Personal injuries can be life-changing. Between dealing with a personal injury’s physical and emotional effects, the last thing you want to do is spend time researching a personal injury lawyer. While you might be tempted just to hire the first personal injury lawyer that’s recommended online and be done with it, this is far from the best solution.
A personal injury lawyer should be someone you can trust and who will advocate for you on your behalf. Hiring the wrong personal injury lawyer can add even more heartache on top of an already stressful situation. To ensure that you don’t fall into this trap, here’s what you need to look for when you’re hiring a personal injury lawyer.
What Are Their Reviews?
In this case, it’s not just important for your personal injury lawyer to have good online reviews. In fact, fake reviews, both positive and negative, can mislead you as you’re doing your research. So while taking a look at online reviews is a good first step, it shouldn’t be the only factor influencing your decision.
Good word-of-mouth reviews are just as valuable, if not more valuable, than online reviews. This can include friends or family members who have worked with the lawyer in the past. Ask them about their overall experience; don’t just fixate on the dollar amount the lawyer ended up pocketing.
You should also ask trusted professionals who regularly come in contact with lawyers for their opinion. Accountants and medical professionals often correspond with lawyers, so they’ll be able to let you know if the lawyer is communicative and accessible. They’ll likely be able to recommend other lawyers as well, giving you more options to choose from.
When you actually take the step to meet a lawyer, don’t forget to ask if other lawyers send referrals to them. Lawyers will know which advocates are at the top in their field and will likely send referrals to them if the case is focused on their area of expertise. You can even ask lawyers who don’t specialize in personal injury cases for a recommendation; they may know a colleague who is recognized within that specialization.
Can You Build a Good Rapport With the Lawyer?
Personal injury cases can take years to resolve, so make sure you look for a lawyer you can build a good rapport with. This means you should meet them personally. In some law firms, the lawyer you’re meeting will not be the lawyer you ultimately end up working with. After the initial meeting, your case is turned over to a team of lawyers who will work on your case. To avoid this, ask the lawyer you’re speaking with if they’re the one who will actually be working on your case. If possible, ask to meet the rest of the team who will be handling your case as well, such as the law clerk or legal assistant who will also be involved.
Another issue to consider is whether or not your lawyer is close to retirement. Since cases can drag on, your lawyer should have a transition plan in place. Ask the lawyer about it and make sure that you’re happy with their plan before hiring them.
What is Their Trial and Arbitration Experience?
Only a very small percentage of personal injury cases go to trial. Still, if they do, you need a lawyer who has the experience and resources to take your case to trial or arbitration. Insurers generally know which lawyers can take your claim to trial, which will impact how the insurers handle your claim.
Ask the law firm about their history and past experience with trials and arbitration. The long history of cases (especially successful ones) they can cite, the more likely it is that they’ll be able to handle your case appropriately should it go to trial. If they can list recent experiences, all the better. This means they are familiar with current court processes, such as the process and technology involved in virtual trials.
What Types of Cases Do They Handle?
Personal injury lawyers will have different areas of expertise. Car accident cases and medical malpractice cases have their own nuances and should be handled by lawyers who have handled these cases in the past. A lawyer who routinely handles the same types of cases will build up the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to advocate for you properly.
Are They Upfront About Fees?
Transparency with your lawyer is crucial, and that includes being transparent about their fees. Almost every personal injury lawyer is paid on contingency, meaning they’re paid based on the amount recovered in the case. However, some lawyers may still require you to pay other expenses, such as expert witness fees, fees for medical records, and filing fees. Every firm will handle these fees differently, so be sure that they’re upfront about calculating these expenses.
Do Your Research Before Signing on the Dotted Line
A personal injury lawyer is someone you can trust to handle your case with professionalism. Look for someone who is highly regarded within the community, has plenty of experience, and is transparent about their policies. By spending a bit of time doing some extra research, you’ll find a personal injury lawyer who can properly advocate for you on your behalf.