FINDING AN RSD LAWYER - BY KEITH T. BELT Jr.
RSDS is generally misunderstood in the medical community and is even more misunderstood in the legal arena. The potential problems start early in the case when the client is being treated medically. RSD is often misunderstood by medical doctors and misdiagnosed as a psychiatric or mental disorder. When it is properly diagnosed, too often, some of the medical doctors in the treatment chain fail to give the diagnosis appropriate deference or give consistent treatment. Other times, the diagnosis intimidates doctors who don’t want to treat patients with the diagnosis at all. Therefore, in prosecuting a legal case involving a client with RSDS, it is critical that the lawyer have the victim properly evaluated and diagnosed by RSDS specialists and experts. Considering very few lawyers have handled these cases or had experience in dealing with the medical issues involved, <>it is critical to find an attorney who satisfies the following criteria:
-Extensive experience handling personal injury cases;
-Has a proven track record of trial experience and trial victories (not just settlements but trial experience and victories)
-Is available to you for consultation and compassion;
-Has experience in handling CRPS/RSDS cases specifically
-Will work on a contingency fee basis
Extensive experience handling personal injury cases
You want a lawyer with extensive experience handling personal injury cases because he/she is better equipped to handle the complexity of the medical records, treatment regime, and appropriate use of experts to maximize the recovery in your case. Personal injury attorneys are experienced in proving and recovering the damages that are legally recognized in your jurisdiction which would typically include the following: past and future lost wages, lost earning capacity, past and future medical bills, life care planning expense, damages for emotional and psychological harm as well as pain and suffering. Attorneys who specialize in this area are also better equipped with specialized staff and resources to handle these types of cases.
Has a proven track record of trial experience and trial victories (not just settlements but trial experience and victories)
It is important that the attorney you choose has experience in trying cases to a successful conclusion. Considering legal cases are often negotiated, the best leverage with the defendant and its lawyers to get the maximum recovery allowed under the law is by using an attorney that has a successful trial record.
Ultimately, only one of three outcomes occurs with every lawsuit filed. First, the case can be dismissed by the Court, if the Court deems the liability claims to have no legal merit. Second, the case can be settled or resolved with the defendant. Third, the case can be won or lost at trial. Based on a number of different factors, the majority of cases settle. Despite this is true, the amount of money that is paid to settle a given case can vary widely based upon the type of case, severity of the injuries involved, the jurisdiction of the case, the degree to which the case has been worked up by the injured person’s lawyer, and the lawyer’s reputation for trying cases. The more fearful the defendant is of going to trial and getting hit with a large verdict, the more that defendant will pay to settle the claim. It is just that simple. Likewise, if the lawyer for the RSDS afflicted person does not typically try cases and does not have an impressive trial history, the defendant is not likely to feel very threatened and will pay much less. Consequently, when choosing a lawyer to handle your case, research them and their experience in trying jury trials.
Is available to you for consultation and compassion
When hiring a lawyer, it is important that you find one that will be available to you when you need them. If you hire a lawyer who does not have the adequate time to take you on as a client, your legal needs will suffer. Make sure you discuss how much time you require and have a lawyer who is able to make that time commitment. It is also important that you find a lawyer who has competent staff that will also aid you in your battle with RSDS and the legal process. When talking to lawyers about the possibility of representation, inquire about their availability and the responsiveness of them and their staff. Any lawyer that is not willing or able to make himself/herself available to you should not be considered. It is very important that you have access to counsel whenever needed as support and consultation during the legal process is critical. There is a difference between an attorney who is sympathetic to your situation and an attorney who can win your case. Do not mistake support for expertise. The right attorney should have both.
Has experience in handling RSDS cases specifically
The evaluation of a RSDS case involves a meticulous review of medical records and consultation with qualified specialists. The lawyer handling your case must understand the origin and progression of the disease. Too often, lawyers who do not fully understand the extent and permanency of the disorder undervalue RSDS cases. Because the disease is often permanent, the resulting care and treatment is expensive and lifetime medical bills alone can be staggering. The majority of RSDS afflicted persons end up on total disability and suffer enormous losses in their financial and personal lives. It is critical that the lawyer fully understand the disease so that the client’s financial recovery can be maximized.
When an experienced law firm gets involved, they will try to help the RSDS afflicted client in every way possible. This often includes helping the client in their dealings with their own insurance company and medical providers. An experienced attorney is more apt to provide the one on one attention each client needs and deserves. An experienced RSD attorney is better suited for counseling clients who are going through the stress and strain of battling RSDS. Such an attorney will also stay abreast of the patient’s changing physical condition.
Make sure your attorney will work on a contingency fee basis
Considering the financial stress and strain that is typically suffered by a RSDS afflicted person, legal fees and costs associated with hiring an attorney are often not feasible. Therefore, when seeking an attorney, find one that offers representation on a contingency fee basis. Pursuant to a contingency fee arrangement, the attorney fronts all of the attorney time and expenses associated with prosecuting your case in exchange for a percentage interest in any recovery that is made. Only upon making a recovery for the client, then and only then will the lawyers recover their expenses and attorneys fees related to the representation. In other words, all of the expenses associated with prosecuting a case of this type are paid by the attorney contingent upon his making a recovery in the case. If no recovery is made, then it costs you nothing.
How do I find such a lawyer?
In order to find a lawyer who satisfies the criteria above, you need to research and investigate your options. Obviously, you should not just hire the first attorney you find. When house hunting, you do not typically buy the first house you see. The same holds true for hiring a lawyer. You should get the names of several, and then make a sound choice. In order to find the name of a qualified attorney, you are probably best served to go to the internet or speak with an experienced civil litigator in your area. Both of these options should allow you to specifically search for an attorney that satisfies the criteria laid out above. If you have no luck, then you can go to the local law library and find information about the lawyer or call the local or state bar association. Do not simply hire an attorney without checking his or her background. Talking to someone who has worked with the attorney is always advantageous. Ask questions about his or her background, manner, competence, and so on. It is also important to meet in person if at all possible. Although in today’s day and age, business is often conducted solely through emails and phone calls, that should not be the case when hiring an attorney. You need to meet in person.
Keith (Kit) Belt, Jr
BELT LAW FIRM, P.C.
521 Madison St. SE, Suite 202
Huntsville, AL - Alabama 35801
Telephone: (205) 933-1500
Toll Free: (888) 933-1514
E-Mail Keith "Kit" Belt - KIT BELT
Web page: BELT LAW FIRM
Keith T. Belt, Jr. is an attorney with Belt Law Firm, P.C. (www.beltlawfirm.com) in Birmingham, Alabama, who is licensed in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, New Mexico, and Colorado. He has extensive experience in representing RSD afflicted persons and in handling RSD cases. He provides an RSD informational website www.rsdinfocenter.com that is intended to help RSD afflicted persons.