Hiring an attorney for any type of case is a personal decision and needs to be considered with your beliefs and values. When it comes to retaining a lawyer to represent yourself or your child in a dog bite case, most people fit into one of two categories: 1) angered by the fact that they were injured by a poorly controlled animal and feel a sense of vindication by pursuing a case and 2) unsure of whether—or if the effort of pursuing a dog bite claim is worth your time and effort.
Regardless of your initial reaction to hiring a dog bite lawyer, our office has experience representing clients who may fit into both—or neither of the categories above. Regardless of your initial feelings regarding the retention of an attorney, the experience of being attacked by a dog and determining the legal route to take is a first for most.
Before you hire an attorney to represent you in a dog bite case, you should be mindful of the following:
- Has the attorney worked on similar matters in the past?
- Does the law firm have access to experts, such as photographers, economists, and animal behavior experts to ensure the value of the case is maximized?
- Is this a person that I am comfortable working with? Most cases take months—or even years to resolve and you should be comfortable with the person representing you.
- Can the attorney give me an idea as to the value of my case? An experienced dog bite lawyer should be able to give you a ball-park idea as to the value of your case after looking at photos and medical records and bills.
A frequent issue holding many people back from getting an attorney is the belief that hiring a lawyer will ‘cost too much money’ or that ‘lawyers will just take most of my settlement’.
Both of these assumptions are false. Our office handles Chicago dog bite attack cases on a contingency fee basis—where there is only a legal fee charged if there is a financial recovery for you. You never need to pay us anything to be working on a case for you. If there is no recovery, you owe us nothing.
When it comes to an attorney fee eating up most of the recovery from a dog bite settlement, this belief is also incorrect. According to a study of personal injury settlements done by the Insurance Research Council, claimants who had a lawyer representing them in a case received 350% more money for their compared with people who handled the case on their own.
As friendly and cooperative an insurance adjuster may be following an incident, you must be aware of the fact that their job is to minimize the amount of money paid out on claims. Paying out less on claims means more profit for an insurance company. Recognizing this inherent conflict of interest is important for all victims of dog bites to recognize early on.
Lastly, one of the issues people without attorneys frequently encounter is the reimbursement of health insurance payments and doctors’ bills following the settlement of a case. While this is something that most people never consider or may be unaware of, these post-settlement issues can result in substantially less money in your pocket than you may have expected. Our firm appreciates these obligations and always negotiates bills and/or advises our clients to eliminate any surprises and maximize the gross recovery of a case.
Even if you eventually decide to handle your case on your own, we invite you to talk to our office for a free review of your case. Our attorneys can advise you of your legal options and then you can determine which is the best route for you to pursue.
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