Going to court can be an intimidating experience for anyone. If you sustained an injury due to the fault of someone else, the process of filing a claim and dealing with insurance companies can feel overwhelming. For this reason, having a personal injury lawyer on your side will help make sure that you get the compensation you deserve.
Remember, you only get one shot at bringing an injury claim or lawsuit, so you want to make sure you find the right person to represent your case. Here are a few tips on how to find a great personal injury lawyer.
Ask Friends, Family Members, or Other Lawyers for Referrals
One of the best ways to find quality representation is to ask your friends or acquaintances for recommendations. If they have gone through a personal injury lawsuit, they may have a referral for you to consider. They might also let you know about any less than favorable experiences with a particular attorney.
Another option is to reach out to an attorney that you have worked with in the past. As you may know, attorneys tend to focus on particular practice areas and might not have the expertise to handle a personal injury matter. However, lawyers often have colleagues in many areas of the law and might be able to provide you with a list of qualified attorneys and their contact information.
Now, you might also choose to look into local referral services. Most state, city and county bar associations will refer your case to an attorney free of charge. Typically, you provide the service with a brief summary of your claim and the major issues of your case. They will then select an attorney that practices that particular area of the law and provide you with his or her contact information.
However, keep in mind that in most cases any attorney licensed in the state can sign up to be listed with the referral service. Often the only requirement is that the lawyer is in good standing with the bar, which means that they have paid all fees and kept up with any continuing legal education and licensing requirements. But, the bar association does not verify that the attorney has experience with your type of case.
Conduct a Thorough Online Search
In the event that you are unsuccessful in finding counsel through referrals, the next best option is to search for an attorney online. As you might imagine, the quality of legal professionals you encounter through web searches can vary tremendously.
That said, there are legal directories that are issued by private companies, many of which have client reviews. You can also look at attorney websites directly and conduct your own independent research.
Researching Potential Attorneys
Keep in mind that there are no limits to how many attorneys you can speak with before making your decision on which one to hire. It’s always good practice to investigate the background and qualifications of anyone you are interested in hiring to handle your case.
As part of the process, you can look up any lawyer on the state bar association website. You want to make sure that they are in good standing with the bar and find out whether or not they have had any disciplinary actions brought against them. Pay close attention to any discipline record that includes ethical violations involving past clients. These are major red flags.
As mentioned, online reviews and law firm websites can also be a good source of information on attorneys. These tools can give you an idea of what areas of law the attorney focuses on, and perhaps an indication of prior case results. However, keep in mind that previous successes are not a guarantee that your case will turn out the same.
Preparing for the Initial Meeting
If you find an attorney that seems like a good fit, the next step is to schedule a meeting or phone call. During this initial interaction, the lawyer will likely ask you questions about your case and you can ask questions about the attorney’s experience.
Questions you will likely want to ask include:
- How long have you been in practice?
- Do you have experience with this particular type of personal injury case?
- How and when do you communicate updates to your clients?
- What is your fee?
- Who pays for court costs?
Note that some attorneys charge for an initial consultation, while others do not. In most cases, they will let you know this policy in advance of the meeting or phone call.
You can also discuss any expectations you have about the outcome of the case. If you are in need of a certain dollar amount in order to settle the lawsuit, you should let the attorney know what this figure is. Likewise, if you absolutely want to take your case to trial, ask the attorney whether this is option is available or advisable.
It’s important to remember that you should pay careful attention to whether a prospective lawyer is someone you would like to work with. Any person you select will likely have an ongoing professional relationship with you for some time. Consider whether they are listening to what you have to say and whether or not they have their own agenda.
Remember, personal injury cases are important matters that require careful investigation and often tough negotiations and trial work. You want a qualified attorney on your side that understands these complex matters and can get you the compensation you deserve.