The practice of law has become very specialized so that attorneys with extensive experience handling certain matters often have a limited understanding of the practical issues that impact other areas of law. To be more precise, there are aspects of personal injury law that differ from areas of law such as estate planning, and it often helps attorneys to be reminded of these differences.
Here are a few factors for estate planning attorneys to keep in mind when they are dealing with personal injury law.
The Contingency Fee System Changes the Way Clients Interact with Their Attorneys
Attorneys who bill clients based on the time spent with them or the provision of particular services have to readjust their thinking when it comes to getting clients top value for their money from a personal injury lawyer. Because personal injury attorneys receive a fee that is based on performance rather than time, it is often in a client’s best interests to start working with an attorney as soon as possible after an injury, and to take advantage of all the assistance the attorney can provide throughout the claims process.
It will not cost the client any more to do so, and the attorney can often provide advice and representation early on that enables the client to recover more while the attorney takes on some of the burden of communicating with insurance companies and investigators.
Some personal injury offices operate on a volume basis while others focus more on getting the best for individual clients. Attorneys in this latter category will often help clients obtain needed medical services, and then can help clients work toward a full recovery in every sense of the word.
Cases Can Take a Long Time to Resolve
For a variety of reasons, it can often take a surprisingly long time to finalize a personal injury case. One problem is that the long-term effects of an injury cannot usually be ascertained until the client has reached their maximum medical recovery, and this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to investigate the causes of an injury, and of course, time to negotiate a reasonable settlement or resolve matters in court.
Insurance companies will often offer a settlement right after an injury, and this could give the impression that the case will be resolved quickly. However, this offer is usually far less than the client is actually entitled to receive, so it will take time for the insurance company to agree to pay a fair value for the claim, after the personal injury lawyer has produced evidence to show the full value of the client’s losses and future needs.
Intangible Injuries are Often Worth Much More Than Economic Losses
When estimating the value of a personal injury claim, one factor estate planning attorneys need to keep in mind is that the compensation provided for pain, suffering, emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment, and other non-economic losses is often much greater than compensation provided for losses than can be calculated, such as medical bills and lost wages.
Be Prepared with a Plan to Protect Eligibility for Government Benefits
Many clients receive benefits such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid that can be put at risk if they receive a settlement from a lawsuit or through an inheritance from a deceased family member who passed away due to injuries. In many cases, it is wise to prepare a trust to hold the funds on behalf of the recipient so that they can continue to receive benefits. A trust can be managed by a professional trustee or by a family member, but, as you know, it must comply with requirements to protect the beneficiary.
Zweben Law Group is Dedicated to Helping Personal Injury Victims Recover
The list above is just a few of the issues that are commonly overlooked when it comes to personal injury law. If you have questions or are looking for a way to help your clients who are suffering after an accident, we would be happy to talk to you about it. Just give us a call.