How do I choose a trial lawyer?
Before you hire a trial lawyer, meet with him or her and assure yourself that the lawyer is truly qualified to represent you. You are entitled to honest and straightforward answers to your questions. Information which may be helpful in deciding whether the lawyer is qualified to handle your case include:
a. How long have you practiced personal injury law?
b. How many cases have you taken to trial and completed?
c. Who will be preparing my case - you or another lawyer in the office?
d. How many cases like mine have you handled in the past?
Remember you are the employer. You are the one who has the right to decide whether to hire a specific lawyer. It is easy to create a wonderful TV ad. It is also very easy for a lawyer to tell you what he believes you want to hear. It is not easy to earn a proven record which substantiates the experience and competence of the lawyer you hire.
How do lawyers charge for a personal injury case?
When you hire a lawyer you can either pay an hourly rate or a contingency fee. Most clients are unable to pay an hourly rate and choose a contingency fee. A contingency fee is paid to the lawyer only if you make a recovery. Contingency fees may range from 25-40 percent. The precise fee that you will be charged depends on the nature of your claim, the risks associated with the claim and the costs necessary to properly prepare your case. Carl will advance the costs associated with the preparation of your case. If the case comes to a successful conclusion then those costs will be recovered by Carl Piccarreta, in addition to the contingency fee.
Do I have to pay for you to consider my case?
Carl Piccarreta will meet with you to discuss your case at no cost. If our first meeting indicates that a potential claim exists then, the claim must be investigated. Carl and staff will investigate your claim at no cost to you. A red flag should quickly arise if the lawyer with whom you are speaking wants you to advance money for the lawyer to investigate the claim. When a lawyer is unwilling to spend the amount of money needed to ascertain if a claim exists then, that lawyer either has no faith in your claim or is financially unable to properly prepare your case.
Do I have a good case?
It is difficult to tell a client if he has a good claim on the first visit. Before a trial lawyer can give you a competent and educated opinion on the merits of your claim, appropriate research and investigation must be conducted. For instance, police reports need to be gathered, witnesses interviewed, medical records reviewed, and experts consulted. The success of any claim is directly related to the thorough preparation of the lawsuit. Thus, it is the practice of Carl Piccarreta to obtain the appropriate and necessary records and conduct a thorough investigation before evaluating the merits of your claim. This process is designed to assure you that once we take the case there will be a high probability of a successful result.
How long do I have to make a claim?
The length of time you have to file a lawsuit depends upon the nature of the claim and the entity being sued. As a general rule, an injured person has two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. There are very important exceptions to this general rule which significantly decrease the statute of limitations time period. For instance, if an injury is claimed against an employee of a governmental entity such as a City, the State, and even certain medical care providers then a “Notice of Claim” must be filed within 180 days of the date of the injury. If that notice is not filed within the required time limits your claim may be forever barred. It is extremely important that you contact a trial lawyer as soon as possible so that your time limits are protected.
What do I have to prove in a personal injury case?
Although the specific facts of each person’s claim are different, there are general rules relating to what a person has to prove in a lawsuit. The claimant is usually required to prove that the wrongdoer was negligent, that the negligence was a cause of injury, and that as a result of the negligence which caused the injury damage was sustained. Negligence is most generally described as the failure to use reasonable care. Regardless of whether your situation involves a driver failing to stop at a red light or a surgeon failing to respond to a nurse’s call from the hospital, the rule is the same. Every person is required to use reasonable care in conducting the task which he is performing.
How long does a lawsuit take?
It is impossible to give a precise answer. The scheduling of trials is determined by the schedule of the Superior Court Judges. Lawyers have very little control over the scheduling of a trial. Moreover, before your case is ready for trial the lawyer is required to engage in discovery to prove your claim. This may involve meeting with doctors, deposing witnesses, gathering medical records and obtaining work records to prove the damages and waiting for your injury to stabilize. As a general rule, most cases are scheduled for trial and resolved within 12 to 18 months after a lawsuit is filed.
Will my case go to trial?
A trial lawyer is unable to tell you whether any specific case will be taken to trial. Statistically speaking, more than 95 percent of cases are settled prior to the trial.
Do all attorneys have legal malpractice insurance?
No. Unfortunately, the State Bar of Arizona does NOT require attorneys practicing within Arizona to provide legal malpractice insurance. If an attorney is negligent in handling your claim and does NOT carry insurance you may have no practical recourse for compensation. So, before you retain a lawyer make sure he is adequately insured. The State Bar of Arizona does require Arizona attorneys to report whether or not they have insurance. That information can be found at www.azbar.org under the section entitled “Find a Lawyer.” You are required to have insurance on your car, why shouldn’t the attorney you retain provide you the same protection? Be a good consumer and check before you act.