Having the right attorney on your side can make a huge difference in your ability to recover the compensation you deserve when you have a serious injury. Hiring a personal injury lawyer, however, can feel incredibly daunting. How do you know you have found the right personal lawyer to handle your injury claim?
The right lawyer may look different based on several critical questions about your claim. Make sure you know what you need in an attorney and can move forward confidently based on your needs.
Determine What You Need in a Lawyer
Before you begin your personal injury claim, define for yourself what you need and want in a lawyer. Some requirements may relate to the type of injuries you suffered, while others may relate to your personal preferences for communication and more.
What type of injuries did you suffer?
The severity of your injuries may impact the kind of lawyer you need. For example, if you suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident, you may have much more serious needs than an accident victim with broken bones, even multiple broken bones.
If you suffered a spinal cord injury in the accident, you might need a lawyer who can help you calculate your future anticipated medical expenses and the future potential impact of your injuries on your life.
When you look for a lawyer, you may want to look into an attorney who clearly understands the specific type of injuries you suffered and the injuries that resulted from them. Often, that means looking for a lawyer with experience dealing with the injury you sustained in your accident: a lawyer that deals with spinal cord injuries or brain injuries, for example
How did your injuries occur?
As you consider a lawyer who has expertise in the type of claim you need to file, you may want to look for a lawyer with experience with the kind of accident you suffered. Sometimes, different types of accidents will have very different legal rules. For example, a medical malpractice claim, including a birth injury claim, may have very different steps that you will need to follow than a personal injury claim. If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you might want to work closely with a car accident lawyer who understands all the ins and outs of car accident law.
Of particular note, if you suffered injuries in a workplace accident, you may want to work closely with an attorney who has experience dealing with workers’ compensation claims. Workers’ comp often has very different rules than the average personal injury claim.
For example, workers’ comp relies less on an act of negligence that specifically caused an injury and more on the fact that you suffered those injuries while taking care of your work responsibilities. Furthermore, your workers’ comp insurance should pay all medical expenses associated with your accident directly; while in a personal injury claim, you will need to make your own arrangements to cover your medical bills, but may receive compensation for those bills through your personal injury claim.
You need a lawyer who has experience dealing with workers’ compensation to help you maximize the assistance and compensation you can receive and ensure that your employer meets all your needs related to the accident.
Where do you need to file your claim?
Lawyers pass the bar and choose to practice law in specific states, usually based on the location of their practice. In some cases, you may find a lawyer that practices law in multiple states, often due to multiple lawyers in the practice with certifications for those different states.
When you choose an injury lawyer, you need one who practices law in the state where you intend to file your claim. If your lawyer cannot legally practice in the state where you need to file your claim, that lawyer cannot help with your case, and you may find it more difficult to move forward with your claim.
As you consider your lawyer, you may also want to consider the specific area where a lawyer practices. Sometimes, it can benefit you to have a lawyer who knows the judges in a specific court system and can help give you a better idea of how you might navigate those particular areas and claims.
How much compensation does the lawyer feel you can win through your claim?
As you start talking to a lawyer, you may ask, during your consultation, how much compensation the lawyer feels you can win for your injuries. Generally, a lawyer will provide you with an estimate based on the financial losses and suffering you have faced as a direct result of the accident.
The lawyer may want to consider your medical bills, any income that you lost because of your accident injuries, and both physical pain and emotional suffering and anguish you had to contend with following the accident.
The lawyer may also look at the insurance policy that covers the party that caused your injuries, since the insurance policy may have a significant impact on the compensation you can recover.
When you talk to more than one lawyer about your case, pay attention to the estimates offered by the attorneys. You will likely not want to work with a lawyer who will ask and fight for less compensation than you deserve for your injuries.
However, that does not necessarily mean that you want to go with the lawyer who provides you with the highest estimate. A lawyer who offers an estimate that sits considerably higher or lower than other attorneys you spoke to may not understand your injuries and your claim. You do, however, want to make sure that you have a lawyer who thinks that you can recover reasonable compensation for your injuries.
How does the lawyer prefer to communicate with clients?
As you choose a personal injury lawyer, keep in mind that you need to communicate with that lawyer regularly. Before selecting an attorney, ask about the law firm’s preferred communication methods and strategies.
How does the law firm like to communicate? In general, does the lawyer usually use text messages, phone conversations, or face-to-face meetings to convey the information you need about your case? Will you receive regular email updates?
Ideally, you want a lawyer who will work with your preferred communication style, making it easier for you to keep up with all the details of your case and what information the attorney needs from you.
You may also want to consider how often the law firm typically communicates with its clients. Does the firm provide regular updates or only get in touch with you when new information develops in your case? If you feel more confident with regular updates, you may want to choose an attorney that focuses on keeping all clients in the loop, rather than one who only communicates when something changes.
What do the lawyer’s past case results look like?
A lawyer’s past case results have a great deal to do with that lawyer’s overall experience. They can show you how the lawyer generally works with clients and what results the lawyer has obtained.
Great results in another claim (even one that looks very similar to yours), do not necessarily guarantee the compensation the lawyer will ultimately recover for your case and your injuries. However, a lawyer with a strong history of successful claims may have better overall odds of recovering the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
As you look at the lawyer’s past case results, you may also want to consider what percentage of the lawyer’s cases usually end up in the courtroom. Most of the time, insurance companies want to settle out of court if at all possible. Going to court often increases the company’s legal costs, and it may not substantially reduce the compensation the company has to pay out to you in the end.
Take a look at whether the lawyer seems to end up in the courtroom frequently. If it happens often, you may want to ask why the lawyer displays primarily high-profile cases? Does the lawyer take on more complicated cases? Or does the lawyer simply have an aggressive approach that does not aid in reaching a reasonable settlement outside the courtroom?
Does the lawyer make you feel comfortable?
When you speak with a lawyer about your case, do you feel supported? Does the lawyer give you the feeling that you have placed your claim in good hands, or do you find yourself struggling to communicate with them, or feeling as though they brush your needs aside?
When you choose a lawyer for your claim, you want one who makes you feel confident and comfortable, not one who makes you feel your claim does not deserve their full attention.
A lawyer can offer several vital tools and assistance as you move forward with an injury claim, including connecting you with community resources that can help you manage many of the challenges you may face as you move forward with your claim. If you do not feel comfortable with your lawyer, however, you may not share those struggles, and you may not realize your options.
Who, at the law firm, will handle your claim?
The person you speak with during an initial consultation might not handle your claim once you choose to work with a specific firm. A great deal of the work on your case naturally takes place behind the scenes, and you may find that other parties, including legal aids, do a great deal of the work, including looking up statutes, sending letters, and even putting together your claim.
However, you want to know that the lawyer doing the primary work on your claim has the reputation for success that you need. Make sure you know and feel comfortable with the lawyer who will take care of your legal needs.
How to Find a Lawyer?
Once you know what you need in an attorney, you need to choose a law firm.
You have several options for finding a lawyer.
- Use a qualified legal search engine like Avvo.
- Turn to Google and perform a search for personal injury lawyers in your specific geographic area.
- Talk to friends and family members for recommendations.
- Ask for a recommendation from a lawyer you use for other purposes: your family lawyer, for example.
You may end up with a long list of lawyers in your area, especially if you turn to a Google search. Once you have that list, you can narrow down your choice to the attorney or law firm that best fits your needs.
Take a look at the lawyer’s website. Does the lawyer focus on what you considered most important as you determined what type of lawyer you needed? What about reviews: Do the reviews from past clients indicate that the lawyer offers a high standard of service?
Finally, call in and talk to a law firm representative. Most lawyers will start with a free consultation, which will give you a chance to get to know the attorney and ask the vital questions you may have about the firm and your case.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer as Soon After Your Accident as Possible
Following a serious accident, you may need to have a personal injury lawyer on your side from the beginning. Do not wait or try to handle your claim on your own. Instead, Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you can. A lawyer can help provide the vital representation and support you need as you manage a serious injury claim.