Following a severe injury, you may need an attorney to move forward with your claim, get the support you need, and develop an overall understanding of the compensation you deserve. Finding a lawyer, however, can feel overwhelming. How do you know that you have found a lawyer who will support you, maximize the compensation you can recover, and deal with the insurance company along the way?
Locating a Personal Injury Attorney
When it comes to locating a personal injury attorney, you have several options to help find a lawyer who fits your needs.
- Ask for recommendations. Talk to friends and family members. Do you know anyone who has needed to work with a personal injury lawyer in the past?
- Talk to your existing attorney. You may not want a family lawyer or estate-planning attorney to handle your personal injury claim, but they may be able to suggest a personal injury lawyer in your community.
- Do a basic online search to find a personal injury attorney in your geographic area.
- Check out legal search engines like Avvo or Lawyers.com, which can help narrow down attorneys in your area who specialize in the types of services you need. These websites also provide reviews that can help determine a lawyer’s reputation.
You may have many resources available to help you find a personal injury lawyer. Take advantage of all of the search tools available to you to create a comprehensive list of possible lawyers.
Narrowing Down the Right Attorney
Finding the right attorney can make a huge difference in your personal injury claim. What should you look for as you search for a personal injury lawyer? How do you know you have found the lawyer you want to handle your claim? The right personal injury lawyer will focus on your claim and support you emotionally as you handle the challenges of the claim process.
When you hire a personal injury lawyer, you must carefully consider several elements to narrow down the list of attorneys available.
Where does the attorney practice?
Geographic practice area matters when selecting a lawyer. Not only do you want a lawyer who has the necessary license to practice in the state where you need to file your personal injury claim, but you may also find it beneficial to work with an attorney who has experience dealing with your local court system. An attorney who knows the local area can help you feel more confident about your claim process and its eventual outcome.
In addition, you may want to make sure that the attorneys’ office is geographically convenient for you. Most of the time, you may interact with your attorney virtually: over the phone, via videoconference, or even through email. However, in some cases, you may need to visit the lawyer’s office to go over an issue in person, sign paperwork, or drop off non-digital evidence. Ideally, you want an accessible attorney, especially if you have injuries that may make it difficult or even painful for you to travel.
Does the attorney specialize in personal injury law?
Lawyers typically specialize in a particular area of the law. A lawyer who specializes in criminal law may not have the knowledge and expertise needed to help you navigate a personal injury claim. Likewise, a lawyer who focuses on family law could help you with a divorce or manage child custody issues but might not have the skills and knowledge needed for your personal injury claim.
You may consider using a multipurpose law firm that can work in a variety of different fields. In some cases, a general practice firm may have the skills you need. However, before you choose a law firm, make sure you review the firm’s expertise to ensure it aligns with your needs.
Does the attorney have experience dealing with your specific type of personal injury claim?
Some lawyers elect to specialize further within personal injury law. For example, some choose to focus on car accident law and helping their clients navigate the challenges of dealing with an insurance company after a car accident.
A personal injury attorney who deals with various clients and claim types can often transfer that expertise. However, an attorney specializing in a particular area that does not match the claim you need to file may not have the knowledge and skills necessary for your claim. Look for a lawyer who has experience with claims similar to yours and has a solid understanding of navigating them.
If you have suffered catastrophic injuries like a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or loss of senses, an attorney who previously worked on catastrophic injury claims is most qualified. If you have suffered injuries in a slip and fall, you need an attorney who knows premises liability. Focus on finding an attorney who knows your case’s subject area well.
What is the attorney’s track record?
Many personal injury attorneys display their past claim results on their sites where you can peruse them. Does the attorney have a history of successfully handling high-value claims? Does the attorney frequently help clients significantly increase the compensation they can recover?
You want a personal injury lawyer who has successfully helped past clients navigate the journey to securing fair compensation and who will bring that expertise to the table when helping you. An attorney’s experience and past success will not guarantee your results but can significantly increase your odds of recovering what you deserve.
What do reviews say about working with a specific practice or lawyer?
Take time to go over all the reviews about an attorney before you make a call.
Those reviews can give you a good idea of what it might look like to work with a specific attorney and how that attorney would most likely handle your claim.
- Google My Business Reviews: Take a look at the reviews on Google My Business. Anyone can put up a review for a business, including a law firm, so you should take those reviews with a grain of salt. However, look at whether the reviews are positive or negative and what they say about the client’s experiences. Keep in mind that reviewers often prove more likely to leave reviews when they have a negative experience, so you may need to review them through that lens.
- Reviews on the Attorney’s Site: Many attorneys also choose to include reviews from past clients directly on their site. Those reviews usually have the best of past clients’ opinions about the attorney. However, by looking at those reviews, you can get a feel for what the law firm focuses on and prioritizes. You want an attorney whose focus matches yours. Do you want a compassionate attorney who focuses on ensuring you have the information you need at every stage of your claim? A hard-hitting attorney who will aggressively pursue every scrap of compensation possible? The reviews will give you a better idea of how an attorney might fit your specific preferences.
Selecting the Ideal Attorney
Once you have narrowed down an attorney based on basic factors, you can choose the specific attorney that fits your needs. You may need to have a consultation or phone call with the attorney to understand better the details that matter most to you.
Does the attorney or law firm have room to handle your claim?
Like any other business, law firms can become overwhelmed, especially with an influx of new clients. Before selecting an attorney, get a feel for the office’s caseload and whether the attorney will have the resources available to handle your claim and give it the attention it deserves.
Who will handle your claim once you hire a law firm?
Sometimes, you may have a great consultation with an attorney during your initial visit. You feel confident that you have found the right attorney for you based on your rapport during that initial conversation. Then, when the time comes to start working with the firm, you may discover that the lawyer you spoke with initially will not handle your case at all. You may have had a consultation with whichever attorney happened to have room in his schedule on that particular day.
Likewise, some clients look into big-name law firms because they feel those lawyers have an excellent track record and a good chance of representing them successfully. In reality, those big-name lawyers might not handle the majority of the office’s claims at all, which means that you may end up with a junior attorney handling your claim.
How does the law firm prefer to communicate with its clients?
Carefully think about your preferred method of communication before you handle a lawyer. It may seem like a small thing, but you will likely get regular communications from your lawyer for several months during your claim process. You want those communications to be welcome updates, not something you must bear.
Do you prefer to receive written communication through email, or do you prefer to receive a phone call? Would you like to let your calls go to voicemail? If so, will the law firm leave a detailed message?
You may also want to ask about the frequency of client communications. If you want regular updates regardless of whether anything has changed, you want to be sure your lawyer can accommodate that and does not only contact you with something to report. Before settling on a lawyer, take the time to think through those communication needs.
How much compensation does the lawyer think you can claim?
Compensation can prove tricky after a severe injury. Most lawyers will not offer a guarantee about recoverable compensation. However, your lawyer can break down the financial losses you have faced and give you an idea of how much compensation you should claim for your injuries.
Listen to those numbers. If you consult with more than one attorney, consider how they compare to one another. If an attorney gives you a significantly high outlier, you may not want to work with that attorney. They may not offer you the best chance of maximizing your compensation since they may not have weighed all the factors. On the other hand, you probably do not want to work with a lawyer that offers a much lower assessment of the compensation you can recover than others you consulted.
How does the lawyer charge for legal services?
Most personal injury lawyers will offer their services on a contingent fee basis. This arrangement means their compensation comes from the settlement you receive rather than paying for their services upfront. However, make sure you understand what the attorney charges and what fees are included within those charges before you settle on the right lawyer for you.
Some costs may fall outside the service fee, and you will be obligated to pay those whether you win or lose, so be sure you have a complete understanding of the agreement.
Choosing a personal injury lawyer means considering many factors as you evaluate the best choice for your needs. Each person has different requirements and preferences, so be sure to find the lawyer who instills confidence and comfort in you. Choose a personal injury attorney and schedule a free consultation as soon after your accident as possible. The sooner you take action, the more effective your personal injury lawyer can fight for your right to the compensation you deserve.