How to Find an Attorney in My County Via the Internet

Simply typing in the phrase “find an attorney in my county” in your favorite search engine won’t give you your desired results for the most part. “Find an attorney in my county” is a very broad term because there are millions of counties world wide. The search engine won’t know where it is exactly that you need a lawyer. You would be better off typing in a phrase such as “orange county attorney”, or “Sacramento county attorney”, or whatever county you need a lawyer in. And always include the quotation marks in your search phrase. That will give you results for the exact phrase that you are searching and nothing else. If you don’t include the quotation marks, the search engine will give you results for each word in the phrase, which is usually in the thousands or even millions of results and may not be what you really need.

Let’s get back to “how to find an attorney in my county” subject. You will get much better results when you search for the exact attorney of your need. For an example, if you need a divorce attorney and you live in Macomb county, you simply search for “Macomb county divorce attorney”. Also, don’t forget to check for the other expression “Macomb county divorce lawyer”. Attorney and lawyer is a same thing, but when the search engines are concerned, attorney and lawyer are two different words. You don’t know if the webmaster of the lawyer’s website has optimized the site for both words. For that reason you need to search for both. This search will produce only a few results that contain this specific phrase. This way you may get a website of an actual divorce attorney in Macomb county or you may get garbage results, or even no results at all. It depends on what the search engines have in their database for that search phrase. Whether they have websites from actual attorneys, or from advertisers targeting that search phrase, or from some scammers who are also targeting that search phrase by tricking the search engines.

To narrow down your search even further, if you type in “orange county attorney”, you may get results from orange county in Florida and orange county in California, or elsewhere in the world. So, it would be better to try “orange county ca attorney” or “orange county fl attorney”. Or better yet “orange county ca divorce attorney”. These are very narrow search methods that will produce very few results and straight to the point. But, since you cannot depend on the optimization of the websites, whether they have been done correctly or mischievously (that’s how search engines know which website is for what), you would get a lot more relevant results by splitting your search phrase. By all means, try your search first with the above search phrases because you would have only a few results to evaluate. The next search method will give you hundreds or even thousands of results that would still be relevant, but you need to spend some time weeding out the bad ones or the ones that you don’t need.

What splitting the search phrase means is to include the lesser populated search in quotation marks and the more populated phrase without quotation marks. For an example, if you live in Ramsey county and you need a DUI attorney, you can search for: “DUI attorney” Ramsey county. Also don’t forget: “dui lawyer” Ramsey county. So, you only put the type of attorney that you need in quotation marks and the county without quotations. The reason you get thousands of results with this type of search is that every DUI attorney website will contain the term DUI lawyer or whatever lawyer you are searching for. But it may not contain the county term because either the webmaster forgot about it or didn’t know that he or she needs to include it. So, when you do this type of split phrase search, you will first get all of the results that contain the term DUI lawyer (of whatever type of lawyer you’re seeking) from the websites that also contain the term that describes your county, and then the rest of the other websites within that county. You get more choices to choose from.

If the above methods don’t produce the attorney of your need (based on the optimization of the websites and the available sites in the search engine database), instead of wasting hours of endless search with no results, there are still easy ways to “find an attorney in my county” online.

Besides the above methods of typing in the county and the type of attorney in quotations, you can also use some free services to actually find the attorney for you. By the way, have you forgotten your yellow pages or whatever phone book you have in your county? That’s your best bet. But that’s the offline world. However, these types of services are also available online.

Any type of website that deals with locating businesses, such as anywho.com, truelocal.com, yellowpages.com, can find you an attorney in not only your county, but in your city. Just key in the type of attorney that you need under business category (i.e. immigration attorney) and choose your city and state. Also, you can try the lawyer directories such as martindale.com, findlaw.com, lawyers.com, that contain attorneys and law firms from the whole world. Lawyer referral services such as legalmatch.com, globallawyerreferral.com, your local and state bar association, can also find you a lawyer in your county.

Regardless of how you find your lawyer, remember that same principals apply while choosing your attorney. You need to make a list of qualifications you want in your lawyer and interview your prospect lawyers before you decide on who will represent you.

Disclaimer: The author and publisher of this article have done their best to give you useful, informative and accurate information. This article does not represent nor replace the legal advice you need to get from a lawyer, or other professional if the content of the article involves an issue you are facing. Laws vary from state-to-state and change from time-to-time. Always consult with a qualified professional before making any decisions about the issues described in this article. Thank you.

6 Key Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Forclosure Attorney

The 2008 financial crash put a lot of people out of work. It hurt business owners, emptied personal savings, destroyed American home values and lead to massive foreclosures.

What Many Homeowners Don’t Know

The crony network of big banks, financial institutions, government, politicians, the courts, and their corporately owned media have used propaganda, lies and spin doctors to convince Americans that naïve and greedy homeowners crashed the global credit markets in 2008.

They blamed the crash and current economic chaos on homeowners who bought too much house. Yes, some mortgagers made some people believe they could buy more home then they could afford. However, the blame here is often misleading.

Why? Obscene broker commissions were a big part of originating mortgages. Banks were on a tear to bundle, securitize, sell and re-sell mortgages. It lead to irregular mortgage practices.

The bigger truth has been revealed that there are no mortgages to back the mortgage-backed securities. Thus former treasury secretary Hank Paulson told taxpayers, “We must bail the banks out, or else everything will collapse.”

Iceland Let Their Banks Collapse

In fact, Iceland arrested the financial offenders and put in actual safeguards to restore the capital markets and consumer confidence. We in America got the toothless Dodd-Frank bill that makes it appear legislators are minding the store.

Banking and the financial industry needed major reforms. Instead, after the Wall Street financial crash our American banks actually got 38% BIGGER!

Too Big to Fail and Too Big to Jail

Today banks are bigger than before the economic crash and the Dodd-Frank bill does nothing significant to keep Wall Street from trashing the economy again.

Insanity is doing the same thing you’ve been doing but expecting a different result.

Fast forward and today, these quasi-patriotic cronies continue the lies and prop up the fraud on the taxpayer’s dime. They brazenly continue to cover up their partners’ crimes while still receiving a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers without impunity.

Can You Name One Banker That Went to Jail?

By the way, in 2008 that 800 billion dollar bail out has turned into trillions out the back door of the Federal Reserve straight into bank coufers.

What few Americans realize is that crony capitalists who fleeced institutional investors out of $17+ Trillion, clouded the title on all the mortgages they originated and supposedly sold on the secondary market.

They stole our pension money, wiped out savings and now they’re still after your home. In fact, more than 4.9 million homeowners were foreclosed since the Wall Street crash and there’s more on the way.

American’s need help staying in their home. If the banks and servicers won’t deliver then where do homeowners turn for guidance through this financial maze of fraud and corruption?

Many are programmed to think, “Lawyer, that’s what I need to stand up for me, to sort out the fraud, to keep my family from being kicked into the streets.”

Are Lawyers Best Suited to Standup For Homeowners?

As Americans we’ve been conditioned to believe that the only people who can help us navigate, legal matters are lawmakers and attorneys. Fortunately, in the realm of foreclosure law, there are a few good ones.

However, when it comes to ferreting out truth or fraud in your foreclosure, few attorneys (Real Estate attorneys included) are equipped or have any desire to fight as hard as a regular educated homeowner.

It’s a fact that no one will ever care more about saving your home than you. If staying in your home is not all that important, then most attorneys will do. But buyers beware.

How Do You Choose the Right Lawyer in Foreclosure Matters?

I’ve personally talked with hundreds upon hundreds of homeowners all across America who routinely pay from $1,000 to $30,000+ in attorney’s fees plus monthly retainers and still loose their home. This is more common than you’d think.

I ask homeowners, “What was the attorneys strategy? Was it to help you buy time until you are evicted or actually stay in your home?”

Many homeowners had not thought the end game through. How often do we hire attorneys? There are no Consumer Reports on America’s best foreclosure strategies, fighting bank fraud or attorneys.

Most Americans are busy trying to make a living, caring for loved ones, keeping their heads above water and would rather avoid the legal realms. Who can blame them?

So, unless new information is introduced it makes perfect sense that many homeowners don’t know what to ask to hire an attorney or figure out what makes one effective over the next.

When it comes to defending your home, the following basic questions will get most homeowners started.

The following six questions came from an interview with Justin James. He is the founder of The Foreclosure Relief Network, a company dedicated to helping homeowners stand up for their legal rights.

The company with its network of private investigators, paralegals and law firm was developed to educate and arm the American consumer with the information necessary to protect families and property against the unlawful actions of banks.

Mr. James emphasizes that “Every homeowner who suspects mortgage fraud or are in foreclosure or about to be, needs to be educated.

They need to know upfront if an attorney will work on your behalf or instead see you as a tool to collect fees while they stall things off in court. By asking these basic but key questions, this is knowable.”

You want to interview an attorney just like you would choose a doctor, dentist, CPA or a contractor to work on your home. You want a good fit.

Write Your Questions Down

Mr. James suggests that before you phone or visit an attorney in person, have your questions written down and refer to them.

6 Key Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Attorney to Get a Modification or Defend Your Home Against Banks

  1. Do you feel that the banks and their servicers commit mortgage security and/or foreclosure fraud? (Yes) Correct answer.
  2. Do you believe that if a bank shows up with a piece of paper that alleges it’s the original Note-do you still believe there’s a chance of winning court? (Yes)
  3. Are you willing to challenge the banks claim of ownership of the note, mortgage, chain of title, etc.? (Yes)
  4. Are you willing to cross exam a witnesses? (Yes)
  5. Will you challenge and call a robo-signer as a witness? (Yes)
  6. Are you willing to be that attorney at the party that went up against the big bankers or challenged a court that seems to lean in favor of big banks? (Yes)

If you get so much as one “no” to the above questions then be aware, your situation may be at cross-purposes with this particular attorney.

To the few that are actually competent and not bluffing their way into your back pocket, these basic but telling questions are not difficult to answer.

Other than the details of your situation, each question does not require you as homeowner to expound any further. Either they know it or they don’t. Either they believe banks can do no wrong or believe in justice for homeowners.

When to Walk Away

Bottom line is that if the attorney interviewed is…

  • Not comfortable breaking down your chain of title if necessary
  • Does not believe the bank is ever wrong about a note or mortgage
  • Not willing to challenge the bank or the courts
  • Not willing to cross examine a witness…

Then why are you there? Why should they take your money? Don’t give them a dime Pack your bags and find another attorney or other expert to interview. Consider…

Who’s Paying Your Bill?

You are paying the attorney for a service. You wouldn’t go into a car dealership and say…

“I’ve got $400 a month to spend on a vehicle. Just give me whatever you got to drive.”

You’d be surprised how many people would accept poor treatment when it comes to attorneys. Why?

Because some homeowners are intimated and think, the lawyer knows more. That’s usually true about civil law matters. That’s when a good educated attorney makes sense.

But when it comes to foreclosure, commercial law and challenging the banks-think again. I would challenge you to think outside the box.

Defend Yourself? Really?

Others will say, “YES BUT you can’t defend yourself against fraud or a foreclosing bank. You must have an attorney.” Many homeowners felt that way in the beginning. However…

We now know plenty of average homeowners who’ve been educated and succeeded with the guidance of companies like The Foreclosure Relief Network.

But, what few homeowners at first realize is that attorneys are not traditionally schooled in banking and finance.

In fact, I’ve interviewed some well informed average homeowners who educate their attorneys.

You Deserve to Know What You are Getting for Your Time and Money

If your prospective attorney is the real deal, they will understand your need to interview. That’s why it’s important to know…

  • What does the attorney actually believe about banks and foreclosure?
  • Make them lay their cards on the table. Time is of essence.

You simply want to insure that you are investing your energy and money wisely into a winning strategy and NOT prolonging what many attorneys feel is an inevitable foreclosure.

It’s a little known fact that if you, as a homeowner are educated and have a complete and correct strategy then foreclosure is NOT always inevitable.

Follow The Money

If you hire an attorney that did not adequately answer these questions, then be advised you, your family and your home may be taken for a professional ride.

According to Mr. James extensive experience with homeowners, banks and courts across America, rare is the attorney who will answer your call, who will fight banks on behalf of your homeowner and constitutional rights.

Most attorneys will not intentionally do you harm because they genuinely believe what they believe. That banks can do no wrong is just part of their many years of education and training.

As important, attorneys take an oath to protect corporations. It’s what they do.

That said… put yourself in the attorney’s shoes for just a minute. They have a lot of competition. A title, though impressive is no guarantee of success. They are businessmen and women and for many economic times are tough like many homeowners.

Yes, attorneys enjoy a measure of prestige but that doesn’t pay the bills. Like you and I, they have to make a living or find a way to survive. Just make sure it’s not at your expense.

Who Has More Money? Influence?

A homeowner called Mr. James and was livid because he spent over $7,500 on an attorney who believed that his counsel had defected to the bank side.

Even with documented fraud (common today) as the centerpiece of his defense against the bank, this homeowner lost his home.

The homeowner asks, “Who’s got more money here? The Big American Bank or me as homeowner?”

Do you think you’ll ever see this homeowner’s story on the evening news? It’s not likely. Remember who owns and controls media, advertising and reporting.

Of course I don’t expect you to believe any of this. Check it out for yourself.

Bank Walks Away

Speaking of a good homeowner story, while working on this article one of Mr. James clients called about Quiet Title action which forces a bank to produce valid documents.

The banks have to prove they have ownership before they can foreclose. In today’s heavily securtized financial system that’s more and more difficult for banks to validate unless they manufacture documents from thin air. This is known as robo-signing and yes, it’s illegal.

Gary is out of the Midwest. He applied several times for a modification and then found himself in foreclosure. He suspected bank fraud. Gary began looking and found a young and hungry attorney out of law school.

The attorney had not yet adopted “a bank can do no wrong” attitude. However, the first hurdle was overcoming this attorney’s lack of knowledge on foreclosure fraud, banking and securitization, etc.

Remember few attorneys have this profound knowledge, seek it out or even believe it’s possible to help a homeowner to win. It’s not taught in law school.

To compensate, Gary began working with Mr. James to gain the education, knowledge, legal templates and strategies. This also saved him thousands of dollars in attorney’s research fees.

Gary reported that his homework paid off and the bank walked away. Finding a lawyer willing to listen was the exception in this case. However, keep in mind that…

The Courts Are Available to All Homeowners

Remember, you as an American citizen have constitutional rights.

An attorney is not the only way to stand your ground against bad behaving banks. In fact there are far more effective strategies homeowners can and do take every day.

The majority of homeowners do not realize that with the right kind of education they can in fact represent themselves in court. It’s referred to as Pro Se’, a petitioner or simply an American citizen. Often it’s an effective option. Here’s why.

The fact is that the courts cannot hold a regular homeowner to the same standard as they do lawyers. It turns out that with an effective strategy, presented properly, defending yourself against banks often leads to settlements.

Mr. James reports that he sees it everyday and as the courts become more educated, the tides are shifting in favor of homeowners.

Some homeowners combine the idea of Pro Se’ (without an attorney) along with private mortgage investigations to uncover irregularities that stop foreclosures.

Bottom Line-Trust Your Gut

Remind yourself that if your home is worth defending then no one will ever fight for your home like you can.

After interviewing the attorney, if you can’t say yes, then SAY NO FOR NOW.

Keep looking. If the attorney doesn’t feel right-move on. There are viable alternatives. Do your homework.

Finally, if you have a compelling enough why and are willing to do a little legwork, then there are resources that can help you to learn how to stay in your home and prevail even without an attorney.

Auto Accidents: Step by Step, by the Right Attorney

I have written this article with the “average” case in mind, as that imaginary “average” case is the one which occurs most often. I believe that there are absolutely “rights” and “wrongs” in the handling of a personal injury claim. At the conclusion of this report, if you have questions, I will tell you how we can connect to try to get them answered.

Problem Presented:

You have just been involved in an automobile collision which was not your fault. Your car is all banged up; you are hurt; you are probably worried about many of the consequences this collision has now created, and as the expression goes: “this just wasn’t a good time for this kind of thing”. There are 101 things racing through your mind. Certainly, the last thing you need is to worry about finding a good attorney to handle matters for you. Hopefully this article will give you a leg up on making that search a bit easier, by allowing you to know what to look for, and by allowing you to know what questions to ask.

Plan of action to solve the problem: find an attorney to help!

Finding an attorney is easy. Finding the right attorney might be a little tougher. First, understand that there is nothing immediately critical about hiring an attorney. I recommend, however, that you do so within 2 – 3 days of the collision. In this fashion you can avoid being hassled by insurance adjusters, and an intelligent course of action for you and your case can be formulated. Back to finding that attorney. If you have a good case, there are hundreds of attorneys who will be thrilled to work for you. I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that legal fees for “personal injury” cases can be very handsome. Such fees for the right attorney however, are well worth it. Read on, and you’ll see why.

You should be able to recognize a sincere appreciative attitude on the part of the attorney you select. Again, there are hundreds of attorneys who’d be very happy to have you as a client. If the attorney you select isn’t one of them, find one who is. That attorney will work very hard for you. Keep reading, and I’ll help you learn how to pick the right attorney.

The Initial Stages and the first contact.

Your car is in need of repair, you are in need of medical treatment, and your ability to go to work at this point is in doubt, both because you now lack transportation, and because you don’t feel physically able to do so. Insurance adjusters are calling. What should you do? A good attorney can tell you. A good attorney will also find out many important things, such as: did police investigate? was the other party given a ticket? who is the other guy? is there insurance? is there enough insurance? Again, a good attorney will advise you about what to do, and find out the answers to all of these questions. You need to concentrate on getting better. Investigating these matters and spending hours on the telephone are the last things on the doctor’s prescription pad for you.

Good attorneys can be found in many places. If you don’t know anyone who has used an attorney for a personal injury matter, there is probably a local bar association referral service. If there isn’t, or if they’re not open and you want contact now, internet search engines will offer the names and website addresses of all types of attorneys, from single practice attorneys up to large firms. I encourage a good look at the lawyer’s or the law firm’s website: read about their experience and see if the website “speaks to you.” I do not recommend telephone book ads to find a lawyer, nor do I recommend television ads, because really, they don’t tell you much. Once you select an attorney or two or three to interview, don’t jump without asking a lot of questions, no matter where the attorney’s name came from.

The first call to the attorney’s office.

You select an attorney and you want to call him or her. Pay attention to several things: Is the number you are calling advertised as 24 Hours? If so, who answers the call? Is it a tape? Is it the staff? Is it the attorney? Any may be acceptable, but clearly, you should be looking to talk to the attorney within a reasonable time if that first call doesn’t get you connected to him or her. Next, should you call “off-hours”, or wait until business hours Monday through Friday, 9 – 5? My feeling is that an attorney who practices personal injury law must recognize that potential clients are calling, often very traumatized, often very confused, and often in need of some good solid advice. Accordingly, that attorney should be available whenever the potential client calls. So you call, and you are generally pleased. The attorney sounded okay, and invites you to his or her office for an appointment. Before you go in, ask some questions:

How long has the attorney been in practice? You want someone with experience.

What percentage of the attorney’s caseload involves handling personal injury matters? It should be over 50%.

Does the attorney regularly go to court and try cases involving personal injury matters? Yes is the only acceptable answer.

Is the attorney accessible? Get a commitment that you’ll be able to speak to the attorney, if you want to, within a reasonable time, every time you want to. Promise to respect the attorney’s off-hours privacy, but ask if the attorney will give you a home telephone number for emergencies.

Will you be kept informed of all significant developments? This means that you’ll routinely get copies of important correspondence, and that you will be consulted before decisions beyond the mere routine occurs.

How money is handled? Don’t be shy about asking about this!! This is the primary reason you are hiring an attorney. Think about it… The mechanic is going to fix your car. The doctor will get you back to good health… You’ll certainly ask them questions… The attorney is the person who will help get you the money from the other guy’s insurance company to pay for all of this!

The first meeting with the attorney.

You’re satisfied and you agree to meet with the attorney you’ve called. At this meeting you should meet the attorney, talk with him or her for as long as you want, and the entire process should be explained to you. This includes explaining all of the possible insurance benefits available to you from all sources, including your own insurance company, and how and when such benefits are to be expected. It also means explaining, at least in summary fashion, the applicable law which governs your case. Different states have different laws which control “liability” issues and ultimately affect compensation. Ask your attorney if your state follows no-fault, comparative negligence, or contributory negligence principles.

At this first meeting, which is really the beginning of your case, your attorney CANNOT predict how much money you’re going to get for your injuries. Nobody knows, at the early stages, how badly you are hurt, how much medical care you’re going to need, how much time you might miss from work, or even the potential legal theories which might be available. Can you predict the final score of a baseball game in the first inning? IT IS RIDICULOUS FOR AN ATTORNEY TO ATTEMPT TO ESTIMATE HOW MUCH YOU’RE GOING TO GET AT THE BEGINNING OF THE CASE.

At the initial meeting a paralegal or other staff member may take “administrative” information from you. The attorney should explain the legal contract, or fee agreement, with you. Attorney’s fees in this type of case are almost universally “contingent fees”, which means the attorney only gets paid when the case is settled; that is, the fee is “contingent” upon resolution. Usually attorneys charge one-third of the recovery, and usually contracts of this sort detail a higher fee, perhaps 40 – 50%, if the case goes to trial. This is fair; because going to trial is a lot more work for the attorney, and involves the attorney taking on a lot more risk. Recognize that every “contingent fee” case an attorney takes on is a case where the attorney is working for free, and at great risk of getting nothing, until (and unless) the case resolves.

How the first meeting should end.

Your initial meeting with your attorney should conclude with you receiving a copy of the fee agreement, and with a very concrete list of things which should be set to happen.

1. You should have a list of things the attorney needs, such as a copy of your insurance policy, pay stubs, tax returns, photographs, etc.

2. Telephone calls should be made promptly for the resolution of the damage to your car. The two most typical scenarios are as follows:

a) The car is repairable. If it’s in a tow-lot, plans should be set to get it out, as storage charges accrue quickly. Next, insurers should be notified of the location of the car, so an appraisal of damage can take place. If the insurers can be notified quickly, often they will move it out of the towing lot. In any event, discussion as to what’s going to happen one way or the other should be presented to you.

b) The car is destroyed, or “totaled”. If there is an outstanding loan on the car, you must supply the lender’s name and account number to your attorney so they can contact them to discuss payoff. Again, insurers must be notified of the car’s location, so it can be moved and they can appraise the value. You will have to sign over the title to the car, so be prepared to make it available quickly. If there’s a loan, usually the lender has the title, or a part of the title.

3. Plans should be set for you to get alternate transportation. Any good personal injury attorney should be able to recommend a reputable rental car company.

4. Plans should be set for you to get “the right type” of medical care. This means, in most cases, that you should be treating with an orthopedic physician, a chiropractor, or a general practice physician who provides physical therapy services. If you don’t have a family doctor who can refer you to “the right type” of doctor, or if you don’t know someone who knows such a doctor, your attorney should be able to give you the names of several reputable physicians near where you live or work. It is essential that you receive medical care if you are hurt, and that you get this care as soon as possible. Medical study after medical study shows that individuals who start medical treatment later end up needing more medical treatment than they would have if they had begun that treatment soon after the trauma occurred.

a) Good personal injury attorneys have many medical “contacts”. If needed, arrangements often can be made through your attorney allowing you to receive medical care without payment up front (or as you go). This is accomplished by a document called an “Assignment”. Both you and your attorney sign this document, and thereby agree that the doctor will get paid at the end of your case, from the proceeds recovered. In this fashion, the doctor is satisfied, because of the attorney’s reputation, that payment will probably be forthcoming. Your attorney should tell you that the signing of this document does not eliminate your responsibility for payment.

5. Your attorney should send out several letters within the first 24-48 hours after meeting with you. At a minimum, these letters are:

a) to insurers, advising you are now represented, and advising that all contact about your case should go through the attorney’s office;

b) to medical care facilities, requesting records, reports and bills;

c) to the accident witnesses, asking for statements, or requesting appointments to review what they saw or what they know;

d) to the investigating police, requesting the accident report.

The “middle stages”, where you get better.

Your attorney and his or her staff are now acting as both a “collection facility”, gathering records and bills from medical care providers, and continuing as a shield, keeping the insurance company representatives away from you. I often have clients call me and ask me “how’s my case going”? If case liability is not an issue, that is, if it’s clear that the collision was “the other guy’s” fault, and his/her insurance company has “accepted” responsibility, then my answer to the question is simply “fine, how are you feeling?” I say this because at that point, assuming we’ve “secured” the liability issue, all that remains is waiting for the client to get better.

A good personal injury attorney is able to review medical records and spot problems, either in the way the records are written (mistakes?), or in the overall medical course. I have called doctors when I have felt that certain diagnostic tests were questionable. I have called doctors when therapy seemed to be continuing endlessly without any improvement in my client’s condition. I have called doctors when bills seemed out of line. Your attorney should be knowledgeable enough to do the same, and should have the gumption to do so if and when appropriate.

The ending stages: evaluation of the case, and the settlement process.

ONCE YOU ARE COMPLETELY DONE WITH ALL MEDICAL CARE, AND ONCE YOU ARE BACK TO PRE-COLLISION STATUS, OR IF THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE, ONCE YOU’RE AS GOOD AS YOU’RE GOING TO GET, THEN, AND ONLY THEN, SHOULD YOUR ATTORNEY CONSIDER ATTEMPTING TO RESOLVE YOUR CASE.

Having said that, there are a few notable exceptions. First, the “statute of limitations” provides a limit on how long you have to either settle your case or file a lawsuit if your case cannot be settled. So, if you are not medically resolved, but the statute of limitations date is approaching, your attorney should meet with you and explain your options. Next, in many cases the total amount of insurance funds available (policy limits) will not be enough to truly fully compensate you. Thus, no matter how badly you have been injured, no matter how much your medical bills are, the insurance coverage available simply won’t be enough. Accordingly, the question presents as to whether it is reasonable to “settle” now, given that waiting will not produce any more funds for you. It may be reasonable to attempt to resolve the case, assuming all options have been explored, if this situation presents itself. Your attorney should explain your options.

Show me the money.

I recognize that most people do not voluntarily position themselves to be automobile accident victims. People generally don’t get hurt just so they can collect. Please don’t have misgivings about seeking money here. This isn’t about getting rich. This isn’t about fraud or trying to take advantage of the system. When an accident occurs and you are the victim, there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling an entitlement to money. Our system of civil justice provides this, MONEY, as the only remedy. You are entitled to be compensated for medical expenses you incurred, for wages you lost, for mental and physical pain and suffering, for disfigurement, for aggravation, for inconvenience, for disrupting the quality of your life, and for more.

Any good personal injury lawyer will tell you his or her opinion concerning the value of your case, now that you have gotten to that “settlement-ready” posture. If they don’t know, or have an opinion, what are they there for? Your attorney should set out several things in writing to you BEFORE going to the insurance company to discuss settlement. These are:

1. How much the attorney thinks your case is worth.

2. How much the attorney is going to demand. Clearly, in the upcoming process of discussion with the insurance adjuster, the attorney must have room to negotiate.

3. How much you owe in outstanding medical bills. This will affect the “net funds” you receive.

4. Whether there are liens against the proceeds of your settlement. Health insurance, worker’s compensation, or a federal, state or local agency (Medicare, Medicaid) may have made some payments for your medical bills or to you for wages you lost. These groups may be entitled to be reimbursed. Again, this will affect the “net funds” you receive.

5. What options are available if settlement negotiations aren’t successful.

Is the lawyer going to attempt to mediate? to arbitrate? to litigate? You should know what all of these options are, if they are available, and what the pluses and minuses are with each. AND THESE should be compared to the settlement possibilities. It should be pointed out to you that if you get 95% of what you want through settlement negotiation, it probably isn’t a stellar idea to file a lawsuit, which forces delay, causes extra expense, and leaves the case unresolved.

6. Who is going to negotiate. I believe that if you hire an attorney, it is fine for the attorney to delegate non-legal, administrative matters to non-lawyer staff. On the other hand, I believe the attorney you hire should be the one who gets on the telephone and negotiates your case for you.

The very end, hopefully: a successful settlement.

Once the case is settled, the attorney should receive a check from the other party’s insurance company. You should see this check. It should have your name on it as a payee. It’s okay if it also has the attorney’s name as a payee. You should sign the check. The attorney should present to you a document similar to what I call a “Settlement Memorandum”. This document should detail the “money in” (the insurance check for settlement), and the “money out”, that is, all of the things which are going to be paid from that check. These will include the attorney’s fee, outstanding medical bills, any liens, and a “net” for you. The check should be placed into a special bank account which the attorney should have, called either an “escrow” account, or a “trust” account. This is an account where client funds are held, and attorneys are held to the highest of standards for the accounting of these bank accounts by attorney licensing authorities and bar associations. Routinely funds should be deposited immediately after the check is fully endorsed, and thereafter, funds should be disbursed within 5-10 days, the delay simply to allow the funds to “clear”.

After care.

Your attorney should complete all legal matters relating to your case. This means sending payment for all outstanding medical bills and liens. This means providing you with a copy of all of the checks written for those purposes. You should also either be given copies of the important items in your file (medical records, for example), or your attorney should advise you that he or she will keep them for your future needs.

Some Final Thoughts.

Good luck to you. Please drive safely. Wear your seatbelt. Put your kids in car safety seats. Don’t even think about drinking alcohol or using drugs and then getting behind the wheel. I hope you never get into an automobile collision. If you do, I hope you don’t get hurt too badly. Remember to keep your perspective. Remember that you are more important than your car. Take your time with the legal matters ahead of you.