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FAQ Friday #2 - When to hire a lawyer? How lawyers get paid? & DUI-E law in Washington

Hello a Facebook Matt Dubin here Washington State personal injury attorney it's two o'clock and this is our second installment of FAQ Fridays where I answer your questions about car insurance personal injury claims or anything else related to personal injury law and we've got some great questions this week so let's get right to it and the first set of questions we have actually the first one is from Adam and Adam writes my friends got in an accident three months ago and I've already started a claim with the insurance companies can they still get a lawyer when is a good time to decide when to get an attorney to represent their case and oh we had some technical difficulties we're back I hope you're all still there I'm not sure what happened but we're back live so again Adams friends were in an accident three months ago they've started a claim with the insurance companies and he wants to know can they still get a lawyer and when do you know how do you know when is a good time to hire a lawyer to represent you in your case Adam it's a great question it's not too late for your friends to call a lawyer in fact if their claim is well frankly I encourage them to consult with a lawyer regardless I encourage people who have been in an accident to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as early as possible after the collision and the reason is because the insurance companies are looking for ways to reduce what they're gonna pay out on the claim and they start doing that from day one it's not at all uncommon for claims adjusters to contact injured people in their hospital bed sometimes the day of or the day after surgery when they're still heavily medicated to try and take statements and they're looking for anything that they can use to ultimately reduce the amount that they need to pay out even in smaller cases people don't know what their legally required to do and what they're not required to do and the insurance company isn't going to tell you they'll give you paperwork and tell you to fill it out inside they'll call you and ask to take a recorded statement as if you're required to do that when you're really not having a lawyer onboard as early as possible in the process can really help now if you don't do that if you do start the case yourself and open a claim and speak to the insurance company and try and get it done it's still not too late the only the only downside is you may have already done something that gives the insurance company ammunition that they certainly won't hesitate to use against you later but you can hire an attorney at any step along the way and we can step in and make sure that things are being done right if you've given the insurance company permission to dig through your medical records or other things we can put a stop to that and make sure that we're giving them just what we're required to give them and do our best to undo any harm that might have been done before we were hired so thanks so much for your question a related question from Jeff was what are the trade offs of negotiating directly with the insurance company versus hiring a personal injury attorney and there are certain situations particularly very very small cases maybe there's no damage to your car you feel better within a couple weeks where it's probably not worth getting a lawyer involved and paying one third attorney fee because in a case like that your recovery is going to be small anyway but in almost every other case hiring a lawyer makes it easier for you and more likely that you'll walk away with more money at the end of the case and you just get the peace of mind knowing that somebody who knows exactly what your your rights and obligations are is looking out for your best interest the insurance companies don't have your best interest at heart your attorney does and that's why it's so much better to have an attorney from the beginning so thanks for your question Jeff Danny asked how do personal injury lawyers get paid and I already mentioned the 1/3 thing so most personal injury lawyers get paid on what we call a contingency fee and what that means is the Turney only gets paid if they can get a recovery for you and then a percentage of that recovery a standard fee is one third of a settlement so in that example if an attorney recovers ninety thousand for you we just had another technical difficulty it looked like it froze for a second I think we're back I was talking about contingent fees and so in that example if the recovery is ninety thousand the attorney fee would be thirty thousand now you're still responsible for the expenses of your case and expenses could include things like the cost to obtain your medical records or using legal messengers or even something as simple as stamps and photocopies but in general if an attorney doesn't get a recovery for you they don't get paid and there's no upfront cost to you and that certainly is the case with our office finally in something that's very timely whoa sorry about that shake something that's very timely has been in the news here in Washington is our new DUI statute which is driving under the influence of electronics and what this does is it makes using your cell phone while you're driving a primary offense which means the police can pull you over for it and doing other activities that distract you while you're driving like eating or drinking a cup of coffee can be considered secondary offenses so you can get you can get a ticket for that as long as you're pulled over for some other reason and the police believe that it was a factor in distracting you from driving so Billy's question is how will the new DUI II law effect suits against distracted drivers and that's a really good question so the new law does not address civil claims which is what negligence is it's a civil claim for money however the law in Washington says that violation of a statute such as this new DUI II law can be considered by a jury as evidence of negligence so everyone using the road has a duty to exercise reasonable care if you don't exercise reasonable care you are negligent and if that negligence causes an injury to somebody else you your insurance company is going to be responsible to pay so well this new DUI II law doesn't create any new civil causes of action it does create a statute that can be considered by a jury at trial in determining whether the driver was negligent now I'll tell you from personal experience if I have evidence that the defendant driver was using their cell phone when they hit my client I'm telling the jury about that anyway and they don't need a statute to know that that's negligent that that fails to meet a reasonable standard of care and so we already use it and juries already understand that it's not okay to be driving and texting at the same time if you're doing that and you hit somebody you're gonna be responsible it just gives attorneys I suppose another factor that we can give to the jury to consider in deciding whether the driver was negligent finally Gloria asks if you see someone using a device like this while they're driving can you call 911 report them and Gloria I suppose you could and I haven't talked to the police about this but I'm guessing they'd rather that you don't look Wow another another technical difficulty I apologize for that but look the the 911 is for emergencies life-threatening emergencies and I'm sure they would rather you not clog up their system with calls because you see somebody using their cell phone certainly if somebody's creating hazard if somebody's creating an emergency situation on the road go ahead and call 911 but don't call just if you see somebody using their cell phone just keep your distance stay safe and get home and that is FAQ Friday for today when do you call a lawyer and what's the benefit of calling a lawyer how do lawyers get paid and what is the impact of the new DUI II law on civil claims thank you so much for all your questions we'll be back next Friday with our third installment of FAQ Fridays and I appreciate you engaging in this dialogue with me if you do have any questions that you'd like me to address in mind video please reach out and I'll make sure to get to him again from me and all of us that the Dubin Law Group be safe watch out for yourself and others enjoy the rest of your summer and I'll see you next Friday bye.