As scary as it is to admit, you never know when you will need a personal injury lawyer. Nobody ever thinks they will find themselves in a scenario that requires an attorney, and most people don’t expect to fall victim to a serious injury.
Unfortunately, accidents and injuries happen to people every single day – even to careful individuals who have done nothing wrong.
By nature, you can’t prepare for an accident (whether that’s a car accident, a pedestrian accident, a slip and fall accident, or something else), but you can plan what you will do in the aftermath.
One of the best things that you can do to protect yourself in the event of an accident is to find the right legal help – but that requires to you know how to choose a personal injury lawyer.
Being prepared and knowing what questions to ask can make all the difference in your case, from the amount of money you’ll be able to recover for your injury to the level of stress you have to deal with throughout the legal process. Make sure you choose an attorney who will provide you with the level of support you need, as well as someone who is qualified to get you the best outcome possible for your accident case.
To help you navigate the process of choosing the best personal injury lawyer in California or elsewhere, read the tips below.
5 Steps to Take in the Lawyer Selection Process
Below are a few steps you should take when researching and evaluating attorneys for your personal injury case.
1. Evaluate their experience.
The more experience a lawyer has in personal injury law, the more likely they are to succeed in your case. That’s because they’ve seen it all, so they know how to handle even the biggest obstacles, from proving the damages of highly complex, catastrophic injuries to seeing through the tricks of manipulative insurance companies.
An accident lawyer with years of experience under their belt is likely already familiar with the kind of personal injury case you’re bringing to them.
To properly assess an attorney’s level of experience, make sure to ask the following questions:
- Is personal injury one of the main practice areas they focus on as a lawyer and as a firm? (For some general-practice law firms, personal injury could be one of a dozen types of law they practice, meaning they only deal with these cases from time to time, and they might not have the right level of experience.)
- How many years has the attorney and law firm been handling these types of cases?
- Does the attorney have extensive trial experience?
- Are they well-recognized and well-respected in the personal injury law community? (This recognition might be in the form of professional awards, membership/leadership in personal injury or trial lawyer associations, etc.)
- Do they have experience handling the specific type of case you’re dealing with? (For example, if you suffered from a brain injury, does their firm have experience winning compensation in brain injury cases?)
2. Ensure they have a strong track record for success.
Keep in mind that there are many attorneys who have years of experience but still do not actually have a strong track record of success. For example, they may be known for giving in to low-ball settlements from the insurance company, or they might not have proven results for winning the toughest, most high-value cases.
As you consider an attorney, review their case results and ask these questions:
- Have they consistently recovered multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts for clients?
- Do they have experience winning cases involving catastrophic injuries and even wrongful death claims, not just accidents involving minor injuries?
- Have they won any awards for their settlements and verdicts?
3. Pay attention to how they engage with you.
Trust your judgment. The attorney-client relationship is important, so make sure that you like the way that you are being communicated with and treated by any lawyer you are considering hiring.
It’s important to pay attention to the following:
- Are they ready and willing to answer any questions you have?
- Are they friendly and professional?
- Are they strong communicators? (Do they clearly explain the legal process, call you back promptly, etc.)
- Are they willing to travel to you as needed?
- Do they seem genuinely concerned about your well-being?
4. Understand their payment model.
Make sure to read the fine print carefully when hiring a new attorney to ensure that you fully understand their payment model so there are no surprises later.
A few good questions to ask include:
- Do they offer a free initial consultation?
- Do they work on a contingency-fee-basis? (This means you only pay the firm legal fees if they win your case. Additionally, your legal fees are taken out of your settlement, or paid by the defendant, so you don’t have any upfront fees related to your legal representation.)
- Can they provide a cash advance to cover costs before your settlement or verdict?
5. Consider what additional resources they offer.
It’s important to think about the additional resources your prospective injury lawyer can provide. Some personal injury law firms offer a higher level of assistance with various elements of stages of the case, creating less hassle for you and a smoother experience overall.
Make sure to ask the following:
- Do they have a network of medical professionals they can use to help you find the treatment you need?
- Can they help you find doctors who are willing to work on a lien basis so your medical expenses can be taken out of your settlement or verdict?
- Can they assist with additional services related to your case such as property damage valuation and liens negotiations (i.e., negotiating costs with your medical providers)?
Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in the First Place?
After being injured in an accident or another incident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be wondering if you actually need to hire a personal injury lawyer. The quick answer is YES, you do!
Why? Because there will be an opposing party in your case that will be working against you, either to prove you were at fault for your own injuries or to give you the lowest settlement possible. In most cases, this opposing party will be the insurance company of the person or company that caused your injuries.
Insurance companies deal with injury claims day in and day out, so they’re experts at using manipulative tactics to lower their payout to injury victims. This is why you need a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney on your side protecting your right to fair compensation.
A good lawyer will investigate your case, prove liability by the at-fault party, and handle all negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf. They will also make sure you don’t get short-changed, fighting for the highest settlement or verdict to which you are entitled.
But make sure you do your homework before choosing a lawyer. Not every personal injury lawyer will be qualified to get you the best result possible in your case. Remember to choose wisely using the tips in this article!