Whether you’ve been injured or are accused of causing an injury to someone else, you’ll need an experienced personal injury attorney to represent your side of the story in court. But choosing the right attorney is not a task to be undertaken lightly. Not only will you probably end up spending a lot of money on their services, but you’ll also be working very closely with this person for an extended period of time, so you want to make sure you’re choosing a good partner. Here are some tips for doing that:
Do your research.
A quick Google search can give you an idea of the eligible attorneys in your area, but it won’t tell you everything (and watch out for the links at the top that say “Ad” right below them because those were paid for). If/when you do go this route, be sure to use the most keywords possible, because the more specific you get, the more likely you are to find someone who can help you.
Ask your friends, neighbors, coworkers, family members if they know of any good personal injury attorneys who can help you. A personal referral is always preferable to the internet, especially from someone who’s been through what you’re going through now.
Ask other attorneys.
You may not know a personal injury attorney, but you probably know at least one attorney and they might know a good personal injury attorney. The law is a unique practice and lawyers tend to get to know each other pretty well through work, networking, and other events. This will give you an inside scoop that asking friends and family can’t get you. Other attorneys will have a better idea of their record, what they’re like to work with, and how competent they are.
Narrow it down.
Make a list of your top choices, but try to keep it to a minimum. The longer your list, the more time it will take to conduct your follow up research on all of them before making your selection – and it is important for you to do your follow-up research on ALL of them. If you fall in love with the first one upon speaking with/meeting them, that’s great. You can always come back to them after you’ve spoken with the rest of the lawyers on your list.
Know ahead of time what you’ll be asking them.
When you meet with the attorneys, tell them about your case and be sure to have questions prepared to ask them about whether they think you have a case, and if so, how they would approach it, including how much they’ll listen to you when determining next steps in the case. It’s true you’re hiring an attorney because they know the law and practices better than you, but they’re supposed to be representing your best interests. They can advise you, but ultimately the decisions on how to proceed should be up to you. You are paying them, after all.
Get an idea, not only of how much they charge, but how they charge. Do they charge hourly, or do they only take a percentage if they’re successful? If so, what’s their percentage? If they charge by the hour, what’s their hourly rate and what activities are considered billable? Don’t forget there will likely be other legal costs in addition to your attorney’s fees. Filing documents with the court, making copies, requesting documents, etc. all have fees associated with them, and while the attorney will probably pay them initially, those costs will end up on your bill, so make sure you’re prepared to pay them in addition to your attorney’s fees.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or some other type of accident, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.