After an accident, it’s natural to feel a wide range of emotions. Anger, fear, uncertainty: These are all normal. A personal injury attorney can help you navigate through these feelings and help you get the compensation you deserve. But where do you start? How do you find the attorney that’s right for you? If you are like most people, you likely have little to no experience working with an attorney. An online search for personal injury attorneys will bring up hundreds of results. So how do you weed through it all?
Below, we address some of the top things you should look for in a personal injury attorney.
Areas of Focus
First things first. If you suffer an injury during an accident, you need to hire a personal injury attorney. You probably shouldn’t just call up the attorney that helped you through your divorce or helped you start up your small business. Personal injury attorneys work with clients who have suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence. Within the field, there are several areas of focus. While many personal injury attorneys focus on a wide range of disciplines, you want someone who has worked a case like yours before so they can effectively litigate your case. Common focus areas include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Premises liability covers accidents that happen on someone else’s property. This includes slip and fall accidents, dog bites, and swimming pool accidents. These accidents are very common. When you speak to an attorney, ask if they have direct experience working your type of case.
When a person dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, the victim’s family has the right to seek damages from the negligent party. While wrongful death suits technically fall under personal injury, they involve a completely different set of laws and only allow for certain damages.
Experience is one thing you should look for in an attorney. Experience shows that the attorney knows the legal system and has worked with various types of insurance companies, plaintiffs, and defendants. But it’s not just about how many years of experience an attorney has. Before you hire an attorney, you should do a little research to make sure you are comfortable with who you will work with.
Things you should look at include:
- The attorney’s website: The first thing you should look at when you consider an attorney is their website. Is it professional? Does it share case results? Does it provide ample information about the attorneys? This information can tell you a lot about an attorney and their firm. But remember, these sites are designed to get you to contact the attorney. As such, they should not be your only source of information.
- Disciplinary history: If you look at nothing else, look at the attorney’s disciplinary history. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission allows the public to search for an attorney and view their license status, contact information, and whether they have any disciplinary history.
- Attorney reviews: One of the great things about the internet is you can find a review for anything, even lawyers. Websites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook have ratings for most law firms.
- Online ratings: Websites like Super Lawyers and AVVO look at a variety of factors and rate lawyers. These ratings websites may look at trial and settlement history, reviews, endorsements from other attorneys, etc. For example, both David Abels and Gary Annes have 10.0 ratings from AVVO and they are both on the Illinois Super Lawyer Top 100 list (out of over 90,000 lawyers). Further, Abels & Annes is on the Three Best Rated list for Chicago injury lawyers, and David Abels is a lifetime member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
Other Factors to Consider
Experience is important, but it’s not the only thing that matters.
When you have a list of qualified candidates, you can narrow it down by looking at a few basic factors, including:
- Availability: This one is important. Does the attorney have enough time to take on your case? How can you tell? Ask. Talk to the attorney about their availability, the size of their team, and how much time they have to devote to your case.
- Cost: Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means they take a certain percentage of your final settlement. However, this amount can vary from attorney to attorney. Know what you will have to pay before you sign on with an attorney. For example, Abels & Annes typically charges a fee of 1/3 of the settlement or verdict and, unlike many law firms, we do not increase our fees to 40% if a case goes to court.
- Location: It doesn’t matter how qualified an attorney is if he or she is actually located out of state. Try to find someone who is close enough that you can meet face-to-face when necessary.
- Comfort: When it all comes down to it, you want to work with someone you are comfortable with. Most of the time, this comes down to your gut. Does the person make you feel comfortable? Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation. If you don’t like one person, move on to the next.
Try to remember, this is your case and your future. Only you will know who is the right personal injury lawyer for you.