Choosing the right lawyer can make an immense difference in the result of your personal injury claim, which makes picking out the right lawyer a vital decision. Most attorneys who focus on personal injury law represent only one side of these kinds of cases – the plaintiff (the individual who was injured) or the defendant (the person or entity alleged to have caused the injury). Generally, personal recommendations and word of mouth are the best place to begin a search for a lawyer. Web resources are also a good starting point for creating an initial list of candidates to consider.
Whittling It Down
Regardless of where you found your prospects, you’ll want to trim down that list to three or four using the following criteria:
Where To Start with Businesses and More
> Biographical Information – Learn about the lawyer’s background. Does he seem to have expertise in the kind of personal injury claim you have? His profile should give you a picture of the nature of cases he usually handles (and which side). If it’s hard to tell, just call the office and ask directly. Explore these lawyers’ websites and see what other information is there. The more you know about them, the better.
The Essentials of Attorneys – Getting to Point A
> Professional Associations – Determine whether the lawyer is part of any national, state or local trial lawyers’ associations.
> Location – If you have a working relationship with a lawyer practicing in another area, ask him for names of some good prospects in the local scene.
> Professional Standing – Get in touch with your state bar association or check out their website to see if the lawyer you are eyeing is in good standing.
> Conflicts of Interest
Does the lawyer represent anybody who might be affiliated with any of the parties you are planning to sue, or anybody who may have an interest in the result of the case? After narrowing down your list of candidates, inquire about a consultation . You don’t have to strike a lawyer off your list just because he couldn’t meet you on short notice. Remember, if a personal injury lawyer is busy, he must be good.
Most personal injury claim scenarios allow you to hire an attorney on a “contingency fee” basis. This simply means that the lawyer will be paid a percentage – about one-third – of any settlement or court award you get, and if you don’t get any, he won’t be paid his legal fees too. In any case, you have to read the contract before signing it, and understand that you may still have to pay for costs associated with your case (which are separate from legal fees), like expert witness fees, court stenographer fees, etc.