Personal Injury Lawyers: How To Choose The One That is Right For You
If you have been injured in an automobile accident, it may seem that everyone you know has an attorney to recommend. Even if you have no friends who are willing to press their advice upon you, commercials touting this attorney or that one are all over the television. Attorneys are everywhere. Assuming that you do not want to handle your personal injury claim on you own, how exactly do you decide which one to choose?
First, never hire a personal injury attorney who asks you to pay a retainer fee. There is no need for that. PI attorneys handle their cases on a contingency basis, meaning that if they do not get a settlement or win an award in Court, they do not get paid. The hiring contract that you sign when you choose an attorney will specify what percentage of the final settlement will go to the attorney.
Whatever the method of communication you use, does the attorney respond to your requests quickly? If you prefer email, does the attorney respond personally, even if it is only to tell you that he will get back to you when he is in his office? Many attorneys do spend a lot of time in court and are thus not always readily available to pick up the telephone when you call. However, if he does not respond in a timely manner even before you sign the hiring contract, he won’t afterwards either.
How long has the attorney been practicing law, and how does that matter to you? Are you looking for a younger attorney who is newly graduated from law school and eager to work long hours for his clients in order to make a name for himself? Or are you looking for an older, more experienced lawyer who hopefully knows the business and all of the players inside-out and might be less likely to make a “newbie” mistake when handling your case (but has also already made his fortune and likes to play golf)?
What does the attorney
have to say about the specific insurance company that you are pursuing your personal injury claim against? Hopefully he or she will be able to say that they have some working experience with that company. Steer clear of an attorney who only makes derogatory comments rather than discuss real issues, as that sort of demeanor will only impair settlement negotiations when your case reaches that point.
You will need to meet the attorney in his place of business when you sign the hiring contract. Most attorneys offer a free consultation so that he or she can make a first impression before anyone commits to the working relationship (they are also checking you out). You also have the opportunity to meet any support staff and check out how the attorney runs his office, even if you can only do so superficially.
Ask the attorney if he has handled cases similar to yours before. Every case is special to the person who suffered the injury, but many really do have similarities to many others (for instance, whiplash claims), so whether or not the attorney you are questioning has handled a similar case may not be extremely important in most instances. However, if your case involves something out of the ordinary such as a pregnancy that terminated because of an accident, or a head injury with residual cognitive difficulties, similar experience would be very valuable.
Finally, do you feel a rapport with the attorney in that first meeting? The answer should be “yes”. After all, this attorney and his staff will wind up knowing some very intimate details about you and possibly even your family through your medical and lost wage records. Make sure that you can be comfortable with that. Go with your gut; if you really like or really do not like the attorney, that is ultimately what matters most.This article is approved for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel. It does not endorse any specific attorney or law office.