How to Go About Selecting an Attorney For Your Case

How to Select a Personal Injury Attorney

While there are many factors that affect whether a client wins or loses a personal injury case, or affect the level of the settlement, selecting the right personal injury attorney makes the most difference in winning the case. So, how should one go about selecting a personal injury attorney who will get the best results, and the best settlement, for the case?

Most personal injury attorneys have free consultation. You, the client, should use the consultation not only to have the attorney assess your case, but also to interview the attorney to make sure your case will get the attention it deserves. The first indication as to whether you and your case will get the attorney’s full and undivided attention is how you are treated during the free consultation. Obviously, you should expect to discuss the case with an attorney, not with a paralegal, or other members of the attorney’s staff. After all, you are not hiring a paralegal; you are hiring an attorney to understand your case, research the facts of the case, research the law and win your case for you. You want to be able to talk to the attorney first hand, not through intermediaries.

Once you meet with the attorney, outline your case and answer whatever questions the attorney may have. You should then ask the following basic questions. The answers that you get should determine the level of comfort you have regarding the level of attention that the attorney will give you and your case:

1. Who will be handling and researching your case. Is that person an attorney or a member of the staff?

2. If your case goes to trial, will the attorney be fully involved in the litigation or would he outsource the litigation without any involvement?

3. Will the attorney be your contact at the attorney’s office? If so, will he be available during office hours as well as after hours? Would he give you access to his direct telephone, including his cellular phone?

It is a fact that at the offices of some personal injury attorneys, clients come in contact with paralegals and other office staff but never with an attorney. If the attorney responds that his “competent” staff will give their full attention to your case, get a clue. If the attorney is reluctant to give you his cellular number to contact him anytime you have a concern, get another clue.

Many of my clients have confided in me that the reason why they have not selected other attorneys before knocking on my door was the fact that they could not talk to an attorney. They were able to talk to a paralegal or other staff, but not the attorney.

If you are not able to talk to a personal injury attorney during the consultation, or if you do not feel comfortable that your case will be getting the full, undivided attention of the personal injury attorney, find another attorney. There are many good attorneys out there who are anxious to give you and your case their full, undivided attention.

Ramzy Ladah
Las Vegas Personal Injury, LLC
http://www.ladahlaw.com

5 Steps to Hiring a Brain Injury Attorney

One of the most important decisions a traumatic brain injury survivor must make following an accident is choosing the right attorney. Finding the best attorney for your case can be a daunting task, especially for someone with a brain injury.

Choosing an attorney should not be taken lightly in Wisconsin, because the law here makes it extremely difficult to fire your personal injury attorney and find a new attorney to take over your case. The following 5 simple steps will help you find the right Brain Injury Attorney for your case.

1. Identify the Type of Case You Have

Start by identifying your particular accident. If you were injured in an automobile crash, then you need an attorney handling auto accident claims. If, on the other hand, you were injured in a semi-truck crash, then you need an attorney that has successfully handled tractor-trailer accidents in the past. The Internet is a great resource to gather general information about your particular accident and finding an attorney with experience handling such a case. For example, conduct a web search for “(your state) Car Accident Attorney,” “(your state) Truck Accident Attorney,” etc.

2. Research Your Specific Type of Injury and Your Symptoms

You should also conduct research on your specific type of injury and symptoms. For example, you could conduct a web search for “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury,” “Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury,” “Severe Traumatic Brain Injury,” “Post-Traumatic Headache,” “Dizziness,” etc.

3. Search for Names of Potential Attorneys

Once you have identified what type of case and the type of injury you have, and have done some preliminary internet research, you can begin searching for attorneys that have experience in accident cases that result in injuries to the brain. Again you should turn to the Internet. The Yellow Pages may also be of benefit, however, because there is a limited amount of information that can fit on one page it is usually an inadequate resource. Television is even less helpful, because of the time limit on the ads and the insistence of some personal injury attorneys to run generic catch-all commercials promising a big settlement on all types of case and injuries. Search the web for an attorney with experience handling your particular type of accident and your particular type of injury, including your symptoms.

Once you have your list of possible attorneys, you should read their particular websites closely. Check out the organizations to which they belong. They should belong to organizations that advocate for victims that have survived traumatic brain injuries. Also, look for past settlements and jury verdicts concerning traumatic brain injury.

4. Call and Request Written Material From the Attorney

It is critical that you choose the right attorney from the outset. You can simply call the first attorney you see on TV and set up an appointment. However, this is not recommended as it is hard for you to determine whether this attorney is truly experienced with traumatic brain injury based simply upon a TV advertisement. Instead, call and ask the potential attorney to send you information this attorney uses to develop and document his client’s traumatic brain injury symptoms. If you request written material before meeting with the attorney, then you cannot be pressured into signing something you may later regret. You will be able to first read the attorney’s educational materials and then decide on your own time whether this attorney is right for your case.

If you do call an attorney for written materials and instead of politely sending you some free educational information, they attempt to get you into their office or offer to send someone out to your house or hospital room, then beware. Brain injury victims are usually quite vulnerable following an accident and they should never feel pressured into signing anything, including an attorney’s fee agreement.

If the attorney or law firm does not offer informative, written materials, or if they are pressuring you to come in and sign a retainer, then they may not be reputable.

Keep in mind that the ethics rules prevent attorneys from directly contacting you in person, by telephone, or by email, unless you contact them first. If an attorney solicits you without your request, then you should immediately report them to the Office of Lawyer Regulation (877) 315-6941.

5. Schedule an In-Person Appointment with the Attorney and Ask Questions

Once you have done the necessary background research, it’s time to set up a face-to-face meeting with the attorney. Make a list of questions and bring the list with you to the appointment. If the attorney is competent and experienced with traumatic brain injury, he/she will likely appreciate your persistence and answer your question much more directly.

Here are some suggested questions to ask:

Will you be the one handling my case from start to finish? (If the answer is “no,” immediately request to meet with the attorney that will be handling your case from beginning to end).

What is the process for handling my case? What steps will you go through?

When will my case be ready to be resolved? (If the attorney promises a quick settlement, they may be telling you what they think you want to hear as opposed to the actual truth).

How many active cases are you personally handling at the present time?

Have you ever represented people with traumatic brain injuries before? What were some of the results?

How do you obtain most of your brain injury cases? (Referrals from attorneys, other professionals and former clients is the right answer).

Have you attended or presented at any brain injury conferences or seminars?

Do you belong to any trial lawyer brain injury organizations?

Are you a member of any national brain injury associations?

Are you a member of your state’s Brain Injury Association?

What is your AVVO ranking? (A rank of 9+ is excellent).

Attorneys that devote a majority of their practice to the representation of traumatic brain injury survivors will not be learning on the job during your case. They will not have to learn new medicine for your case.

Instead, you can be comfortable with an attorney experienced in the representation of brain injury victims knowing they have worked with some of the best experts in the fields of medicine for brain injuries and an experienced brain injury attorney will not be intimidated when faced with brain injury medical experts that have been retained by the insurance companies to say that you did not sustain a life-changing injury. As a result, experienced traumatic brain injury attorneys are usually in a much better position to obtain the appropriate amount of damages for their clients with traumatic brain injuries because they have a better idea as to the amount a jury may award for this specific kind of injury.

Attorney Videos in Today’s Marketplace

The increase of home personal computers, Internet, and new technology is providing a lawyer with a way to connect effectively with the public. How can an attorney take advantage of this new Internet marketing tool? The lawyer can have an attorney videos created specifically related to his legal practice. The advantage of attorney videos allows web page visitors to achieve better understanding by being able to hear and see a presentation about the attorney practice instead of reading the information.

This is the preferred way of most Internet users, and 99% of users have the ability to view these videos. Future clients can access the videos seeking legal information and may choose the lawyer to represent them with their legal issue. Attorney videos allow the lawyer a chance to showcase his legal skills, knowledge, and his courtroom presence. Then he can have his attorney videos place on his Web page to market his legal practice to the public, and reach a target group of potential clients. In today’s market place and bad economy the attorney can use his videos to expand his client base allowing for the attorney maintain a profitable practice.

Some benefits of attorney videos are:

1) Increases visibility in customer’s geographic area, and area of the attorney’s practice.
2) Increase credibility with current clients, and potential clients.
3) Brings qualified new clients seeking an attorney who will meet their legal needs.
4) Minimize time lost talking with people whose legal issues doesn’t match the type of law the attorney handles, and clients not ready to hire the attorney.

Is creating attorney videos something the attorney can do himself? Attorney videos need to be effective, and provide a positive first impression of the attorney’s law firm. Plus the attorney’s Web page needs to well design like the lobby in the attorney’s office to convey the attorney’s unique professional image to possible clients.

The attorney would be wise to hire a professional video producing company who specialize in creating attorney videos. The professional should be highly experience, and showcase the attorney’s image as positive, helpful, caring, and successful. It’s very important that the attorney videos are effective and flexibility so the attorney can use the videos for other business applications.

Some new technology that will increase the effectiveness of the attorney videos are:

1) Flash which provides an element of motion and sophistication. Plus it allows for the attorney to advertise a key page, or section within the website.

2) Cascading menus provide easy navigation of the website allowing the viewer to go from the home page to anywhere on the website with a simple mouse click.

3) On-site search engine giving the ability for prospects and clients to search by topics without leaving the website. Plus the on-site search engine increases the website usability and provides a positive user experience.

4) Streaming media (audio/video) will engage potential clients and reinforce the marketing message, and provide education, news about the firm’s legal practice, and introduce the attorney giving him a personal connection with online visitors.

5) Control access a security major that protects the website by requiring a password that only existing clients have or known individuals approve to access protected information. When a visitor comes to the website they must submit their name and E-mail address.

Associate Attorney Employment Agreement

Most law firms that are made up of more than one person are set up as a hierarchy with Partners at the top and varying levels of Associate Attorneys below them. Partners are generally the owners of the business and Associates are employees. The Associates are often given the opportunity to work their way up the ladder to become Partners and share in the profits of the firm instead of just receiving wages.

It is important to have a written agreement or contract between the Associates and the Firm that spells out everyone’s duties and obligations as well as the conditions under which they may advance. The following is a draft contract between an Associate and a law firm that can be customized to meet the needs of a law firm hiring an Associate Attorney.

This AGREEMENT made of this 21st day of March, 2011, between the Law Offices of at Smith, herein referred to as the “Firm” and Joe Blow, hereinafter referred to as the “Attorney.”

Recitals

The Firm is a Sole Proprietorship, operating as a business rendering legal services. If, during the term of this contract, the Firm changes to another form of business organization, this contract will continue to be binding on both the Firm, under it’s new formation, and on the Attorney.

The Attorney is licensed to practice law in the State of Texas.

The Firm and the Attorney desire to have the attorney practice law as an employee of the Firm.

It is agreed by and between the parties as follows:

Section 1. Employment and Duties.

Employment. The Firm employs the Attorney and the Attorney accepts employment as an attorney in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.

Full Time. The Attorney shall devote full working time and attention on the practice of the law for the Firm and the Attorney shall not, without the written consent of the Firm, directly or indirectly rendered services of a professional nature to or for any person or firm except as an employee of the Firm.

Duties and Assignments. The Firm shall determine the duties to be performed by the Attorney and the means and the manner by which those duties shall be performed. The Firm shall determine the assignment of the clients to the Attorney and the Attorney shall perform services for such clients assigned. The Firm determine the rates at which the Attorney’s work shall be billed.

Section 2. Compensation

Salary. For all services rendered by the Attorney under this Agreement, the Firm shall pay the Attorney and annual salary of $58,000, payable weekly or as may otherwise be mutually agreed. The salary may be changed by mutual agreement of the parties at any time.

Bonus. In the addition to the salary specified in 2.1., the Attorney may receive a bonus. The bonus, if any, will be in such amounts as the Firm may determine in its absolute discretion.

Additional Compensation. In addition to the salary and bonus specified in items 2.1 and 2.2, the Attorney will be eligible to receive a percentage of the Firm’s portion of Personal Injury cases. The Attorney will receive 10% of the Firm’s payment from a Personal Injury case, when the Attorney has performed as the primary attorney on that case. Additionally, the Attorney will receive 10% of the Firm’s payment from a Personal Injury case, when the Attorney personally brought the case to the Firm.

Section 3. Partnership. It is the policy of the Firm to employ as attorneys persons who will be given the opportunity to become partners in the Firm. The Firm after a certain number of years will make the determination as to whether the Attorney will be admitted to partnership. The Firm expects to make this determination with respect to this Attorney, no earlier than July 1, 2005, and no later than July 1, 2007.

Section 4. Facilities.

Office. The Firm shall furnish the Attorney with office space, staff assistance, and such other facilities and services as are reasonably necessary to the performance of the Attorney’s duties.

Liability Insurance. The Firm shall maintain professional liability insurance covering the acts and omissions of the Attorney in performance of the Attorney’s professional duties.

Travel. The Attorney may be required to travel on business for the Firm, and shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred, provided, however, that a detailed account of such expense is provided to the Firm.

Professional Societies. The Firm shall pay the Attorney’s dues for memberships in The State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Association.

Education. The Firm shall pay the reasonable amount of expenses incurred by the Attorney to maintain or improve the Attorney’s professional skills. The Attorney agrees to submit to the Firm such documentation as may be necessary to substantiate such expenses

Section 5. Additional Benefits.

Medical Insurance. The Firm agrees to provide medical coverage for the Attorney, the Attorney’s spouse and dependents under a group accident and health insurance policy, the terms and benefits of which shall be determined by the Firm. The Attorney is currently covered under her spouse’s policy and does not require such coverage currently. That Attorney will notify the Firm at such time that she needs this benefit.

Vacation. The Attorney shall be entitled to three weeks vacation time each year however, the Attorney’s vacation will be scheduled at such time as will least interfere with the business of the Firm. The Attorney is further entitled to time off on all holidays normally celebrated in accordance with the Firms stated policy.

Life Insurance. The Firm may provide group life insurance coverage, in amounts which shall be determined by the Firm.

Retirement Plan. The Attorney shall participate in any Firm qualified retirement plan according to the terms of said plan as amended from time to time.

Disability. In the event the Attorney is unable to perform his or her regular duties as a result of personal disability the Firm will pay the Attorney’s salary during such disability for a total of ninety (90) days in any 24 month period.

Section 6. Operations.

Records and Files. All records, documents, and files concerning clients of the Firm shall belong to and remain the property of the Firm. On termination of employment, the Attorney shall not be entitled to keep or reproduce the Firms’ records, documents or files relation to any client unless the client shall specifically request that its files be transmitted to the Attorney.

Fees. All fees and compensation received or realized as a result of the rendition of professional legal services by the Attorney shall belong to and be paid to the Firm. Any fee or honoraria received by the Attorney for professional services or other professional activities performed by the Attorney shall belong to the Firm.

Section 7. Term.

One Year, Automatic Extension. The term of this Agreement shall begin on the date hereof and continue for a period of one year and shall be automatically extended from year to year unless terminated in accordance with this section.

Events of Termination. This Agreement shall be terminated upon the happening of any of the following events:

The death of the Attorney.

The determination of the Firm that the Attorney has become disabled.

Dismissal for cause of the Attorney as hereinafter provided.

Occurrence of the effective date of termination, notice of which has been given in by either party to the other, so long as there are at least sixty (60) days between giving of the notice and the effective date of termination.

The mutual written agreement of the Attorney and the Firm to termination.

Termination on Disability. The Firm may determine that the Attorney has become disabled for purposes of the Agreement in the event that the Attorney shall fail, because of illness or incapacity, to render for ninety (90) days or more in any two-year period, services of the character contemplated by the Agreement, and thereunder shall be deemed to have been terminated as of the end of the calendar month in which such determination was made.

Causes for Dismissal. The Firm may dismiss the Attorney for cause in the event it determines there has been continued neglect by the Attorney if his or her duties, or willful misconduct on the part of the Attorney, including buy not limited to a finding of probable cause by the Bar for investigation a complaint filed with its discipline system or the filing of criminal charges against the Attorney, which would make retention of the Attorney by the Firm prejudicial to the Firm’s best interest.

Section 8. Miscellaneous.

Notices. All notices under this Agreement shall be mailed to the parties hereto at the following respective addresses:

Attorney:____________

Firm: ____________

A change in the mailing address of any party may be effected by serving written notice of such change and of such new address upon the other party.

Invalidity. The invalidity or unenforcibility of any provision or provisions of this Agreement shall not affect the other provisions, and this Agreement shall be construed in all respects as id any invalid or unenforceable provisions were omitted.

Arbitration. All disputes, differences and controversies arising out of, under, or in connection with this Agreement shall be settled and finally determined by Arbitration under the then existing Rules of the American Arbitration Association.

The parties have executed this Agreement as of the date and year first above written.

By:____________________________________________________

Why You Need a Durable Power of Attorney Now!

Planning for unfortunate events such as serious illness or injury is rarely on anyone’s list of favorite pastimes. Sometimes, though, enduring the small discomfort that may accompany preparing for the unexpected will avoid untold anguish on the part of your family and friends. This is certainly the case with the Durable Power of Attorney, an often simple document that becomes so very important if sickness or injury renders you unable to take care of your own affairs.

Power of Attorney Defined

A Power of Attorney is a document in which you (as the “Principal”) allow someone else (the “Agent” or “Attorney-in-fact”) to act legally on your behalf. The Power of Attorney may be limited to very specific actions that the Agent is authorized to take on your behalf. On the other hand it may give the Agent very broad powers. In either event, the Agent you appoint in the Power of Attorney should be someone that you trust without reservation. That could be a family member, an advisor, a trustworthy friend or a bank or similar institution.

The “Durable” Power of Attorney

The significance of having a “Durable” Power of Attorney is best understood if you know what can happen with the plain old garden variety of Power of Attorney.

If you sign a Power of Attorney that is not “durable,” the document remains effective only while you are alive and competent to handle your own affairs. If you become incompetent or die, the Power of Attorney is automatically revoked by law and your Agent is no longer able to act on your behalf. This prevents a Power of Attorney from becoming irrevocable inadvertently, and, until recent times, it was the only way a Power of Attorney could be prepared.

The non-durable Power of Attorney has limited usefulness for family and estate planning purposes, though, because the Power of Attorney is often most needed when you have become incapacitated! That is when you really need someone else that is able to make legal decisions or take other actions on your behalf.

All fifty states now permit the use of a “durable” Power of Attorney that is not revoked simply because the Principal becomes incapacitated or mentally incompetent. This makes the Durable Power of Attorney a far more reliable document, particularly for family and estate planning purposes, since you may now authorize your Agent to act on your behalf even after illness, injury or other cause has rendered you unable to manage your own affairs. Even with a Durable Power of Attorney, however, the Principal’s death causes an immediate revocation of the document and termination of the powers that are given to the Agent.

A Matter of Convenience

The Durable Power of Attorney is often used as a matter of convenience.

Suppose, for example, you have your home listed for sale. You have also planned a long awaited trip to visit Aunt Trixie in Deadwood, South Dakota, and you are concerned that an interested buyer may come along while you are on the road. A Durable Power of Attorney would be handy here to appoint someone you trust to act in your absence to negotiate the sale and sign any documents that are needed to make the deal binding.

The Durable Power of Attorney could be prepared so that it is effective only until the date you plan to return from your trip, and it might describe specific terms that your Agent must include in the sale, such as the minimum sale price that is acceptable to you.

A Matter of Protecting Loved Ones

What happens if, from illness, injury or another cause, you become physically or mentally incapacitated to the point that you are no longer able to handle your own legal affairs?

Let’s suppose again that while you are incapacitated it becomes necessary to mortgage your home to pay your medical bills. Who will sign the mortgage? Even if your home is jointly owned with your spouse, he cannot obtain a mortgage without your signature.

In those circumstances it would be necessary to request the local probate court to appoint a guardian for you that has the power to handle your legal affairs. In many states, this type of guardian is referred to as a “conservator”. Included in the conservator’s powers might be the power to borrow money and sign a mortgage on your behalf making it possible to obtain the funds needed to pay the medical bills.

However, you may have heard that it is advantageous to avoid probate whenever possible, particularly if there is a good alternative available. The delay and expense associated with probate proceedings and the fact that they are conducted in the probate court, a public forum, make that good advice in most circumstances. And there is a better alternative than probate, but it requires you to act before the incapacity arises – you need to sign a Durable Power of Attorney.

When used in this estate planning context, the Durable Power of Attorney is generally worded very broadly to give your Agent the power to step into your legal shoes in almost any circumstance. In effect, you tell your Agent “You can do anything I can do.”

Now, if you have prepared the Durable Power of Attorney and then become incapacitated, no one has to go through a probate proceeding to appoint a guardian or conservator to act for you – you have already given your Agent the power to do so. As you can see, the Durable Power of Attorney can save precious time and expense in critical situations and avoid having your personal affairs become the subject of a public proceeding.

Appointing a Successor Agent

It is often a good idea to appoint one or more successor Agents. The Agent you appoint in your Durable Power of Attorney may die or for some other reason become unable or unwilling to act as your Agent. In that case, you may be left without someone to act for you when you most need that assistance.

Appointing successors to your first choice of Agent helps insure that someone is always available to handle your affairs. Of course, each successor that you appoint should be someone that has your complete trust.

Revoking a Power of Attorney

As long as you are competent, you have the power to revoke your Durable Power of Attorney. To do so, send written notice to your Agent notifying him or her that the document has been revoked. Once the Agent has notice of your revocation, the Agent may take no further action under the Durable Power of Attorney. However, your revocation will not undo any permissible actions that the Agent has taken prior to being notified that the Power of Attorney has been terminated.

You must also notify third parties with whom your Agent has been dealing that the Durable Power of Attorney has been revoked. For example, if the Agent has been dealing with a stockbroker, you must notify the stockbroker as soon as possible. Do this in writing, as well, and do it immediately. Third parties who do not receive notice of the revocation are entitled to, and probably will, continue to rely on the Durable Power of Attorney.

Making the Durable Power of Attorney Effective upon Incapacity.

It is possible to have a Durable Power of Attorney that only becomes effective if and when you become incapacitated. This document is referred as a “springing” Durable Power of Attorney because it “springs to life” on the occurrence of a future event – your incapacity. The document should include a detailed definition of “disability” to make clear the circumstances in which your Agent may act on your behalf.

Knowing that your Agent is unable to exercise his or her powers until you are actually unable to do so yourself may make using the Durable Power of Attorney more comfortable for you. Unfortunately, even with a good definition of incapacity in the springing Durable Power of Attorney, your Agent may find that third parties are simply not willing to make the judgment that you are indeed disabled. If they are wrong, they may be held liable to you for any damages that you sustain as a result of the error in judgment. You may therefore find the springing document cannot be relied upon in all circumstances.

Don’t Procrastinate!

Estate planning is easy to put off. But don’t! Advance planning, such as executing a Durable Power of Attorney, may make a horrible circumstance for you and your family just a bit more bearable.