There are several things to be aware of before signing any contracts with a lawyer, even if he or she believes the case can be won in court. Know that you have many options when it comes to legal aid, and it’s never wise to settle for representation that might be less effective than others.
1. Don’t Choose a Lawyer Who Actively Petitions Your Case
Ambulance chasing is a term given to situations where a legal representative contacts an accident victim and requests that he or she hires their law firm because of the collision, specifically if they haven’t requested information from the firm before. This is unethical because it breaks the Legal Rules of Professional Contact. If a lawyer is willing to break legal rules, the firm is likely not the type that should be handling the case.
2. Realize That You Have Options and Your Lawyer Should Help You Understand Them All
Lawyers do much more than only help victims sue to recover damages. Filing a formal suit in court can be a long and costly way of resolving matters and obtaining compensation. If a lawyer doesn’t want to pursue other methods of finalizing a claim like arbitration or mediation, it might be best to obtain legal help elsewhere.
3. Be Sure That You Know What the Retainer and Invoice Cover
Since every lawyer arranges his/her contingency fees differently, it’s important to find out how much accident lawyers charge before hiring them. Determine whether or not the lawyer will send you an invoice upfront or if they wait until the case is resolved. Don’t hesitate to request this information in readily understandable writing.
Sometimes, lawyers also take fees out of a settlement for court expenses (court costs to file a legal suit), transcript copies and court reporter costs, expert witness expenses, postage, courier, legal research, copies of documents, meal and hotel costs, and even out of town car or air expenses.
4. Learn More About the Lawyer Before Signing a Contract
Once a person has decided which lawyer they want to hire, it’s a good idea to request more information from the state bar association to see if there has ever been any inquiries or ethical complaints on the lawyer. Seeing beforehand if the lawyer has been involved in anything unethical can help avoid a lot of trouble and expense in the future.
5. Find out Ahead of Time If You Can Break the Contract (or Fire the Lawyer)
Certain agreements outline that lawyers are still entitled to a portion of future settlements or awards that are granted in the case, even if they get fired. Find out if there are any such stipulations in your contract before signing any binding agreements. Also, find out how to fire the lawyer if things don’t go according to plan.
In short, though there is a lot to know before hiring a lawyer, taking time and doing due diligence in finding the best legal representation can pay off in the end. Don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions because many lawyers are prepared for this and even provide a free initial consultation to provide answers and alleviate any concerns upfront.