Having to hire a lawyer to sort out a legal problem or to get the recourse you deserve can be a stressful and confusing experience. Fortunately, looking for the right lawyer can be much easier if you understand what your legal problem requires.
First and foremost, the lawyer you choose must have experience in the type of legal problem you are experiencing. In addition, he or she must be licensed to practice in the location where you can legally file a case (or where you must defend yourself). For example, if you are a seafarer who has a grievance against the cruise ship company you work for, and the company is headquartered in Miami, FL, then you must retain a maritime lawyer who is licensed to practice in the state of Florida.
Once you have decided that you need professional legal help, you should act quickly because legal cases must be filed within a designated time period. Upon hiring a lawyer, he should:
- Explore with you all your options.
- Be honest with you about your chances of winning your case.
- Provide you an estimate of how long it will take to resolve your case.
- Give you an estimate for the costs of his services.
- Explain the financial consequences of losing your case.
For many plaintiffs and defendants, lawyer fees can seem like an insurmountable obstacle when it comes to finding competent yet affordable legal representation. A solution to this problem is the “contingency fee”. This means that you only pay if you win your case. In this type of arrangement, the lawyers collect a percentage of the amount awarded.
Some law firms offer a flat or fixed fee option should your case be relatively simple and straightforward. In general, attorneys charge by the hour, which can vary based on the lawyer’s reputation and skill. Most lawyers will demand a “retainer” which is an advance payment against future charges. Any billable work that exceeds the retainer has to be paid by the client as well. Some countries have a statutory fee, which means that you must pay a set amount as specified by statute or by the regional court.
Sometimes, the lawyer with the right skill set to represent you will not work on contingency or fixed fee and only charges by the hour. Today, many skilled lawyers are willing to make other payment arrangements, such as monthly payments or other types of financing.
Hiring a lawyer is a very serious affair, but it does not have to be an intimidating or confusing process. No matter which lawyer you choose or what type of attorney you need, the best lawyer to hire is the one who listens, is honest and ethical about the progress of your case, and will give you the attention you deserve.
Fortunately for crew members that are injured or become sick aboard American cruise and cargo ships, the American maritime attorneys that handle these cases work on a percentage. This means that the crew member does not have to pay his lawyer any money until he receives money compensation for his injuries or sickness from the cruise or cargo company.