Hiring a personal injury lawyer can be an intimidating task. You (or your loved one) are likely dealing with injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and uncertainty about the future; you need an attorney who genuinely has your best interests at heart.
There are many, many personal injury attorneys out there. Earning the maximum compensation for your injury isn’t about searching for the cheapest rates or the boldest promises. It’s about finding the right attorney to meet your needs.
The process of choosing a personal injury lawyer should always start with thorough preparation before you make any calls to firms. In this post, we want to explain everything you need to know to start your search – and more importantly, how to make the selection a bit less nerve-wracking.
Let’s get into it.
1. List Out Your Needs
A personal injury lawsuit has many moving parts – and every case is unique. Before you begin your search for an attorney, your first move is to list out as many details as possible about your type of case. Minor injury cases are much different than serious injuries or death. You and your attorney need to be on the same page right off the bat.
Start by listing out the following items:
- What type of injury did you or your loved one sustain?
- What was the severity?
- Describe the incident.
- Where did the injury occur?
- Who was at fault?
- What hardship has this injury led to?
- What do you hope to gain from a personal injury lawsuit?
- Compensation for medical bills?
- Lost wages?
- Pain and suffering?
- All of the above?
Your list of needs forms the foundation of your personal injury case. As you begin to meet with attorneys, this list will be instrumental in finding the perfect fit.
2. Start Your Search by Asking Friends and Family
As you begin your search for a personal injury attorney, word-of-mouth is the place to start. The best lawyers are compassionate, helpful, and make you feel like a friend or relative as they manage your case. These qualities can be tough to gauge in an introductory phone call or consultation.
Keep in mind, the personal injury lawyer you hire holds your future in their hands. Starting your search with some level of familiarity can do wonders to ease this tension. When you speak with a friend or family member about their experience with this attorney, try to get a sense of their priorities.
- Were they responsive?
- Did they take the time to clearly explain the law – and how your situation factors in?
- Did it seem like they genuinely cared about your well-being?
Now, just because your friend or family member had a great experience with a personal injury lawyer doesn’t mean they’re the perfect fit for your case. At the very least, it will help to chat with this attorney to get a feel for the next steps. Even if they aren’t the right attorney for you, they will likely help to point you in the right direction.
3. Look for Personal Injury Attorneys Who’ve Worked Similar Cases
Personal injury is a vast space in the legal world. Most personal injury attorneys have a few areas they are highly specialized in. This might be nursing home injuries, car accidents, dog bites, workers’ compensation, etc.
The area(s) a prospective attorney specializes in is the most important part of the search. As you begin speaking with firms, ask them about a similar case they handled in the past.
- What was the outcome?
- What were the biggest challenges?
- Did the case go to trial?
- How long did it take?
Without naming any names, the attorney should be happy to tell you about their experience with situations similar to yours.
Some lawyers may tell you they can handle your case – but don’t have the credentials to prove it. A general rule: if the attorney doesn’t advertise services for the type of injury you’re seeking justice for, don’t let them handle your case.
4. Prepare a List of Key Questions for the Consultation
To follow up on our last point, you should have a list of questions prepared for the consultation. The answers you get are the best way to determine whether the personal injury lawyer is a good fit.
In addition to questions about similar cases, here are a few questions to ask – and more importantly, answers to look for.
a. What are your top priorities in a personal injury lawsuit?
A personal injury lawyer has many priorities in a case.
However, their highest should be earning justice for your injury and making sure your recovery is as stress-free as possible. Their number one goal should be getting fair compensation in a timely manner – so you can go about your life.
Communication MUST be among their top priorities. Struggling with an injury is stressful enough; feeling like you’re left in the dark only makes matters worse. A good personal injury lawyer will make it a point to respond to your questions as quickly as possible. Additionally, they will pass on updates as soon as they get them.
Client education should also be high on the list. The personal injury field is full of legal jargon and gray areas. Your personal injury lawyer should explain the inner workings of your case in a way you can understand. You should never feel overwhelmed by the details of your case – a compassionate attorney will make sure you never are.
b. What are your costs?
This is a big one. A trustworthy personal injury attorney will NEVER demand any upfront costs from you. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they will only get paid once you recover compensation for your case.
The fee they collect is a percentage of the amount you are awarded.
In other words, you pay NOTHING out-of-pocket. This means that ANYONE can afford to work with a personal injury attorney. If they ask you to pay anything to take your case, keep your pocketbook closed and head for the door.
c. What do you think my personal injury claim is worth?
After you provide the attorney with the details of your case, they should have a good idea of what it’s worth. Even if things are still a bit hazy, they should be able to provide a ballpark amount. This would also involve an explanation of how factors like discovery, liability, and pre-existing medical conditions might factor into the settlement.
Now, what you want to be wary of are bold guarantees and estimates that seem unrealistic. There are no guarantees of results in the legal field. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
d. About how long does it take to resolve a personal injury case like mine?
This is another one where bold promises and precise answers are a red flag. The consultation is about gathering information to start the process. It’s impossible to know exactly how long the settlement will take this early in the game.
However, they can provide a rough estimate based on the details you provide. They should also mention they will do everything in their power to resolve the case as quickly as possible.
5. Look into Their Testimonials
Word-of-mouth is the first choice when it comes to references for the reputation of a lawyer. But going beyond personal referrals, reading through the firm’s reviews and testimonials needs to be part of your selection process.
Now, simply looking at star ratings on Google or social media is not enough. The key is to look for patterns in how past clients described their experiences.
- Are they good with communication?
- Do they devote enough time to cases?
- Did past clients feel like a priority?
- Do they take the time to explain concepts in layman’s terms?
These are the types of values good personal injury lawyers keep. Seeing positive patterns here is a good sign.
6. Don’t Be Intimidated by the Fees
Like any professional service, skilled attorneys do not come cheap. The results of a personal injury lawsuit can have life-altering effects – and you need the best legal assistance you can find.
To echo a previous point, clients do not have to pay ANYTHING out-of-pocket to hire a personal injury attorney. They will take a percentage of the payout once they win the case. Moreover, an experienced lawyer won’t take personal injury cases they don’t think they can win.
Money should never hold you back from seeking justice for pain and suffering. As long as you have a solid case, there will be nothing to worry about.
The sooner you begin building your case, the better off you’ll be.
The personal injury lawyer you hire plays the biggest role in the outcome of your case. With the right preparation, finding the perfect attorney can be a quick, painless process. Hopefully, this article will help nudge you in the right direction.
You deserve an attorney who stays in your corner throughout the entire case – and makes sure your primary focus is on recovery.
If you or a loved one has been injured and are seeking justice, don’t hesitate to reach out to Midwest Injury Lawyers for a FREE consultation. Give us a call at 312-786-5881 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re always happy to help steer you in the right direction!