neighborhoods, on TV and on billboards. Some advertising lawyers are excellent lawyers who do the right thing by their clients and are outstanding at practicing law and helping their clients.
It is important for you to ask the right questions so you know who you may be hiring. As I’ve discussed in other blogs, finding a lawyer that actually tries cases is one of the most important things you can do when hiring an attorney. It makes a huge difference on the results they are able to obtain and gives them an idea of the true value of your case. Without ever having been through a trial and dealing with facts and circumstances, it’s impossible for a lawyer to really know what the true value of a particular case is.
Why Some Lawyers Choose to Try or Not to Try
So why do some lawyers choose to try cases and other don’t? First of all, trying cases is a very time consuming process. It takes not only a lot of the attorney’s time, but it takes a lot of staff time. Generally the staff that a lawyer hires to handle the litigation side of their practice has a lot of technical skill and expertise, which is difficult to find and those employees usually tend to make a higher income than non-litigation staff.
Also, the expense of funding a case is one reason some lawyers choose not to try cases. Case costs are extremely expensive as the average litigation case can cost in excess of $50,000.00 to $100,000.00 in cost to try to verdict. Additionally, some cases, with bigger injuries, require more costs and can easily equal $100,000 to $250,000 in costs. As I’ve discussed in other blogs, most lawyers agree to front the costs themselves and get reimbursed from any settlement or judgment obtained against the Defendant via verdict.
However, if the attorney loses the case, they lose their money and will not have the ability to recover it. Therefore, many lawyers don’t want to lose $50,000 or more in case costs on a case.
As a caveat, make sure the attorney is actively trying cases and not referring to cases they have tried years before your meeting. If an attorney has lost his or her will to try cases then they are really no more use to you then an attorney that has ever tried a case.
Another reason lawyers choose not to try cases, thus it dovetails with my previous reason, is that they are afraid. Some lawyers are simply afraid to actually try cases. Losing cost money and paralyzes them, but also standing up in front of a jury, giving a closing argument, takes a lot of fortitude and if they don’t wish to endure it, they will simply choose to talk the client into taking their last offer. Also, the Rules of Civil Procedure are always changing, and re-interrupted by the Appellate Court making it very difficult to keep up with and taking a lot of time and effort that some attorneys are not willing to endure.
Additionally, every judge is different. They have their own interruption, rules, guidelines that can vary widely. Some judges are more inclined to be neutral, some are more Plaintiff oriented and a growing number of judges are very defense oriented. Therefore, with those judges, the lawyer may not just be fighting the Defendant and their lawyer, but in many cases, the trial Judge. This makes many lawyers uncomfortable and they use this as a reason for not trying cases.
The office of Christopher Ligori & Associates is proud of the fact that they are extremely aggressive when litigating cases and that the attorneys within the law firm have tried well over 100 jury trials to verdict. All of the attorneys in the office are AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell which is a peer review rating that less than 1% of trial lawyers are able to obtain. If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto or any other type of accident, we at Christopher Ligori & Associates are here to help. Call us at 1-877-444-2929.