If you’ve been injured through someone else’s negligence, such as in a fall or vehicle accident or through a medical malpractice case, you are entitled to file a personal injury claim. Your claim could result in compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
Your choice of a personal injury lawyer is critical to the success of your claim, however. You don’t want just any lawyer; instead, you want the right lawyer.
Here are some tips for choosing the best personal injury lawyer to represent you.
Ask for personal injury claim referrals
You may have family members or friends who previously filed their own personal injury claims. Ask them for the names of personal injury lawyers they’ve used. Ask detailed questions to determine how each person experienced their lawyer’s style. Were they satisfied with how the lawyer communicated with them? And were they satisfied with the outcome of the case? You want to choose a personal injury attorney with satisfied clients!
Of course, you won’t choose an attorney strictly on the word of a friend. You’ll still want to do your research into their background. However, referrals are a good starting point.
Consider another lawyer’s referral
You may not know any personal injury lawyers; however, you may have worked with a lawyer with a different specialty. They may know a personal injury lawyer to suggest. Lawyers commonly refer cases to law firms that have things that they lack.
Another lawyer’s referral isn’t the only factor in choosing the right attorney. However, once you have a referral, you can do your research.
Check industry sources
The legal industry provides much information to help accident victims choose a personal injury lawyer. Legal industry sources are one of the most reliable ways to research potential attorneys.
The Martindale-Hubbell Registry provides short biographies and peer review ratings for more than 1 million US attorneys. The highest rating is an “AV” and identifies a lawyer or law firm with great ability and the highest level of expertise.
Best Lawyers list lawyers whose peers have identified them as the best medical malpractice and personal injury attorneys. Super Lawyers is another list of top attorneys.
When considering who will make the best personal injury attorney for your case, you should also check to ensure that their American Bar Association membership is current.
Consider only experienced personal injury lawyers
The legal industry is becoming increasingly specialized, and personal injury law is one specialty. You’ll want to choose an experienced personal injury lawyer to give your claim the best chance of success.
An experienced lawyer who has handled many personal injury cases will understand the nuances of the law and how they apply to your lawsuit. They will know how to negotiate with your insurance company and how to proceed with personal injury litigation if necessary.
When choosing lawyers to be on your shortlist for interviews, research the years they’ve practiced law. When you interview potential lawyers, ask them specifically about their experience handling cases like yours. For example, if you sustained a serious injury while on a motorcycle, you’ll want to ask them roughly what percentage of their cases have involved motorcycle accidents.
If you have catastrophic injuries, consider the attorney’s experience working with insurance companies on these types of claims. Also, consider the attorney’s litigation experience in case you have to file a personal injury lawsuit to receive fair compensation.
Also, ask about the courses they’ve completed as part of their continuing legal education. A good personal injury lawyer will keep up with developments in their field.
Because most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, hiring an experienced lawyer won’t necessarily cost you any higher percentage than hiring an inexperienced one. Your potential settlement, however, could be substantially more.
Check for board certification
Certifications can identify experienced lawyers who specialize in personal injury law. The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) certifies civil trial lawyers. The National Board of Trial Advocacy and its umbrella organization, The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, will certify as a “civil trial “attorney” those who have extensive courtroom experience.
In addition to belonging to the American Bar Association, attorneys who provide legal representation to injured people may belong to specialty organizations. Individual states may have organizations that provide continuing education and advocate on behalf of injured victims. The American Association of Justice is a national organization that does so.
Decide what’s most important for you
Some injury victims prefer to work with solo practitioners or small firms because they often have more time to devote to an individual case. However, others need or want the resources of a larger law firm. Catastrophic injuries or medical malpractice cases are examples of cases that typically require considerable resources to try.
Also, consider the fee structure. Many personal injury lawyers will work on a contingency fee basis, which means they will take a percentage of your settlement as payment. A typical percentage is one-third. If you don’t settle, you won’t owe any fees.
However, different attorneys handle case expenses differently. Case expenses are the costs to prepare the case, such as filing fees, medical records charges, and expert witness fees.
In most car accident cases, these case expenses are usually less than $5,000. However, in cases with catastrophic injuries or medical malpractice issues, the case expenses can be substantial. Some lawyers expect the client to reimburse these expenses even if the law practice loses the case.
Use the initial consultation effectively
Most personal injury attorneys will offer a free initial consultation. During that time, the lawyer will evaluate your case’s potential and decide whether they will take it.
You also should use the time to gather information to help you decide whether the attorney is the best one for you. You’ll want to interview multiple attorneys.
Here are some questions injured people can ask to choose the right attorney.
- What percentage of your cases are referrals from other lawyers?
- Do you charge a fee and case expenses only after recovery?
- How do you usually communicate with clients?
- What kinds of personal injury cases do you handle daily?
- How long have you been handling personal injury cases?
- Give me examples of cases where you represent plaintiffs like me.
- Do you teach or lecture in law schools?
- Do you have any board certifications?
- What professional organizations do you belong to?
- Do you have litigation experience?
- Tell me about your experience in negotiating settlements with my insurance company.
- Do you have available time and resources to represent me fully?
- Who will work on my case?
As you talk with the lawyer, gauge whether they listen to you and explain aspects of your case or the process in language that you can understand. Their behavior during the consultation is likely a good indication of how they will behave throughout their relationship with you.
1-800Ask-Gary refers personal injury victims to lawyers and medical professionals who can help them. 1-800Ask-Gary knows lawyers in Florida, Minnesota, and New Mexico who have represented victims of car accidents, motorcycle and pedestrian accidents, slip and fall incidents, workplace accidents or medical malpractice. Contact 1-800Ask-Gary to get a headstart on finding the right lawyer for your needs.