An accident often leads to chaos and confusion, and you might be unsure where to turn. It is normal to feel angry and fearful about what will happen next, and while you address the feelings from your accident, you will also need to deal with the legal aspects. You must find a personal injury lawyer who works for you and can adequately represent your best interests.
Victims are often unsure where to start, but you know you need a Personal injury lawyer, so today, we will show you how to find the best personal injury lawyer for your situation.
Why you need a personal injury lawyer
Anyone can try to settle an insurance claim independently, but you are likely doing yourself a huge disservice. You have the impression that you should get a certain amount of reimbursement and coverage for your losses. When the insurance offers you an attractive but low settlement, you might want to take it immediately. Still, as time passes, reality sets in, and you realize what you accepted is insufficient to cover all of your losses.
A personal injury lawyer helps with the legal elements of the insurance claim process and also offers emotional benefits. Since someone you trust is handling the legalities and negotiations, you can use your emotional energy towards other pertinent items like medical care and getting back to everyday life.
You might get various settlement offers during the claim and potential lawsuit. You will need to decide whether the amount is sufficient and fair. A personal injury lawyer can advise you whether an offer is fair and covers all your damages. They can tell you the risks and benefits of moving forward with a settlement. While they can advise you, they do not make the final decision for you. The ultimate decision is yours.
What is the focus of the firm?
Personal injury law covers many topics, and since it is a vast area of law, some personal injury lawyers will focus on specific types of cases. They can technically handle any case but choose to concentrate on certain kinds. For example, there are lawyers whose sole focus is on class action lawsuits. Some lawyers focus on workers’ compensation, and others on vehicle accident claims.
If you were in a car accident, find a personal injury lawyer who regularly handles car accident claims. Their focus is not the only thing to consider but also how far they take these cases and if they have experience winning compensation. Their track record will speak volumes, and finding just any personal injury law firm is not enough. You need one that handles and succeeds in cases similar to yours.
Consider their experience
While the firm’s focus is vital, you must also consider the experience of the lawyer you are meeting with. You can conduct some research to determine how much experience they have and if they are the right fit. Find out what other attorneys say about them, and do not be afraid to ask questions.
You can ask how many referrals they get from other lawyers because it is a strong indicator of someone’s experience that another person in their field refers clients to them. High referral rates mean that other lawyers hold them in high regard and respect their work ethic. Also, ask to speak to references and conduct a search through the state bar to get information on their disciplinary record.
Consider the length of time the personal injury attorney has been practicing law. You will want a seasoned lawyer to handle your case and should consider this when you ask about experience. Also, look for how many years they have been handling personal injury cases specifically, as some lawyers can start in one field and later switch areas of law. Overall, you should feel confident in your attorney’s past experience helping people in similar situations to yours.
Have they ever been to trial?
Nearly all personal injury cases settle before reaching trial. Still, on the chance you go to trial, you need a personal injury lawyer with experience and a winning track record. You must find out how often they successfully negotiate insurance claims, how often they file lawsuits, and how many go to trial for those lawsuits.
Ask about the lawyer’s success rate; if they cannot give you one, it is likely not very high, or they do not have enough experience to calculate it. Having one or two low-value cases resolved successfully out of court is insufficient to take on a severe case like a truck accident that might go to trial. Your claim will likely not make it to trial, but you will have peace of mind knowing that you have a chance at winning if it goes that far.
Insurance companies will also pay attention to who represents you to gauge their risk factors. The insurance company works with many lawyers, knowing how far some personal injury lawyers are willing to go and how much they will fight for their clients. Always ask about a trial track record.
Ask questions during an initial consultation.
An initial consultation is a time to ask all the questions and ensure the lawyer is the one for you. Before you meet with any lawyers, compile a list of questions you might like to ask.
Here are some sample questions start:
- What are your fees?
- Are there case-related costs I will pay if you do not win?
- How long do you estimate my claim will take to resolve?
- How many cases have you handled that have gone to trial?
- How large is your caseload?
- How much time will you spend on my claim?
- What is an estimate of what my case is worth?
- How involved will I need to be, or can I be with my claim?
- Will my claim go to trial?
- How much communication should I expect between the firm and me?
You will have many questions, and your lawyer should take the time to answer them appropriately. While legal jargon is necessary for some answers, they should also explain answers in layperson’s terms.
Pay attention during a consultation.
The initial consolation is very telling, and you should look for red and green flags during your time together. Pay attention to their level of dedication; if they give you the time and attention you deserve, that is a good sign. Suppose they cannot focus on the details and face constant distractions; that can be a red flag. Judge the communication with the law firm. Are staff polite, prompt, and professional? If not, this might not be the way to go.
Practical factors to consider
One worry often comes up is the cost of hiring a personal injury lawyer. As you can imagine, hiring a lawyer can be expensive, but that is not always true. Personal injury lawyers, in particular, have a different fee structure than other types of lawyers, starting with the initial consultation, which is free. During the consultation, you can ask as many questions as possible and feel whether the lawyer is right for you. Conversely, the lawyer can also determine if your claim is something they can handle effectively.
During the consultation, you should ask about fees and remember fees can vary depending on what your claim requires. Pre-litigation settlement might have one fee, and litigation might have another. A trial will come with additional fee structures. While most reputable personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee, always verify the fee structure and ensure it is fair before hiring a lawyer.
You should also determine how professional the office is since you interact with the lawyer and the entire firm. A law firm must work like a well-oiled machine, and there should be consistent communication between all parties. Organization and professional staff are crucial to ensuring you do not miss important deadlines and have access to support. The lawyer and staff should be on time when you have conference calls and other meetings. These are signs that they are a professional and reputable law firm.
Tips for choosing the right lawyer
While you likely have never had to file a personal injury claim, you likely have a relative or friend who has and can point you in the direction of the best personal injury lawyer. Ask family and friends for an attorney referral if you have no idea where to begin a claim. Make sure they have a good experience with the attorney, as you do not want to go with someone who will not give you the time and respect you need.
Your comfort level with the lawyer is essential, and you need to pick a lawyer based on all the above practical factors, but also someone you get along with. Depending on the details of your case, you might work with the lawyer for months or years, and you do not want to battle with them. You want someone you can be honest with and have amicable conversations with.
Signs that you are comfortable are a lawyer who patiently answers your questions, listens, and explains things until you understand. If you think they are only taking your claim because they see dollar signs, it might not be the right fit. But if they seem to have your best interest at heart, you will want to move forward.
An initial consultation can help narrow down who you feel most confident and comfortable with. You can get a good idea of their experience and what you can expect. Since consultations are free, you can meet with multiple law firms if you feel you have not still found the right fit. However, you might find the best fit on your first try.
There are online rating sites for attorneys; they get these ratings from their peers and clients. Three rating sources are The Best Lawyers in America website, the Super Lawyers website, and the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Registry. Once you have your list of criteria and a list of lawyers, it is time to make some appointments. While you should stay practical, you should also follow your gut. Consider the size, availability, and experience of the firm. Most importantly, go with a firm that understands you and feels good about it.
Take time to think
While moving quickly is important, you also should take a little time to consider which law firm and attorney you choose. Compile a list of criteria that outline what is important to you, which will help narrow down your list. Conduct online research about different law firms and their reputation.
A local lawyer is often the best option, as they will have experience working with the courts and other resources in your area where the accident happened.