Guide to Finding the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured or hurt in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. If you are thinking about speaking with a personal injury attorney there are some things you should consider before starting your quest to find the lawyer that is a good fit — for you and for your case.
Selecting a qualified personal injury lawyer can be a very challenging, especially if you’ve never dealt with lawyers or law firms before. The best advice is to do your homework. Use the internet to research the name of the attorney and the name of their firm.
Keep in mind that although an attorney may claim to handle personal injury cases –the area of personal injury that you require might not be one of their main practice areas. It takes much more than “one case” to call yourself a serious personal injury attorney.
You should look for a qualified attorney or law firm with significant experience in handling personal injury cases. Make sure you review their website and look at the types of personal injury practice areas, and even more importantly, the amount of settlements for those type of cases.
You are in the driver’s seat. This is your opportunity to interview attorneys to find the one you think is the best match for you and who also has the necessary experience and resources to handle, try, and settle a case like yours.
When we say do your homework, the first place to start is on the internet.
- Website: Do they have a website? Do you like what you see? Check out their practice areas and cases tried and won. What type of settlements do they claim? Read through the testimonials. What do prior clients have to say? Do they have awards and certifications? Review the site and see what you can learn.
- Social Media: Look on their Yelp, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Do you like what you see? What is the firm’s image like? Is it one that you feel comfortable with? One that you could see yourself working with?
- Investigate: It’s not that difficult to create an impressive ad or website. But does the attorney or law firm have the goods to support their claims? Do a simple google search with the firm or lawyers name followed by ‘review’ and then again followed by ‘complaints’. Check out the links that are returned from those searches. Does their reputation seem solid? Or are you seeing any red flags?
- Lawyer Directories: Is the attorney or the attorney’s firm listed in professional directories for the law profession? Here are some to check out. There’s a wealth of information in these sites. Use them!
- Review their write-up on Angie’s List.
- What is their client rating on Lawyers.com? Click here.
- What is their rating on Avvo? Have they received endorsements from past clients? This site includes valuable information about the attorney and the firm, including a pie chart breaking down the cases by practice area. This provides a clear view of the type of cases the firm has handled. Other information includes: case tried, case settlement, speaking engagements, awards won, associations the attorney belongs to, work history, education, any complaints of misconduct, peer endorsements, client reviews and much more. This is a great place to research the person behind the picture. Click here
- Word of mouth. Don’t underestimate the power of good old fashioned ‘word of mouth’ recommendations. While good research should include an internet search, you shouldn’t stop there. Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to get recommendations that you can trust. Ask your family, friends and associates if they’ve ever had the need to hire a personal injury lawyer and what their experience was like. Would they recommend one for you? Keep in mind that everyone’s experience is different but at the very least, asking around should give you some names that you can use as a starting part.
- Prepare a list of questions. Before calling and meeting with a personal injury attorney, write up a list of questions that are important to you. Bring them with you to the meeting or have them on hand during a phone interview. It can be difficult sometimes once the conversation gets going to stay on track. Here are some questions you should ask before hiring a personal injury lawyer.
What is your contingency fee? A contingency fee agreement means you don’t pay the attorney or firm until you receive a monetary recovery. These fees range between 25% and 40% and are negotiable.
How do you handle advanced case costs? Lawyers can charge for any costs advanced. Depending on the case, these costs can be significant and are typically deducted from the client’s share. Ask your lawyer for a guarantee that you will not be held responsible.
Have you handled any personal injury cases like mine before? If so, how many? What were the results? Personal injury cases come in lots of flavors. Ask for your lawyer’s experience and results trying this type of personal injury case. You want someone with the right experience.
What do you think my case is worth? Your lawyer should be able to provide a range of expected payout and don’t be misled by lawyers who make promises that seem unrealistic.
Who will handle my case? Ask specifically who will be responsible for your case. Will you be able to speak directly with the attorney if you need to? You want to make sure the person you are interviewing will be the one handling your case. Your personal chemistry counts.
Can you get me a bigger settlement than other attorneys and why? You only get to try your case once. You need to make the most of it. Ask your attorney why you should hire him or her.
What is your current caseload like? Will the attorney have the time to handle your case?
Does your firm have the financial and personnel resources to take on my case? Personal injury cases can incur lots of pre-trial expenses and use up valuable attorney time. Is this a firm that can handle that?