The Ultimate Guide To Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer
Weinstein Legal > Hiring a Lawyer
Finding The Right Attorney For YouHaving the right attorney can be the difference between securing a settlement or suffering under the weight of medical bills and lost wages following an accident. Whether you were involved in a car crash, suffered a slip and fall, or were involved in any other form of accident, choosing the right personal injury lawyer is a critical decision. However, choosing a personal injury lawyer does not need to be as complex as you may think. At Weinstein Legal, our trusted personal injury attorneys have connected with countless clients in need of legal representation. Now, we want to help you, by providing our complete guide to hiring a personal injury lawyer that is right for you.
- DETERMINE THE AREA OF LAW YOU NEED AN EXPERT IN
If you don’t know where to start when looking for an attorney, you’re not alone. To begin, figure out the broad area of law that you need an expert in. If you’ve been injured in an accident that was either not your fault, or you were not fully responsible for, you’ll be looking for a trusted personal injury lawyer. In this case, you’ve come to the right place! Personal injury lawyers fight for clients’ rights to recover damages they sustained in accidents caused by negligent individuals. This can be auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and more. Focus on finding an attorney that has extensive experience in the practice area that you need. For instance, if you sustained injuries in a car crash, look for an experienced car crash attorney.
- SEARCH FOR LEGITIMATE, LICENSED ATTORNEYS
Next, you’ll want to search for legitimate, licensed attorneys in your area. Refrain from typing in something like “car accident lawyer” into Google. While this might turn up qualified attorneys in your area, you’ll also get a flurry of paid results for lawyers that might not have the best skill set, but had the best budget to advertise. Instead, you’ll want to consider a lawyer’s experience. Search within the Florida state bar’s association, or search professional organizations based on the specialty you need. Look at the minimum requirements for inclusion into whichever professional organizations they belong to, and check to see if they are board certified in the practice area that applies to your situation. This can also provide key insights into judicial connections. Participation in local bar associations or contributing to campaigns is an indicator that the attorney is very involved in the local legal culture.
- SCOPE OUT SIZE AND RESOURCES
Firm age, size, experience, and connections with doctors and medical expert witnesses relevant to your case are all important in a personal injury case. But, don’t be quick to eliminate small firms. While larger firms may have frequent advertising on billboards or radio spots, they will also most likely have larger price tags to meet their costs, and you may receive less personal attention to your case. Look for firms with a collection of reviews, connections, and referrals from other lawyers in the area.
- REVIEW PAST CLIENT REVIEWS
Think of client reviews as a chance to test drive an attorney before committing to scheduling a consultation. Past client reviews are an opportunity to get a feel of how personable the attorney is – did his or her past clients recommend him? Did they have an issue coming to agreements on key aspects of the case? Again, the attorney-client relationship is a personal one. Past clients should have felt comfortable with the attorney, and felt reassured and confident in their skills. Past client reviews will also provide insight into an attorney’s negotiation ability and experience with your type of case. Remember that online reviews are the new word of mouth. You can get a great sense of an attorney based on Facebook, directories, and lawyer-matching services like Avvo. At this point, it would be in your best judgement to narrow down your possible options to 3-5 attorneys. From here, you can look at each attorney more closely, getting a better feel of them individually and on a first-person basis.
The First Impression
You can learn a lot about a firm from your free initial consultation. For example, are you greeted when you walk in the door? During your meeting, are you speaking with a paralegal at the firm, or with one of the firm’s attorneys?
Although you may meet with a paralegal at some point during the initial consultation, you should also meet with one of the firm’s attorneys.
Do you feel rushed, or are your concerns adequately addressed? A good personal injury firm should take your questions seriously and assure you that your legal interests will be protected.
When you meet with a personal injury attorney, you should ask that attorney what type of experience he or she has in personal injury cases. How many car accident claims has the attorney handled? How many slip and fall clients has the attorney represented? Has the attorney represented clients in a case with facts that are similar to yours?
The attorney assigned to your case should have experience in various types of personal injury matters. As a whole, the personal injury firm should have many years of experience in numerous kinds of claims. Many personal injury firms take a team approach to handling cases to ensure clients receive the best results possible.
Look at the Law Firms Website
Visiting a local lawyer’s website can reveal much about them, such as their practice areas and how long they have been serving the community. Top lawyers write blogs consistently updated that may indicate that they are staying abreast of personal injury cases and practice extensively in the area similar to your situation.
The more specialized the attorney is, the better, is a pretty good rule. Look for an attorney who has experience in your specific type of case.
Look at Similar Case Results
If you were injured in a trucking accident, seek out the best truck accident lawyer. If you were hurt by a dangerous product, look for the best attorney with results in product cases. Be wary of boasts of large settlements, that are business lawsuits or included multiple people. Lawyers love to toot their own horns, but some large settlements are misleading relating to your type of case. Select an attorney who has results with your kind of accident.
Preparing For Your Consultation
Before your consultation, you should take steps to make sure you get the most out of it. Your consultation is the time to connect with your potential lawyer and make sure you know what you’re getting into. This is also the time to make sure your lawyer is knowledgeable, has the right type of experience, and treats you like a person.
Before your consultation, you should:
- Research your lawyer online: Make sure they are properly credentialed and that they handle cases like yours.
- Look at testimonials: See what real people have said about their experience.
- Write down your questions: You probably won’t remember every question you want to ask, so it’s better to be prepared and bring a written list.
- See if any of your questions can be answered online: You want to make the most of your consultation, so make sure your questions are relevant and can’t be easily answered by a quick trip to the lawyer’s website. If you want clarification about something you’ve already found the answer to, though, ask away.
If your injuries are too severe to do this prep work yourself, ask a friend or family member to do it for you. We understand that recovery after a traumatic incident can be tough and may limit your ability to do your due diligence, but being prepared can save you a lot of potential hassle and help you to make the right choice of personal injury lawyer.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
After a severe accident, it’s normal to have questions. What will your recovery look like? When and how can you return to work despite your injuries? What do you need to do next?
“Do I need a personal injury attorney?” however, is one of the most important questions many people will ask following an accident. The answer, almost always, is yes. The sooner you hire one, the easier and more efficiently your personal injury lawyer can resolve your case. The answers to the following questions can help you understand why.
How Serious Are Your Injuries?
Perhaps you slipped and fell in a local store, sustaining minor scrapes or bruises, or found yourself in a minor fender-bender resulting in little more than cosmetic vehicle damage. Ordinary instances like these happen frequently, and most of us are equipped to handle them on our own.
On the other hand, a slip-and-fall onto a hard surface can break bones or cause concussions; even a “minor” rear-end accident can result in serious damages to the soft tissues of the neck and spine.
If you suffered serious injuries in your accident, you should contact an attorney as soon after the accident as possible. Severe injuries often leave the victims of those accidents with substantial medical bills, extended medical treatments, and in many cases, no or reduced income to help pay for those bills.
Any time you suffer serious injuries in an accident, including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or amputation, working with an attorney is invaluable for seeking the compensation you deserve, as well as giving you a better understanding of the claims process and how much compensation you might expect. These often complex injury cases can involve large damage awards and insurance companies that don’t want to pay them; an experienced personal injury attorney will know the best strategies for pursuing your case, and protect your best interests through every stage of the claims process.
Who Caused Your Accident?
A personal injury claim requires you to establish that another party caused your injuries. If you believe that happened, or that outside factors contributed to the accident, you probably need an attorney to collect evidence and pursue your personal injury claim.
In many accidents, multiple parties may share liability. An attorney can identify all of those parties and help you seek compensation from each one.
For example, in a medical malpractice case, you may have grounds to file a claim against both the hospital where the malpractice took place and the doctor who committed malpractice, depending on what happened. Similarly, in a truck accident, you might pursue compensation from both a truck driver and the trucking company that employed him.
Have You Spoken With the Insurance Company or Liable Party?
Many accident victims do not think about speaking with an attorney until they have already connected with the insurance company—but you do not have to wait to speak with the liable party or the insurance company that covers the liable party before contacting a personal injury lawyer. In fact, you’re almost always better off letting your personal injury lawyer handle those communications. Insurers are in no hurry to pay out on claims, and insurance companies may use their conversations with you to get you to compromise your claim.