And you certainly don’t want to talk to an injury lawyer about such intimate details of your personal life. Those injury and disability lawyers are all ambulance-chasing greedy selfish hacks who just want to make money on your misfortune anyway. I know, right? How can a lawyer who doesn’t know me actually care about me and my case? We’ve all seen the commercials, the billboards, and other vanity marketing screaming “We Care.”
Maybe we believe it, maybe we don’t. What I’ll suggest here is that you should evaluate more than just “caring” when you are deciding whether to hire an injury lawyer.
I’ll bet you didn’t expect to see that on this page. Well, here’s the thing about us, we like to cut to the chase. And, to be honest, there are a few things you need to know before you even consider hiring a lawyer.
1. Not every injured person needs an injury lawyer
All right, now you might be confused. Isn’t this an injury and disability lawyers’ website? Yes, yes it is.
But unlike most injury lawyers, we don’t take every case that comes through the door. Our focus is on adding value to an injury claim. If we do not feel that we can add value to your settlement or verdict, we will not take your case.
But you have to be careful out there because almost every other lawyer will take your case and take 1/3 of your recovery along with it. I’m not saying it is always foolish to speak with an injury and disability lawyer to determine if hiring one would be wise. What I am saying is, there is a potential that you may not need to hire a lawyer for your case and you may be able to accomplish a better net result without a lawyer. You need to be aware of that whenever you meet with an injury and disability lawyer because some lawyers will try to sign you up right out of the gate.
We don’t do that at Osterbind Law. Case in point, we track every single person who calls into our office asking for representation. We accept less than 1/4 of them. Some of them are not good cases. Some of them are not within our practice areas, in which case we refer these people to other lawyers we trust. Some of them just don’t need a lawyer to get a good result.
2. Injured people need information.
What injured people like you need is information. Armed with the right information, normal people can easily negotiate a good settlement with an insurance adjuster in most smaller value cases. If you don’t have good information, the insurance company wins every time.
We once consulted with a potential client and the insurance company told him he couldn’t prove his concussion was from the car wreck. And he believed it! So he settled for virtually nothing. That potential client didn’t know that you can prove causation of a medical condition by expert testimony. If your doctor says it is related, then you can prove it. In the higher value cases, the insurance company may hire a doctor to say the opposite, but then it becomes a jury question. Until the insurance company has that doctor’s opinion in hand, it cannot disprove causation. If the jury believes your doctor, instead of the hired gun from the insurance company, then you win.
It is this information inequality that prompted Brandon Osterbind to write The Ultimate Guide to Medical Treatment After a Car Wreck In Virginia and Will Your Short-Term Disability Turn Into Long-Term Disability Or Be Rejected. You can start first by leveling the playing field and eliminating the problem of information inequality.
3. What type of case do you have?
Some cases require different things. For example, personal injury cases require that you prove that the other person was negligent. Workers’ compensation cases require that you prove that your injury arises from an “accident” and that the accident arose out of and in the course of your employment. Medical Malpractice cases require that you prove that the offending doctor violated the standard of care and that violation proximately caused your injury. ERISA Disability cases require that you prove that you are unable to work in your regular occupation or, in some cases, any occupation.
Knowing what type of case you might have is essential to know where to start. For example, if your case is a workers’ compensation case, then you need to see a workers’ compensation lawyer. You wouldn’t see your family doctor to perform spine surgery, would you? There are certain things that general practitioners can do well and there are things that you should seek out a specialist for. An injury lawyer is different than a general practice lawyer because all that injury lawyer does on a daily basis is injury law.
I’m not saying that a generalist can’t be an excellent lawyer. I know several PCP’s who are excellent doctors. But part of being an excellent PCP is knowing when to refer their patients to a specialist. The same is true in the law. Now, in Virginia, we don’t have board certifications or anything like that as doctors do. But the Virginia State Bar does allow lawyers to focus and specialize in certain types of cases. And many lawyers today do just that.
4. What type of injuries do you have?
If you’ve suffered a spinal injury at work or in a car accident, then you need to know that your lawyer is familiar with how the spine works. Your lawyer should have handled cases with this type of injury before and ought to be able to help you navigate the medical landscape in your community.
What doctor should you see for this condition? What doctor should you see for that condition?
Just like other medical doctors know who is good or not, injury lawyers gather the same information. So figure out what type of injury you have and discuss it openly with any lawyer you consider hiring. If he or she does not sound knowledgable about your injury then move on.
5. When does it make sense to meet with a lawyer?
Like I said earlier, not all cases require the services of a lawyer. Again, I’ll bet you didn’t expect to hear that. But some cases do. How do you know the difference?
Well, for workers compensation cases it makes sense to meet with a lawyer right away. Many things happen at the beginning of your case that ultimately affect the end of your case. There are certain notice deadlines and filing deadlines that have to be appreciated or else you will lose the right to claim anything. Additionally, if your employer is playing games with your health care, you should seek assistance sooner rather than later.
ERISA Disability cases have short timelines that you must follow. For example, some policies require that you provide notice of your disability 30 days after you become disabled. Then, you will have a time limit within which to file your long term disability claim. If your claim is denied, you have 180 days to file your appeal. We all know that time flies even when you’re not having fun. In these cases, it is usually better to start with a lawyer from the beginning.
But for personal injury cases, sometimes you don’t need a lawyer at all. Some of these cases are small enough that you can actually get more money in your pocket without a lawyer. Do you know if your case is one of those cases? Did you know there are law firms out there that only prey on these small cases? Theirs is a volume game. They ram ten $10,000 cases through so they can make their 1/3 cut. These cases usually settle and rarely do they go to court. These law firms are often called settlement mills. In other words, all they really do is settle your cases.
Other, reputable, law firms out there would rather work on one $100,000. True personal injury lawyers who actually care about doing important work that will have a positive effect on the lives of real people will only take your case if they feel that they can add value to your claim. In other words, can the law firm make the insurance company pay more than what they would have paid without the law firm? In the smaller cases, the answer is often no unless you go to court on a denial of liability in which case the offer is usually $0. In the larger cases with a serious injury and significant damages, the answer is often yes, a law firm can help add value to the claim.