Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a lawyer?
The short answer is no. Any person can represent themselves. That said, you would also be allowed to operate on yourself, however, that is certainly not recommended. The main reason why it is not recommended that you represent yourself is for the same reason you do not operate on yourself — you simply don’t know what you’re doing. Not only do you have to know the law, but also the procedural and evidentiary rules as well. People often think that they will simply show up in court and tell their side of the story or quote something they found online to the judge and that all will be well. They quickly learn that a court proceeding is a complex process and they cannot speak whenever they want and say whatever they want. A party who is equipped with a lawyer is much more able to navigate these challenges. In criminal defense matters, it is especially critical that you have legal representation, and as early as possible.
When should I speak to an attorney?
It is best to speak to an attorney whenever the prospect of legal action is on the horizon or whenever you want direction about a legal matter. If you have been injured, for example, you should speak to a lawyer right away to see what your rights are. If you are contacted about any matter that is or may be a criminal issue, you should speak to an attorney before you give any statements, even if you have “nothing to hide.” In family law matters, even if you are wondering what your rights are if something should happen, a lawyer can help you be prepared. In almost all other types of cases, generally speaking, the earlier you speak to an attorney, the better they will be able to advise and to help you.
How much does a lawyer cost?
Legal fees come in a variety of forms. Some cases, such as personal injury claims, social security claims, and workers’ compensation claims are handled on what are known as “contingent fees.” Contingent means the attorney does not get paid unless they make a recovery on the case. If the attorney gets money for you, the attorney gets paid. If the attorney does not get money for you, the attorney does not get paid. For other types of cases, lawyers may charge a flat fee, meaning you pay one flat fee for the services they provide. In other cases, the attorney may charge an hourly rate for their work and may request a retainer from which to work at the start of or during the case, depending on the type of matter. In every case, you should be sure the lawyer puts their fees in writing.
Is there a charge for an initial consultation?
At Trinity Law, our initial consultation will focus on your unique circumstances and issues. We will listen to what your particular legal needs and questions are. We will use the initial meeting time to develop a sound and ethical legal strategy and/or to learn how to best meet your legal needs and provide the quality legal services you expect and deserve.
If your case involves a certain type of law, such as personal injury, a work-related injury, social security disability, or certain types of employment claims, like discrimination, there may be no charge to speak to a lawyer. In other cases, such as family law cases, civil lawsuits, criminal matters, business matters, and other items, there is usually a modest fee to speak to a lawyer at an initial consultation to discuss your situation and to obtain legal advice.
How long will my case take?
Some cases can be resolved fairly quickly if there are reasonable attorneys, insurance companies, or representatives on both sides of the case. However, some cases can take years to wind through the court system. Some reasons cases take years to resolve include: unreasonable parties, unreasonable lawyers, unreasonable expectations, complex issues, and multiple levels of appeals.
Are there limits on how long I have to file a legal claim?
Many types of cases, including civil cases, require you to file a lawsuit (or settle your case) within a certain period of time. These time periods are referred to as “statutes of limitations.” These time periods can vary widely. For example in an injury claim, in Pennsylvania, a person generally has 2 years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. Conversely, in a contract dispute, a person has 4 years to file a lawsuit. Other types of claims carry longer or shorter periods of time. Indeed, some statutes of limitations are as short as one year. That said, other claims, like administrative and employment discrimination claims often require filing within months of the harmful action. For people who receive decisions from the government, such as in social security disability cases, for example, you may only have 60 days to file an appeal. So, here again, speaking to an attorney as soon as possible is the best way to handle things, so you know what your time deadlines are.
How do I contact an attorney?
How much is my personal injury case worth?
Trinity Law has been handling injury cases for over 40 years. We hear this question all the time. The answer is not a simple or quick one, despite what some might think or say. The reason for that is simple. For example, we’ve had people come to see us just after a collision with very minor-appearing injuries. However, over time, they get much worse, to the point of needing extensive care, surgery, missed time from work, lost wages, etc. In that event, the value of their case grows. So, as a general rule, we cannot really begin to get a handle on the true value of a case until some time passes between the time of the incident and the progression of the injury. Of course, in other cases, the injuries may be so significant, or perhaps even catastrophic, that we can start to ascertain value much sooner, but even then, some time may be needed to gain a full appreciation of value. Our experienced injury lawyers know this. As such, our injury attorneys will honestly evaluate your case and provide details of the value of your case only when it is proper to do so. We will tell you the truth, not just what we think you want to hear just so we can get and/or keep your case.
Should my attorney put their fees in writing?
Absolutely. At Trinity Law, we always let our clients know, in writing and up front, what the fees will be and how and when they will be charged. The way a lawyer charges for their services, whether it is on an hourly basis, flat fee, or contingent fee (meaning the lawyer only gets paid if they get money for you), should always be put in writing and sent to you, the client, before major work begins on case. This lets the lawyer know they have been hired and lets you know how you are going to be charged. In addition, many states, like Pennsylvania, have ethical rules that require the attorney’s fees to be stated in writing.
How do I communicate with my attorney?
At Trinity Law, our attorneys are accessible. Unfortunately, getting through to some lawyers is like trying to get into Fort Knox – it’s virtually impossible. We provide a phone number and email address for our lawyers, so our clients can contact them for help as needed. We also have trained staff that can assist our clients when our lawyers are in court or attending to legal proceedings, and unable to make quick replies. We strive to keep our clients informed at every major step of their case and to help them understand both what is going on now, as well as what might happen as the case progresses.