A person who has suffered a personal injury does not pay any attorney fees unless the case is resolved and money is recovered for the client. If no money is ever recovered, the client does not pay any attorney's fees or expenses (called a "contingent fee agreement”).
At Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, we charge our clients based on this contingent fee. The client never receives a monthly bill that they have to pay. Instead, we charge a percentage of the amount we recover. This percentage is paid after the settlement, not before, and is calculated based upon the entire settlement amount. In addition, at the time of settlement, the client pays out of the settlement for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred. These expenses include medical records and reports, filing fees, deposition charges, copy charges, and other similar expenses. These expenses are deducted after the percentage for attorneys' fees is deducted.
Whenever someone is injured through the negligence of another, the issue arises whether they need an attorney to help them with their claim. If the injuries are minor and the person quickly recovers, there is often little need to retain an attorney. Instead, medical bills are paid through your insurance company, and the matter can be left there. In automobile accidents involving damage to the vehicles only, Minnesota law (Minnesota Statute Chapter 72A) requires that the involved insurance companies promptly arrange for payment of property damage losses.
However, if serious injuries occur, victims can quickly find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. The insurance companies for the negligent parties will inevitably have an extensive network of insurance adjusters, doctors, and other experts whose job is to defeat or minimize any injury claims arising from an accident. Most people do not have the resources or expertise to fight on an equal footing with insurance companies.
In addition, insurance adjusters often contact the injured persons or his or her family shortly after an accident to try to gain their confidence. In doing so, insurance adjusters often try to present themselves as the friend of the injured party or the family of someone who was killed in an accident. The goal of such contact is inevitably to settle the case on terms as favorable as possible for the insurance company.
Any time an injured person requires advice on their legal rights, they can benefit from consulting an experienced personal injury attorney. Choosing a qualified personal injury attorney is a critical task. An experienced personal injury lawyer can explain the injured person's legal rights and all aspects of handling a personal injury claim. From the initial investigation, to gathering medical records and making a fair and reasonable evaluation of the settlement value of the case, your attorney is a valuable advocate to have on your side.
During a personal injury claim you will be working closely with your lawyer for twelve to twenty months. Therefore, it's important to select an attorney who understands what you are going through and can meet your needs. In order to find the right attorney, you should meet personally with the one you choose so you can get a feel for their personality and how they will handle your claim.
Explore whether the attorney will accept an employee/employer relationship. The best attorneys understand that the client is in charge of the claim; the attorney is merely the advisor and spokesperson for the client. It is in this area that experience is extremely important because the lawyer will be advising you on the best way to handle your claim to insure fair and full compensation.
When meeting with prospective attorneys ask the hard questions:
How long have you been practicing?
Do you limit your practice to the fields of personal injury and wrongful death?
Are you willing to take a case like mine to trial if that is the only means of obtaining fair compensation?
How many cases have you tried to a jury?
Are you Nationally Board Certified as a civil trial specialist?
What is your win/loss record? Keep in mind that if they have not lost their fair share of cases then they haven't tried enough cases and are not aggressive enough to handle your claim.
The National Board of Trial Advocacy and the Minnesota State Bar Association certifies an attorney as a civil trial specialist. This certification process requires extensive trial experience, recommendations from judges and attorneys, and a written exam. The certification process may be the best indication of a lawyer's experience and willingness to pursue their client’s claim even if it means going to court. At Schwebel Goetz & Sieben we have 10 lawyers who are Nationally Board Certified.
Eight of our attorneys were named to the prestigious "Best Lawyers in America" published by Woodward/White in the the area of Personal Injury, more than any other firm in Minnesota.
Martindale Hubbell publishes a directory of attorneys, available at any public library identifying those who have the highest ethical standards and carry a high ability rating. The publisher arrives at the ratings through confidential surveys of attorneys throughout the state. In addition, the firm and all of its eligible attorneys have been given the A.V. rating by Martindale Hubbell, the highest rating available.
Super Lawyers - The best attorneys in their field are listed yearly in the Minnesota Journal of Law and Politics and Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine. Their peers have honored these attorneys as “Super Lawyers.” This is an excellent referral source since it tells the reader who lawyers would hire to represent himself or herself. 11 of our lawyers have been recognized in this annual Super Lawyer list, four of which were in the Top 10.
Any law firm or individual lawyer can purchase advertising time. Slogans such as "we're tough with insurance companies" or " who's the law firm on this case; we had better settle" are false and misleading. Insurance adjusters don't settle claims based on TV ads. They do however look at the quality of legal representation provided by certain lawyers and law firms. When judging that quality, they consider experience, the lawyer's willingness to go to court if necessary, and the ability of that individual lawyer and their knowledge of the law and the claims they are handling. If a lawyer has developed a reputation for consistently accepting the insurance company's last offer then those offers continue to go down on a case-by-case basis to the detriment of the client.
Choosing an experienced attorney may be the most important step in assuring that you receive full and fair recovery for your injuries. If you follow the recommendations above, you should have no trouble selecting the best attorney for your needs.
Why are 19 lawyers better for you than one lawyer?
Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, P.A. consists of 19 lawyers, all focused on helping injured people recover damages from negligent parties or insurance companies. This helps you in three ways:
You always have a backup attorney in case the main attorney on your lawsuit becomes ill or unable to work at top efficiency. Frequently more than one attorney will be assigned to your case.
The attorneys discuss the legal strategy of their cases with each other. As the saying goes, "Two heads are better than one." This helps a lawyer to discuss a complex or difficult case with another lawyer who specializes in the same type of case. It can be very helpful in getting the largest possible settlement for our client.
Insurance companies use their size and money to wear down opponents with motions, hearings, legal documents, etc. We have the resources to fight insurance companies on your behalf.