If you’ve been injured and want to file a claim for compensation, choosing the right personal injury lawyer is a crucial decision. Not only can having a lawyer help you file your claim correctly and within the time limit, but it can also improve your overall chances of winning your claim and getting compensation.
While choosing a personal injury lawyer may feel like an intimidating task, knowing which questions to ask, a lawyer’s track record, and what type of fees they charge can help you choose the right lawyer.
How Do I Choose A Good Personal Injury Lawyer?
Prior to choosing a personal injury attorney, it’s important to consider what makes a lawyer knowledgeable, trustworthy, and successful. Having a good track record as well as ample experience in personal injury can be the difference between winning and losing your case.
These helpful steps below can assist you in your search for choosing an experienced personal injury lawyer.
9 Tips For Choosing A Personal Injury Lawyer
1. Ask For Lawyer Referrals From People Around You
Personal injury is common, and many of your friends and family may have already worked with a lawyer for a medical malpractice suit, after getting into a car accident, or from a workplace incident.
Listen to past client experiences. Be sure to ask detailed questions (without prying) to get a good picture of what each person’s experience was like with their lawyer. Things to pay attention to may include if they were satisfied with the outcome, how helpful the lawyer was throughout the case, whether they felt their concerns were heard and their legal needs fully addressed, and if they went to trial, what was their trial experience like.
2. Research Personal Injury Attorneys Online
In addition to referrals, you may be able to find which personal injury lawyers are most prominent in your state by searching online. While you may want to search for lawyers in your hometown, keep an open mind that it may be better to travel for the best legal representation.
You can also check your list of potential lawyers against online rating sites. These sites provide peer-reviewed ratings to help potential clients understand how reputable and skilled a prospective lawyer may be.
3. Make A List Of Criteria That’s Important To You
When considering how to choose a personal injury attorney, it’s important to consider which criteria are most important to you.
For example, you may only want to work with a lawyer who works on a contingency-fee-basis, or one who collects a percent of your winnings but does not charge an upfront fee. Narrowing your search to the law firms which set up their fees in this way can help you choose the best personal injury lawyer for you.
The type of injury you sustained may also be important. Some lawyers have extensive experience working with victims of motorcycle or car accidents, while others may have more experience with medical malpractice claims. It’s best to consider your potential lawyer’s extent of experience with particular types of cases before hiring them.
Criteria which may be important to consider when choosing the best personal injury lawyer may include:
- a lawyer’s experience with your type of case (i.e. medical malpractice, car accident injury, sexual assault, etc.)
- size of the law firm
- a lawyer’s credentials and track record
- a lawyer’s availability to take your case
- the law firm’s years of experience and access to resources
- how the law firm handles case fees
- past client experiences
- success record
4. Compile A List Of Lawyers That Match Your Needs
Once you have compiled a list of potential personal injury attorneys that you believe may meet your needs, select four or five to consult with. Narrowing your choices will help in the long run; if you meet with each of these lawyers, you will likely have to go to their firm or have a phone conversation for an initial consultation.
To review your case enough to give you an overview and determine whether they can take it on, they may need documentation and other details. While this process is well worth the trouble, it may be time-consuming, so it helps to select a few of your top choices to consult, rather than working from a long list.
5. Review Each Lawyer’s Credentials And Track Record
Becoming a credentialed lawyer takes time and dedication. Most states require a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school, as well as a certain score on the state Bar exam. Requirements for practicing lawyers vary by state and jurisdiction.
Other licensing, registrations, and certifications a lawyer may need to obtain for their own state, jurisdiction, or the law firm which employs them may include:
- completing and passing the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), prior to entering law school
- graduating from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association
- taking the Bar exam in each state (for lawyers who want to practice in more than one state)
- remaining up-to-date about legal developments which affect their area of law practice
- continuing legal education every year or every three years (in most states)
- board certification in personal injury litigation—this ensures the lawyer has extensive experience as well as passed the state bar exam
In addition to upholding necessary licensure, it’s important that whichever personal injury attorney you choose has a record for success. After all, you are pursuing your claim with the hope of winning, and an experienced lawyer can provide you with an overview of the best possible outcome based on the details of your case.
6. Consider Firm Size, Availability, And Experience
Next, look at the size of each firm you’re considering. A larger firm can mean more resources and experience, but may also mean less time to dedicate to your case. Despite large numbers of cases, the best firms handle their workload well.
Ensure you ask specific questions about who will be handling your case. If the firm you’re consulting will be passing your case on to a less experienced lawyer or a paralegal, be sure you feel confident in your representation prior to signing a contract with your personal injury lawyer.
A lawyer with less experience may be part of a firm with decades of collective experience and may represent you well, as opposed to a more experienced personal injury lawyer who practices privately and does not have access to the same resources. For this reason, it’s important to consider both a lawyer’s and the law firm’s track record and experience.
7. Call Law Offices To Set Up A Consultation
After you have selected a top few lawyers for careful consideration and have reviewed their websites to find as much useful information as possible, it’s time to call for a consultation. Most personal injury attorneys provide a free initial consultation.
At this first meeting, you will be asked to explain your case, provide details regarding the incident that led to your injury, and other necessary information. To be prepared, it’s a good idea to bring any and all documentation related to your case for the lawyer to review, including court orders and judgments.
Based on the details you provide, they may be able to provide a round estimate for what you may be able to expect in damages, or compensation awarded if your claim is successful.
8. Meet With Different Attorneys To Explore Your Options
Meeting with a few different lawyers before selecting someone to represent you may be a good idea. Not every lawyer may have the time and availability to take on your case, so it’s important to have several viable options.
Further, you may be working closely with whichever lawyer you choose for several months or longer. It’s crucial to have a good working relationship with whoever you choose to represent your case.
Before signing on with a personal injury attorney, all parties involved should understand whether you’d like a more hands-on, informed approach or if you only want to be involved in the necessary details.
9. Choose The Best Lawyer For Your Case
After consulting with a small selection of top-rated personal injury lawyers, you may be ready to choose the best lawyer to represent you for your claim.
Consider all the criteria that makes an excellent lawyer, such as experience, success rate, and client reviews, as well as your own instincts upon meeting the lawyer. While you can break a contract with a lawyer if necessary, it’s not optimal to have to change legal representation during your case.
For this reason, it’s important to ask as many questions as possible during your consultation and to spend some time discussing your case at length. This will give you a good feel for the lawyer’s methods, experience, and an idea of how much time they can dedicate to your case.
The right lawyer will make you feel heard, ensure every angle of your claim is addressed to strengthen your case, and give you the greatest opportunity to win your claim and get the fairest amount of compensation.
Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney
When it is time to meet with a potential personal injury lawyer, you may not know where to begin in terms of what to ask or details to discuss for your claim.
Here are some questions you may want to ask before hiring a personal injury lawyer:
- What are your fees? Many personal injury lawyers charge fees on a contingency basis or only collect a percentage of the winnings after you win your case.
- If I do not win my personal injury claim, will I have to pay any case-related costs?
- How many personal injury claims have you tried? What is your success rate?
- How much time can you spend on my claim? How many cases do you take on at a time?
- Approximately how long will it take my case to be resolved?
- How much is my claim worth?
- Can my personal injury claim go to trial? Do you have trial experience?
- Which lawyer(s) will be handling my case?
- Can you refer me to past clients?
- How involved will I be/can I be with my lawsuit?
Other Factors To Consider When Comparing Personal Injury Lawyers
Along with all the other criteria for consideration, it’s equally necessary to take into account certain factors that are important in any decision. While meeting for an initial consultation with each potential lawyer candidate, consider the following:
Pay Attention To An Attorney’s Level Of Dedication During Your Consultation
If the lawyer is able to dedicate all his or her time and attention to you for the length of your meeting, this is a good sign. In contrast, if a lawyer is unable to focus on the details of your case and your discussion during your meeting, they may have too full of a workload to dedicate any real-time to your case.
Observe How Quickly And Easily You Can Reach A Lawyer
When you first called the lawyer’s office, were you kept on hold for a long time? Did you have to call back multiple times to get through to someone? Were you able to speak to a lawyer prior to coming in for the consultation? Again, if a lawyer does not have time to dedicate to potential clients, they may not have ample time for your case.
However, larger firms may only have receptionists answering calls and paralegals or other legal representatives answering initial questions. Consider how well you’re treated during any contact with the firm, such as if each person is polite, prompt in handling your request, and professional.
Communication will be everything for your case. Having a lawyer that is prompt in returning phone calls and keeping you informed is a highly coveted quality.
Appearance And Competency Of Office Staff And Attorneys
An office that is organized, clean, and well-run is a great sign. Disorganization is something you want to avoid for your case. When you seek legal representation, you are likely looking for someone who is experienced and at ease with personal injury cases.
If the attorney seems at ease and confident during your initial consultation, you may feel more at ease with leaving such an important task in their hands.
Find A Personal Injury Lawyer That’s Right For You
After an injury, filing a claim for compensation may be the only way to get your life back on track, from replacing money spent on medical bills, to paying bills that have piled up while you’ve been out of work, and more.
Choosing the right lawyer to help file your personal injury claim is the best thing you can do to ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and the way they have impacted your life.
Florin|Roebig personal injury lawyers are board-certified, and we have more than 30 years of experience in representing personal injury claims in multiple states, including Florida. To set up an initial consultation to discuss your case free of cost, contact us today.