4% to 5% of personal injury cases
in the U.S. go to trial. The vast majority reach successful settlements during pretrial negotiations with the insurance company or another defendant. Keep this in mind when wondering whether your lawyer should have trial experience, and then consider these facts:
There is a Chance Your Case Could Go to Trial
Yes, the odds of going to trial are slim; however, it is
possible that pretrial negotiations won’t work for your claim, and the courts will need to impanel a jury to decide the case. The prospect of a potential trial will have a significant impact on your case and its value, regardless of whether it ever reaches the courtroom. In the event that pretrial hearings cannot resolve your case, your lawyer needs to be able to accept the responsibility of representing you during a personal injury trial. Imagine discovering your case needs to go to trial, only to find your lawyer has zero courtroom experience. This is why most plaintiffs want trial attorneys
, not just personal injury lawyers.
Insurance Companies Are Savvy to Local Law Firms
You want the upper hand when it comes to negotiating your personal injury claim with an insurance company. Otherwise, the insurance agent or claims analyst can take advantage of you and offer much less than your claim is worth. One of the best ways to protect your best interests is to retain a trial-tested attorney for insurance negotiations. Why? If the insurance company knows your lawyer doesn’t typically go to trial, it can offer less because it assumes settlement is the only option. For maximum compensation, you want your negotiations to reflect the fact that if you cannot settle your case, it will go to trial.
You Need an Expert Negotiator
Settlement negotiations can get intense. There is a lot on the line – the amount your lawyer secures you can greatly impact your financial future. A lawyer with trial experience will be thinking of your case in terms of a potential trial. The lawyer will be considering what evidence you need to prove your case, the best methods for presenting this evidence, how to respond to possible defenses, and many other aspects. Even if your claim never goes to trial, you will benefit from the mindset that it could. Trial-tested attorneys excel at juggling many difficult and complex elements of a claim, from beginning to end.
All Trial Experience is Not Created Equal
Keep in mind that just any trial experience might not help your particular case. You need to find an attorney with experience successfully
handling claims that are similar to yours. For example, if you need to join a class action against a drug manufacturing company, you don’t want to retain a lawyer who has only gone to court representing car accident lawsuits. Look for a track record of winning cases and securing jury verdicts for clients in similar situations to your own. You always want an attorney with experience in your area of injury law.
No Trial Experience Isn’t a Deal Breaker
Despite the benefits that go along with retaining an experienced trial attorney, it certainly isn’t a requirement. Sometimes, a lawyer with no trial experience is one who is exceptional at negotiating during pretrial meetings. This can work in your favor since settling pretrial is cheaper and faster than going to court. In the end, knowledge of how to successfully negotiate a settlement for maximum compensation might be more important than trial experience. The right lawyer for you depends on your specific claim.
When you think of retaining a lawyer, you might imagine a big courtroom with your legal representative in the midst of a heated argument before a judge and jury. While this scenario is certainly possible, it’s unlikely. In fact, only about
Personal injury lawyer
. You explained what happened and discussed your injuries. At the end of the meeting, you were shocked to discover the lawyer wasn’t interested in taking your case. What happened? Knowing why a personal injury attorney won’t take your case is important for your future and personal peace of mind. Here are a few reasons why an attorney may have rejected your case:
You’re Contacting the Wrong Attorney
It’s possible that a lawyer won’t take your case because you contacted one without experience in your type of claim. During your search for the right attorney, make sure you find one who lists the practice area that’s appropriate for your type of accident. If you’re trying to start a medical malpractice claim, for example, don’t contact a lawyer who only has experience handling car accident cases. Odds are, this lawyer wouldn’t take your case. Search for prior experience handling cases that are similar to yours.
You Don’t Have Enough Damages or Losses
In most cases, attorneys don’t offer their services for free. Instead, they work on contingency-fee bases, in which they subtract their attorney’s fees from their clients’ compensation awards upon successfully completing the case. You may be hearing “no’s” from lawyers if you were in an accident but only suffered minor injuries or damages. Your case probably isn’t worth enough to make hiring a lawyer worthwhile. If you think this is the reason you can’t get an attorney, consider trying to negotiate an insurance settlement without a lawyer
There Is No One Liable for Your Accident
Many people mistakenly assume there is always someone liable for their accidents and personal injuries. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Depending on state laws, there may not be any person or entity legally responsible for your damages. You must have four main elements to prove most personal injury cases:
- Someone else owed you a duty of care.
- That someone breached his or her duty to you.
- The breach of duty caused your accident.
- You suffered damages as a result.
Sometimes, accidents are no one’s fault. You may have gotten hurt due to an act of God, such as bad weather. Perhaps a tree limb from your neighbor’s property fell and hit you, but your neighbor was responsible in his efforts to trim the tree. Perhaps your own actions led to the accident more than anyone else’s. The bottom line: Not all claims are grounds for personal injury lawsuits.
Your Case is Too Small (or Too Big) for the Lawyer
After a lawyer turns you down, consider that maybe your case is too big or too small for that particular law firm. Some boutique firms don’t have the resources or experience to handle high-value claims or those that need to go to trial. A major firm might not accept claims beneath a minimum value. Shop around for a law firm that takes on cases that are the same caliber as your own to optimize your odds of an affirmative answer. An appropriate-sized firm can benefit you by offering the right kind of help, personal attention, and price for your unique claim.
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