What Should I Expect from My Lawyer?
At Schmidt Salita Law Team, we take great pride in the work we do on behalf of our clients. We meet people at very difficult points in their lives and it’s our job to help them navigate the legal process during life-changing injuries.
When choosing an injury lawyer to represent you, you should expect the following:
(1) Litigation Experience.
You should not be your attorney’s test case. Ask your attorney, how many times have you tried a case, how frequently do you try cases? Have you won? Have you lost? After 50 years of practice, even our senior trial lawyer Doug Schmidt has lost cases. What is their theory on litigation?
Ask the uncomfortable questions. Am I working with you? Am I getting passed over to an associate? Who is handling the day-to-day in my case? Is the person doing my initial consultation the same person I will be calling and emailing and will be with me during my deposition?
At Schmidt Salita Law Team, we practice law as a team. You’ll find me (Attorney Mary Beth Boyce) in Steph’s office, working to unsnarl a complex insurance coverage question, or Junior Partner Josh Laabs bouncing a creative IME doctor deposition strategy in Senior Partner Dean Salita’s office. We challenge one another’s ideas, strategies, and approach. This team strategy greatly benefits our clients, who have the resources and perspectives of 5 experienced attorneys at their disposal.
(2) Honest Case Value Assessments.
Clients should expect open and honest assessments of their case. No case is perfect. Your attorney should anticipate the arguments that the defense will raise to minimize your injuries, damages, or what the insurance company will have to pay.
Good attorneys do not promise results. In fact, the Minnesota Rules of Professional Responsibility for attorneys expressly prohibit us from doing so. We simply cannot promise results. Experienced attorneys win cases they have no business winning and lose cases that they should not have lost. An attorney that implicitly or explicitly guarantees success should raise a red flag.
Every case is unique. Just because you know someone who was in a car accident and received “x” amount in damages, or your co-worker received “x” amount of recovery from the City for a work comp case that you believe is similar to your circumstances, that does not mean that your case is worth exactly the same. Your case may be worth more or less, depending on a variety of factors. Your attorney should be able to tell you what increases and what decreases the value of a case.
(3) Free Case Evaluation.
You should be able to meet with an injury attorney free of charge and without any obligation to retain that attorney. You should not feel pressured. You choose your attorney because you trust him or her with a case that greatly affects your life. You are not a number and you should not be treated as such. Your case is unique.
During your case evaluation, the attorney will gather information from you in an interview. The attorney should help you understand the law, how your case fits into the law, and what his or her recommendations are for you moving forward.
(4) Open Communication About Attorney Fees.
Injury attorneys, including personal injury and work comp attorneys, work on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee means that you will not be charged for the work the lawyer does on your case unless they recover money or benefits on your behalf. This means that no fees are paid until a settlement, award, or verdict is recovered on your behalf. Contingency fees mean that a percent of the settlement, award, or verdict is paid to the attorney, contingent upon the outcome of a case.
Contingency fees help ensure that the attorney has faith in your case as well as a financial stake in the outcome. An attorney is not going to expend time, money, and resources on a case in which there is no hope of a recovery.
For work comp, all attorneys are paid the same in the State of Minnesota according to statute: 20% of what we recover for you up to a max of $26,000 per injury. You are not obligated to pay in excess of $26,000. A workers’ compensation judge must approve fees in excess of the $26,000 cap. Work comp attorneys may also claim Roraff or Heaton-type fees, which are hourly fees incurred for the time spent on obtaining medical or rehabilitation benefits. If the Roraff/Heaton fees combined with the contingency fees on wage loss benefits exceed $26,000, this amount must also be approved by a workers’ compensation judge.
PERA/MSRS Duty Disability or Healthcare continuation benefits are a separate fee structure than work comp or personal injury. These fees are dependent upon the contract drafted between the client and the attorney.
(5) Case Updates.
Arguably the biggest complaint clients have with their attorneys are about communications updates about their case. Personal injury and work comp cases take a long time. PERA/MSRS and health care continuation cases may also take a longer time than clients realize. During the claim, you should be able to contact your attorney and his or her paralegal and receive updates on your case. You should also give updates to your attorney if you change jobs, if you see a new medical professional, if your condition changes, or if you think your attorney needs to be aware of something, let them know.
PERSONAL INJURY LEGAL SERVICES WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH!
At Schmidt Salita Law Team we are proud of our lawyering skills. We expect excellence of ourselves, and our clients should expect the same. A Schmidt Salita Workers Comp Lawyer can come to your home, or the hospital, for your initial visit. The Schmidt Salita Law Team strives to provide personal injury legal services with a personal touch to help the victims of personal injury through a very difficult time in their lives.