Have you recently been injured in a car accident? Or maybe you slipped and fell at a grocery store. Or maybe someone hit you while you were bicycling. In any of these situations (and countless others), if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior, it is important that you contact a personal injury lawyer.
A personal injury lawyer will help protect your legal rights. Also, he or she can help you determine if you have an actionable legal claim. If so, you may be able to recover substantial compensation for your injuries and related losses.
While this sounds pretty straight-forward, you may be like countless other victims who are unsure of where to start. We’ve all seen the billboards and commercials for big law firms, but is that really the best choice for you? How do you find a good personal injury lawyer? Here are 5 tips for finding the right personal injury lawyer for your case.
5 Tips for Finding the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
1. Ask friends and family for recommendations
If you are injured in an accident, chances are someone in your network of friends and family will mention a lawyer that they know or know of. But don’t stop there. Ask around to see which lawyers in your area are popular, and see if your friends and family have personal experience with any lawyers.
2. Research lawyers’ skills and experience
Even if someone you know has experience with a lawyer, it doesn’t mean that he or she is the right lawyer for you. Research prospective lawyers’ skills and experience and make a short list. Look for important considerations before hiring a lawyer, such as:
- Do they specialize in personal injury cases?
- Do they have proven experience in these areas?
- How is their track record for winning or losing cases?
- What is their reputation (look at AVVO, etc.)
- Are they members of legal organizations?
- Do they have certifications in certain areas?
3. Meet with lawyers in person
Phone consultations are a great start, but they are not always enough to decide whether a personal injury lawyer is right for you. By meeting in person, you can get an idea of their office, their staff, and their mannerisms. Consider these factors when meeting with a prospective lawyer:
- Is the office clean and organized?
- Is the staff friendly and helpful?
- Do you feel comfortable around the lawyer?
- Does he or she speak clearly?
- Does he or she listen and respond appropriately?
- Does he or she answer your questions?
A good lawyer-client relationship depends on both sides’ ability to listen, respond, and be courteous.
4. Discuss fees before signing anything
Before deciding on a lawyer you want to hire, make sure you discuss fees. Personal injury lawyers often work on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not owe fees upfront. Instead, any fees will be deducted from a verdict or settlement obtained in your favor. If there is no money recovered, you will owe the lawyer nothing.
Even with a contingency fee, it is still best to understand what the lawyer’s fee will be, along with any other anticipated legal fees, etc. Get a fee agreement written and signed before you agree to hire any lawyer. The last thing you need is unexpected costs related to your case.
5. Review the contract before signing
Before you sign a contract to be represented by a lawyer, make sure you read over exactly what it says. If something doesn’t sit right with you, or you aren’t sure what it means, ask before you sign. If the lawyer rushes you or says something in the contract “doesn’t matter,” it is a red flag.