Choosing the right lawyer to represent your accident injury case is vital as personal injury law is one of the most complicated laws in the United States. Before you hire an injury lawyer, you need to make sure they are experienced, credible, and specialize in a specific area of law. But if you already have hired a lawyer and are unhappy with them, read on to discover your options.
We have you covered if you are in California. Injury attorneys that are experts in the field can get you the settlement you deserve.
SF Personal Injury Law
The personal injury law protects the rights of people who become victims of others’ mistakes or wrongdoings. It deals with the damages done to a person in the form of injuries or property. The victim needs to file a case against the accused. A personal injury lawyer helps the accuser in collecting evidence of the defendant’s wrongdoings.
The case can be resolved privately or in court in front of a judge and jury. The main aim of this law is to right wrongs performed by an individual through compensation. The amount of compensation is determined by the weightage of the loss occurring.
What to Do if You Are Unhappy With Your Personal Injury Lawyer?
When you’re injured and want a quick and efficient settlement so you can go back to your everyday life, the last thing you need is unsatisfactory representation
Suppose you are not receiving good advice from your personal injury attorney or notice them being uninterested in your case. What are the options available to you?
The first step is to evaluate where the problem lies and try to come to a solution together. If the issues persist, you can get a second opinion.
Getting a Second Opinion
A second opinion often comes in handy to get sure about your lawyer’s performance. Two or three hours of a lawyer’s time won’t cost you much, and they can evaluate your case and documents and guide you on whether the case is being handled as it should be. If the second opinion also supports your gut feeling about something being wrong, make a complaint.
Making a Complaint
Make a complaint against your lawyer about your dissatisfaction with them. It has been seen that people don’t usually make complaints fearing that the lawyer might get offended or angry. Another common reason is the lack of trust in your own judgment. You might feel that things are not going as well as they should, but you think the lawyer might know what they are doing.
It’s essential to understand that there are good and bad practitioners in every profession. The most important thing is not their mood but your compensation. Therefore, you should make a complaint as soon as you feel something is off without wasting any time. The firm that your lawyer is representing will have a process of filing complaints, or you can file a complaint directly to the National Bar Association.
Making a complaint might get your lawyer to work on their problems, and the issue might get resolved. But if it doesn’t, you will have to start thinking of changing your lawyer. You can switch to a different lawyer from the same firm, or you can go to another firm altogether.
Whether you should take that decision depends on the type and volume of the issues you are facing. Some of the common problems that arise between personal injury lawyers and their clients are:
- Lack of trust
- No or poor strategy
- Case weakening
- The lawyer doesn’t explain things to you
- The lawyer going absent without telling
- The pressure of accepting an unsatisfactory settlement
- Difference of opinions
- Mismatching thought processes
How to Switch Your Personal Injury Lawyer
It is always easier to switch attorneys if you have not yet filed your case in court. But if your decision comes after filing the lawsuit, you need to do a substitution of counsel. It requires you to send a formal notice to the court and to all the parties involved in the case that you are changing your representation to a new personal injury lawyer.
Suppose you have not yet filed your case in court, though. In that case, you can hire an injury lawyer. They will inform your ex-lawyer about the change saving you from the awkwardness of the situation.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you think the complaint isn’t enough and the lawyer’s actions (or lack of them) caused you to lose your case, you can file a malpractice suit against them. However, these cases are not easy. You have to prove that your lawyer’s malpractice caused you to lose potential money that you would otherwise have won.
When Can You Not Switch to Another Lawyer?
If the attorney you wish to take up your case has a conflict of interest in the case, you will not be allowed to switch over to them. Also, there are cases when changing a lawyer results in a delay of court proceedings. The court can stop you from changing your attorney in that case. This is to prevent parties from causing delays on purpose. So it is crucial to change your lawyer as soon as you can.
Things to Look Out for
If your lawyer is not answering your calls or replying to your emails, it is as good as abandoning you. Write a firm email stating how this issue is causing problems and that you can’t work with them if this attitude continues. It might solve the problem.
But if it doesn’t, there is always an option to fire that attorney and hire a new one.
The Pressure of Accepting a Settlement
Whether or not to accept a settlement offer is totally up to you. Yes, your lawyer can and should advise you on it, but the decision is yours to make. Suppose you feel that your attorney is pressuring you to accept an offer a little too often. In that case, it is something to be cautious about. It might sound far-fetched, but a lawyer can always work for two opposing parties (unofficially, of course) at the same time.
Dishonesty or Incompetence
Suppose your lawyer did serious misconduct like drug abuse, not showing up to a court proceeding, committing a crime, or not paying you the full settlement made. In that case, you might want to contact the California state bar who’s responsible for licensing and disciplining lawyers.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Works
It’s wise to have some basic understanding about how a personal injury attorney works so you can better evaluate their performance.
Collection of Information
The first thing your lawyer will do is collect and verify all the information about the incident that you provide them. They will then document all the lost earnings, incurred expenditures, and lost time from work due to the injury. Analyzing these losses, the lawyer will then determine and calculate the appropriate amount you might be entitled to.
Furthermore, before notifying the defendant, the lawyer will expedite on collecting and gathering things like,
- Surveillance camera footages
- Medical reports
- Medical personnel’s statements
- Statement of the witnesses
- Police reports
- Official government reports,
To support the claims.
Serving the Defendant
Your injury attorney will then notice the claims to the accused party’s insurer or insurance company to pay the damages. This usually results in receiving back a settlement offer from the insurer. Your lawyer will review and compare it with the amount claimed on your behalf.
The lawyer will discuss the options you have with you, which are usually to accept the amount that the insurer is offering and settle the claim privately or file your claim in court. If the offered amount is significantly less than what you think is appropriate, the latter option is better.
Filing a Lawsuit
The lawsuit process starts with your lawyer filing a complaint in court and a list of your legal arguments. The information your lawyer collected before to support the claim will also be filed to support your arguments. This results in the defendant filing a response or answer to your complaint. Often the other side tries to waive your claims by proving your culpability during the accident.
Discovery is the process of litigation in a personal injury case that requires the two parties to exchange information about the incident that acts as evidence. Witnesses or plaintiffs give out their statements and testify under oath, and documents supporting each party’s arguments get exchanges. Written questions and answers (interrogatories) are also often exchanged. Discovery can take months and, usually, a settlement takes place sometime during the trial. This usually occurs when a party realizes that the opposing party’s claims weigh more. They start showing some more flexibility to settle the matter.
Factors Affecting the Value of Claim
Although your attorney will draft your claim in consideration of all factors, it is always good to have a solid understanding of the process. That way, you know they’re not missing out (deliberately or mistakenly) on anything. The factors that qualify to affect the value you’re suing for include:
Punitive damages are an add-on to the compensation that the court deems appropriate against the injuries received. A court orders this award if the injury was a result of a shocking behavior of the defendant. Often, intentional misconduct has to be present for the award to be given. This aims to deter certain types of malpractices from society.
Not all states award punitive damages and those that do have a set maximum limit.
Receive deep or elongated suffering and pain from an injury caused by someone’s negligence. You can claim a considerable sum of money (crossing the figure of a million) against it. But the burden of proof for the claim to stand is on you. Medical and treatment documents and supporting doctors’ statements may be required to hold the claim in court.
All the medical bills pertaining to the injury caused by the defendant’s negligence are included in the claim. The physical copy of the statements has to be submitted to the court. These are expenses that you would not have incurred otherwise had it not been for the injury.
PTSD is common, and an event of an accident can even cause long-term depression or anxiety. Any emotional distress resulting from the accident and supported by a therapist or psychiatrist’s comprehensive statements and records will stand in the court. The therapist has to point to a specific medical condition, though.
The time you lose during and after the injury might cause you to lose wages or income that you would otherwise have earned in that time. These ‘would have’ wages are also compensated after showing records of what you do and how much you make.
Loss of Companionship
Also known as Loss of Consortium, it’s the loss of the life of a family member during or due to that accident. You can claim compensation for this loss.
An excellent personal injury lawyer has exceptional people dealing skills and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of laws like insurance law, malpractice liability, professional negligence, and premises liability law. Performing due diligence before hiring a personal injury attorney is the best option. But if you and your lawyer can not move forward satisfactorily, do not hesitate to delay making a switch and hiring a new one. It is imperative for your case that you and your lawyer work hand in hand and that you are completely satisfied by their performance.
If you’re having issues with your current personal injury lawyer, contact Phoong Law today. We can work with your present lawyer to help make a transition more manageable for all parties and get you the compensation you deserve. You won’t pay two separate lawyers, only one, and the attorneys will split the fee.
To book a free consultation with our experienced San Francisco personal injury attorneys, contact Phoong Law now.