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.

How to Find an Attorney in Nevada

Consumer dissatisfaction with lawyers is on an all time high all over the United States, Nevada included. It is thus not only a matter of getting a Nevada attorney; rather it is more about finding an attorney who is honest, reliable and capable of handling the case at hand. The numerous specialties that law as a profession offers has made it even more difficult for a layman to clearly identify and find an attorney who will be able to adequately represent him. The task of finding a Nevada attorney need not be all gloomy though. There are several places, books, or people can greatly assist in finding a Nevada attorney. They include but are not limited to;

Get some personal referral

A good word from someone who has dealt with a particular attorney has long been considered one of the best and most reliable ways to find an attorney. You will get firsthand information on the speed and level of professionalism displayed by the attorney. In most instances clients are usually very objective in their analysis of previous interactions with an attorney.

Check media advertisement

Ever since the Bates Vs State bar of Arizona case that allowed attorneys to advertise their services; various media platforms like newspapers like Nevada Appeal, radio, magazines like Nevada Magazine do have various attorneys advertising their services. This medium should be dealt with carefully as it is difficult to fully infer the capability of an attorney solely from advertisements placed in the media. These advertisements should make finding a Nevada attorney easier only to the extent that it provides a list of attorneys that can be contacted then vetted.

Using Published Directories

The US in general and Nevada in particular have several directories that offer detailed information about attorneys. A good example of a directory one may use to find an attorney in Nevada is the Martindale Hubbell Law directory. It is an annual listing that has names of attorneys, dates of birth, level of education attained, universities attended and the years spent there; it has also a section that deals with the areas of specialization the attorney can handle and his skills rating. This directory is a one stop shop and it is available in public libraries and online. It is important to note though that not all attorneys are listed in this directory.

Referral from the State bar of Nevada.

This is achieved by visiting the state bar of Nevada website and then going to the lawyer referral and information service section. They will provide the client with a list of qualified attorneys who practice within Nevada. The client can then visit the one nearest and have a small discussion regarding the case they have. The attorneys will charge some very minimal fee for this consultation where they will advice the client on the viability of the case and the best way going forward.

Use the internet

The internet offers a huge pool of attorneys. A quick Google search titled finding an attorney in Nevada will offer links to numerous websites that will have contacts and addresses of attorneys in Nevada, willing and ready to serve. This approach though tedious and time consuming; has worked for very many people seeking services of an attorney in Nevada and far beyond.

Defending Against Abuse of a Power of Attorney

Attorneys will advise you that you should have a power of attorney. A Power of Attorney is an important document that allows someone else to handle your affairs if you have difficulty or are unable to do so. With age and illness, a Power of Attorney often becomes necessary. Usually the person who is given the authority to act will do so with the best of intentions. What happens, however, if the person you trust misuses the Power of Attorney for personal gain or benefit? A Power of Attorney may seem like a simple document, but it can have far-reaching and unintended consequences. A Power of Attorney can be very tempting to the person who has it.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document by which a person (the “Principal”) gives someone else (the “Agent” or “Attorney-in-fact”) the authority to act on the Principal’s behalf. If the Principal becomes ill, incapacitated or otherwise unable to handle her financial affairs, or simply chooses to let someone else do it for her, the person or persons she designated in the Power of Attorney can pay bills, deal with banks, lawyers and other professionals, and do other things that are in the best interest of the Principal.

A Power of Attorney can be general, meaning that it gives the Attorney-in-fact the authority to do whatever the Principal might do for herself, or limited, meaning that it is limited in scope and/or time. For example, a Power of Attorney may be limited to one specified act or type of act, such as a limited Power of Attorney to attend a real estate closing and sign the closing documents on behalf of a buyer or seller, or it may be limited in time, such as a Power of Attorney that is effective only during the time that someone is out of the country on a trip. A Power of Attorney also may be durable, meaning that it takes effect upon its execution (or a specified date) and continues in effect even if the Principal becomes incapacitated, or springing, meaning that it only takes effect after the Principal is incapacitated (or some other definite future act or circumstance). The problem with a springing Power of Attorney is that it requires a judicial determination of incapacity for the power to take effect. This can take a considerable amount of time – plus the initiation of legal proceedings, the hiring by the Court of an independent person to interview and investigate the circumstances of the alleged incompetent, and a hearing in Court – often exactly at a most trying time when there is a need for prompt or immediate action.

In New Jersey, a Power of Attorney can include provisions with respect to making health care decisions, including the power to consent to any medical care, treatment, service or procedure. A health care power of attorney is different than a “Living Will”, which is a written statement of a person’s health care and medical wishes, but does not appoint another person to make health care decisions.

A Power of Attorney is a useful and powerful tool. Unfortunately, as with many things, something with a good purpose still can be used for improper purposes. A general Power of Attorney allows the Agent or Attorney-in-fact to do almost anything the Principal could or might do herself. As a result, it can be an invitation to abuse and self-dealing.

The victim of Power of Attorney abuse often may not be aware of what is happening, or even if she is may feel powerless to say or do anything because she is dependent on the abuser for care and companionship. The nature and extent of the abuse may not come to light until after the person has died and someone else is able to obtain access to her banking and other financial records.

Disputes can arise when the Agent or Attorney-in-fact has used the Power of Attorney to transfer the Principal’s assets to himself or his family members. This may be done as an estate planning technique, such as making gifts to take advantage of the annual exclusion from gift taxes. On the other hand, it may be done to deprive other family members of a share of the Principal’s assets that they otherwise might eventually inherit. For example, a person may wrongfully use a Power of Attorney to withdraw money from the Principal’s bank accounts and deposit the money in his or own bank account. We have seen this and been involved in litigation to get the money back.

Under New Jersey law, the traditional rule was that a power of attorney should not be construed to allow the Agent or Attorney-in-fact to give the Principal’s assets to himself or others without clear language in the power authorizing such gifts. See Manna v. Pirozzi, 44 N.J. Super. 227 (App. Div. 1957). In 2004 in New Jersey a law was passed stating that a Power of Attorney shall not be construed to authorize the Attorney-in-fact to gratuitously transfer property of the Principal to the Attorney-in-fact or any one else except to the extent that the Power of Attorney expressly and specifically so authorizes. N.J.S.A 46:2B-8.13a. If this happens, the Superior Court, upon application of any heir or other next friend of the Principal, may require the Attorney-in-fact to render an accounting (i.e. an explanation of when and for what the money was used) if there is doubt or concern whether the Attorney-in-fact has acted within the powers delegated by the Power of Attorney for the benefit of the Principal. N.J.S.A. 46:2B-8.13(b).

A Power of Attorney also may be attacked as having been procured by undue influence, or when the Principal already was incompetent and therefore legally unable to execute a Power of Attorney. This type of action is similar to a will contest in which a will is claimed to have been procured by undue influence, or in which it is claimed that the testator was of unsound mind and unable legally to make a will.