The month of May is Motorcycle Awareness Month. If you’re ever involved in a motorcycle accident, it would be a good idea to talk to an attorney who can help you through the process. With that said, these are questions that you should ask a motorcycle lawyer if you were in a serious accident and need to file a motorcycle accident claim.
Question 1—How Often Do You Go To Trial?
There are two types of personal injury lawyers—settlement lawyers and trial lawyers. Settlement lawyers will avoid going to trial at all costs—either they are afraid of trial, or they just don’t like it. These lawyers will almost always take the best settlement offer they can get, regardless of whether it represents a fair value for your legal claim. You don’t want that kind of lawyer representing you.
Trial lawyers are comfortable with trial (some even look forward to it). These lawyers are also better negotiators, because the insurance companies know which lawyers will take cases to trial, and those lawyers will often get higher settlement offers. And if negotiations fail, these lawyers will stand beside you at trial to let an impartial judge or jury decide your claim. If your potential lawyer rarely goes to court, you might want to keep looking.
Question 2—What Can I Do to Help My Case?
After your initial intake, your lawyer should tell you what he needs from you in order to maximize your claim. If you are still injured, your most important job will be to continue getting regular medical care. Otherwise, your lawyer may need you to keep a journal about your injuries, provide documents of lost wages from your employer, or sign authorizations allowing your lawyer to retrieve confidential information that can help your case. Whatever your lawyer needs from you, it is important to be as responsive as possible.
Question 3—Who Will I Talk To at the Law Firm?
Many law firms are set up differently. It’s important for you to know who is in charge of your case, and who your day-to-day contact will be. Will you be dealing with the senior lawyer assigned to your case, or will you be speaking primarily with an associate or paralegal? Whatever the arrangement, you should be comfortable with your legal team, and you should be able to speak with the senior lawyer from time-to-time.
Question 4—What is the Value of My Case?
Most lawyers will not be able to answer this question at the time of the initial meeting for a number of reasons. First, they have not fully evaluated your case, and so much of case value depends on the specific facts of the case—the total amount of medical bills, the presence of any permanent disability, the likability of the defendant, and the court where the case can be filed.
However, it is important to ask this question along the way toward settlement or trial. You should have an idea of what would constitute a good settlement long before settlement discussions start taking place. Otherwise, you run the risk of allowing the insurance company to influence you (and your lawyer) about your case’s value.
Question 5—How Much Malpractice Insurance Do You Have?
In Maryland, there is no requirement that lawyers carry legal malpractice insurance. Most lawyers do have such insurance because mistakes happen. Personal injury lawyers are in the business of helping people—without insurance, they run the risk that a mistake can prevent a client from recovering for a meritorious claim.
It may be an uncomfortable question to ask, but it shouldn’t be. Just like hiring a contractor to work on your house, it is important to know if your lawyer has the ability to stand behind his work. Additionally, it is important to know how much malpractice insurance your lawyer has. Generally, your lawyer should have enough insurance to pay for the total settlement or verdict that you could receive. If you have a serious, catastrophic personal injury case, your lawyer should have insurance with millions of dollars of coverage.
Hiring a lawyer can be an unfamiliar and uncomfortable process. The lawyers that you interview should make you feel comfortable every step of the way, and should be able to answer all of your questions. If you would like to talk to us about a West Virginia or Maryland motorcycle accident, contact us today. We’re here to help.
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