What to Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
Accidents can happen to you in any place and at any time. You might slip and fall on someone’s property, get bitten by a stranger’s dog, or be injured at work or in a car accident. In severe cases, your injury may be so serious that you may have to take a leave of work and make changes to your lifestyle while you recover. You may be facing many visits to the hospital or physical therapy, all the while handling insurance and medical bills. In this case, you may want to seek the services of a personal injury attorney to pursue compensation for physical suffering, as well as your time and financial losses. Although you may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it is very important that you do not rush the process of finding a good lawyer to represent you in your personal injury case. Here are some things to take into consideration when seeking representation.
Imagine for a moment that you have been in a car accident and have broken a bone in your leg. Would you go to a general physician or an orthopedic specialist? Obviously, the latter. The same case applies when you have a potential personal injury case– you won’t select just any lawyer. Instead, you’ll need to seek the services of an attorney who is well acquainted with the state’s personal injury laws and one who handles motor vehicle accidents on a regular basis. This will be the difference between getting the appropriate compensation and settling for whatever is offered by the opposing client.
Another important factor when looking to hire a personal injury lawyer is credentials. You need to determine whether the attorney has the legal acumen and reasoning capacity required to best handle your case. That’s why it is important to inquire about your lawyer’s educational qualifications. If an attorney is hesitant to show you their credentials, then, this is enough cause for alarm.
It is likely that the main reason you are seeking a lawyer is because you do not want to deal with the financial burdens of paying out of pocket. Therefore, you need to understand who is covering the costs of litigation. Will you be responsible for the costs of disbursements? Or, is the attorney covering the pre-trial costs (preparation and filing of legal pleadings, court reporters, and expert witnesses). In most cases, these costs are paid by the lawyer. But, be sure to fully understand your written agreement before signing anything with an attorney. Understanding the contract, and the costs within, will save you any unforeseen surprises down the line. Also, don’t forget to ask about the contingency fee. Usually, this will be somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the personal injury award, based on whether the case goes to trial or not.
Lastly, when you hire an attorney, you’re entrusting them with a responsibility to ensure justice is served for you. That’s why choosing a law firm or individual with a positive reputation is a crucial consideration. Flashy advertisements do not necessarily equate to a good reputation. Look out for law firms that operate on the “quick turnover” and “high volume” basis. They will often settle a case pre-maturely and with little benefit to the client. Additionally, be wary of lawyers who send solicitation letters to your home after an injury.
On the flip side, a positive reputation will be reflected by happy former clients, excellent customer service and reviews, scrupulous and honest practices, and a track record of exceptional results. Consult sites that review lawyers and law firms, such as Super Lawyers, Yelp, Martindale-Hubbell and AVVO. Also, ask around to family and friends in your area. Positive word of mouth is a good tool for finding a good match for your case.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is your recovery, your health, and your happiness. Don’t cut corners and don’t settle for less. By finding the right personal injury attorney, you will have strong representation and the tools to work through your case and receive the compensation you deserve.