Although no one ever expects to be in an accident, they happen all the time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 24.8 million physician visits for unintentional injuries in the U.S. in a single year.
Being a personal injury victim can be confusing and overwhelming. You may be worried about your injuries, your finances and the ability to return to your normal life. If someone else is at fault for the accident, you may wonder how to get justice. That's where a personal injury lawyer comes in.
A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, file personal injury claims and get the compensation you deserve. With over 60,000 personal injury law firm businesses in the U.S., it follows that there is a wide pool of attorneys to choose from. So how can you know which one is right for you?
Read on to learn how to find a personal injury lawyer for your case.
Finding a personal injury lawyer
When you are the victim of an accident, you want to find the best personal injury lawyer to represent you and get the most favorable settlement for your case. Ambulance chasers will likely call you or send you a letter soon after your accident. While there may be good personal injury lawyers among them, it's best to consider several things to ensure you're getting the best possible legal representation.
Here is how to weed through lawyers and find a good one.
One of the best ways to find a reliable personal injury lawyer is to ask people you trust for recommendations. Talk to friends, family members or co-workers who have used a personal injury lawyer. Find out about their experience and whether they would recommend the attorney.
You can also ask your regular lawyer for a referral to an attorney that specializes in personal injury law. Lawyers usually have a network of peers they can refer you to.
Don’t settle on the first lawyer you meet
Just because a personal injury lawyer is highly recommended doesn't mean you should hire them on the spot. Like any other service, you should meet and interview several lawyers before deciding on one.
Comparing different attorneys will allow you to ask them questions about their experience, success rate, fees and more. You can also get a feel for their personality and whether or not you would be comfortable working with them.
Look into a lawyer referral service
If you don't have any personal recommendations for lawyers, another option is to look into a lawyer referral service. Bar associations usually run these services and can connect you with lawyers in your area who practice the type of personal injury law you need.
The role of a personal injury lawyer
So what is a personal injury lawyer? A personal injury lawyer is a type of civil litigator who provides legal representation to victims alleging physical or psychological injuries and financial loss due to another party's negligent or careless actions. Lawyers in this field handle cases involving car accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice and more.
They act on behalf of the client to research the facts of the case and any evidence that can help prove liability. They will gather evidence from the police report, medical records and eyewitness testimony. They will also interview the client to get their side of the story.
Once they have all the facts, the lawyer will work on negotiating a fair settlement or agreement with the other party's insurance company or file a personal injury lawsuit if necessary.
What to discuss with a personal injury lawyer
When you're meeting with potential lawyers, there are certain things you should discuss to help you decide if they're the right fit for your case. Here are some things you should ask about.
Their trial experience
One of the first things to ask a lawyer for personal injury is whether they have trial experience. Trial experience means the lawyer has argued cases before a judge and jury. While some lawyers may be able to settle your case without going to trial, having a lawyer who is experienced in trials can be helpful if your case goes to personal injury court.
Insurance companies may try to take advantage of lawyers who have not argued a case in court by offering a low settlement, expecting that a lawyer with no courtroom experience would avoid going to trial.
If they handle specific types of personal injury cases
A personal injury lawyer can either be a generalist or a specialist. Generalist lawyers handle all types of personal injury cases. Specialist lawyers only handle specific cases, such as medical malpractice or workplace injuries.
For instance, if your case involves a tractor-trailer or motor vehicle accident, you’ll want an attorney with experience handling these specific accidents. And if you’re a victim of defective products, you should seek out lawyers who handle product liability cases. Experienced lawyers will understand the personal injury law applicable to your case and know how to build a strong argument to win your case.
Their fee structure and contract terms
Hiring a lawyer can be expensive since most of them charge an hourly rate of hundreds of dollars. You're already dealing with medical bills and lost wages when you're hurt in an accident. Even personal injury protection might not be enough to cover all your expenses.
The last thing you want is more financial stress added to everything else you're dealing with. That's why it's essential to ask about a lawyer's fee structure and contract terms before you hire them.
The best personal injury attorneys will charge you on a contingency basis, which means they only get paid if you win your case. The contingency fee is usually a percentage of the total amount you recover from the at-fault party. In most cases, the contingency fee ranges between 33% and 40% of the settlement. So it would help to consider whether the lawyer's fee is within this range.
You should also ask about other costs, such as case expenses, that you may have to pay even if you don't win your case. These include court filing fees and the costs incurred in gathering evidence.
The litigation process and settlements
If you're in the middle of a personal injury lawsuit or are thinking about filing one, you probably have many questions about the litigation process and settlements. You'll also have questions about how the lawyer handles personal injury cases.
It would be best to ask your personal injury lawyer about these things so you know what to expect. Here are some of the things you should ask about:
- How long the litigation process will take
- The average amount of time it takes to settle a personal injury case
- What is the likelihood of your case going to trial
- What factors will affect the value of your case
- How much money can you expect to receive from a settlement
The best lawyers for personal injury will be honest with you about the litigation process and settlements. The lawyer will also openly discuss your chances of success and will only recommend going to trial if they believe it's in your best interest. They will also be able to give you a realistic estimate of how much money you can expect to receive from a settlement.
What to take note of
In addition to the questions you should ask a personal injury lawyer, there are also some things you should note when you're meeting with them. These things will help you determine whether or not the lawyer is a good fit for your case.
How they communicate
Communication is vital in any relationship, including the one between you and your lawyer. During the settlement process, you'll be communicating with your lawyer regularly. You should make sure that they are someone you're comfortable talking to and that they're good at keeping you updated on your case.
When meeting with a personal injury law attorney, pay attention to how they communicate with you. Do they seem interested in your case? Do they answer your questions in a way that makes sense? Are they easy to get in touch with?
You can get a sense of whether a personal injury attorney is easy to get a hold of within the first few interactions. If they're difficult to get in touch with, you need to consider whether they’ll be responsive to your needs going forward.
You should also take note of how the lawyer prefers to communicate. Some lawyers communicate by phone, while others prefer email. Make sure you're comfortable with the lawyer's communication method of choice before hiring them.
How established their firm is
The size of a personal injury lawyer's firm can impact the level of service you receive. If you hire a lawyer who works at a large law firm, you may receive less personal attention than if you hire a solo practitioner or an attorney from a small firm. The latter might offer a more personalized service and be more attentive to your needs.
On the other hand, large law firms typically have more resources, which can be helpful if your case is complex. If you're unsure whether to hire a solo practitioner or a lawyer from a larger firm, it's worth meeting with lawyers from both practices to see which one is better for you.
Their track record
You should pay attention to whether the personal injury law attorney you intend to hire has a good track record. An attorney with a track record of success will give you more peace of mind than one without a track record.
One of the most important things to discover is the number of personal injury cases the attorney or the law firm has handled. Find out the outcome of those cases and whether the lawyers could get their clients the settlements they deserved.
It's also important to pay attention to the size of the settlements or verdicts the lawyers have obtained for their clients. If an attorney has a history of obtaining large settlements or verdicts, it's a good sign that they're experienced and knowledgeable in personal injury law. Most attorneys will display their case results on their website, so you should be able to do some research to find information about their track record.
What their client reviews say
In today's digital age, it's easy to find reviews of lawyers online. The best personal injury attorneys understand that online customer reviews are vital in marketing their services. After all, 89% of consumers read online reviews before buying products and services, and 79% trust these reviews the same way they trust personal recommendations.
You should take some time to read the reviews of the lawyers you're considering, as they can give you valuable insights into what it's like to work with them. When reading reviews, pay attention to the lawyers' services' positive and negative aspects. See if there are common themes among the reviews.
If most reviews mention that the lawyers were difficult to communicate with, you'll likely have a similar experience if you hire them. On the other hand, if the reviews mention that the lawyers were attentive and responsive to their clients’ needs, you'll likely receive excellent service if you hire them.
You can find client reviews on an attorney's website and third-party websites like Google. The lawyer's website may contain testimonials from past clients, which can be helpful in your research.
Find a personal injury lawyer to handle your case
If you're injured in an accident and believe another party is at fault, you might be tempted to handle your own case to avoid paying legal fees. However, personal injury cases can be complex, and it's vital to have an experienced lawyer on your side to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. If you’re unsure how to find a personal injury lawyer, use the tips in this article to help you narrow down your options and find the best attorney for your case.
The information provided on this page is for educational purposes only, is not intended as legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. [Money] is not a law firm or lawyer referral service. Results are not guaranteed. The decision of which attorney to hire can be important and should not be based only on information on this page. Consult with a legal professional for individual legal advice.