FAQs

1.    How do I know when I need a lawyer and when I don’t?

2.    How do I find a lawyer?

3.    What steps do I need to take to hire a lawyer?

4.    How will I know how much the lawyer will charge for the case?

5.    What happens after a consultation?

6.    How will I know that the lawyer is representing me?

7.    What may I do to help my attorney with my case?

8.    How often will I hear from my lawyer while my lawyer is handling my case?

9.    After an accident, you should:

10.    What should you do if you are contacted by someone from the insurance company?

11.    Can’t any lawyer handle any type of case?

12.    Should I hire a big firm if my injuries are severe?

13.    If No Recovery, No Fee?

14.    Juries can’t be trusted to make a fair decision.

15.    The jury system is not worth keeping.

1
6.       
Lawyers are selfish and greedy.

17.        Lawyers stir up litigation for their  own personal profit.

18.       
Huge punitive damage awards are frequent and on the rise.

19.       
When there’s an accident, lawyers  are among the first on the scene, soliciting business.

20.       
   Contingent fees are just a way for lawyers to make more money.



1.   How do I know when I need a lawyer and when I don’t?

    In some instances, you may be able to settle your claim with the insurance company by yourself, without an attorney's help.  It's important that you realize you are going up against trained adjusters who probably get praised and promoted for keeping their side's cost down.

    Still, you may be able to settle your claim by yourself:
  • when you don't mind gathering all of the information necessary to determine the value of your claim
  • when you don't mind going to the time and trouble of interviewing necessary witnesses
  • when you think you have all of the bases covered
  • when you know the insurance company is not trying to take advantage of you.
    If your case is complex, you should consider hiring an attorney.  Your accident lawyer can advise you on the proper course of action, tell you your legal rights, tell you what to expect regarding the progress of your case, evaluate your case, negotiate a full and fair settlement of your claim, put an estimated value on your case, and represent your interests aggressively to get you fully compensated for the accident.

    Injured victims often share this concern: Will I get more money handling my case myself or should I hire an attorney?
                        
    As you may know, your attorney usually charges a portion of the amount he/she recovers for you as his/her attorney's fee.  Fortunately, the amount of money your lawyer recovers is usually much more than you could have recovered on your own.  In nearly all cases, your lawyer gets enough money to pay his/her fee and to add to the money you receive.

2.    How do I find a lawyer?

    Many potential clients find out about a particular lawyer from a friend, another lawyer, an advertisement in the newspaper or telephone book, or a website.  The Law Offices of Paul Snow provides the opportunity for a potential client to learn something about the law office before contacting it by viewing these web pages.  You may contact the law office by telephone, fax, email, mail, feedback form, or by coming to the office, although you may need to call for an appointment before coming to the office to make sure that you will be able to meet with Paul Snow, Esquire.

3.    What steps do I need to take to hire a lawyer?

    A lawyer may do an initial consultation with a potential client prior to making a decision about representing a client, so you may need to make an appointment for a free consultation.  Many lawyers, including the Law Offices of Paul Snow, charge no fee for consultation.  The Law Office of Paul Snow, however, generally does not limit the initial consultation to only a half hour as some lawyers or law firms may do.  Potential clients generally may take the time necessary to explain the facts involved in their particular legal matter without having to worry about being limited to only a half hour.  There may be some instances when a consultation may not be required prior to the lawyer agreeing to represent the client.

4.    How will I know how much the lawyer will charge for the case?

    We only work on a contingency fee basis.  In these cases, the lawyer will get paid his or her fees as a percentage of the total recovery.  This means that you will not have to pay anything out of your pocket.  NO RECOVERY - NO FEE.  We even advance all legal expenses on your case.
                    
5.    What happens after a consultation?

    A lawyer will generally review the case and determine whether he or she will represent the client.  The lawyer may want the opportunity to do some initial research before making a decision, but most of the time a decision is made at the initial consultation.

6.    How will I know that the lawyer is representing me?

    Most lawyers will provide you with a contingency fee agreement for both you and the lawyer to sign.  The Law Offices of Paul Snow uses a contingency fee agreement each time it represents a client.  The Law Offices of Paul Snow does not represent a client until the contingency fee agreement is signed.

7.    What may I do to help my attorney with my case?

    You may assist your attorney by attending all scheduled appointments with your attorney and providing all requested information in a timely manner, such as the accident report, medical bills, wage check stubs, insurance policies, etc..  Always keep your attorney informed about changes in your telephone number or address.

8.    How often will I hear from my lawyer while my lawyer is handling my case?

    You should expect to be kept informed regarding the progress of your case.  The Law Offices of Paul Snow provides updates, copies of correspondence, court orders, or other important documents sent or received, or to request information needed.  If there is nothing to report during a particular period of time, you may not hear from your attorney.  That does not mean that your case is not proceeding in the manner that it should.  Your attorney may be working on your case, but have no need to contact you at that point.  The amount of contact that an attorney has with a client generally depends upon the type of case being handled.

9.   After an accident, you should:

  • Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses who can support your case.
  • Insist that the police come to the scene and file an accident report.
  • Take pictures of the scene of the accident, the damages to the vehicles, and the location of the vehicles in the street or highway as soon as possible.  You may want to use your cell phone or a disposable camera.  You can never take too many pictures.
  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • AVOID strangers who may show up at the hospital or your home, claiming to be investigators or claiming to work for some unidentified law firm. This is illegal activity by ambulance chasers.  They do not have your best interest in mind and their promises are usually false.  Right down their name and telephone number and the law firm that they work for so you can remember it for future reference.

10.    What should you do if you are contacted by someone from the insurance company?

    You should tell them to send ALL questions to your attorney.
  • The insurance company is representing the defendant who caused the accident and is only looking out for their interest, not yours.  Don't talk to the insurance adjuster. 
  • Don't allow the insurance adjuster to mislead you by claiming that they need information out of you in order to pay your claim.
  • Insurance adjusters will ask you trick questions that may hurt your case later on.  You may defeating your own case if you don't identify these trick questions.
  • Don’t trust the insurance company to help you, they are in business to collect premiums and minimize payment on claims. The more they collect and the less they pay, the more profits for the insurance company.

11.    Can’t any lawyer handle any type of case?

  • Not every lawyer can handle injury and accident cases properly.  Your lawyer should have the training, expertise and trial experience necessary to fully maximize the damages in your case.  At the Law Offices of Paul Snow, we have an impressive track record of results. See some of our cash awards noted in this site.

12.    Should I hire a big firm if my injuries are severe?

  • Having a fancy address and/or a big law firm does not guarantee that your lawyer will maximize your recovery.  You should hire an attorney who has experience in the type of case that you have.  Most big law firms represent the insurance companies that you will be making a claim against for your injuries.
  • Most big law firms may not be able to give your case the attention that it needs and deserves.  Sometimes your case will be referred to a young associate in the firm who is already overworked.
  • As you can see from reviewing our website, we have only represented victims of injury and death cases for over 34 years.
  • We have established the respect of judges, the courts, insurance companies and opposing lawyers in the personal injury, particularly in Mississippi.

13.    If No Recovery, No Fee?

  • We only collect a fee if we recover money for you. If we do not recover any money for you, you owe us nothing.
  • We advance all expenses on your case out of our own pocket.  If we recover for you, our expenses our reimbursed. If we do not recover for you, you owe us nothing on expenses.  
14.   Juries can’t be trusted to make a fair decision.

    Our system of justice depends upon the participation and support of all citizens. Jury service is among our most important duties as American citizens. By willingly serving when called to jury duty, each of us helps to ensure that disputes are resolved fairly and impartially by a jury of the litigant’s peers.

 

    Most court cases take a long time and involve lots of evidence. In nearly all cases, most people would agree with the decisions of the juries if they had the opportunity to sit with the jury and see all the evidencefirsthand. In the rare situation in which a jury makes a mistake,  the trial judge and the appellate courts are there to correct the problem.

 

    It is also important to remember that jurors are required to take an oath, before qualifying as jurors, that they as individuals 1) will not make a decision about the merits of any particular case until all of the evidence has been presented; and 2) will make a decision based solely upon the evidence presented in court, under oath, and not from any other source. In spite of this unbiased system, however, the media inadvertently or otherwise encourages the general public to have an opinion on a particular jury verdict based solely upon what is printed in the paper or seen on television. The media is rarely present for an entire trial, and thus, is not in a position to create value judgments about the merits of any particular case. The television viewers and the newspaper readers, in turn, have even less information on which to base an opinion about a fair and reasonable verdict. Therefore, opinion based on limited information should not serve as the basis for an attack on a jury verdict, much less the entire system.

 

15.    The jury system is not worth keeping.

 

    Jurors have always played a key role in the United States’ legal system  and democratic traditions. For over 200 years, our country has been unique in having juries of ordinary citizens decide both civil disputes and criminal cases.  Citizen juries give legitimacy to our justice system because facts are determined and verdicts are reached by ordinary people of varying backgrounds and life experiences. Throughout our history, American juries have asserted the conscience of the community against unjust laws, arbitrary government authority and social wrongs. Juries have been responsible for verdicts which have generated public recognition of problems with products like asbestos and defective heart valves, and promoted greater product safety.

 

   Our founding fathers thought a jury was so important to the workings of a democracy and the protection of individual liberties that they protected the jury system in three different places in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Thomas Jefferson said: “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

 

16.     Lawyers are selfish and greedy.

 

    The legal profession has a long  tradition of volunteerism. All across Mississippi, thousands of lawyers give generously of their time and expertise to help our state’s low‑income residents. Annually, lawyers in Mississippi donate millions of dollars of legal services to persons who otherwise could not afford them.

 

    Lawyers care about their communities, and their service extends far beyond legal work. A 2001 survey found that in addition to providing pro bono (free) legal assistance to poor people, Mississippi lawyers participate in community‑services organizations, tutor or teach, and coach sports. They also work as volunteer fire fighters, serve on volunteer search‑and‑rescue teams, volunteer at hospitals, work at food banks and community shelters, and participate in many other service activities.

 

    In addition, lawyers care about those who have lost money or property in those rare cases when a Mississippi lawyer was dishonest or mishandled a client’s money.  The Bar’s Clients’ Security Fund makes a payment to those who have suffered a direct financial loss caused by the dishonest conduct of a lawyer in connection with the practice of law. The fund is financed entirely by lawyers and not tax dollars.

 

17.     Lawyers stir up litigation for their  own personal profit.

 

    Most legal cases are not the result of lawyers advising clients to sue, but are the result of circumstances in which the parties have no choice but to get legal help. Criminal and family law cases (including divorce) are by far the majority of cases handled by our courts. Real estate transactions, setting up small businesses, collections, tax problems – the largest part of legal work – all come from people who seek out legal advice on their own.

 

    People usually think of personal injury cases, or class actions, when they suspect lawyers of stirring up litigation. In a personal‑injury case, it is the victim who seeks out the lawyer for help. Even then, court rules and Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit an attorney from starting any lawsuit until he or she has made a “reasonable inquiry” into the facts, and determined that the case is “well‑grounded in facts.” A lawyer can start and pursue class‑action cases. However, class actions are a very small percentage of all cases, and very few lawyers work on them.

 

18.     Huge punitive damage awards are frequent and on the rise.

 

    Surprisingly few Mississippi citizens understand that punitive damages are neither frequent nor on the rise, and they are allowed only to punish very reprehensible conduct. According to William Glaberson, “When the Verdict is Just a Fantasy” (Sunday, The New York Times, Section 4, p. 1, June 6, 1999), astudy of the courts in the nation’s 75 largest counties conducted by the National Center for State Courts found that only 364 out of 762,000 cases resulted in awards of punitive damages – only about 0.047 percent! Glaberson reports:   “... a study of 16 states by the same center showed that the number of liabilitysuits has declined by nine percent since 1986.”

 

    Each year over 22,000 lawsuits are filed in the circuit courts of Mississippi. Overwhelmingly, these are resolved reasonably and satisfactorily to all involved. Only a handful results in verdicts which attract media attention. On occasion, one of these will be sensationalized. These verdicts are the exception, not the rule.

 

19.    When there’s an accident, lawyers  are among the first on the scene, soliciting business.

 

    Commonly called “ambulance chasing,” this behavior is very rare and is considered by the legal profession to be unethical. In fact, it is prohibited by the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct, which govern all Mississippi lawyers. The Preamble to the Rules of Professional Conduct states: “Lawyers, as guardians of the law, play a vital role in the preservation of society... A consequent obligation of lawyers is to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.”

 

    If you are injured in an accident, it may be advisable to consult a lawyer. He or she can provide important advice and assistance, and work to protect your rights. But if a lawyer appears at an accident scene to solicit business, he or she is not acting ethically and you should not engage their services.

 

20.     Contingent fees are just a way for lawyers to make more money.

 

    Contingent fees have an appropriate place in the legal system because this type of arrangement allows people with little money to have their case brought to court. Without contingent fees, many people would not have access to the legal system. A contingent fee is a contract between a lawyer and a client in which the lawyer’s fee is set as a percentage of the amount the lawyer recovers on behalf of the client. The percentage often depends on the amount itself and the circumstances of the case, and it can be negotiated between the client and the lawyer. A client does not have to pay the lawyer until after the case is over and the money has been collected. This allows people who cannot afford to pay a lawyer by the hour to hire good lawyers to represent them. If a contingent fee is used, the lawyer may work many hours and be paid nothing if he or she loses. In effect, the contingent fee operates as a safeguard against the pursuit of nonmeritorious lawsuits.

 

 

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