Choosing a lawyer for a personal injury case is something that shouldn’t be done lightly. You want to be sure the attorney you hire will take your case seriously and do their utmost to deliver the best possible outcomes for you. Here’s what you need to know when selecting a personal injury attorney.
Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
This is a common question. People often think that because their injury enables them to make a claim against someone else’s insurance company, they don’t need to hire an attorney. However, personal injury cases can be highly complex, with nuances and required time limits that aren’t easily understood.
What’s more, the other party’s insurance company doesn’t represent your best interests–they represent the other party. So their primary goal will be to avoid paying out as much as possible. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will know what tactics they’re likely to use and how to counter them.
What Should I Look for in a Personal Injury Attorney?
Sometimes it’s tempting to hire the attorney with the most billboard ads. While that’s one way to make a connection, getting the right attorney for your case benefits from a little more research. Here are some things to keep in mind when beginning your search.
- Ask your family, friends, and colleagues. Word of mouth can be helpful for finding a valuable attorney or avoiding one that didn’t work for someone you know.
- When developing a list of attorneys to consider, look closely at their experience. How many years have they worked on personal injury cases? Which types of personal injury cases do they handle? What is their overall success rate?
- Who will you work with? It’s not uncommon for a legal team to work on a case. You’ll want to know who handles your case and will work with you directly. Meet with that person and see if how they engage with you makes you feel comfortable and confident. An attorney who listens closely and asks relevant questions is a better fit than one that seems distracted, isn’t paying attention, or appears to want to rush you out the door.
- Check their references. An experienced personal injury lawyer will have testimonials from satisfied clients to share. Read several of them to see how specific they are and determine what those clients achieved by working with that attorney.
- Is there a fee-free meeting? Some attorneys (including the Rizzuto Law Firm) offer free case evaluations, so you have a chance to learn what they can offer without paying upfront.
- What other resources do they offer? Depending on the type of personal injury case you have, the attorney may need to bring in different kinds of experts, whether crash reconstruction experts for a car accident or medical witnesses for medical malpractice cases. An experienced attorney will be well-connected with the people who have the expertise needed for your case.
How Does Comparative Negligence in New York Affect My Personal Injury Case?
Comparative negligence plays a significant role in what your case’s outcomes will be, and it’s another excellent reason to work with a personal injury attorney.
Different states use three types of comparative negligence in the U.S.
- Contributory negligence. This is used by only a few states, and it’s the most severe form of comparative negligence. It states that if the injured party is even the tiniest bit at fault in the accident that caused their injury, they are not eligible to receive any compensation.
- Modified comparative negligence. This is the form used by most states. It allows the injured party to be somewhat at fault for the accident that caused their injury, but there is a limit. Depending on the state, the injured person cannot be 50% or 51% at fault and still receive damages. If they’re under that threshold, they can receive compensation, but the total amount will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them.
- Pure comparative negligence. This is used in only a few states, and it says that the injured person can be 99% at fault for the injury and still receive 1% of the damages.
New York uses pure comparative negligence. That means if the injured person is found to be 60% at fault for the accident and they’re awarded $10,000 in damages, they’ll receive $4,000–40% of the total. Obviously, the other party is going to want to deflect as much of the liability for the accident onto the injured party as possible in order to avoid paying out more significant sums. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help place the liability where it belongs.
What Should I Do if I Need Help with a Personal Injury Case?
Call the Rizzuto Law Firm as soon as possible at 516-622-0606 for a free case evaluation. Personal injury cases can be complicated and benefit from the guidance of a team of experienced, knowledgeable attorneys.
No matter what type of personal injury case you have, something essential to keep in mind is that if you were injured, the other party in the case would likely have an insurance representative or attorney who would try to contact you. Don’t engage in communication with them at all. They’ll either try to get you to say something that can be interpreted as taking all the fault for the injury, or they’ll try to convince you to accept a settlement much lower than you could be eligible for. Forward any communications from them to your attorney.