Personal injury claims can be serious and complicated matters, and it is often best to utilize the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. Finding the right personal injury attorney may not be the easiest task, however, this article is intended to help you better educate yourself on how to make the appropriate decision.
Look for experience
When you are looking for a personal injury attorney you will likely find many results through searching online. You may also find references in a directory such as the phone book, or through the recommendation of a friend or family member. One thing to keep in mind throughout this process is that most personal injury attorneys will offer a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your personal injury case. It is not uncommon, in fact it is typically recommended, to meet with a personal injury attorney to feel them out, so to speak. The consultation is a perfect opportunity to better get to know the attorney and ask important questions that relate to your case. It is also an opportunity to find out if the attorney is willing to take on your case, on occasion a personal injury attorney may not take on a case for various reasons.
If you are recommended to a personal injury attorney through a friend or family member, you should not hire that attorney based solely on their recommendation. Obviously the positive recommendation should be considered but you should still take an opportunity to meet with the attorney to become familiar with their personality and style, discuss the details of your case, and determine if you feel comfortable working with them moving forward.
Ask the right questions
Going into an initial consultation with a personal injury attorney prepared will make you feel more comfortable and will also help you make sure that you ask the right questions. When you prepare for your consultation make sure you gather any documents relevant to your case, these may include:
- Police report
- Medical records and bills
- Loss of income information
- Insurance company correspondence
Getting to know the attorney and learning more about their background and experience with personal injury cases is also very important. You should consider asking the attorney the following questions:
- Educational background
- Bar associations and/or professional associations
- Personal injury law experience
- Personal injury claim experience
- Personal injury clients represented per year
- Types of personal injury cases they have handled before
- What percentage of their law practice is dedicated to personal injury cases
- Standard practices in personal injury cases
- Does the lawyer most often represent plaintiffs or defendants
- Would the attorney be personally handling your case
- Trial experience
An experienced personal injury attorney should have no difficulty answering any of these questions to your satisfaction. If at any point you feel uncomfortable with the answers or you are not certain of their experience and how it relates to your case, you may want to consider meeting with a different attorney instead.
Discussing the details of your case
The initial consultation is the perfect opportunity to discuss the details of your personal injury case. One item you may want to discuss during this time is your settlement goal. After discussing the details of your case you may be able to get some information from the attorney in regards to what they feel the case may be worth, or how difficult it may be to get the insurance company to pay. It is important to be open and honest with the attorney in terms of what your goals are for the case. You may consider discussing:
- Keeping costs to a minimum
- Obtaining a certain settlement
- Obtaining an amount higher than what the insurance company offered
- Obtaining as much as possible
Depending on how you feel about the attorney’s experience and whether or not you are comfortable with how they would handle your case, you can then make an educated decision on whether or not to hire them to represent you.