Things You Need to Know Before You Choose a Personal Injury Attorney
Provided by HG.org
Not every personal injury is the same. Likewise, not every personal injury attorney is the same. Before you go through the expense of hiring a personal injury lawyer who is not a good fit, consider these issues.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Should Limit Specialization
Personal injury lawyers focus their attention on cases that involve the negligent or reckless acts of others. As such, hiring a lawyer who focuses on family law and dabbles in personal injury law, will not likely lead to a client getting the best bang for his or her buck.
Furthermore, personal injury lawyers often focus on a very limited aspect of personal injuries. When a personal injury lawyer focuses on a niche in the law, his or her knowledge and experience is often much more extensive than someone who works all kinds of personal injury cases. Therefore, a personal injury lawyer who has more experience in truck accident cases is likely more qualified than a person who focuses on medical malpractice cases and vice versa.
Avoid Ambulance Chasers
Avoid lawyers who solicit clients after they have been involved in an accident. Many jurisdictions specifically ban this practice, and conscientious lawyers will not try to take advantage of someone who just went through a serious ordeal.
Try an Initial Consultation
Before agreeing to sign up for a particular lawyer’s services, go through an initial consultation with the prospective lawyer. This service is often free from personal injury lawyers. Even if it is not, it is well worth the money to interview and assess whether a particular lawyer will be a good fit with you.
Additionally, this consultation can help a client determine whether he or she likely has a good case.
The vast majority of personal injury cases settle well before trial. Some cases may make it to trial, only to have it halted by a satisfactory settlement agreement in the middle of it.
Furthermore, many cases can settle before an official lawsuit is ever filed. In some instances, defendants may wish to avoid negative publicity and may be more willing to settle the case early on. An early settlement can reduce costs that the client would have incurred on more expensive litigation.
Understand Fee Arrangements
Contingency fee agreements are common in personal injury cases. Many personal injury lawyers know that a client who was not expecting to be in a serious accident has limited funds to put toward litigation. For that reason, many personal injury lawyers agree to devote their time to work on a case in exchange for receiving a percentage of the verdict or settlement.
However, clients may still be required to pay for the expenses incurred on their behalf. The contingency fee is only payment for the lawyer’s work and not for other expenses, such as delegating work to a researcher, filing costs and discovery costs. Some lawyers may pay these expenses upfront and the client may need to reimburse them out of their settlement proceeds. Other lawyers may require the client to pay for these expenses out of their own pocket when the expense is incurred or shortly thereafter.
Personal Injury Cases Take Time
While a personal injury case may quickly settle if damages and liability are straightforward, many cases are more complex. Therefore, it is very likely that they will take more time. A personal injury lawyer with ample experience with the same type of accident case as the client was involved in may be able to provide a better estimate of how long a case may take.
Some lawyers may offer suggestions regarding how a client can handle expenses while he or she is recovering from an injury, such as taking out a lawsuit loan. However, these arrangements come with their own set of expenses. Lawyers who promise fast settlements are not to be trusted.
There are no guarantees when it comes to personal injury cases. While a personal injury lawyer may be able to make a reasoned assessment of the strength and outcome of a case, there are too many variables for a personal injury lawyer to guarantee results.
You Have to Help
While personal injury lawyers are professionals that clients expect to handle their legal matters, personal injury claims require constant attention in order to support the claim. Be prepared to request documents, check in with your lawyer and provide evidence, as requested. A personal injury lawyer can lighten the load by handling communications with insurance companies and healthcare representatives.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.