Misconceptions & Mistakes
MISCONCEPTION #1: I can settle my case without hiring a lawyer.
If you're happy with the amount of money the insurance company offers for your car - and if you're happy to have your medical bills paid - then you're right. You don't need to hire a lawyer.
Still, it's important that you understand what you're entitled to. In most cases, you are entitled to more than merely payment to cover your medical bills and repairs to your car. That's why I urge you to talk with a lawyer over the telephone before you accept an insurance company's offer.
When you speak with a lawyer, you'll learn that a lawyer can help you in a number of ways.
Your lawyer takes the hassle out of dealing with the insurance company. And, in our office, we provide all these services for our clients at NO CHARGE. In other words, we don't take one penny of the money we collect for damage to your car. Our fee is limited to a percentage of what we recover for your injuries and damages - nothing more.
MISCONCEPTION #2: An attorney requires a down payment to accept your injury claim.
No. In our office, we accept all accident cases on a contingency fee. This means we get paid out of the money we recover for you. If you collect nothing, you pay nothing for our services. To start, you can talk with us for free. And if you hire our services, you pay nothing unless your case settles and we recover money for you.
MISCONCEPTION #3: I'll have to go to court to get what my case is worth.
Usually not. Most injury cases are settled before your case goes to court. When the insurance company realizes you and your lawyer are ready and willing to go to court, usually the insurance company starts making reasonable offers for your injury claim. If we don't like the first offer, we make a counteroffer. Then we go back and forth until both sides agree on a certain amount. In most cases, injury claims don't require a court trial.
MISCONCEPTION #4: Once you settle your claim, you can get more money in the future if you have additional medical bills.
Not true. Usually, once your claim is settled, it is over forever!
MISCONCEPTION #5: You have only one year to file a lawsuit.
No. You have three years from the date of the accident and, maybe, even longer if you were under 21 years of age at the time in Mississippi. Even so, the evidence and witnesses you need to prove your case may disappear over time, so the sooner you contact an attorney, the better.
MISCONCEPTION #6: If you are partly at fault for causing the accident, you are not entitled to any money.
No. Both sides may contribute to an accident and you are still entitled to recover money in Mississippi and most states.
MISTAKE #1: Choosing a lawyer who doesn't have enough trial experience.
The most important factor in choosing an accident lawyer is his knowledge, skill and experience handling injury claims. This includes (1) experience handling injury cases, and (2) experience taking injury cases to trial. In most cases, the money you hope to recover for your injuries will come from an insurance company - either the other person's insurance company - or your own. And one of the reasons insurance companies have so much money is because they pay accident victims like you as little as possible - often less than you deserve. Make sure the lawyer you select has extensive experience handling personal injury cases at trial. Your best choice is to select a lawyer who is a board certified trial lawyer.
MISTAKE #2: Choosing a lawyer only because you like his advertising.
A flashy TV commercial or Yellow Page ad doesn't mean anything except that the lawyer agreed to pay for the ad. Advertising can make almost any lawyer look like an expert. Don't choose a lawyer solely because you like his ad. Make sure you ask questions about the attorney's experience and his track record in handling injury claims.
MISTAKE #3: Choosing the lawyer who promises you the most money.
The amount of money you're entitled to recover, called "damages," is based on many components: (1) the length of your recovery, (2) the dollar amount of your medical bills, and (3) the dollar amount of lost wages, (4) pain and suffering, and (5) the severity of your injuries and damages. No one can tell you exactly what your case is worth until they gather all the facts. Anyone who promises you a certain amount of money before he/she gets this information is making a promise he/she probably can't keep.
MISTAKE #4: Choosing a lawyer because he expects to settle your case.
Most injury cases are settled without going to trial. Even so, if you hope to get a fair settlement for your injuries, your lawyer must be willing to take the insurance company to court. Otherwise, the insurance company has no incentive to offer you a fair amount of money for your injuries. If you hire a "settling attorney" - one who usually settles his/her cases and seldom goes to court - you can expect to receive less money for your injuries than if you hire a skilled trial attorney. Remember: The most powerful weapon you can use against the insurance company is your willingness and ability to take your case to trial.
MISTAKE #5:Choosing a lawyer because of a referral from a friend.
When a friendrefers you to a lawyer, be careful. Yes, your friend probably means well. But your friend may not be the best source for a referral. You see, people often select a lawyer because they like him/her. But you need a lawyer who is much more than just a nice person. You need an attorney who has the trial experience to go up against billion-dollar insurance companies. Insurance companies hire experienced investigators, adjusters and lawyers to work against you. You need a highly experienced lawyer working for you. Your best choice is to select a board-certified trial lawyer who will discuss his/her track record with you, case by case.
MISTAKE #6:Choosing a lawyer because he/she appears successful.
A handsome office and an expensive car don't tell you anything about the lawyer's experience. Don't judge a lawyer by appearances. Judge a lawyer by whether he/she has the knowledge, skill, experience and willingness to (1) sue the other party, and to (2) take your case to trial, if necessary. That's the BEST way you can be sure you recover the amount of money you deserve.
MISTAKE #7:Choosing a lawyer because of the location of his/her office.
You may be inclined to select a lawyer who has an office down the street from your home. But this could be a big mistake because what you gain in convenience you may lose in experience and know how. Most of the work between an injury lawyer and his/her client is done by mail and over the telephone. I encourage you to hire a board-certified trial attorney, even if you must drive a little farther to his/her office. You may find that the extra minutes on the road will be well worth your effort in the end. And if travel is difficult for you, we will be glad to come to your home or office. Just ask. We serve clients all over Mississippi and Louisiana and elsewhere.
MISTAKE #8: Not reviewing the lawyer's track record.
You can get a good idea of a lawyer's experience by reviewing his/her track record of cases that he/she has settled or taken to trial. Ask the attorney how many cases he/she has settled for over $1,000,000, between $500,000 and $1,000,000, and so forth. This will give you a way of determining the level of the attorney's experience.