How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer
When you or a member of your family has been seriously injured, selecting the right Personal Injury Lawyer is likely not your first concern. However, as your medical bills and lost pay begin to stack up, whether or not you have chosen the best person to advocate for the well-being of your family will become increasingly apparent. Choose wisely from the very beginning of your claim, by keeping the following tips in mind:
1) Seek out a lawyer with experience.
Experience is a lawyer's most important asset. Research your lawyer's trial experience and look for a track record of success.
2) Hire locally.
A quick internet search is a great place to start, but be aware that the anonymity of electronic communications enables some law firms to "troll" for cases out-of-state. Always hire an attorney whose practice is based in your state. Make an appointment to meet with the lawyer in person at his or her office--or who is willing to visit your family in your home or in the hospital. Choosing a local attorney is not only the best choice for your case, as their extensive knowledge of your state's laws and local experience will directly support your claim; it also helps support the local economy.
3) Only choose a lawyer who bills on a contingent fee agreement.
This means that if you don't win your case, you owe your lawyer nothing. A contingent fee agreement is a system in which your lawyer receives a percentage of your settlement as payment. Because you don't pay out of pocket, do not hesitate to approach established firms who may appear to be out of your league financially ~ and remember that it is NOT to your advantage to represent yourself. You don't pay if you don't win, so you can afford to choose the very best in the business to give your case its best possible chance in court.
4) Ask trusted friends and associates for advice.
Although referrals may be your best source of information, select the people you ask carefully. Ask people you trust who have experience in claims (either as plaintiffs or within the legal field), and ask specific questions about what it was like to work with the attorney and whether or not they would hire them again. If you know a defense attorney or can establish contact with one, ask them who their best adversary is. Never choose an attorney solely because they are a friend of a friend, or are related to someone you know. These qualities do not necessarily qualify them to represent you.
5) Seek out a skilled representative in your claim area.
If your claim is medical malpractice or worker's compensation, for example, choose a lawyer who has experience within the specific system of your interest. These systems are often extremely complex, so always choose a lawyer who "does it for a living," instead of someone who focuses on family law, for example, and does some worker's compensation claims as well. Always seek out a professional.