Products Liability Lawyers
What to Consider When Hiring a Products Liability Lawyer
Consumers across the US use a wide variety of products each day, ranging from cars and household appliances to tools and pharmaceuticals. Devastating injuries can occur when a product is defective or lacks proper safety instructions or warnings. If you suffered an injury or illness because of a defective or dangerous product, you may need a products liability lawyer to help you file a claim or lawsuit for compensation. If you suffered serious or permanent injuries, or if your case is likely to be contested, you should make sure to hire a lawyer. Although most products liability cases do not go to trial, professional representation can make a significant difference to the outcome. Manufacturers and insurers may take your case more seriously if you have hired an attorney. They may be more inclined to offer a fair settlement promptly. Also, this area of law is relatively sophisticated. An attorney will be better positioned to gather technical evidence and retain expert witnesses than an ordinary person.
Deciding who is the right lawyer for you can be challenging. A basic Google search can be a good place to start, but this should be only a first step. Google searches will lead to a wide range of results, including many paid listings that do not necessarily reflect the skill of a lawyer or their aptitude for your case. Similarly, you might gain useful insights from talking to friends or family members who have hired a products liability attorney, but the right fit for them may not be the right fit for you. Each situation is unique. Here are certain guidelines that can help you knowledgeably research and compare attorneys.
Background and Experience
Incidents involving defective or dangerous products fall within the umbrella of personal injury law. However, not all personal injury lawyers are equipped to handle products liability claims. You should make sure to hire an attorney who is experienced in establishing the liability of manufacturers and other entities in a chain of distribution. Moreover, you may want to hire a lawyer who has handled claims involving the specific industry that produced the item that caused your injuries. They can retain experts who can persuasively explain the problem with the product and describe how it caused your injuries. For example, if a defective car part caused a crash, you may want to hire an attorney who has brought cases based on auto defects. If you developed cancer after using a dangerous drug, you may want to hire an attorney who has often sued pharmaceutical companies. Some attorneys may have relevant board certifications or memberships in professional organizations. They may have received awards or other formal recognition of their legal prowess.
In general, you should aim to hire an attorney without a history of serious disciplinary issues. Information about an attorney’s professional record can be found by searching for them on the state bar website for their jurisdiction. You may want to review the details of any disciplinary action to get a sense of the events leading to it. Some violations are less significant than others. You may not want to automatically remove an attorney from your consideration based on a very minor infraction if they are currently in good standing.
On the other hand, a record of serious violations should be a red flag, even if the attorney has achieved some good results. You do not want egregious mistakes by your attorney to undermine a case that is otherwise strong, especially since your financial security may depend on the outcome.
Reviews and Testimonials
Reviews by previous clients can give you a sense of what it would be like to work with an attorney. You may find insights into their personality, level of professionalism, and communication skills. Client reviews can be helpful even if the details of your case are different from a previous client’s case. However, beware of very brief reviews that are harshly negative or effusively positive without providing details. These reviews may not be trustworthy.
If an attorney has received favorable reviews from other attorneys, this may indicate that they have a strong reputation in the legal community. They may be more likely to be respected by judges and defense attorneys, which can help resolve your case more favorably and efficiently.
Verdicts and Settlements
Often, a products liability lawyer will discuss their most notable successes on their website or blog. Each case is decided on its own facts, so you should not rely on a past verdict or settlement as an estimate of the compensation that you will receive. However, consistently substantial awards obtained by an attorney for people in roughly similar situations to yours can be a promising sign. You may also gain insight into the cases in which an attorney performs most impressively if many of their strongest results involve the same type of situation.
If you are especially impressed by a certain result, you may want to figure out the extent to which the attorney handled the key aspects of that case. Sometimes several products liability lawyers or law firms work together on a case, and the scale of their contributions may vary.
Most products liability lawyers offer a free consultation to prospective clients. You can set up a consultation by phone or online after providing some initial details about your case. The consultation helps the client and the attorney decide whether they are the right fit for each other. Even if you are impressed by an attorney’s credentials and achievements, you should not choose them on that basis alone. Instead, you should make sure to work with a lawyer whom you can trust and who relates well to you. You should feel that your lawyer is personally invested in your case, rather than treating you as just another case number. Ideally, you should set up consultations with several attorneys before deciding whom to hire.
Bringing a list of questions to the consultation can help you decide whether an attorney is the right fit. For example, you may want to ask about their initial perceptions of the strength and value of your case. You should not expect a precise answer, but a general impression can help set your expectations. An optimistic answer may be encouraging, but you should think twice if an attorney makes guarantees or seems much more confident than their competitors. They may be overpromising. Also, you should listen to how the attorney explains their evaluation. They should be able to articulate their reasoning in a way that is coherent and accessible to a non-lawyer.
Fees and Costs
Fees are another important issue to address at the consultation. Products liability lawyers usually work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they do not charge fees upfront but instead collect their fee as a percentage of the verdict or settlement that they obtain for a client. Typically, the attorney will collect about 30 to 40 percent of the award, but the percentage can vary depending on the stage that the case reaches and the work that the attorney performs. Any fee arrangement should be clearly set out in the representation agreement so that you understand your obligations.
In addition to attorney fees, a products liability case may involve court costs and other litigation costs. These may include expenses such as service fees, expert witness fees, court reporter fees, and document copying fees. Court costs and other litigation costs will come out of a compensation award, but they may be deducted from the award before or after the contingency fee is deducted. You may want to find out how these costs will be handled before signing a representation agreement.
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