If you have been injured in an accident on someone else’s property you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The first step to finding out the extent of your legal rights and the other person’s liability is hiring a premises liability lawyer.
What Is Premises Liability
Premises liability refers to the potential legal responsibility of a property owner or occupier for accidents and resultant injuries that occur as a result of unsafe or defective property conditions.
To be entitled to compensation the injured party must prove:
- That the defendant owned, occupied, or leased the property.
- That the injured party was harmed as a result of the negligence of the defendant.
- That the harm was substantially the fault of the defendant.
Finding the right lawyer to represent your interests can be overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. The key is referral and research.
When you are looking for an attorney the best thing to do is to ask your friends, family, or trusted professionals like your accountant or doctor for referrals. Having people you trust to point you in the direction of competent attorneys will save you a lot of trouble.
If none of the people you trust have personal experiences with personal injury attorneys don’t worry, use the internet. Browse the website of local attorneys for information and pay particular attention to ratings and client recommendations.
While you’re online find out if they are licensed and in good standing in the state where the accident happened. Every state has a bar association with an online database where licensed attorneys are listed.
After narrowing down your choices, take advantage of the free first-time consultation services that most lawyers offer and book an appointment. You can’t decide until you’ve met all of them face to face.
Remember to take along documents and materials that are relevant to the case.
The law is nuanced in many areas. Every area of law requires a certain level of expertise that comes from practice. With premises liability, the various types include:
- Drowning accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Pool accidents
- Tourist accidents
- Amusement park accidents
- Dog bite accidents
The list is a lot longer than that. Personal injury is a diverse area of law so only experienced premises liability lawyers who have handled cases similar to yours with success will know the specific legal principles, and evidence required to get you the monetary compensation you deserve.
Also, while most personal injury suits are settled out of Court, some make it to try. Be sure that your lawyer is both a skilled negotiator and a cutthroat trial lawyer.
The attorney-client relationship is a transactional one. Discuss fees before you settle on a lawyer.
Nearly every personal injury lawyer charges their fees on a contingency basis. Contingency fee agreements are agreements that mean that your lawyer will not get any money or receive any legal fees unless the case is either won in court and damages are awarded or settled out of court with adequate monetary compensation.
Instead, the lawyer gets paid directly out of your settlement or damage award. The common practice is a percentage-based calculation where 30% is deducted from your total compensation to settle the legal fees.
Regardless of the “no fee if no recovery rule” make sure you discuss a detailed fee structure with your attorney and get everything in writing.
This is because fee structures vary in percentages, and it’s better not to guess and lose valuable money in the end.
For a rough idea, an example of a fee structure is 30 percent if the case is settled before the action is filed, one-third if the case is settled after the lawsuit is filed but during discovery, or 40 percent of the case goes to trial and the judge awards damages.
The truth is that a lot of lawyers give away case briefs to junior associates and don’t work on cases themselves.
So there’s a possibility that you’ll correctly choose a lawyer who is a good fit but they won’t be the one to directly handle your case. This is a very common practice.
A good way to prevent this from happening is to gauge the level of communication between you and the attorney. If an attorney can’t take 10 minutes to speak to you about the details of your case, they don’t have time to pursue your interests properly.
Trust your gut.
Finding the right lawyer to defend your case is a crucial decision. It’s what will determine if you’ll win enough money to cover your medical bills or wasted money on legal fees on top of everything else.
Note that if you delay you can be prevented from claiming compensation even if you have a good case because personal injury lawsuits have time limits known as “statutes of limitations.”