7 Tips for Hiring the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
Whether you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident or are suffering from botched surgery, having an experienced and well-trained personal injury attorney can make all the difference to your case. However, finding one can sometimes be difficult. An attorney’s capabilities can’t be gauged from an appealing website with compelling pages; rather, you’ll need to ensure that person has all it takes to get you the compensation you deserve for all you’ve suffered. Suffice to say, working with the wrong attorney could cost you more than just receiving a meagre amount in settlement.
Generally, when it comes to lawsuits, every single detail is crucial, hence the need to conduct extensive research when looking for an attorney to hire. However, this all boils down to knowing what you should in fact be looking out for. A successful choice requires both asking the right questions and taking the necessary things at the appropriate time. Therefore, we’ve asked some of the best lawyers in the business and come up with these tips to help you hire the right personal injury lawyer.
Discuss fees before signing
Make sure you have a clear understanding of the lawyer’s fee. For instance, when a premises liability lawyer states "No fee if no recovery", ask further question to understand the implications of such a statement. Normally, in a personal injury case, a lawyer takes one third of the settlement. This includes all other charges involved in prosecuting the case. However, there should be 100% transparency when hiring a lawyer to fight for your compensation. Your lawyer is compelled to push hard to protect your interests, but the fee for doing so should be clear to both parties before you set off on the beginning of your working relationship.
Follow your instincts
Ultimately, a lawyer is a human being and your gut feeling can go some way in helping you decide on someone who is most suitable for you. The healthy relationship you enjoy with your attorney can make all the difference in your personal injury case. There are many lawyers available to help you, so if one doesn't feel right, pick someone else.
Your target here should be to identify the attorney who would primarily care about you as a person, while not being too invested in the benefits of the case. As it is a personal injury case, close attention should be paid to what would be best for your recovery and long term wellbeing. This involves working with someone who is honest and will be upfront about any weak points the case might have, while not over exaggerating its strengths.
Look for experience
Experience is everything when it comes to personal injury law. So, find a lawyer you can trust who has a number of years under his belt in the practice. Such experience in turn brings the specialised skillset needed for handling different ranges of injury cases. This way, you will be able to trust their assessment of the case in question. Consequently, you’ll be saving yourself time and money if their assessed weakness of the case outweighs its strengths.
When enquiring about a prospective attorney's experience in personal injury cases, make sure you focus on their years in the courtroom; contrary to what TV shows may have you believe, most injury related cases don't make it to court. Therefore, many lawyers who deal with such specialties have little courtroom experience.
Be aware of who is handling your case
Not every personal injury attorney handles each case exclusively. For instance, some will have a secretary or paralegal draft all letters and prepare every document needed for the case. If you opt for a senior attorney of a given law firm, they could ‘farm out’ your case to a junior associate, who isn't the person you initially researched. While this is common practice, make sure you know how competent the person is who is going to handle your case.
Word of mouth
Once you have a list of the qualities needed in your lawyer (affordability, experience, education, transparency, honesty, and so on), the next task is to look for referrals. Word of mouth goes a long way in determining a person's reputation. It’s likely that someone you know has needed to use a personal injury lawyer at some point, so who better to ask than such a person? Therefore, let your family and friends know what you’re doing and let them make recommendations where applicable. You’ll stand a better chance of finding an excellent candidate to pilot your case.
Research attorneys online
You’ll likely not glean all the necessary information from the lawyer you approach initially. Fortunately, every state or county has a database which contains details of all the lawyers practicing in the relevant field. Therefore, identify those with the most experience. Your focus should be on lawyers in the state or county where the injury occurred. The database will display the facts you might not find had you interviewed the lawyer personally; this could be whether or not they are licensed or had any disciplinary action taken against them.
Keep your options open
There’s no rule that says you have to pick out just one lawyer. Realistically, you should have as many options as possible. Therefore, whist conducting your online search and asking for referrals from family and friends, make a list of your best options and then pick the right attorney from that list. This improves your chances of finding someone with the most appropriate skills-set and experience. Having a lawyer who knows you’ve checked out other people in their profession will show them that they aren't your only option; consequently, they will put in extra effort to prove themselves to you.
The trick is to make sure you’re comfortable with the choice you make, whether or not you met face to face before hiring them. This means you’ll need to ask all the tough and awkward questions, without being afraid. Your chances of winning or losing the case will depend largely on the person you hire.