The Accident Victim’s Free Report on How to Choose a Personal Injury LawyerJanuary 8, 2020 3:13 pm Leave your thoughts
In this free report we present the ins and outs of how to choose a personal injury lawyer …
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FREE REPORT
A PERSONAL LETTER
Dear Accident Victim,
Choosing a personal injury lawyer isn’t easy.
Why? Because advertisers are bombarding you with aggressive advertising, confusing claims, and bad information.
Insurance adjusters are not lawyers, but they are the first line of attack from the big insurance companies. These adjusters will try to pressure you into a quick settlement. Then there are the “settlement mills.” These are lawyers, or law firms that almost never take a case to trial and will take whatever offer they can get without fighting for their clients. So how can you find a qualified, competent, hard-working personal injury law firm that will fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve?
You start by reading this Free Report!
In this fact-filled booklet you’ll discover six personal lawyer rip-offs, eight mistakes to avoid when choosing a personal injury lawyer, and four steps to a maximizing the compensation you receive for your personal injury case.
For most people this is not something they have every been through before and it can feel overwhelming. We wrote this guide to help you better understand the process of bringing a personal injury claim and to help you make an informed decision about hiring a personal injury lawyer.
A lot has changed since we first started practicing law in 1999. We used to only take criminal cases, including one of the most high-profile murder trials in New Hampshire history. Now we use our skills to help victims fight back against shrewd insurance companies that want to short-change people who deserve much better.
We are always there to answer your questions. We invite you to to call us at (603) 224-6999 for the help you deserve. We’ve dedicated our business to helping those who don’t have much experience with the court system. We’ll be happy to help you in every way possible.
Attorney Andrew S. Winters
ABOUT COHEN & WINTERS
Andrew Winters… is one of the partners at Cohen & Winters. Back in the summer of 1999 he met his law partner, Jonathan Cohen, while studying for the Bar. The two quickly made a connection based on a shared passion for fighting to ensure justice for the disadvantaged and indigent.
Andrew prospered at the public defender, taking their academic knowledge from the top tier law schools they attended (Andrew at Duke and Jonathan at Washington University) and blending it with the kind of court skills that can only be learned from taking lots of cases to trial.
This shared experience forms the backbone for their highly successful partnership. Jonathan and Andrew have assembled a trial team that is dedicated to helping the “little guy.” Nothing brings them greater satisfaction then getting top dollar against a giant insurance company that, frankly, is used to personal injury lawyers that roll over.
While other lawyers are too scared to go to trial, or are simply looking for a quick handout from the greedy insurance adjusters, that’s simply not how we roll!
COHEN & WINTERS
64 North State Street
Concord, NH 03301
HOW TO AVOID 6 PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER RIP-OFFS
RIP OFF #1: “PIE IN THE SKY” CLAIMS ABOUT MONEY.
After being injured the most natural question to ask is, “how much money am I going to get?” Some accident victims think the best approach is to explain their situation to multiple lawyers and choose the one that promises the most money. This is a bad mistake. While a competent personal injury lawyer should be able to provide a range based on the nature of the injury and the lawyer’s experience, the truth is that at the outset of the case no ethical lawyer should predict a specific dollar figure. There are too many unkowns that need to be investigated before a serious discussion of outcome. Yet some lawyers feed in to the accident victim’s natural focus by suggesting, or even outright promising, very high numbers that they know are not realistic. By the time the case is settled you will not get nearly what the lawyer led you to believe.
RIP OFF #2: WHO’S MY LAWYER?
There are personal injury law firms where the lawyers do little of the actual work. The lawyer will be there to sign you up as a client and at the end of the case to hand you a (sometimes smaller than promised) check. But for the entire time in between, which is really the important part, at these firms it is non-lawyers handling the entire case. Of course it’s normal and expected for support staff to do things like obtain and organize medical records. It also makes sense that a lot of the day-to-day client communication flows through a paralegal or case manager.
That said, when the paralegal is the one to assess the value of your case, or even worse, to negotiate directly with the insurance company, that’s a big problem! How serious will the insurance adjuster take your case if your own lawyer doesn’t have the time to advocate for you? The insurance adjuster will think your lawyer doesn’t care about, or know much about your case and that means the adjuster will have little to no incentive to avoid a trial that your lawyer isn’t prepared to do. That’s going to effect what they offer – and not in a good way!
RIP OFF #3: COMMISSIONS AND QUOTAS.
Be wary of law firms that overly rely on commissions and quotas to pay their lawyers and support staff. At first blush this doesn’t seem too bad. After all this will give the staff an incentive to get as much money as possible for you. The problem is that more often than not these quotas are tied to total volume not just on your particular case. And there can be intense pressure just to close files to make numbers each month, or quarter. So it will pay your “case manager” more to spend a few hours settling someone else’s case than an extra few hours of focus on your case to squeeze the most money they possibly can for you.
RIP OFF #4: PRESSURE TO SETTLE.
You may have been given false expectations when you hired some other lawyer. When it comes time to discuss settlement and the numbers are not what you were promised, that lawyer may put some serious pressure on you to settle. This is not what you need. The insurance adjuster is already putting pressure on you to take less than your case is worth. Shockingly, some personal injury lawyers will put a demand for settlement in to the insurance company without getting your permission, or even telling you.
Your lawyer, or more typically their paralegal or case manager, may suddenly seem very negative about your case, pointing out various “problems” that hadn’t been mentioned before. If you mention the possibility of bringing the case to trial they may start talking down to you. They might try to scare you by claiming that if you go to court and lose you will owe a lot of money. The truth is that you, the client, have the final decision about whether to take a case to trial, or settle. This is true every time! Honest advise from a personal injuirylawyer you trust is one thing, but pressure and manipulation to force you to settle is another.
By the way, if the lawyer is not very good he might be motivated by his own bottom line, or lack thereof, to try to get you to settle to get some quick money into his pocket at the expense of getting more money into yours.
RIP OFF #5: HIDDEN FEES.
Your fee agreement with the lawyer seems pretty straightforward. The lawyer gets a certain percentage of the total and you get the rest. However the fee agreement also usually mentions that the lawyer advances “costs” that are later taken out of your award. It is standard to advance costs for things like acquiring medical records, filing a lawsuit, and hiring an expert witness.
Some law firms will throws in “extras” that really should be considered firm overhead – like in-house copying jobs, or travel expenses (was that first-class trip to Palm Springs to visit an expert witness necessary??). Some firms get creative with this. They will borrow the money to advance the costs on your case and then stick you with the interest! Make sure to read the fine print on that fee agreement they throw at you for a quick signature.
RIP OFF #6: NO WAY OUT.
An attorney is theoretically like any other employee or contractor and can be hired and fired at will by the client. You might realize halfway through your case that you don’t trust your lawyer, or don’t think he knows what he’s doing. You want to replace him with a better personal injury lawyer. How difficult is that? The problem is that your lawyer can make it very difficult for you to fire him by claiming outrageous billing on the case. The lawyer can put a “lien” on your lawsuit, meaning you, or your future lawyer will have to pay off his fee from your award.
This means another lawyer may not want to take your case if they will have to share a fee with your current lawyer. Alternatively your total attorney’s fees will be much higher than they should be because you will be paying two lawyers instead of one. While a lawyer should be paid the fair value of his services there are horror stories of lawyers who desperately want to keep a case (hoping for a big payday with not much work involved). When you tell the lawyer that you want to switch they come up with a very suspicious bill that will make it difficult or impossible for a new lawyer to want to take your case. Then you are stuck!
4 COSTLY MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS
MISCONCEPTION #1: A lawyer that advertises on TV must be top-notch.
No. Attorney advertising exceeded one billion dollars in 2017 and shows no sign of slowing down. It’s impossible to miss the constant in-your-face “call now!” messages that you see on television, billboards, and web pages. Some of this slick advertising can reel you in and make you assume that the lawyer must know what they are doing. In one study it was noted that personal injury lawyers that do an unusually large amount of advertising tend to be high volume “settlement mills.” These types of law firms thrive on a large volume of small cases that they can settle quickly and often for less than they are worth.
Meanwhile some of the best lawyers in the world don’t advertise at all. While this isn’t to say that every lawyer that advertises is of low quality the opposite certainly isn’t true. All in all when it comes to personal injury lawyers there is no connection between advertising and quality one way, or the other. Remember, all that glitters is not gold!
MISCONCEPTION #2: It is better to use a big firm with a lot of lawyers and paralegals.
No. It may look quite impressive to see a large team of people on a law firm’s website. You may get the impression that such a team will be a ferocious power in court. Yet do you really have any idea how many of these people are going to be focusing on your case? When you see this type of firm, the first question to ask is – how many are lawyers as opposed to support of staff? If most of the employees are not lawyers, then that means most of the work on your case will probably be done by them instead of an actual lawyer.
Next you should ask – how many cases does this firm handle per year? Some settlement mills process up to 700 cases per year per attorney. What do they do with all the money from these legal fees? After paying the partners a hefty salary, you can imagine they pour the rest into more advertising and more staff to handle even more cases. The important thing isn’t how may total employees a firm employs, but how much individual attention each client gets. Remember, the more mouths there are to feed the smaller the pieces of pie.
MISCONCEPTION #3: You want a firm that can settle your case quickly.
No. A fast settlement can seem enticing because… well, you get the money faster. On a relatively small claim without serious or permanent injuries this may work out well. But if you are seriously hurt, or if your injuries are greater than they initially appear, rushing to settlement is a terrible mistake that could cost you many thousands of dollars from your bottom line.
You want to make sure you are at “maximum medical improvement” before you even considering settlement. Otherwise you won’t get full recognition from the insurance company, or later on from a jury for your injuries as they are not fully known. Yet some personal injury lawyers will try to push you into a settlement before the ink on their contract is dry. The reason is simple: the faster they can settle your case the faster they can get paid and the less work they have to do!
MISCONCEPTION #4: Every lawyer knows how to take a case to trial.
No. Many people who have not had much experience dealing with lawyers assume that all lawyers are like the ones they see on TV – digging up buried evidence, pouring through legal case law late into the night, delivering passionate closing arguments. The truth is that many lawyers, even those that call themselves trial lawyers, rarely, if ever, see the inside of a courtroom.
And while law schools offer classes on how to take a case to trial, there is no substitute for experience. Would you want a doctor fresh our of medical school doing surgery on your loved one’s heart, or would you want an experienced surgeon who had done it hundreds of times before? Don’t assume that just because a lawyer takes your case and sounds good on the phone that he actually has any knowledge of how to go to trial and win. As you will see having a personal injury lawyer that is prepared to go to trial if necessary is one of the top things you want for your case.
INSURANCE ADJUSTERS, SETTLEMENT MILLS, JURIES, AND JUDGES: A GUIDE TO THE ASSORTED CAST OF CHARACTERS YOU WILL MEET, AND THE WINDING MAZES YOU MUST NAVIGATE, TO GET FAIR COMPENSATION
Let’s face it. Most people are confused and intimidated by courtrooms. If they can avoid going into one altogether, that would be preferable, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. Due to no your fault of your own, you, or a loved one was seriously injured. You assumed that the insurance company would be fair and the case should have been settled easily. Boy were you wrong. It’s almost as if they are blaming you! So you have to get a personal injury lawyer but you don’t know who to trust, or anything about the legal system. Here are some basics.
After the collision, if you are medically able, take photographs of the accident scene from all angles. If you can’t do it ask a friend to do it before the cars are removed. Include damage to the vehicles or other objects, skid marks and debris on the road, and anything else that seems important. If you have visible injuries take photos of those. Keep in mind that sometimes bruises take time to form so continue to take pictures of your injuries even days after the collision. Then, as you start your recovery, keep a journal about how you are progressing. Write down such things as hobbies and household chores that you can’t do. If you ever have to testify, it may be years and your memory will fade. Details make for the most compelling testimony. It will be helpful to have those details documented to refresh your memory later.
Check your own insurance.
First off, your lawyer should take care of this step for you. If you decide to hire a lawyer, it is best to let him talk to the insurance companies for you, even your own. Even if there is no doubt that the other driver was 100% at fault you still want to notify your own insurance company. It may be the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance, or doesn’t have any insurance at all. If that’s the case you will end up needing to make a claim on your own insurance for what is called uninsured, or underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage basically requires your insurance company to compensate you as if the other driver had insurance. (And by the way, if you haven’t already, check with your insurance agent now to make sure you have enough uninsured motorist coverage. Err on the side of more).
Be careful about what you say.
Cooperate with the police and your doctors but keep in mind that whatever you say will be recorded by them in their notes. Eventually those notes will wind up in the hands of the insurance adjuster. Think carefully before you speak and make sure you are giving complete and accurate information (and not giving irrelevant or confusing information).
Also make sure that if you are experiencing pain, or discomfort to tell your doctor about it even if it winds up being no big deal later. This is not the time to be Gary Cooper! Other than for those purposes, the best rule is not to talk to anyone about the accident except your lawyer. If the case has to go to trial your friends and family may have to be deposed. The insurance company lawyer will try to make it look like the stories are all crossed. Also, no matter what, keep the personal details about the accident and your recovery off of Facebook, Instagram and any other social media!
Your health is the most important thing.
Make sure to report any injuries to a doctor and follow up with the recommendations to a “T”. When it comes to the insurance company you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you get a lot of testing to rule out something more serious, or go for a lot of physical therapy and chiropractor visits, they will say you are exaggerating your treatment to increase your claim.
On the other hand, if they find any little thing in your medical records to suggest that the doctor recommended something and you didn’t follow through, or if you delay getting examined after the collision they will say you caused your own pain by ignoring medical advice, or they will try to question what caused your pain in the first place. The best thing to do is get all your visit discharge summaries, make sure you understand them, and do just what the doctor says. While we don’t ever recommend that our clients “drum up” a claim with a lot of unnecessary visits (some dishonest personal injury lawyers actually do this!) we do stress the importance of obeying your doctor’s orders carefully and communicating with your doctor about all your aches and pains after a collision.
How will you pay for these medical bills?
One of the most upsetting things for accident victims to discover is that the insurance company will not pay their medical bills as they come due (there is a small exception to this called “med pay,” or in some states “PIP” coverage). Instead you will be responsible for the bills until you settle your case. If you have good health insurance this is usually manageable. But if you have large co-pays or deductibles or, even worse, you have no health insurance at all, this can turn into a nightmare. If you skip medical appointments that you can’t afford to go to the insurance company will say you caused your own injuries by not following your doctor’s medical advice. So if you are in a situation where you can’t afford your medical bills talk to your lawyer about negotiating directly with your doctors to delay payment until your settlement is concluded.
HOW TO GET JUSTICE IN AN UNJUST WORLD
Don’t be in a hurry to settle.
One of the most frustrating aspects of a personal injury claim is just how long it takes to get your money. Like they say, “Justice delayed is Justice denied.” The insurance company will never pay you what your well maintained car was worth. Bills are piling up, especially if you have bad health insurance and were forced to miss work. Then there is everyday life. Who doesn’t want to take a nice vacation, or buy their kids that extra special something they’ve been dreaming of?
The insurance companies thrive on this dilemma because they know that if you can’t pay your bills you will be desperate to settle quick. To them that means they can dangle a low-ball offer in your face and you will probably take it. But until your treatment is complete, or at least you are as healthy as you will ever get (called “maximum medical improvement”) you will never get full value for your case. Resist the temptation to settle early for short money! This tip alone could save many thousands of dollars.
Don’t be afraid of trial (even though you really don’t want one and probably won’t have one).
The very mention of the word “trial” is enough to make most people’s pulse quicken and anxiety level rise. The last thing you want to do is to have to answer some lawyer’s questions in front of a large group about anything let alone personal issues such as your medical and employment situations. The problem is that the insurance company knows that you don’t want a trial. Even if their insured driver was completely in the wrong they will often use the fact that you don’t want to go to court to their advantage. One of their favorite tactics is low-ball offers until you finally just fold and take the most that it seems they will give you without a fight. In response to these tactics you and your lawyer must never to show the insurance company weakness.
You and your lawyer must always provide a united front that you are both willing, ready, and able to go to trial. Don’t ever admit that you are scared of trial. It is critical to have a law firm that stands ready to go to trial, and has a track record of actually doing it. This can be good proof to the insurance company that if they low-ball you, you will call their bluff. That’s a strong message that they may end up paying a lot more then if they give you a reasonable settlement now. And don’t worry, even if a lawsuit is filed, the chances of your case going all the way to trial are still very low. Many cases settle just before a trial starts (and sometimes even after that)!
8 MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN CHOOSING A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
MISTAKE #1: Choosing a lawyer that gives you a high-pressure sales pitch.
Whether you are looking at an expensive new car, or getting an upsell at the fast food joint, you are constantly being sold to. We have all gotten pretty good about being able to tell the difference between an honest salesperson and a pushy con man. But after you have been hurt in an accident you are in a lot of pain and just feeling a little off your game.
You are more vulnerable to a smooth sales pitch that, when you are in your right state of mind, you would see coming from a mile away. If you talk to a lawyer who is coming on too strong and seems just a little too eager to sign you on as a client without taking the time to answer all your questions and get to know you as a person, this is a huge warning sign. Don’t ignore your tried and true instincts.
MISTAKE #2: Choosing a lawyer because he promises a lot of money.
If you ask a lawyer what he thinks your case is worth, he may give you a range. But if it is the lawyer who starts talking right away about how much he thinks you are going to get this is a big red flag. No lawyer can give a realistic prediction of results at the initial stage. Another popular gimmick is for lawyers to publish “settlement calculators” on their website. These calculators are misleading and worthless.
They are very good advertising tools to bait you into calling a particular law firm. But the numbers they produce should not be relied on in any way. Consider that a settlement mill may have a very high value for it’s total settlements, but you can easily imagine a second counter that goes up even higher showing all the money their client’s are leaving on the table because they were pressured into taking pennies on the dollar of what their case is really worth.
MISTAKE #3: Choosing a lawyer that has an office in your neighborhood.
When you want to go out to eat or get a haircut geography is key. Who wants to drive out of the way just for ordinary events? Hiring a lawyer is much different. There are so many different types of lawyers and you may need to broaden your search to find the best one. Most of your conversations with your lawyer, once she starts working on your case, can take place over the phone or by email. When an in-person signature or meeting is necessary it will be well worth the extra drive to go to a lawyer that you know, like, and trust.
The same is true for the distance from the lawyer’s office to the courthouse. Some people mistakenly believe that a lawyer near the courthouse is best because they will have an “in” with the judge. This is unlikely to be true. Most quality trial lawyers travel widely for their court appearances, so hiring a lawyer who is an hour or more away from the courthouse will not put you at a disadvantage if she is otherwise the best lawyer for your case. Sometimes, if your type of case is particularly complicated, it can even make sense to hire a lawyer located in a different state depending on your needs.
MISTAKE #4: Choosing a lawyer that is tight with the insurance adjuster.
Some lawyers brag that they regularly have cases with the insurance companies. The suggestion is almost that they have a “special connection” with the insurance adjuster that will get you that extra little bit in your pocket. Be very careful because the exact opposite could be true. Instead of the insurance adjuster giving up a little extra something it could be your lawyer doing the giving (at your expense!). Lawyers who do such a high volume that they are regularly dealing with the same insurance company may be tempted to “bulk negotiate.” That is, they may reduce their demand on one particular case in exchange for a better offer on another. Can you afford to be a bargaining chip?
MISTAKE #5: Choosing your family lawyer.
Good chance you or a family member has previously used a lawyer. Perhaps to get a will drawn up or to help set up a side a business, or it could have been a divorce, or a DWI when you were younger. Many people mistakenly think that if a lawyer was good in one area they will also be good in another area. Not true. There are many areas of the law and not all lawyers do all things. Most focus on just a few practice areas.
Yet many lawyers, if asked, will try to take on an injury case because they think they can handle it. They probably can’t do a very job unless they have done injury cases before and are set up to handle them. They may not be able to properly document your claim, know what a fair settlement is, or be prepared to take the case to trial if there is no settlement. The end result could be thousands or more dollars less from your bottom line.
MISTAKE #6: Choosing a lawyer without checking comments from past clients.
It seems that every lawyer online says they are “aggressive” and will get you “maximum compensation.” Can you rely on a lawyer’s word for how great he is? Isn’t it better to talk to actual customers? That’s the beauty of testimonials and reviews which are readily available online. If a lawyer has a long list of authentic reviews you can use them to help make a decision. If the lawyer has few comments, or even spammy seeming materials online, that is cause for concern.
MISTAKE #7: Choosing a lawyer who is not a member of personal injury trade associations.
There are national and local associations for lawyers who handle injury cases. These are an incredible resource for lawyers to interact, share information and to help each other assess complicated cases or issues. These groups also do a great service fighting the unfair public perception that accident victim’s are just out for money. Just the opposite, it is the insurance companies that try to make as much money as possible by minimizing or denying legitimate claims. Remember, an insurance company makes money when they are able to pay out less than they should. One thing to look for in a lawyer is whether she belongs to these important organizations. If not, it could be a sign that the lawyer is not serious about injury cases, and perhaps is just dabbling in them.
MISTAKE #8: Choosing a lawyer that does not offer a guarantee.
Results in court are unpredictable. A lawyer can’t guarantee what the end result is going to be. Many lawyers are quick to tell you they can’t make a guarantee. The fact that lawyers can’t guarantee results does not mean they can’t guarantee service. If a lawyer tells you he can’t guarantee anything ask if he guarantees the quality of his service. What if a reasonable period of time goes by and you just aren’t happy with the way the lawyer communicates with you or approaches your case? What if he signs you up as a client then stops returning your calls? Will he guarantee that if you aren’t happy with his service he will let you switch to another lawyer with no questions asked, and no fee owed?
UNDERSTANDING PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER FEES
Lawyer prices are confusing.
This is especially true when it comes to personal injury lawyer prices. The primary reason for the confusion? Most personal injury lawyers seem to charge the exact same thing. Most commonly, the lawyer does not set the fee at the time you hire him. Instead he calculates the fee as a certain percentage of the result. If you lose and get nothing, the lawyer gets nothing too. In that case the law firm loses the time and overhead they spent on the case. They also lose the money that they fronted for case-related expenses such as expert witnesses, court filing fees, and so forth. On the other hand, if the law firm collects a large sum of money, then they get a very large fee even if they didn’t put that many hours into the case.
Many of us shop in a tried-and true-manner. We look at “apples to apples” and then pick the lowest price. That doesn’t work when it comes to choosing a personal injury lawyer for two important reasons.
First, for the only time in your life, you want to pay a higher amount for your service.
Think about it – the more you pay, the more you get! If you pay very little, it means the lawyer didn’t get you very much.
Which brings us to our second point. There is no way to do an “apples to apples” comparison when it comes to personal injury lawyers. It’s not like a new car that can be shopped among various dealers based on the same model and features. Every law firm is different, has a different background, and a different way of handling cases. You want the law firm that can get you the most for your case while keep your stress level as low as possible and treating you with the utmost amount of respect as a client.
We suggest three key things to look for in a law firm to see if they will be the right one.
Respect. How do they treat you on the first call? Do they show empathy? Do they have you talk to someone right away or do they take days to get back to you? How a firm treats a potential client at the beginning is a sign of how they will treat that client throughout the case. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Authority. Does the law firm have a reputation for handling personal injury cases? Have they published articles, blogs, and videos answering frequently answered questions about these kinds of cases? What kind of results do they get? Do they have positive reviews from former clients? From looking at various online sources you can get a good idea about a firm’s expertise.
Organization. Does the firm have adequate systems in place to handle personal injury cases? These cases can result in a surprisingly large volume of records that need to be managed carefully and a mistake could ruin your claim. Being up to date on the latest document management technology is critical. From the moment you start interacting with the firm take note of how organized they seem. Do they have adequate staffing? Do they seem to have automated notification and document systems in place? Once you hire them, how well is the firm updating you about the work they are doing on your case? If you feel like your lawyer is disorganized, imagine what the insurance adjuster is thinking.
WHY YOU WANT THE BEST PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER POSSIBLE FOR YOUR CASE
Some law firms have little to no experience in injury cases, but it won’t stop them from trying to take you on as a client if they think they can make some quick cash.
Then there are the “settlement mills.” These firms handle plenty of injury cases, that’s for sure, the problem is that they handle too many and don’t give enough time and attention to each case. If you have a minor case and your top priority is settling fast then this might be ideal, but if your injuries are serous, you value personal service, or you just want to get the full compensation you deserve, this type of firm is not for you.
Finally there are those firms that are top-notch, but spend all their time focusing on high profile cases, such as those involving a lawsuit against a large corporation over a new product line. How much attention do these media hungry firms give to their “ordinary” clients like yourself? You don’t want to have a lawyer who doesn’t care about your case as much as you do.
WHY COHEN & WINTERS ARE THE RIGHT PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS FOR YOU:
Small firm service: We are most definitively not a settlement mill. While we have excellent support staff who interact with clients and help build the case, attorneys supervise every step of the way. It is not hard to get your attorney on the phone for an update. We keep our caseload manageable enough so we aren’t just crunching numbers and pushing cases through the system. Most importantly we have skilled trial lawyers who love the chance to duke it out in court when necessary (even though we know that’s your last choice we’ll do an excellent job of an explaining when and why trial is sometimes the best choice to get the most money). Which brings us to …
Big firm power. Collectively, we’ve had jury trials in every single county in New Hampshire. Our named partners defended one of the most notorious cases in New Hampshire history. The trial took nearly a month! We handpicked our personal injury team with one goal in mind – to collect the most money possible on each and every case we handle and we do a darn good job of it!
30-DAY NO-RISK 100% CLIENT SATISFACTION GUARANTEE
You don’t pay a personal injury lawyer until he works completed. On the surface this would seem to be the perfect situation for you as the client. You would assume the lawyer would have every motive to ensure your satisfaction throughout the case. It’s not like a home improvement contractor who you pay upfront and then leaves you wondering whether he will ever do the work after he leaves some tools and materials at your house.
Don’t let appearances deceive you. While it would seem you have more recourse with a dishonest personal injury lawyer who you don’t pay upfront then with a home contractor this is not necessarily true.
Why not? Once a personal injury law firm signs you on as a client their contract makes it very difficult for you to switch lawyers. That’s because once they start to work on the case, they will claim a “lien” for their fee. So if you switch lawyers, they will legally force the new lawyer to pay their fee out of the settlement – even before they pay you, the client and injured victim!
Some unethical law firms will quickly amass shockingly high “liens” almost from the minute they take the case. When you realize the firm doesn’t really have your best interest at heart and try to switch to a different lawyer the first thing the new lawyer will ask is how much your old firm’s “lien” is?When the new lawyer sees how high it is there are three possibilities:
ONE. The new firm will take the case, but will want their entire fee.
This is probably fair since the new firm will have to start the case from scratch and get little to no benefit from the old firm’s work. But then the old firm’s trumped up “lien” has to come out of your portion of the settlement! In other words, just because you picked the wrong law firm in the first place you will end up with less and sometimes a lot less than you deserve!
TWO. The new firm will realize that it’s not fair to take the lien out of your pocket, but they also will determine that they can’t earn enough of a fee off the case if they have to pay the old firm’s fee out of theirs.
Then they just won’t take the case at all, even if they would have taken it if they were the first firm you contacted. You may go round and round with several firms only to realize you can’t find a single one who will take you case due to the old firm’s “lien.” The longer you deal with the firm you no longer trust the bigger their lien gets! They will probably add to it every time a new firm asks about their lien figure just for the “trouble” of putting it together! You can’t afford to risk paying their lien out of your bottom line, heck, their lien might be bigger than the amount you get at the end of your case leaving you owing money in the end! This leaves you stuck with a firm you don’t want. Even though on paper you can hire a new law firm, it turns out it’s really not an option.
THREE. You might, if you’re lucky, find a new firm willing to take your case. A firm that will not only fight for the most you can get for the accident, but also fight against the old law firm to reduce their lien.
Believe it or not, sometimes law firms get into lawsuits about how to split up a few that become bigger than the original case itself!
This was a long explanation but you need to understand why so few law firms offer a client satisfaction guarantee like we do. Too many firms want to sign you up as a client with no realistic way for you to get out. The only thing guaranteed in that situation is their fee no matter what kind of work they do or don’t do.
If you hire Cohen & Winters to represent you on your personal injury case within the first thirty days of our representation if you are not satisfied with our service for any reason, you can switch lawyers with no questions asked, and no amount due to us of any kind!
Often within those first thirty days we will invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars in attorney and paralegal time investigating and analyzing your case. We will also spend money to get medical records, accident reports, or other important documents for your case.
If for any reason you aren’t happy with our work, or completely confident in the services we provide, we won’t ask for a dime back.
This is our Cohen & Winters, iron-clad, 30-day guarantee!
If you are considering using another law firm for your personal injury case ask them if they make the same offer. Now that you have this explanation you understand why the question could make them a little bit … shall we say, uncomfortable.
4 STEPS TO CHOOSING YOUR PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
STEP #1: Treat the choice as seriously as you do when you make any other decision involving thousands of dollars.
While it is important to move quickly, you usually have time to do your homework.
STEP #2: Make a list of questions.
This guide gives you a lot of good ideas but here is a handy summary of possible questions to ask:
- How long have you been a lawyer?
- How many cases does each lawyer in your firm handle at one time?
- Will I be dealing with primarily my lawyer or a paralegal?
- Have you handled many cases like mine before?
- Are you a member of organizations of lawyers who represent accident victims?
- How often do you go to trial?
- Do you handle the trials yourself or do you farm them out to another law firm?
- How hard is it to switch to a different law firm if you don’t give me quality service?
- Do you make any satisfaction guarantees?
STEP #3: Talk to one, or more personal injury lawyers.
Don’t let let their expensive clothes, big words, or fancy degrees hanging on the walls intimidate you. Do they give you straight answers to your questions? Are they constantly shifting the subject? Do they seem rushed, like they just want to “make a sale?” Do they genuinely seem interested in answering your specific questions? Does the lawyer seem like he truly cares about your case? Or is he just talking about how great he is? This is a bad sign. You probably want to try another firm. Trust your gut feeling, it is usually right!
STEP #4: Once you have decided on a law firm that you feel completely comfortable with keep an eye on how they handle your case from the beginning.
They should be in regular contact about things like the accident report, medical records, and health insurance. The firm should seem on top of these things. An efficient system for gathering information and answering your questions is critical. Are you happy with how they are treating you? How is the lawyer handling the case? Is hte lawyer addressing your concerns? Do they treat you as if you have no say and you are just another number? Do they continue to treat you as if they constantly must earn your business? After all, never forget that they work for you. If you they don’t seem to view it that way it could be time to explore other options.
Follow these steps and carefully consider the advice given in this guide. We believe you are well on your way to making an informed decision about the best personal injury lawyer for your case.
Do you want a lawyer who will push your case through the system fast, leaving most of the work to his underlings? If yes, then you are probably fine picking any old law firm that you see advertise online, on TV, or even in the phonebook.
No, you want a firm that isn’t going to treat you like a number. A firm that will do everything allowed under the law to truly maximize your claim and get you everything you deserve. We invite you to contact us!
We are happy to give you a free case analysis, answering all of your questions either over the phone, or in our office. To reach us call (603) 224-6999, or visit us online at www.cohenwinters.com.
We’ve dedicated our business to educating consumer. We are glad to help you in any way you can make this important decision.
Cohen & Winters
64 North State Street
Concord, NH 03301
“All around I can say that if you are looking for a lawyer then give them a call. You will not regret it.”
“So I came to read the reviews. I was very unsure of who to pick to represent me in an accident case. I had called a couple lawyers before I saw the reviews for Cohen & Winters. From my very first phone call with the attorney I felt at ease. That wasn’t the case when I contacted other lawyers. Attorney Cohen was upfront and honest with me every step of the way through the process. Everything happened the way he said it was going to be. I was able to reach him quite easily by email or phone. And they seem to care about not charging excessively. Most of the correspondence occurred through emails, which not only saves on expenses, it also helps to speed things up. No waiting for letters. Laura was extremely helpful and friendly. All around I can say that if you are looking for a lawyer then give them a call. You will not regret it.”
“Attorney Winters was recommended to us. I’m glad we listened to that advice”
Attorney Winters handled my husbands case after he was involved in a very serious motorcycle accident. He was unable to stop when a car pulled out in front of him. He had very serious injuries and had to be med-flighted to Dartmouth Hitchcock for emergency surgery. Knowing that the expenses were going to be enormous, Attorney Winters was recommended to us. I’m glad we listened to that advice. He was very professional and extremely helpful, he kept us informed at all times. The case was settled and all his Hospital bills and Dr. bills were paid. If you need a personal injury lawyer, contact Cohen and Winters.
“I have a lot of trust with the lawyers and staff.”
The Cohen and Winters law firm was very helpful with my car accident claim. I was able to seek treatment and know that my claim was being processed appropriately. I have a lot of trust with the lawyers and staff. Staff kept me updated and answered my questions. I recommend this law firm.
Owings Mill, MD
“Never did he make my situation feel hopeless, frustrating or useless.”
I used Jonathan to help with a case another law firm walked away from. Never did he make my situation feel hopeless, frustrating or useless. He and the office staff are very professional but very personal. If you are reading this , you are in need of legal assistance. Cohen and Winters is a great place for legal assistance.
Category: Personal Injury
This post was written by Andrew Winters