How To Pick A Personal Injury Lawyer: Ultimate Guide

Not all personal injury lawyers are made equal. Choosing the right personal injury lawyer after you have suffered an injury or been accused of causing one is paramount to ensuring your interests are protected.

Picking a personal injury lawyer is not a complicated process, but it does require you to do your homework. To help you pick a personal injury lawyer, we have put together the following guide.  

What Is A Personal Injury Lawyer?

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A personal injury lawyer specializes in legal cases in which the plaintiff has been injured and is now looking for some ways to hold the other party at fault for what they have done. The lawyer can also represent the defendant that is being accused of causing the injury.


More often than not, the case is settled outside the courtroom with the culpable party paying the injured party monetary compensation, such as medical fees. In situations where the case cannot be settled privately, the lawyer will take the case to trial.

At the most basic level, the personal injury lawyer's first step in taking on a client's case is to investigate the client's alleged injury. From there, the lawyer will interview witnesses (if there are any,) gather evidence and request relevant documents, such as police reports, hospital records and an employer's documentation of the injury.


If the lawyer determines there is a case to be made against the alleged defendant, then he or she will have to decide whether it is in the client's best interest to settle or go to trial. To make this decision, the lawyer will consider the weight of the evidence, witnesses and the weight of their testimony and, finally, the likely outcome of the case if it were to go to trial. The lawyer will also take into consideration the wishes of the client. 

Why You Might Need One?

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You May Overlook Certain Details Of Your Case


As a victim in a personal injury case, it may be difficult for you to see things that make the defendant seem less guilty. Without a set of professional eyes to examine the facts of the case, you may place unwarranted culpability on the defendant and ignore facts that make you look at least a little to blame. Vise versa, you may overlook evidence that pins the fault on the defendant and instead wrongly conclude that it was something you did that caused the injury.


In either situation, you risk forfeiting your right to receive compensation or pursuing legal actions that were baseless in the first place. The result is time, energy and money wasted. Or, in the case of a warranted action, the result is money lost.

You Are Ill-Equipped To Fight The Big Guy


Say you slipped and fell inside a big box store while shopping for groceries because the floor was wet and there were no signs to warn you of any danger. Your shoulders are hurt because of the fall. For a month now, the discomfort from it has kept you from doing the things you enjoy doing. You decide to sue the store.


You are confident you'll win because there was, you hope, a video of your fall and witnesses who would come forward to testify on your behalf. So, you file a case and, shortly after, the store responds by filing a reply to dismiss your claim. The court agrees. You are at a loss and without a solution to the injury you so unjustly endured.


The moral of the story is you can't — and shouldn't — fight the big guys alone. Corporations and insurance companies are well-equipped with high-salaried lawyers to defend their clients. They will harness whatever resources there are to not have to pay for your injuries or, God forbid, admit fault.


When you are faced with a Goliath of a defendant, it's best to solicit the help of a personal injury lawyer, especially one who has experience in handling these kinds of defendants.

You May Say Or Do The Wrong Thing To Jeopardize Your Case


We've all been warned against apologizing in the event of a car accident. What about other things and rules we should observe when we fall victim to injuries or someone accuses us of being the perpetrator of an injury? Either way, having a personal injury lawyer on your side can help prevent and correct mistakes as your case gets resolved.

You Don't Know The Ins And Outs Of The Legal Process And Medical Terminologies


A qualified personal injury lawyer should have a well of knowledge regarding personal injury law. He or she can advise you on the weight of your evidence, file legal documents and requests, and tell you if it's too late to file your claim. Without the aid of a personal injury lawyer, you risk missing out on key defenses and filing deadlines, and confusing procedural rules, which can all cause your case to go down the drain despite any obvious merit.


Retaining a personal injury lawyer is important if you want to navigate successfully through the often congested and complicated legal system. It also is important to hire a personal injury lawyer for the purpose of understanding anything related to medical diagnoses and processes, which is a highly specialized area of knowledge that cannot be learned easily by lay people.

How To Pick A Personal Injury Lawyer

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Do Your Research


Don't just rely on the advertisement on the bus stop bench or the one on the radio station repeated that's repeated every half hour. Don't even base your decision on what you see on the billboard on the side of the highway. Do your own research. And, while you're at it, ask yourself what you're really looking for in a personal injury lawyer, and know what you're looking for hinges largely on what kind of money you're willing to spend.


Some personal injury lawyers will take on a case on a contingency basis, meaning he or she will only receive compensation if your case resolves favorably in court or in a settlement. This is often the case with lawyers specializing in car accident injuries. Otherwise, fees for lawyers will vary depending on the level of experience and expertise.


Some things to consider in your research:

  • What type of personal injury lawyer is this? Pro-plaintiff (for the person injured), pro-defendant (for the person alleged to have caused the injury), or both?
  • How has this lawyer's cases gone in the past? Did they represent corporate clients, low-income clients, high-profile clients or a mix of different clients?
  • Does the lawyer have trial experience, or is the lawyer an experienced negotiator who has successfully settled many cases before trial?
  • How long has the lawyer been in practice?
  • Does the lawyer practice personal injury law only, or does he or she take on other types of cases?
  • Does the lawyer understand medical terminology and processes?
  • Is there any client testimony regarding the lawyer's performance?

Check And Verify The Lawyer's Record And Claims


After you have done your initial research, verify the lawyer's records and claims with reliable sources.


Here is a list of things you should check and how to check them:

  • Disciplinary record. No one wants a lawyer who was in violation of a state's bar rules. To find out if a certain lawyer you are considering has been disciplined for bad conduct, check with your state's bar association. Disciplinary records are a matter of public record and can be accessed easily online in some states.
  • Reputation. Check lawyer review sites like Avvo.com to see if the lawyer is as reputable as he or she claims. Better yet, ask those in your community about the lawyer's reputation. Is the lawyer involved in local affairs, attend events and known as a straight shooter?
  • Referrals. You might know someone who has used the lawyer's services before, so ask them if they would recommend the lawyer to you?
  • Track record. What were the outcomes of the cases the lawyer handled in the past? Was he or she more successful at negotiation or conducting a trial?

Tools to help you find the right personal injury lawyer include:

  • Google. Search for personal injury lawyers in your area. From there, read the lawyer's website thoroughly and consider the things mentioned above. 
  • State bar association. You can always contact your state's bar association's referral service.
  • Lawyers.com. This search tool not only lets you find qualified lawyers in your area, but it also shows the lawyer's community ratings.

Contacting And Meeting The Lawyer For An Initial Consultation


Once you have narrowed your list of potential lawyers, the next step is to call and request an initial consultation. Before you go to that first meeting, prepare a list of questions to ask your potential lawyer.


You may want to ask the lawyer about:

  • His/her fee structure 
  • Other similar cases and their outcomes
  • Details of the lawyer's experience and areas of expertise
  • The degree of confidence the lawyer has for winning your case
  • How long the case is expected to take

Do not hesitate to contact the lawyer after the meeting if you think of follow-up questions. Choosing the right personal injury lawyer to represent your interests hinges on the information you learn.

Conclusion

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Whether you are an injury victim or are being accused of causing an injury, you do not have to go through it alone. With the help of the right personal injury lawyer, you can rest easy knowing your interests are represented with the care and diligence you are due.

What Is The Purpose Of A Durable Power Of Attorney?

Power of attorney gives a trusted individual the right to make decisions and take actions on your behalf. A durable power of attorney is most often used by seniors to give another person the authority to act in their name in medical and legal matters, including those about property, taxes, business deals and real estate. It is also known as a continuing power of attorney because it will continue even if the principal; the person granting the authority, becomes mentally incapacitated or incompetent.  

The documents drawing up a power of attorney (POA) can be particularly about the purposes and duration for which it is conferred. The agent is usually a trusted friend or close relative who can be relied upon tomake decisions in the best interest of the principal when he or she can no longer do so. For seniors and their families, it’s best to plan and set up a durable power of attorney, especially for medical matters, well before it will be needed.

What Is A Durable Power Of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney is also known as a continuing power of attorney and remains in effect even if the principal becomes mentally incapacitated and incapable of taking or communicating decisions. Different states have their power of attorney forms which state the conditions and duration of the POA,as well as the start date. These forms must be filled out completely and correctly for the POA to become effective.

What Is A Power Of Attorney? 

Power of Attorney gives a trusted individual the authority to act on your behalf. It can pertain to legal or medical matters or just be limited to a single task. The scope and duration of the POA can be specified in the document. The person delegating the authority is called the principal, and the individual who is given the authority is called the agent or attorney-in-fact.

Types Of POA

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There are two types of POA: medical and general. General Power of Attorney gives the agent the authority to act for the principal in financial and legal matters like property and real estate, business, taxes, lawsuits and in dealings with the government agencies such as applying for benefits.

Medical Power of Attorney typically gives the agent the authority to make decisions regarding medical matters and healthcare. It is sometimes named differently in different states and may be known as Health Care Proxy, Designation of Health Advocate, Designation of Healthcare Surrogate, etc.

Both types of POA can continue even if the principal becomes mentally incapacitated if the word “Durable” is added.

Defining The Scope Of Power Of Attorney

The scope of POA can be defined so that it is limited to a specified matter or duration. The limits are clearly specified in the document. A durable power of attorney remains effective even if the principal becomes mentally incompetent. The state of being mentally incompetent is defined as the inability of the principal to make an informed decision or of communicating such decisions. In fact, this is why seniors and their families should plan and set up durable POA well in advance of it becoming necessary.

Mental incapacitation can result from mental illness or physical injury which affects the functioning of the brain. This includes strokes, coma, paralysis, etc. For seniors, it may stem from the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. In general, certification from a medical doctor is required for a POA that springs from mental incompetency.  

How Long Does Durable Power Of Attorney Last?

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The durable power of attorney comes into effect when the form is properly completed unless specified otherwise. Alternatively, a “springing” durable power of attorney springs from an event such as the mental incapacitation of the principal, which is specified in the document. Durable POA typically ends with the death of the principal unless an ending date is specified.  

When Is A Durable Power Of Attorney Used?

A durable power of attorney is typically used when seniors need someone else to make decisions and take actions on their behalf in medical and legal matters. This may be done in the event of a sickness or injury or just because the principal needs help with managing affairs such as medical care, bills, and legal matters. It continues if a senior cannot make informed decisions about these and other matters. For seniors and their families, it is usually best to plan and establish a durable POA well before it will be needed.

Durable POA may also be needed if an injury or illness makes it impossible for the senior to communicate such decisions. For example, a disease such as a stroke may make it physically impossible to speak or communicate by any other means, even if mental functions are unimpaired. Many seniors may just choose to delegate durable POA to a trusted individual because they need someone to act on their behalf in making decisions regarding medical care, managing social security, applying for benefits, paying bills, etc.

Planning Ahead

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Seniors and their families should plan and prepare for a durable power of attorney, especially for medical matters. In case of an accident or injury, or the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia, it will save time, money and trouble if a trusted family member or friend can step in and take over the decision about medical care and treatment. It’s best to be proactive rather than wait too long and risk a situation where the principal is no longer capable of making a decision about choosing an agent.

If a senior does become mentally incompetent due to injury or illness without establishing a durable POA, relatives will have to go to the courts to make decisions about their medical care and treatment. This can be expensive and time-consuming and distract their efforts at a time when the medical care of the individual should be the highest priority.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Durable Power Of Attorney?

Durable POA is a relatively easy way for seniors to get help in managing their affairs without the intervention of a court. Even if there is no serious medical condition or emergency, it can be helpful to have someone who can manage financial and legal matters for them. It’s important to have someone who can make decisions about medical treatment and long-term care if and when the need should arise.

On the other hand, there is great potential for fraud and abuse in this position of trust, and unfortunately, this does happen very frequently. One way to prevent against fraud and embezzlement is to specify the limits of the durable POA.

Benefits

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Durable POA allows your agent to help you make decisions about medical care and deal with financial matters like bank accounts, taxes, social security, insurance, property, etc. Your agent can deal with third parties like banks, credit card companies, and government agencies and programs like Medicare and social security on your behalf. They will have to provide a letter of attorney to establish this authority.

A durable power of attorney is a relatively easy way for seniors to manage their affairs without the intervention of a court. The terms and limits can be specified. Durable POA ends with the death of the principal, which means that the agent does not have any control over the estate unless that is specified elsewhere.

Disadvantages

While there are many benefits for seniors in giving durable POA to someone they trust, there is always the risk that this trust may be abused. Fraud does happen, and it can be a way for an agent to embezzle funds and transfer property to themselves or others. They can even change the names of beneficiaries on life insurance policies and annuities to benefit themselves.

In some cases, an agent may not be acting from malicious intentions but still fail to carry out the wishes of the principal. As in all matters, mistakes can be made. If fraud is detected, by the principal or the heirs, the agent may be sued for the return of assets as well as damages.

Can Durable Power Of Attorney Be Revoked?

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A durable power of attorney can be revoked at any time by the principal provided he or she is of sound mind. A properly-drafted statement of revocation will have to be given to the agent as well as to any third parties with whom the agent has had dealings in that capacity. If the agent is a spouse, the durable POA is automatically revoked in case of divorce.

Durable POA is automatically revoked on the death of the principal, and the agent has no control over the estate unless specified elsewhere.

Conclusion

A durable power of attorney helps seniors by giving a trusted individual the authority to act on their behalf in medical and legal matters. It can be important in situations where the principal becomes mentally incompetent to make informed decisions due to injury or illness. Durable POA is a way for seniors and their families to manage their medical and legal affairs without the intervention of the courts.

Your Guide to Choosing a Patent Lawyer

It's an exciting thing to come up with an idea worthy of protection. Most people on this planet will never know what that sense of pride feels like. So if you have created an original product idea or concept, we think it would be wise to take the proper steps to protect it. You need a patent, and this is where a patent lawyer comes into the picture. You have the idea, also called a piece of intellectual property; your patent lawyer has the knowledge and resources to help you apply for that patent and then enforce it if infringement occurs down the line.

What Is a Patent Lawyer?

A patent lawyer specializes in obtaining and protecting patents. They represent clients in all manner of procedures pertaining to patent law and an intellectual property practice. If you are an inventor, innovator or creative type with an idea or product you want to protect from ever being stolen from you, then you would benefit greatly from the services of a patent lawyer.
As in most other areas of law, it is possible to obtain a patent and attempt to protect your intellectual property without a lawyer. However, patent law is very complex and, to the untrained mind, it can be overwhelming. Patent lawyers help keep clients safe from loophole exploitation and other damaging attacks that can result from technical mistakes and going it alone.
You may hear the terms "patent attorney" and occasionally "patent agent" in place of "patent lawyer," but don't be confused. "Attorney" and "lawyer" are used interchangeably in the United States, and both patent attorneys and patent agents have the same license to practice and represent clients before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). However, there is a major, key distinction between a patent attorney/lawyer and a patent agent.

Patent Attorneys vs. Patent Agents

Key Aspects of a Patent Lawyer's Role

When to Hire a Patent Lawyer

Again, maybe you have a great idea and now you need to protect it. Or perhaps you are planning ahead for the invention or concept you've been working on.
It's time to consult a patent lawyer. They are incredibly effective in protecting intellectual property rights; after all, that is basically the job description.
Below, we'll cover a few reasons why hiring a patent lawyer is an intelligent decision for any creative individual, artist, or corporate entity looking to register and/or defend a patent.

Defending a Patent

Familiarity with Current, Evolving Intellectual Property Law

International Law & Protections

How to Choose a Patent Lawyer

Before you make any major public disclosure of your idea or invention, you should find the right patent lawyer for your situation. First, this attorney should be qualified and registered to practice before the USPTO.
In addition to a law degree and license, however, you may wish to find a qualified and registered attorney with a technical background in the sciences or other expertise relevant to your specific invention.
So don't settle for just anyone with a law degree; there are brilliant patent attorneys out there that will serve you wonderfully if you do your homework and compare their backgrounds.

Shop Around to Find the Right Fit

Consider an Attorney with Expertise in Your Specific Field

Discuss the Total Cost of Obtaining Your Patent

Determine if the Firm Also Does Litigation

Conclusion

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With so many people and so many corporations on the planet today, a unique idea or invention is a treasure. Historically, some people buried their treasure to protect it. Today, a successful patent application is the first step in protecting your treasure from others trying to profit from your intellectual property at your expense.
There are many things to look for when trying to choose a good patent lawyer. Above all, your choice should be someone you trust and with whom are able to build a strong working relationship.
Your lawyer should your best interests always in mind and be there for you through every part of the patent application and protection processes. Keep these points in mind when searching for the right patent lawyer and you'll surely be in good hands.

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