Four Factors to Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Have you been injured in a car accident or truck accident that was not your fault? Has a negligent party caused you harm? If so, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for the injuries and damages caused by another party.
However, proving that the other party is liable for your damages can be challenging. You must prove each legal requirement for negligence or a related cause of action.
If you cannot prove your case, you cannot recover money for your claim.
Therefore, you need to hire a personal injury lawyer who understands the law and can give you the best chance of receiving fair compensation.
How do you know which personal injury lawyer to hire? Are all lawyers the same?
No, all personal injury lawyers are not the same. To help you find the best personal injury attorney to handle your case, keep these four things in mind when searching for an attorney.
Experience and Concentration
Experience counts. It is that simple. You do not want to hire a lawyer who will use your personal injury case as a “learning curve.” You want an attorney who has handled hundreds of personal injury cases similar to your case. With each case a lawyer handles, the lawyer increases his knowledge, skills, and expertise.
Look for an attorney who limits his law practice to personal injury claims. However, be more specific. Choose a lawyer who handles cases similar to your case.
If a defective product injured you, hire a product liability lawyer. If your injuries result from a motorcycle crash, search for an attorney who handles traffic accidents, specifically motorcycle accidents. When you are injured on another person’s property, hire a premises liability lawyer.
When a family member dies because of another party’s negligence or wrongdoing, hire a wrongful death lawyer who also handles cases similar to the situation that resulted in your loved one’s death. For instance, if your loved one died in a construction accident, hire a wrongful death attorney who also handles construction accident claims.
Attorneys’ Fees and Costs
Discuss the attorneys’ fee structure, billing practices, and payment of costs before signing a retainer agreement. It is important to understand how much you owe the attorney for his services and how those fees are paid.
Many personal injury lawyers agree to take cases based on a contingency fee. The lawyer does not receive any money for his attorneys’ fees unless he recovers money for your claim.
When you hire the lawyer to handle your injury case, you agree to pay the lawyer a percentage of the amount of money the attorney recovers for your claim. That percentage represents the attorneys’ fees. If the attorney fails to recover money for your claim, you do not owe the attorney any fees for handling your case.
However, fees and costs are separate. Costs refer to the expenses related to your case. Costs in a personal injury case can include:
- Deposition fees
- Expert witness fees
- Copy and postage charges
- Travel expenses
- Court fees
- Document request fees
Depending on your case, the costs of the case could be expensive. If the attorney recovers money for your claim, the standard procedure is to deduct the costs of the case from the recovery before you receive any funds.
Before you hire an attorney, ask about payment of costs. Some attorneys require clients to pay an amount up front to cover costs. Other attorneys agree to deduct costs from the settlement amount or a jury award.
The important question to ask is, “Am I responsible for the costs of the case if you do not recover money for my personal injury claim.” If so, you could owe a substantial amount of money to the attorney, even though you received nothing for your claim. Make sure you are clear about this detail before hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Winning Record Inside and Outside of the Courtroom
Ask the lawyer about his success inside and outside of the courtroom. The best personal attorney is a combination of a skilled and talented negotiator and an aggressive, compelling trial lawyer.
Most personal injury claims settle without going to court. Therefore, you want to hire an accident lawyer with a strong record of success at the negotiation table.
However, the parties in your case might not be willing to settle your injury claim for a fair amount. If so, you might need to file a personal injury lawsuit and move toward a trial. Therefore, you also want a lawyer who has demonstrated that he can win personal injury cases at trial.
When meeting with an attorney, ask for specific statistics for cases that have been settled and cases that go to trial. Ask about the amount of recovery too.
Effective Communication and Listening Skills
An attorney must provide you with the information you need in a way that you understand. However, he must also be willing to listen to you. If a lawyer tells you that he can get you millions of dollars before he listens to what happened to you, look for another lawyer.
Lawyers who carefully pay attention to what you are saying and think about what you said before speaking demonstrate effective listening skills. However, a willingness to listen also demonstrates other qualities you want in a personal injury attorney, such as deductive reasoning and analytical skills. Patience and a desire to be thorough are also skills demonstrated by effective listeners.
Effective listening also benefits you when the attorney interviews witnesses, conducts depositions, and questions witnesses in court. The lawyer asks questions and listens to the entire response. This quality allows the attorney to follow up with questions that can lead to valuable evidence.
Make sure that you ask the attorney how he communicates with clients. Ask how often you can expect to receive updates, and if you can reach the attorney if you have a question or concern.
Are You Ready to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Choosing an attorney can be a little overwhelming. Because most attorneys offer free consultations, you can “shop around” for an accident lawyer that “fits” with you.
It can help to write down the questions you want to ask a lawyer during an initial consultation. You may also find that it is helpful to have a checklist of information you want to cover during the initial consultation.
The first appointment with an attorney is like an interview. Both you and the attorney are deciding whether you want to work together. Use the time wisely to obtain as much information as possible so that you can decide which attorney you want to hire to help you with your personal injury case.