Being a victim of personal injury is not only stressful but also emotionally devastating. In a distressing situation like this, there’s one person who can fight for your rights and help you claim the compensation that you are entitled to- a personal injury lawyer.
Choosing the right personal injury lawyer plays a very crucial role. Although this can be a daunting task, as there are several well-known lawyers to choose from. Moreover, personal injury law can be quite complex to comprehend. You need a lawyer who has expertise in this niche and is fully qualified to handle your claim.
Here are four essential tips for choosing the right personal injury lawyer.
1. Thorough Research Is a Must
Research, research and research.
It’s only through research that you will be able to know about the reputation that various lawyers hold in the legal community. On the basis of this research, you will be able to whittle down your list of lawyers to two or three prospective ones.
There are a lot of ways to find the most reputable lawyer- one who will know how to exactly deal with your case.
Referrals are an excellent way to get the right personal injury lawyer. You can ask your friends, colleagues or relatives. Another way to find a good lawyer in your area is to look it up online. Let’s say you are searching for a personal injury attorney in Joliet. You could search online for personal injury lawyers Joliet. This can fetch you a lot of relevant results.
Once you have shortlisted a few, you could check where they stand through their online rating. This will provide you with a clearer picture and help you in making your final decision.
Some of the most reliable rating programs are:
2. Choose an Expert
Once you are done with your research, you need to see to it that the lawyer that you have chosen is an expert in the field of personal injury. This is one of the most pivotal steps.
When choosing an expert, you must bear two things in mind:
- One of the worst and unethical forms of practicing law is ambulance chasing. Wikipedia equates ‘ambulance chasing’ with barratry. One of the oldest references to ambulance chasers has been made by J.E. McDonald, President of the South Carolina Bar Association in 1905. You need to be aware and ensure that you avoid a lawyer that engages in such practice.
- Have you come across the phrase- “Jack of all trades, master of none?”
Avoid going for someone who doesn’t specialize or have considerable experience in the field of personal injury. Not taking care of this aspect will increase your chances of losing your case.
- What percentage of his/her practice is devoted to personal injury cases?
- How many years of experience he/she has in handling such cases?
- How much of your case will be handled by him/her?
- Can you talk to some of his/her representative clients?
These questions will help you in clearing two of the most important doubts you may have – How much of an expert he/she is and whether or not he/she is trustworthy.
Moreover, you must know that a majority of the personal injury lawsuits get settled before trial i.e. out of court, so your lawyer must know how to negotiate a fair and a reasonable settlement. This is very important.
3. Check the Lawyer’s Resources
When it comes to dealing with a personal injury lawsuit, two resources are immensely important – manpower and money.
There’s nothing worse than being pressured into taking an inadequate settlement. This can be a likely scenario if your lawyer lacks the resources to fund your case properly. Then the situation can get arduous for you.
Therefore, it’s important that a lawyer is not only skilled, but also has the resources necessary to deal with your case. When hiring him, study the attorney’s office meticulously. Where is it located? Is it large, comfortable and furnished appropriately? Does the attorney have supportive staff? Does he/she have sufficient monetary reserves?
If the answer to any of this is in the negative, then think twice before hiring him/her.
4. Choose a Lawyer Who Is Clear About the Expenses
How would you feel if your lawyer charges a ridiculously high amount at the end of the case?
To eliminate this likely situation, you need to ensure that the lawyer is being clear about his/her fees and expenses from the very beginning.
You need to know the answers to all the following questions beforehand.
- What is his/her fee structure?
- What out-of-expenses will you have to deal with?”
- What is a typical settlement range for cases similar to yours?
- Is he/she going to provide you with a retainer agreement that lists the expenses of the case?
If he/she is trying to dodge any of these questions or something seems even a least bit twisted, then you need to be careful.
There are various factors that can affect the cost of hiring a personal injury attorney such as:
- The complexity of the case.
- The time it takes for the case to settle.
- Whether the attorney must pursue litigation.
- The size of your settlement.
The point to bear in mind is that you need to be very sure about what and how much you will owe the attorney depending on the outcome of the case. By being absolutely clear about this beforehand, you will save yourself any hassle.
Choosing the right personal injury lawyer can be an uphill task. But by keeping in mind the tips mentioned above, you will surely be able to find the right one and seek justice for the wrong that has been done to you or your close ones. Just make sure that you don’t compromise on any of the qualities that a personal injury attorney must have; neither should you rush into the hiring process. Take your time and choose the lawyer who makes you feel understood and represented.