If you suffered significant injuries and losses in an accident due to another’s wrongful actions, you likely want experienced and trusted legal help on your side. However, before you start Googling for a personal injury attorney in your area to take on your case, you need to understand that not every personal injury attorney is capable or knowledgeable enough to handle your claim.
That is why we have prepared the following blog post. In it, we will discuss what you should look for in a personal injury accident lawyer and the factors you should consider before you retain them.
Factors You Need to Consider When Looking for a Personal Injury Accident Attorney
Even though each personal injury claim is different and often dependent on the facts and circumstances of the case, there are still certain qualities that reputable personal injury lawyers share, regardless of the type of case they are handling. As a result, before you let just any lawyer take on your claim, here are some factors to look for when hiring a personal injury lawyer.
#1. The Types of Cases the Attorney Handles
One of the more important considerations you should consider before retaining a personal injury attorney is the type of cases they handle. For instance, if you have been harmed in an accident, you want to find an attorney whose primary area of practice is personal injury law, and they have handled similar cases to yours. This is because a lawyer who routinely handles the same type of cases that you have will often have considerable knowledge, resources, and skills needed to take on your case.
Plus, lawyers who have built a reputation working on similar cases to yours may more easily obtain a favorable settlement offer, especially since insurance companies know the success rate and reputation of the personal injury lawyers in their area.
#2. Fees and Billing Policies
In general, personal injury attorneys work on a contingency-fee-basis, which means that the lawyer will not receive money for their work unless they recover financial damages for a victim’s claim, either through a settlement offer or a court verdict.
In addition, in this type of fee arrangement, the attorney will often agree to accept a fixed percentage (usually one-third to 40 percent) of the financial recovery, which is the amount that will finally be paid to the victim. As a result, if the attorney wins the case, the attorney’s fees will come out of the money awarded to the victim.
However, due to the complexities often associated with this billing structure, you want to make sure you understand this billing and fee arrangement before you hire a personal injury lawyer. You will also want to confirm that the lawyer will not receive any payment unless they recover compensation for your case and whether percentage fees will increase if the case goes to trial.
#3. Paying Court Costs
As you discuss attorney fees and billing structures with the lawyer, you will also want to discuss case costs since these expenses differ from attorney fees. Typically, case costs include expenses related to deposition fees, travel expenses, expert witness fees, copy costs, court fees, and even postage expenses.
Yet, depending on the personal injury attorney working on the case, these costs may be handled in different ways. For instance, some attorneys may bill their clients these costs as they are incurred, which they will have to pay during their legal proceedings. Other lawyers may wait until the case settles and deduct these costs from the proceeds.
However, it is also important to point out that some legal professionals may hold their clients responsible for these costs regardless of whether they obtain compensation for their claim.
#4. Experience and Trial Skills
In general, you will likely benefit most from hiring a personal injury attorney who has experience taking cases to trial. Usually, lawyers who do not have experience heading to court may try to settle prematurely or not consider any other options before taking a settlement offer.
As a result, insurance companies will work this to their advantage, and if they are dealing with a personal injury attorney who lacks trial experience, they will try to get them to settle for less than their client is entitled to. However, if the lawyer has a reputation of being willing to litigate a case, the insurance company may be more inclined to negotiate a higher settlement to avoid court.
That is why it is important to look for a personal injury attorney who has extensive experience taking cases to trial and has shown they have successfully litigated similar cases to your own.
#5. Who Will Work on Your Case?
Many law firms have associate lawyers and paralegals that often work on personal injury cases or step in to help other lawyers with their cases. However, when you retain an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your claim, you want to know that they will be the ones working on your case and supervising anyone contributing to it.
To help ensure this, you want to confirm with the attorney who will be in charge of:
- Investigating your accident
- Preparing the necessary legal documents and motions and ensuring they are filed with the court correct before time expires
- Researching your case
- Negotiating with the insurance company for a just settlement offer
- Fighting for the damages you deserve if the case escalates to trial
#6. Case Referrals From Other Attorneys
A great way to find out if the attorney you want to hire is a top-notch lawyer is to check with other attorneys in the community. To do this, you can ask the lawyer you want to retain what percentage of their cases are referrals from other lawyers. This is because, in any field, the professionals who work in it tend to know who is good and who is not.
As a result, if your lawyers get a significant amount of referrals from their peers, that indicates that they know what they are doing, they are good at their jobs, and other lawyers feel comfortable sending them cases because they recognize that they are among the better lawyers in the community.
#7. Communication Skills and the Ability to Listen
Before you hire a personal injury lawyer, you want to make sure that you choose a lawyer that not only listens to you but is also willing to follow your wishes when it comes to approaching your case. They will also try to keep you informed and updated with what is going on every step of the way during these legal proceedings.
That is why, when you talk to these attorneys, you want to verify that they are direct, to the point, and that they listen to all of your questions and provide you clear insight into their practice and how they can help you with your case. You will also want to confirm how often you can expect to receive a status update on your case and whether you can call or email the lawyer if you have any questions or concerns.
Remember, if you have issues with communication during the initial conversation with the lawyer, there is a good chance you will have problems with communication once you hire them.
#8. Willingness to Work Towards Your Settlement Goals
Once you meet with the attorney and go over your case with them, the lawyer may give you a general opinion about what to expect, including the difficulties associated with your claim, an estimate of how much your claim may be worth, and the challenges of getting the settlement you need from the insurance company.
During this time, you may also want to discuss with the lawyer the different ways they will approach your case and whether they would consider approaching your case in the way you prefer.
For instance, you can discuss with them that you want to:
- Obtain a settlement amount from the insurance company as soon as possible
- Obtain a settlement amount within a certain range, or
- Obtain as much money as possible, regardless of how much time it takes
After you go over these options, depending on what the lawyer tells you, you will have a better idea of whether the lawyer is willing to work with you or just trying to meet their own individual goals and will not take your wants and needs into account.
The Attorney’s Overall Record
During your first conversation with the lawyer, you will also want to ask the attorney about the record of their successes inside and outside the courtroom. This is because choosing the right attorney for your case means you find one that is a skilled negotiator and an aggressive trial attorney.
For example, because most personal injury cases settle outside the courtroom, you want to find a lawyer who has a strong record of success when negotiating these types of cases. Yet, since not every party or insurance company is willing to settle a personal injury claim for a fair amount, you also want to make sure you have an attorney that can head to trial and has demonstrated in the past that they can win these cases inside the courtroom.
For these reasons, when you meet with your lawyer, you want to ask them specific questions regarding the number of cases they have worked on, and their statistics when it comes to cases won, cases settled, and cases that have gone to trial. You may also want to ask them about the amount of recovery they have secured in the past.
Willingness to Provide You With References
Before you finish your conversation with an attorney you want to hire, you should also ask them for references that you can contact and speak to. These references can help you better understand the lawyer’s reputation, how they handle cases similar to yours, and what previous clients thought about the lawyer.
Yet, more importantly, even if you do not want to contact these references, you can have more confidence that the attorney provided them to you. However, if the legal professional won’t provide you with references or does not have any to share, you take care about hiring them.
Are You Ready to Hire a Personal Injury Accident Lawyer to Take on Your Case?
Even though each of these factors can help guide you in the right direction when looking for a personal injury attorney, to truly know if a lawyer is right for you and your case, you will need to speak with them one on one and go over all of your issues and concerns.
Thankfully, because most attorneys offer free consultations, it is relatively quick and easy to set up meetings with a few of these attorneys so that you can find a lawyer that meets your specific needs and criteria.
However, before you go into these meetings, it can help to write down your questions and have a general checklist of what you want to discuss with the lawyer during your first meeting. This way, once you meet with a lawyer, you can use your time wisely and find out precisely what you need to know from them, not leaving any questions unanswered.
For these reasons, do not wait any longer to schedule your free case consultation. Instead, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today and find out if a legal professional can provide you with the legal help you need to fight for the justice and financial damages you deserve.