Litigation 101: Hiring and Working with an Attorney
Do I need a lawyer to pursue a personal injury claim in Arkansas?
Not every case requires an attorney to be involved, but when you or a loved one suffers a serious injury, we highly recommend you hire counsel. There are many issues you will need to deal with even in a relatively “simple” case. For example, what is the true value of the case? How does one negotiate the claims made by an insurance company for reimbursement out of the recovery?
Very often the insurance companies want to quickly settle your claim for the minimum amount they think the injury is worth, not taking your particular circumstances into account nor any future medical care you might need.
When seriously injured in any type of accident, it is always best to retain your own personal injury attorney. You need someone who has your interests in mind and will ensure you are compensated for every aspect of your claim, including property damage, medical costs, rental vehicle expenses, lost wages or loss of earning capacity and for the pain and suffering the injury has caused.
How do I go about choosing a competent personal injury attorney in Arkansas? What questions should I ask?
You should definitely inquire about the attorney’s experience – not merely as an Arkansas attorney (i.e., “What year were you admitted to the bar in this state?”) but also as a personal injury trial lawyer. Other questions you might want to think about posing:
- How often do you take personal injury cases like mine to trial?
- What kinds of documents will I need to provide you?
- Have you handled cases with similar fact patterns to mine before? What were the results, generally speaking? What is your success rate with similar cases?
- What are my financial obligations if we don’t win my case?
- What do you think of my case, generally? Do I have a good case? What is your plan for going forward, if I choose you to represent me?
How much will an attorney cost? How can I pay my lawyer if I’m out of work, due to my injuries?
We represent personal injury plaintiffs on what’s called a contingency fee. That means you don’t pay us any fees unless we win damages for you.
What does a “contingency fee” mean?
A “contingency fee” (sometimes called a “contingent fee”) is a particular kind of agreement between an attorney and a client whereby the attorney agrees to be compensated for his services only in the event that the client recovers money in the client’s case. The attorney’s payment is contingent upon his success in pursuing the client’s matter.
Typically, contingent fee agreements are used in personal injury litigation. If the client does not settle the case and does not prevail at trial, then the client owes the lawyer nothing. If the attorney is able to secure compensation for the client, either through settlement or at trial, then the attorney typically takes a percentage of the client’s compensation as his fee.