Somebody else’s negligence has caused you or a loved one undue suffering — and you’re determined to fight back. First, however, you need to find a right personal injury lawyer who understands your predicament and is capable of delivering a desirable case outcome. Not just any attorney will do — the ideal legal representative will not only boast a strong track record but also demonstrate compassion and professionalism. It’s not easy to find the right personal injury lawyer, but the effort will pay off in the long run. Follow these steps to get started:
Consider the Attorney’s Focus
Many personal injury cases are handled by general practice firms, which may also take on family, corporate, or estate planning matters. General practice can hold certain benefits, particularly for cases that delve into multiple practice areas. For example, overlap sometimes exists between personal injury and estate planning — especially in wrongful death cases. Occasionally, however, general practice can prove problematic; attorneys may lack the in-depth knowledge needed to succeed in settlement or in court. Don’t instantly rule out lawyers that work in multiple practice areas but beware of those who list dozens of niches; in such situations, the cliché ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ nearly always applies. How Can Retain Benefits from a Car Accident
Don’t merely make your decision based on whether your preferred attorney works exclusively in personal injury — subcategories also matter. Many attorneys narrow their focus to a specific personal injury niche, such as slip and fall cases, dog bites, or medical malpractice. With complex cases, it may prove prudent to work with somebody who possesses an in-depth understanding of a highly specific practice area.
Evaluate for Trial-Readiness
While the majority of personal injury cases end in settlement, personal injury attorneys should be prepared to take cases to trial when necessary. Not only does this ensure the best possible representation in the event of a drawn-out court case, trial-readiness also influences how attorneys behave during settlement negotiations. Trial-ready attorneys typically take a proactive stance, thereby increasing your chances of scoring a favorable settlement.
Ask Detailed Questions During Your Case Consultation
Consultations play an integral role in find a the right personal injury lawyer. While meeting with prospective attorneys, you can determine whether you ‘click.’ A strong attorney-client relationship forms the basis for a successful personal injury case, and often, you can predict the future strength of the relationship based on the first meeting.
In addition to evaluating your prospective attorney’s communication style, be sure to ask detailed questions about his or her legal background — and about your case. Important questions to ask include:
- How long have you practiced as a personal injury attorney?
- Why are you passionate about personal injury law?
- How many cases have you taken to trial? What were the verdicts for these cases?
- Do you handle pay on a contingency fee basis?
- Do I have a valid case? Is it winnable?
- Who else will work on my case? What can you tell me about your paralegals and other support staff members?
Finally, it’s important to discuss your attorney’s values and personal injury philosophy. What core beliefs underlie his or her work? Matching values are key; it’s tough to develop a strong attorney-client relationship if you don’t see eye-to-eye.
Check Out Ratings from Several Sources
What do other attorneys think of your prospective legal representative? How about former clients? While ratings should not be the sole basis of your selection, they can play an important role in the decision-making process. Begin with Yelp and Google ratings before moving on to tailored resources such as Martindale-Hubbell and Super Lawyer. Check LinkedIn and Avvo for attorney endorsements; positive remarks from lawyers on opposing sides of past cases are a particularly good sign.
Read Up on Past Case Verdicts
Personal Injury attorneys can claim strong track records, but it’s rarely wise to take them at their word without proof of success. If possible, get a feel for recent case verdicts. These can often be found directly on the attorney’s website. Examine case history to determine not only how much was awarded in key cases, but also practice area patterns and whether highlighted cases were settled or taken to trial.
Careful attorney selection is critical; if your case falls into the wrong hands, it could cost you and your loved ones dearly. Vet all prospects thoroughly to ensure the best possible legal outcome. You deserve to work with a skilled attorney who actually cares about you and your loved ones.