Hiring a personal injury attorney is imperative if someone else’s negligence caused your injury and you need representation. An experienced attorney can make the process less stressful. But how to do it? (you really can’t sue if you are injured).
- Research potential candidates
Look for someone with the necessary personal injury experience.
They may have experiences with cases similar to yours.
They may have experience handling claims with many insurance companies and litigation experience in your type of case and the injuries for which you are seeking compensation.
- Know what to look for in a law firm
Years of experience
- See testimonials and read reviews
Testimonials and testimonial videos can give you insight from real customers
Reviews can help you anticipate what your experience with the firm will be like
- Analyze your candidates
Have they had clients like you before?
Do they think you could have a successful case?
What are the fees for a case like this?
- understand the costs
Finding someone with a fee structure that works for you is imperative.
A contingent fee may be better for those on a budget.
- Hire the best team of lawyers for you
If you are not 100% sure, continue with shortlisted signatures and get answers to unanswered questions
You may not have a perfect phone conversation and that is normal.
Continuing can give you more clarity.
Trust your research and your instincts, and go ahead with the rendering.
- Sign the contract
The contract must determine the representation clauses and the fee structure that you initially agreed to.
Please read carefully and ask any questions you may have.
Never sign a contract that you do not fully understand or feel comfortable with.
A personal injury attorney is someone who specializes in cases where someone is injured, and where they can help the injured party explore their rights to fair compensation for those injuries.
If you’ve suffered a serious injury due to someone else’s negligence, it’s only natural that you feel someone else should pay for it—the problem is that you don’t know where to start to hold that person accountable. You need to hire a personal injury attorney who will understand your options and handle the legal process for you. But who to hire?
The United States is full of personal injury law firms competing for the business of injured accident victims. Some firms advertise heavily, while others quietly rely on referrals and word of mouth to attract clients. An internet search will return hundreds of thousands of results at a minimum. So how do you choose the best personal injury law firm available for your case? Here are three general parts of how to search, all with their own individual steps: Research Potential Candidates, Screen Your Candidates, and Finally, Hire the Best Attorney for You.
Part 1 – INVESTIGATION OF POTENTIAL CANDIDATES
Step 1: Understand what your case involves
To find out if an attorney is right for you, first understand the basics of why you need an attorney. Different attorneys focus on different areas of the law, and if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, your claim is in the area of personal injury. You would not hire a business attorney to defend you in a criminal case. Likewise, you don’t want to simply hire any family member or friend with a law license unless that person has the necessary personal injury experience. Many people make the mistake of hiring someone they know, or someone they have a friend or family member who might know, even if they are not the right attorney for the job.
The type of accident is a significant variable in personal injury cases. It is not in your best interest to hire an attorney who only handles car accident cases if you were injured in a slip and fall at Walmart. Handling a car insurance claim is VERY different than taking on corporate giants like Walmart and their insurers.
It is also important to consider the attorney’s experience with the type and severity of the injury. Some personal injury firms prefer to take on hundreds of cases involving relatively minor injuries because they don’t have the knowledge of the medical diagnoses and treatments involved in serious or catastrophic injuries. If you have suffered a serious or catastrophic injury, be sure to check with your attorney if they have had experience with cases like yours.
Even if someone practices personal injury law, they may not have the experience and resources to handle a wide variety of personal injury claims, from a typical car accident to a catastrophic semi-trailer case or a claim for slip and fall for serious injuries. Some larger personal injury law firms have both the ability and the skills to handle a wide variety of these types of cases, but you should be sure to research that firm before hiring them. The advantage of hiring a large firm is that you have more resources and potential behind your claim. Be careful, though, and make sure that the company doesn’t have a reputation for treating their customers “like a number.” Sometimes, the best option is to hire a large law firm, but one that offers high levels of individual service. This way, you get the best of both worlds—increased resources behind your case and personalized attention from the team.
Finally, understand that there are different ways to seek compensation in personal injury cases. Insurance companies may offer to pay some claims, while others may require you to go to court. You need an attorney with experience handling claims with many different insurance companies, as well as litigation experience in your type of case and the injuries you need to bring a lawsuit—one who isn’t shy when it comes to facing corporate adversaries. and large insurance companies, and one that knows all the negotiation tactics necessary to successfully settle a claim.
Step 2: Know what to look for in a lawyer
Countless law firms handle personal injury cases, so you should consider the following factors that separate the best personal injury attorneys from the rest of the pack:
- Years of Experience — It is just a fact that newer attorneys are not as experienced and may not know as many “insider secrets” as attorneys who have been practicing personal injury law for decades. However, a newer attorney working at a firm that provides the support and training of highly experienced attorneys should be fine.
- Reputation — Attorneys who are respected in the community and have a positive reputation will often be better than attorneys who have garnered less than stellar reputations. A positive reputation will often mean a trustworthy attorney who will be committed to your case. In today’s “Internet age”, there is no reason not to do your research!
- Disciplinary record —Attorneys who miss deadlines, keep clients informed, or act unethically may find ethics complaints filed against them with their bar association or licensing agency. Using your state bar association or licensing agency’s website, look for any complaints, suspensions, or disqualifications of the attorneys you are investigating.
- Availability —If your injuries prevent you from going to a lawyer’s office, see if the lawyer will visit you at home or at the hospital. Look for a firm that has team members available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These are sure signs of dedication on the part of the firm to its clients, as well as a good operating ‘infrastructure’.
- Winning Results —It doesn’t matter how many cases a lawyer has handled if the lawyer doesn’t consistently achieve good results for clients. Pay attention to past client reviews of past case results—although not a guarantee, it can provide a good indication of what a particular attorney could accomplish for you.
Step 3: View testimonials, read reviews
What better way to know about a lawyer’s services than from the words of clients? Clients are not required to write testimonials for their attorneys and often choose to do so because they appreciate the help they received. Reading testimonials or even watching video testimonials can also give you a better idea of the experience you may have with that attorney or law firm.
Do you want a lawyer who is from all areas? Testimonials can indicate that they were focused and efficient.
Do you want personalized and dedicated attention? Many clients write about how an attorney made them feel throughout the process.
Taking the time to read testimonials from former clients of a lawyer can give you a good or bad feeling about how they can help you.
Similarly, be sure to read reviews online. Reading reviews from past customers can sometimes be one of the best ways to anticipate what their experience will be like.
Don’t let a few bad reviews keep you from a good attorney. Look at the content of the review: Did the reviewer seem like someone with vested interests, unreasonable expectations, or even a disgruntled employee or competitor posting a fake review? (This happens more than you think) Be sure to see if the law firm responds to reviews as they are posted. If you answer, what do you think of the answer? Do they seem to care about their customers’ opinions?
Part 2 – Screen YOUR CANDIDATES
Step 1 – The questions to ask
After talking to friends and family for recommendations, do a Google search and use web legal directories to find different attorneys in your area, carefully research each option, and narrow your list down to a few top candidates. Contact these attorneys and discuss your situation with their team, making sure to ask any questions you have about the attorney, their team, and your particular case.
You should prepare the questions you want to ask in advance, as you don’t want to lose your way and forget about them during the conversation. He will want to discuss what happened to you and how the law firm is prepared to help you. Some common questions for this meeting may include:
- Have you handled a case like mine before? If so, was it successful?
- Do you focus on one area of the law or do you handle many types of cases?
- How long do I have to initiate legal action?
- How long does it take to resolve a case like mine? Is there a range?
- How will my case be assigned and who will I be working with?
- How quickly does your office return calls or emails to keep me up to date on the status of my case?
- What is the fee agreement to handle these types of cases?
- Do you think I have a good chance of a successful case?
To provide the best possible answer to your questions, please provide the attorney team with as much information about your case as possible. It helps if you can gather information and documentation before the consultation so you can give details about your accident and injuries. If possible, you should have important documents and information available. Documents and information such as medical records, information about witnesses to the accident, photos you took of the accident scene, police reports, and other important information can help make your consultation as productive as possible.
Taking the time to discuss your case and your concerns with a law firm can give you an idea of whether or not they will partner with you. During the conversation, if the law firm representative talks fast, skips over important issues, or tries to rush you out of the conversation, it may indicate what to expect throughout your case. On the other hand, a representative who takes the time to make sure you understand what is going on, carefully explains your rights and options, shows empathy and patience and treats you like a person can leave you more confident that you will receive a response, personalized representation during your case.
Selecting the right attorney is a personal decision—and a very important decision, too. Make sure your initial consultations are completely free and that you are under no obligation to retain the attorney or firm. Make sure the legal team has taken the time to answer your questions and evaluate your potential claim. Don’t let anyone waste your time by simply telling you what you want to hear—seek an honest assessment of your case.
Step 2: Understand the cost
One of the biggest hesitations accident victims may have about hiring an attorney is the potential cost. After all, you’ve heard law firms charge hundreds of dollars an hour or even $100 for a short phone call! You don’t have to worry about money every time you pick up the phone with a consultation for your attorney. Instead, you need to find an attorney who meets your needs with a fee structure that you are comfortable with.
Some attorneys charge for settlements that can be confusing, and you should always feel free to continue making inquiries until you fully understand what the attorney expects from you financially. You need an attorney whose fees fit your financial situation following an injury—not make things more stressful!
If you’re short on money and looking for the most cost-effective way to hire an attorney, look for a firm that accepts cases on a contingent fee basis. A contingent fee agreement means you pay nothing unless the company is successful in obtaining compensation for you. Under a contingency fee agreement, all of the work the attorneys do to prepare and process your insurance claim is free. Pursuing a lawsuit is free. You will pay absolutely nothing unless you have a successful resolution.
When you receive compensation, part of your payment will cover your attorney’s fees and costs. Your contingency fee agreement should spell out in writing how much of your payment will go to your attorney, and you should always feel comfortable with that amount. At no time do you have to pay anything out of pocket or pay money up front.
Contingent fee arrangements benefit everyone in the situation. You don’t have to worry about paying an attorney. You can file an injury claim even if you don’t have the money to pay it. Plus, your attorney only gets paid if you do, so your interests are aligned with your attorney’s. This also marks a sign of your attorney’s confidence in your case—lawyers are unlikely to take bad cases on a contingency basis because there is nothing for them.
Part 3 – HIRE THE BEST LAWYER FOR YOU
Step 1: Follow up, if necessary
Imagine that you really enjoy your conversation with the first law firm and feel comfortable with its credentials, experience, and the general demeanor of its staff. If you are comfortable and confident that they are the right fit for you, and they have answered all of your questions and addressed all of your concerns, feel free to confidently go ahead and hire them. On the other hand, you may have constant questions or concerns. In such a situation, it may be best to ask to speak with a supervisor or directly with one of the team’s attorneys. If you don’t move forward with hiring the law firm after that first conversation, you should keep a notebook handy and write down any questions or concerns that come up so you can have a productive conversation when you follow up later.
Even if you don’t have a perfect experience on the first conversation, remember that conversations can get sidetracked, and legal professionals, just like anyone else, may not give you every detail or answer every question. That’s not to say they don’t care, or aren’t well informed, it may just have been an oversight. Ultimately, if you feel a strong connection to a law firm, whether it’s after your first consultation or you’re second—trust your research and instincts, and go ahead with representation.
Step 2: Sign the contract and breathe a sigh of relief
By following the steps above, you should narrow down your options to the personal injury attorney you feel is the best fit for you and your case.
When you select a law firm that agrees to take your case, you will need to sign a contract. The contract must establish the clauses of the representation, as well as the fee structure that you initially discussed. Please read this agreement carefully and feel free to ask questions about the terms of the contract. As any lawyer will tell you: never sign a contract that you are not comfortable with or do not fully understand! Once you sign the contract, your new personal injury attorney and his team can start working to get you the compensation you deserve.