When you get injured, your first priority should be to get medical treatment. The next should be to find a personal injury lawyer if your injury was the result of negligence or was the fault of someone else.
While you can navigate the insurance process on your own, you’ll often get a much larger settlement when you hire an attorney. Experienced lawyers know how to handle insurance companies and negotiate the amount you deserve to cover your medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
Keep reading to learn how to choose a lawyer for your personal injury case.
1. Consider Your Specific Needs
The personal injury umbrella of law includes a variety of accident types that result in injury. Some lawyers handle all issues while others specialize in a certain type of personal injury, such as a wrongful death lawyer or a vehicle accident lawyer.
Consider your specific type of personal injury and the amount of experience the attorney has in that area. For example, you might need a slip and fall lawyer if that describes your type of injury. If your injury was due to negligent security, find an attorney with experience handling similar cases.
You’ll have a much better shot at winning your case and getting a larger settlement when your attorney has experience in the specific type of injury or accident you experienced.
2. Check on Experience
Lots of attorneys advertise their personal injury services, but that doesn’t mean they’re truly experienced in the field. If someone calls themselves a wrongful death lawyer but has only handled one or two wrongful death cases, they don’t get much experience in the field.
Look for an attorney who has handled lots of cases like yours in the past. A history of success with similar personal injury cases gives you more confidence in their ability to help you.
In personal injury cases, it’s often best to choose an attorney who only represents people who are injured. If they also represent insurance companies or handle defense for people who are at fault for personal injuries, there could be some conflicting interests.
Another consideration is experience in settling versus going to trial. Choosing an attorney with experience in both ensures that they have the experience necessary no matter how your case ends.
You also have more options for handling your case. If an attorney always pushes for settlements and avoids going to court, you could miss out on the opportunity for a larger settlement should your case be better suited for trial.
3. Talk With Lawyers
Before deciding on a personal injury attorney, meet with the lawyer to ensure it’s a good match. Many personal injury attorneys offer free consultations where you can give them the details of your personal injury case. They can tell you if you have a good case and give you an idea of how they would handle it.
When interacting with the law firm, pay attention to how the staff treats you. Consider how professional they act and how prompt they were at returning calls or answering questions.
If you visit the law firm in person, notice how you’re treated by everyone at the office. If they’re rude or don’t have time for you before you become a client, they probably won’t treat you any better if you go with them.
Note how organized the office looks. If things seem cluttered and disorganized, the attorneys might struggle with organization in general. You want an attorney who is organized and won’t miss important dates or lose crucial paperwork.
4. Look at Reviews
A lawyer’s reputation with past clients helps you get an idea of how your experience might go. Start by checking state and local bar associations to ensure the attorney is in good standing.
Several online rating websites for attorneys give you an idea of how well specific personal injury attorneys have performed in the past. Look on sites such as Super Lawyers, Martindale Peer Reviews, and Avvo Ratings to find information about potential attorneys.
You can also ask each attorney for references from past clients. Talking to those clients can give you an idea of how the attorney operates and if it’s a good match for what you want.
5. Consider the Payment Structure
Personal injury lawyers most often work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t pay a fee upfront for your attorney’s services.
Instead, your lawyer keeps a percentage of the final settlement you receive. If you don’t receive a settlement, you don’t have to pay your attorney. You may still have to pay certain fees, such as court filing fees.
Even though the lawyer gets a portion of your settlement, there’s still a good chance you’ll come out ahead. Personal injury attorneys are often able to get higher settlements for their clients since they know how to negotiate well with the insurance companies.
Ensure you understand the fee structure ahead of time. The fees should be in writing.
6. Find Out Who Handles Your Case
Some law firms have one or two high-profile attorneys that you recognize. However, just because you call that law firm doesn’t mean those high-profile attorneys will handle your case. Many firms have certain lawyers that work on certain types of cases.
Many law firms also have paralegals, intake staff, or assistants who screen clients and handle a lot of the case workload. These staff members may be highly qualified, but it’s also important to have some face time with your actual attorney. You want to know that the attorney you hire will be working on the case and will be there when you need them.
7. Consider Overall Match
Many lawyers are very qualified and capable of handling your case, but not all are a good match for what you want. Follow your instincts when meeting with attorneys to determine if this is the type of person you want representing you.
Some people prefer blunt, straightforward attorneys who don’t sugar coat anything. Others prefer a more nurturing approach.
Ultimately, you want someone who will get you the settlement you want. But you also want to feel comfortable communicating with the attorney. If you feel like the attorney doesn’t have time for you or never really listens to you, the attorney-client relationship will probably be rough.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Finding the right personal injury lawyer for your case requires a little research on your part. The reward is a reputable attorney who takes your case seriously and fights for your best interests throughout the legal process.
Visit our archives for more legal information.