Have you suffered an injury that was caused by the negligent or reckless actions or omissions of another party? If so, there is a good chance you will need a lawyer to help you recover compensation. It is very rare that the party responsible freely admits fault and reimburses you for all of your losses, and you probably will not have much better luck getting fair treatment from their insurance company if you try to handle the claim on your own.
To help ensure that you are fully and fairly compensated, you will probably need to retain legal representation. This is especially true if there are complicated factors in your case, such as a severe and debilitating injury, disputes over who was at fault, and multiple parties that may have been involved.
How Do I Find the Right Personal Injury Lawyer to Handle my Claim?
There are countless lawyers out there for you to choose from, and it can seem overwhelming trying to find an attorney you can trust to handle your case. A good place to start is to ask any family members or friends who have been through what you are going through. If they used an attorney who got them a good settlement, then chances are this is someone worth considering.
If you are unable to find anyone through your own network of acquaintances, then you will need to expand your search. And if your candidates do not come from referrals, you will need to ask some more detailed questions to find out if they will be a good fit for your case.
Here are some of the most important questions to ask a personal injury lawyer you are considering hiring:
- How many years have you been practicing?
Every lawyer was new at some point, but you probably do not want to put your claim in the hands of someone who is fresh out of law school. Ideally, you want to work with an attorney who has been around for a while. Now, more experience does not necessarily equate to better representation. Be sure to check out their ratings and reviews as well to find out what others say about the representation the firm has provided in the past.
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to personal injury law?
Personal injury is a very complex area of the law that encompasses countless different types of accidents and events. Preferably, you want to work with a firm that focuses primarily (or exclusively) on personal injuries.
- How many cases like mine has your firm handled in the past?
An attorney or firm that is primarily focused on personal injury law will most likely have dealt with a wide range of cases, and chances are, they will have handled a case like yours. Ask this question anyway though so you can find this out for sure. Confirm that they are familiar with your situation, and also be sure to ask about the outcome of prior cases like yours. Ultimately, you are looking for a firm with a successful track record securing favorable outcomes for other clients who have been in your shoes.
- How often do you take cases to trial?
This is a very important question to ask. While it is generally preferable to settle a claim before it goes to trial, your lawyer should have extensive litigation experience and the proven ability to successfully try the case. If a lawyer never goes to trial, then the other side has no incentive to offer you a reasonable settlement. This means that you will probably end up having to settle for far less than you deserve.
- Will you be able to dedicate the resources necessary to bring my case to a successful conclusion?
Along the same lines as the previous question, you need to get a feel for how much energy the firm will put into your case. With some firms, a case may fall to the bottom of the priority list when unexpected complications arise, and this where experience and focus make the difference. You want to work with a lawyer and legal team that understands and anticipates obstacles, knows how to overcome them, and is committed to winning your case.
Gut Check Time
Choosing the right lawyer for a personal injury claim is not an exact science. There are a lot of factors to consider, and at the end of the day, after you have asked all the right questions, you need to trust your instincts. What is your gut telling you about this attorney or firm? Will they competently represent you with your claim? Will they fight hard for every dollar of compensation you deserve? Will they treat you with dignity and respect? Do you feel comfortable working with them? The answers to these and similar questions will ultimately determine which personal injury attorney will be right for your case.