I've Never Hired a Lawyer - Is Now the Time?
First let?s make a distinction between:
· Talking to a lawyer, and
· Hiring a lawyer
People consult lawyers all the time for a host of reasons. If you?re thinking you might need to hire one, the first thing to do is talk to some. Set up some initial consultations, which are often free of charge, to see if that lawyer is the right one for you.
If the consultation is not free of charge, consider whether it might be money well spent for the information you could learn. Law is a complex thing with many exceptions, obscurities, unique details etc. Only a lawyer with experience in the field that concerns you can give you the facts and guidance you may need.
Interview some lawyers
If you make 3 or 4 appointments with possible lawyers, present your situation to them, and listen to their responses, you will probably know by the end of that whether you need to hire one. And you?ll know whether one of those 3 or 4 will be the right one.
In getting ready for those initial consultations, you?ll need to think about your situation. One of the first things to ask yourself is: What?s at stake here?
Pros and Cons
Try making two columns on a piece of paper.
· Why I need a lawyer
· Why maybe I don?t need one
Write down all the ideas that occur to you as to what you might gain by hiring an attorney, and what you might lose by it. Don?t censor yourself, just write down all the thoughts that come to you, both pro and con. It?s a good way to clear the mind and get a better focus on what?s really important and what?s perhaps just some temporary bee in your bonnet.
Beware the statute of limitations
If you?ve been harmed in some way and feel you should be paid compensation, be aware that there?s almost certainly a time limit for you to file a claim. From the date of your injury (whether physical, financial, or whatever kind of injury), there?s a clock ticking off the days and weeks during which you may file for redress.
It may be several years, or in some instances may be only several weeks. At any rate, this is a good first question to ask a lawyer when you have an initial consultation. The answer will give you an idea of how quickly you must proceed in filing any claim.
Remember too that if you do hire a lawyer, time will be required for him or her to gather information and prepare a lawsuit for you. This preparation must all be done within the statute of limitations.
Like all professional services, those of a lawyer cost money. If that gives you pause, follow your thoughts on the subject.
· How much money is at stake in your situation?
· What exactly would a given lawyer charge you?
· Would you be paying fees as things progress?
· Would it be a percentage of any compensation you might be awarded?
· What?s the comparison between what the lawyer might cost and what you might receive?
While these are all questions to ask yourself, you won?t necessarily be able to answer them, and they?re all questions you can ask each lawyer you interview.
Alternatives to hiring an attorney
· Many community groups (e.g., civil rights groups, elder groups) offer free legal advice
· Many businesses use mediation or arbitration to resolve disputes
· Many industries are regulated, so you could talk to someone at the state regulatory agency
Depending on what your situation is, these resources may fill your need, or may give you missing pieces of information that help you make a decision on hiring a lawyer.
Do you want legal defense or compensation for an injury?
Most lawyers specialize in certain fields. By asking around among your friends, neighbors, co-workers etc., you could learn the names of law firms who specialize in the type of law relevant to your situation.
If you do hire a lawyer, you?ll want one who has extensive experience in the type of legal work you need. For example, if you?ve been hurt in a car accident, you won?t want to hire a lawyer who specializes in insurance defense, because that mindset is diametrically opposed to the mindset you?ll want in your personal injury lawyer.
Whatever you situation is, take some time to think things through, but not too much time before having some initial consultations, because of that statute of limitations. Once that time limit is up, there?ll be no recourse at all for you.
This article courtesy of http://www.mentzlaw.com.
You may freely read this information.
Information about lawyer
* Government Statistics on Legal Verdicts and Jury Awards - $ U.S. district courts terminated approximately 512,000 civil cases during fiscal years 2002-03. Nearly 20% or 98,786 of these cases were torts in which plaintiffs claimed injury, loss, or damage from a defendant’s negligent or intentional acts. $ Of the 98,786 tort cases terminated in U.S. district courts in 2002-03, about 2% or 1,647 cases were decided by a bench or jury trial. $ An estimated 9 out of 10 tort trials involved personal injury issues C most frequently, product liability, motor vehicle (accident), marine, and medical malpractice cases. $ Juries decided about 71% of all tort cases brought to trial in U.S. district courts; judges adjudicated the remaining 29%. $ Plaintiffs won in 48% of tort trials terminated in U.S. district courts in 2002-03. Plaintiffs won less frequently in medical malpractice (37%) and product liability (34%) trials. $ Eighty-four percent of plaintiff winners received monetary damages with an estimated median award of $201,000. $ Plaintiffs won more often in bench (54%) than in jury (46%) tort trials. The estimated median damage awards were higher in jury ($244,000) than in bench ($150,000) tort trials.
April 2006 - A Jury in New Jersey found last week that Vioxx significantly contributed to a 77-year-old man's heart attack awarded him $9 million in punitive damages yesterday, raising Merck & Co.'s liability in the case to $13.5 million and intensifying pressure on it to settle such lawsuits.
Example of Personal Injury Case 2004 : Ford Explorer rollover-prone and roof not crash safe and worthy- CASE TYPE : Product Design Defect, Auto Truck Vehicle - SUV,
Motor Vehicle – Rollover CASE : Buell-Wilson v. Ford Motor Co., San Diego Co.,
Calif., Super. Ct. GIC 800836 Los Angeles, Calif.
JURY VERDICT: $369,000,000 (369 Millions Dolalrs
2005 - In what may be one of the biggest massive medical malpractice tort verdicts in the state of Texas, a state jury awarded $606 million - including a remarkable $ 600 million dollars in punitive damages - to the family of an 82-year-old patient who had cancer and then who died after receiving an overdose of chemotherapy drugs.
2005 - In the 9th big loss for Ford in SUV Explorer rollover cases, a Florida jury awarded $61.2 million to the parents of an 18-year-old boy who was killed in a 1997 (wrongful death & Product Defect and Product Liability Issues)
Example of Personal Injury Lawyer Case 2004 : Dodge Caravan seatback collapsed on baby in a car-seat - CASE TYPE : Automobiles, Products Liability -
Product Design Defect, Wrongful Death, Motor Vehicle -
Rear-ender, Motor Vehicle - Passenger, Motor Vehicle - Minivan
CASE : Flax v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., Davidson Co., Tenn., Cir. Ct. O2C-1288
JURY VERDICT : $105,500,000 (105 Million Dollars
2005 – Billion Dollar Verdicts - In one of 2005's largest verdicts to an individual plaintiff regarding financial fraud , a Florida jury ordered Morgan Stanley Broker Dealer to pay $1.45 billion to investor Ronald O. Perelman for defrauding him in the sale of his camping gear company - Coleman.
2005 - February, a prominent Houston law firm and a Texas bank were SMACKED and Beaten with a $65.5 million verdict in a highly complex estate planning case that involved major problems and conflicts of interest. (65 million dollar jury award)
2005 – 3 years after a jury acquitted a company in Florida of manslaughter and criminal charges, a Florida civil jury SLAMMED the outdoor advertiser with a $65 million jury award verdict for the shock and electrocution of a sixth-grade boy.
Age Discrimination - In December, a Los Angeles California jury found that PrivatAir - an aviation company focusing on private airline services - wrongfully fired Captain Doyle D. Baker on the basis of his age, defaming him in the termination process and causing extreme emotional distress.
Punitive damages serve a number of important functions which—despite a few horror stories, which are themselves either apocryphal or overturned in the courts, the functions remain valid and in the public interest. Persons causing great harm—persons deliberately or with gross negligence causing great harm should not view paying damages as merely a cost of doing business, a cost that might fit neatly into a risk analysis of wrongdoing. That is what happened in the Ford Pinto case in which the cost of paying claims to victims of a known deadly hazard was deemed less than the cost to retool the assembly line, and thus the hazard was maintained knowing full well that further people—more people would be injured or killed.
This is the purpose of punitive damages, to punish this kind of egregious wrongdoing, and to deter, to be a deterrent to such conduct. It is not immediately clear why a deterrent—or the necessity of the deterrent should bear any great relationship to the amount of actual damages in a given case. There is nothing wrong and indeed something highly desirable in maintaining this disincentive to wrongdoing in an appropriate relationship to the harm and the conduct of the tort-feasor. This trend has led one commentator to suggest that ''[p]unitive damages have replaced baseball as our national sport.'' Theodore B. Olson, Rule of Law: The Dangerous National Sport of Punitive Damages, Wall St. J., Oct. 5, 1994, at A17. See also Malcolm E. Wheeler, A Proposal for Further Common Law Development of the Use of Punitive Damages in Modern Products Liability Litigation, 40 Ala. L. Rev. 919, 919 (1989) (''Today, hardly a month goes by without a multimillion-dollar punitive damages verdict in a product liability case.'').