Steve Willsey
American Association for Justice
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Indiana Trial Lawyers Association
The National Trial Lawyers Premium

What You Need to Know

Motor Vehicle Negligence

When someone's careless driving causes an accident and causes you injury, you have certain legal rights including the right to fair and just compensation for all damages that you sustain as a result of that driver's negligence. In our crowded society, it is important that as we drive motor vehicles we pay attention to the rules of the road because careless driving causes not only physical pain but emotional, mental, and financial difficulties. As a matter of fact, many of us would quickly be in financial trouble if we were not able to work. Damages available include medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering both past and future, disability, loss of earning capacity (if your injury affects your future earning ability), and loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life.

Should You Hire An Attorney?

Most lawyers charge a percentage of the settlement or jury verdict. Typically lawyers will charge 33% if the case is settled and 40% if the case is tried. However, if the liability or the negligence is not disputed, and your injuries are significant then most conscientious lawyers will reduce the attorney fee to make the fee fair and reasonable. My responsibility as an attorney is to see that my clients receive more money in their pocket after fees, expenses, and medical bills are paid, than they would if they were unrepresented. I normally discuss this at length during the initial consultation and assess whether or not my involvement will put more money in their pocket. If this will likely happen, then that person will almost always be better off letting a skilled lawyer handle all legal aspects of the case.

Beware Of Misleading, Deceptive, And False Advertisting

Have you ever heard of the old saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is not true." Some lawyers will tell you almost anything to get your case. If a lawyer tells you the following, beware:

  • "You need a fighter on your side!" (Their bark may be worse than their bite.)
  • "Your case is worth a lot of money!" (This may be "pie in the sky"-Casinos also offer hope of quick and easy riches.)
  • "We will get you a lot of money in a short amount of time!" (Bigger value claims normally take longer.)

Some lawyers simply create unreasonable expectations just to get your case. If you hire the wrong lawyer, it is very difficult to correct the mistake. So choose carefully.

Finally, in my opinion, high volume firms that have a huge advertising budget need to take in a large number of cases to pay their huge overhead expense. This causes them to settle cases without much work, normally for less money. You may receive very little personal attention from the lawyer they assign you.

Do Your Homework

Do not hire an attorney, or speak to the Insurance Claims Adjuster until you have done your homework. Insurance Companies are powerful and are looking to make a profit by not paying claims or by paying a greatly reduced amount. Start your research on the Internet. Also, the Indiana University law library at the corner of New York St. and West St. in Indianapolis is a great resource.

In Conclusion

Hiring an attorney for a significant, personal injury case should take much thought and investigation. Your lawyer will be with you for many months and if you hire the wrong lawyer it is really difficult to change lawyers without significant legal entanglements. However, you should act quickly as evidence needs to be secured and your case needs to be pursued in a fairly prompt manner. Finally, I wish you the best of luck and hope that your physical, emotional, and financial situation will improve over the next several months and you get back on your feet and back to your normal life. Good luck.

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