Personal Injury Victim's Bill of Rights
1. You have a right to a lawyer
When you seek compensation for a personal injury, it is in your best interest to have a lawyer—even if you are dealing with your own insurance company. "You're in good hands" . . . when you're buying insurance. But if you're ever injured in an accident, and you need the insurance company to pay you, that warm, welcoming, open hand quickly turns into a fist: a fist to beat you down and hold onto their money. Insurance companies will often try to persuade you not to get an attorney, because they know they can pay you less money if you don’t have one (note that the insurance company always has a lawyer). While you may have to pay an attorney a percentage of your settlement, the higher settlement will typically more than offset the legal fee, and you will still come out ahead. Occasionally, an insurance company will make you a reasonable offer even if you are not represented by counsel. But because a layman may lack the expertise needed to evaluate a proposed settlement, it is wise to at least consult a lawyer before accepting it. If you call us, we’ll give you our opinion, at no charge; if we think the offer is fair, we’ll tell you.
2. You have a right to medical care
If you have a viable personal injury case, an experienced lawyer should be able to refer you to a capable physician who will forego payment until your case is settled and take his payment out of the settlement proceeds. Generally, the attorney should also be able to negotiate with the doctor to reduce his (the doctor’s) bill, so that a significant portion of the settlement money goes into your pocket.
3. You have a right not to have to fund your case
Your lawyer should receive just a percentage of your settlement, and only if and when the case settles (“no recovery, no fee”). Additionally, in most instances he should advance the costs.
4. You have a right to be treated courteously and respectfully by your lawyer
(Enough said.)
5. You have a right to communication with your lawyer
Your attorney should keep you informed regarding your case’s progress; he should return your telephone calls promptly; and answer your inquiries about your case in plain English. If he can’t explain it to you so that you actually understand, he probably can’t explain it to a jury either. And that would obviously be a problem.
6. You have a right to fire your lawyer
If your attorney fails to honor the foregoing rights, or you are dissatisfied with him for any reason, you don’t have to put up with it. First attempt to work it out with him. Be assertive. If all reasonable efforts to resolve the difficulty are unsuccessful, however, consider looking for another lawyer. You are welcome to call us. We are certainly not the only good lawyers in town. But we pride ourselves on being among the best, and we would be honored to discuss your case with you.
Law Offices of Richard J. Eisner
Southern California
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Contact us.