You have no doubt seen their billboards, watched their television ads, and heard their radio jingle so many times that you can sing along with it, note for note — but when it comes time to hire a personal injury attorney, do you really want these high-profile, heavily advertised firms?
Maybe. Maybe not. Choosing the best personal injury attorney to represent you can be a complicated process, but it’s absolutely imperative to do your homework if you want to be successful in your bid for compensation. Read on to discover a step-by-step method for finding the right attorney to handle your personal injury case.
How To Find the Best Personal Injury Attorney
It’s a good idea to consider, and to consult with, a minimum of three or four firms before making your decision. Don’t rush the process, even though you may be anxious to get the legal ball rolling.
Seek Out a Firm That Specializes in Personal Injury
If you had a nagging cough and chest pains, you wouldn’t make an appointment to see a podiatrist. Similarly, your tax attorney isn’t going to be the best choice for representation if you have been involved in a motorcycle accident or a slip-and-fall accident.
Just as physicians focus on a particular specialization, so do attorneys. Therefore, you will want to find an attorney who has experience in handling persoal injury cases, and it’s also smart to narrow things down even further by finding a lawyer who’s got a great track record of handling cases that are similar to yours.
What defines a personal injury case? Essentially, it’s a case in which an individual has suffered injury or harm due to the negligence or wrongful behavior of another party. Most cases hinge on the question of whether or not that party was legally responsible for the accident or injury.
Personal injury law includes (but is certainly not limited to) motor vehicle accidents, slip-and-fall cases, product liability, animal bites, assault and battery, medical malpractice, and even wrongful death.
A simple Google search using whichever of these terms best describes your situation will give you plenty of attorneys to choose from. Narrow down the results even further by seeking out firms or lawyers that deal primarily in a specific type of personal injury. For example, an attorney may specialize not just in medical malpractice cases, but in traumatic brain injury resulting from medical malpractice.
Schedule Complimentary Consultations
All attorneys worth their salt will offer complimentary consultations to prospective clients. During this meeting, you will lay out the facts of your case. The attorney will explain your options, discuss the merits of your case, and tell you whether or not she feels confident taking it on.
Personal injury attorneys almost always work on a contingency basis, which means that their fee is contingent upon winning your case (or receiving a settlement without going to trial). That’s good news on several counts: first, the attorney won’t accept your case if she doesn’t think it will be successful. It also means that she’ll work hard to get you the maximum amount of compensation.
And lastly, this approach to payment means that you won’t have to pony up a huge retainer or fee at the outset. Once a settlement amount has been reached, or you have won your personal injury case in court, then your attorney will charge a percentage of the total compensation.
A Word of Warning About Settlement Amounts
Be wary about any attorney who promises to get you an astronomical figure in compensation. These cases vary widely, and there’s no way to predict what settlement amount you may be offered, or what judgment might be handed down in court. Your attorney may offer you a ballpark figure based on similar cases he has handled in the past, but if he promises you a certain dollar amount, you should reconsider using that firm.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
During the consultation — and, indeed, throughout the entire process — you should feel free to ask any and all questions you have about your personal injury case. Your legal representative wants you to be as involved as possible in your case, and should therefore encourage open dialogue and questions.
Before the initial meeting, jot down your questions and concerns. Your attorney will also explain how to contact her when you have questions in the future. She may also give you the names of paralegals and other professionals who will be working on your case. Feel free to ask if you can meet with them, as well. It’s important to feel comfortable with anyone involved in your personal injury lawsuit.
If, at any point during the consultation, the lawyer seems uncomfortable with your questions, or hems and haws instead of answering them, seek out another attorney’s services. Remember that the personal injury lawyer is working for you; you need to feel comfortable in this professional relationship.
Go With Your Gut Feeling
By the time you have met with several different attorneys, it’s possible that you have developed a gut feeling about one or more of them. Everything else being equal — if your questions have been answered and your concerns about payment have been addressed — go with the attorney whose personality clicks with yours and who gives you a good vibe. After all, you are going to be spending a lot of time with this person as you develop the case.
On the other hand, if you get an uneasy feeling while meeting with a personal injury attorney, it’s OK to cross them off your list and move on to the next candidate. If their promises sound too good to be true, if they aren’t upfront with you, or if they act in any way unprofessional, don’t hesitate to look elsewhere for representation.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, suffered at the hands of an incompetent doctor, or experienced an injury after slipping on a wet floor, you may be temtped to contact the attorneys whose faces are all over bus stop advertisements, or who have the catchiest jingle. However, it’s important to do your homework and take your time making this important decision.
The best personal injury attorneys will make you feel comfortable, give you honest answers to your questions, and work their hardest to ensure that you receive a fair settlement.
Ready to begin the process? Contact the confident, trusted, and committed personal injury attorneys at Alvarez Law Office. You’ll be glad you did.