WHEN TO HIRE A CALIFORNIA CHILD INJURY ATTORNEY

Visiting with an experienced attorney is an important first step in the process of resolving your child’s injury claim. A consultation with a California child injury attorney will not only help you understand your legal options and rights for you and your injured child, but it will also address future concerns and legal issues with your child’s entire injury case. As you carefully read through these chapters about the many different legal requirements and issues involved in California children injury claims, it may not take much effort or work to convince you that hiring an experienced attorney is a smart move. Simply put, there are too many things that can go wrong when handling a claim on behalf of an injured child in California. Before I talk about using an experienced California child injury attorney for your child’s injury case, however, let’s discuss insurance companies.

Is a California Child Injury Attorney Necessary?

As you will come to find out, you will need a lawyer to put together the legal paperwork for the California court to approve the settlement amount of your minor child if that settlement value is in excess of $5,000. This is something that cannot be done in pro per, that is, without a lawyer, because doing so would constitute the unauthorized practice of law. Knowing this, if your child’s injury case is minor—below $5,000—then you may not necessarily need a lawyer. If your child’s injury case is serious, then you will, at some point, need a lawyer to at least represent him or her for the California court approval process (if not the entire legal action).

You will want a lawyer who is a professional and who has years of experience dealing with insurance companies with the same injuries as your injured child. Remember, the insurance company’s job is to do everything it can to minimize the injury claim and avoid paying fair compensation to cover the injured child’s past expenses and future medical needs. (See my free book download, The 10 Secrets You Need to Know About Your Injury Case, BEFORE You Call A Lawyeron my Web site, www.blanelaw.com, to find out how the insurance companies operate as a business.) In fact, in some cases, the amount of the insurance adjustor’s annual bonus pay may be connected to the actual amount of money the adjustor saves the insurance company by offering a lower dollar amount on your child’s injury claim. It is recommended that you hire an experienced child injury attorney to work on your child’s injury claim when the injuries are serious or permanent; when you have medical bills that cannot be paid or covered under your child’s private health insurance plan; or when your child needs help finding good doctors to treat him or her. SEE:   California Business & Professions Code Section 6125; see J.W. v. Sup.Ct., supra, 17 CA4th at 965, 22 CR2d at 530. Mother appointed as Guardian ad Litem for minor child in paternity proceedings could not represent child in pro per (although she could appear in her own right in pro per).

Understandably, most folks are worried about hiring a lawyer because of the additional expense of doing so; however, most injury cases are handled by experienced lawyers on a contingency basis. A contingency fee agreement is an agreement with a lawyer to defer his or her attorney fee until the case successfully settles or resolves at trial (or at a mediation or the like). The actual fee is based on a percentage of the recovery obtained by the lawyer through his or her efforts. If there is no monetary recovery, then no attorney fee is owed. Most contingency fees for an adult injury case can range anywhere from twenty-five percent to fifty percent of the gross recovery; but, in California, the contingency fee for an injured child is capped statutorily at twenty-five percent of the gross recovery, unless the attorney did exceptional legal work that is approved by a California Superior Court judge. Thus, generally, the attorney fee is capped at twenty-five percent in California.

Many times, in certain serious child accident cases, it can take years to resolve the case, and the lawyer will spend hundreds of hours on the case before he or she gets paid. To this end, contingency attorney fees allow people of limited financial resources to hire the best legal representation possible. This is very important, because the insurance companies will retain some of the most expensive and experienced defense attorneys to help deny, delay, and defend your child’s injury claim.

Mark C. Blane is a San Diego Child Injury/Accident Attorney and the managing lawyer of the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, a San Diego, California Personal Injury Law Office dedicated to representing families of minor children injured due to the negligence of others. If you or a loved one, who is a minor child, has been injured or killed in a child accident in San Diego, please order your free copy of Mr. Blane's book, The 10 Secrets You Need To Know About Your Injury Case, BEFORE You Call A Lawyer. It is full of helpful information that will help you protect your legal rights and it normally sells for $16.95.  However, it is free to all California residents, or those injured in a California accident. Also, you can check out Mr. Blane's book on California child injuries called Justice for the Injured Child available for sale; this book has become a California parent's legal survival guide to their child's California accident case.