If you have been injured in an accident you may be considering a personal injury claim for damages to help pay for the costs related to medical care, lost wages, or repairs to material possessions. There are thousands of personal injury attorneys out there – how do you choose the one who is best suited to handle your claim? We’ve compiled a list of 6 things to keep in mind when choosing a personal injury attorney to represent you.
It may seem like an odd thing to consider when choosing a personal injury attorney to represent you in your quest for compensation. However, it is important to choose an attorney with whom you can be 100% open and honest. Failure to communicate openly with your attorney can lead to disaster. Most of the time, we tend to be open with people we are comfortable with.
If you are fearful of your attorney or don’t trust them, what are the chances of establishing transparency and good communication? The more comfortable you are with your personal injury attorney, the more successful your case will be.
A personal injury attorney’s record and experience are great indicators of whether they’ll be well-suited to handle your claim. While experience should by no means be the only factor you consider, it is helpful to gauge whether or not they are equipped to handle your claim. Attorneys with experience understand what to look for, which details can make or break a case, and how to best apply the facts of your specific case to general legal concepts.
New attorneys with little to no experience may have a general idea of how to approach a case, but may not have had the opportunity to really fine-tune their approach. Many times, however, new attorneys will practice under the supervision of older, more experienced attorneys, so it is important to take this into consideration.
Specialization Within Personal Injury
“Personal injury attorney” is a broad title that really captures a great number of areas of specialization. While many personal injury attorneys will be open to handling just about any “personal injury” case, others have specific areas of focus. For example, some attorneys may specialize in slip and fall/premises liability/negligence cases, others focus on medical malpractice claims, while others specialize in claims stemming from car/motorcycle/truck accidents.
While each of these attorneys may advertise him or herself as a personal injury attorney, his or her area of specialization is more specific. Finding an attorney whose specialty aligns with your accident can help to maximize recovery. Attorneys will be familiar with nuances of the specific area of law in which they generally focus.
They’ll Stake Their Reputation on It
Personal injury attorneys develop reputations with clients, adversaries, courts, experts, and just about everyone else they encounter on a daily basis. An attorney with a better reputation will be more likely to be successful in negotiating a better settlement for an injured client. To find the right personal injury attorney for your case, try getting recommendations from friends or family.
Technology and the internet have really expanded our ability to research and learn about personal injury attorneys in our local area(s). Try checking websites such as Avvo, Martindale, Super Lawyers, and Nolo to see what others have to say about your potential personal injury attorney.
Busy law offices can indicate a successful legal practice. However, if you have a seemingly minor personal injury claim that won’t generate much of a fee for the attorney you choose, your claim may not receive the attention it deserves if an attorney is overextended. Just because an attorney has a heavy client load does not necessarily mean that they will neglect your case. In many law offices, attorneys are able to assign legal tasks to paralegals or other attorneys in the office so that the caseload can be handled efficiently and effectively.
When deciding if an attorney is right for you, it is simply important to ask questions that will determine whether they have the requisite time to properly tend to your case. Fortunately, research about an attorney’s experience, reputation, and personality may help to shed some light on this ability.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they do not charge an up-front fee, but collect a percentage of your settlement or award at the end of your case. This allows injured clients to obtain necessary legal counsel without worrying about paying for unanticipated medical expenses, fixing a car or motorcycle, or dealing with lost wages due to missing work in addition to expensive legal fees. It is important, though, to ask personal injury attorneys for the exact percentage that they will take and whether this percentage covers court costs and fees.
Alternatively, some attorneys may request a small amount of money up-front to pay for filing fees, court costs, expert witnesses, and other expenses associated with a personal injury claim.