If you are in an accident, you may be able to claim compensation for the medical bills, loss of earnings, and pain and suffering caused. But how do you choose the right personal injury lawyer to deal with your case? Here are a few essential things to consider when appointing an attorney.
1) Do They Have a Specialist Area of Expertise?
Personal injury lawyers generally have areas of expertise that they focus on — for instance, car accidents, truck accidents, driving under the influence (DUI), or work injury. You will be in a much better position to win your case if you choose an attorney who specializes in your type of case. After all, you wouldn’t go to a cardiologist about a broken leg, so use the same principle when choosing your personal injury lawyer.
2) How Much Experience Do They Have in Cases Like Yours?
As a general rule, the more experience a personal injury lawyer has, the better. But every accident is different, so it is crucial to find out whether your prospective attorney has dealt with cases like yours before. An attorney may have been practicing for 20 years, but if they’ve spent those two decades in family law and yours is their first personal injury case, it may not fill you with confidence. If they have plenty of experience in cases similar to yours, they should be able to give you a ballpark figure of the compensation to expect from your personal injury claim and whether or not you are likely to win your case.
While your claim may seem cut and dry, there is no such thing as an easy win. Your attorney will need to negotiate with insurance adjusters to get the best outcome for you. If they are a bit blasé about your case and seem overly confident, this could be a red flag. A good attorney should consider all potential outcomes and be prepared for them.
Usually, personal injury claims don’t go to trial, but if the at-fault party’s insurance company refuses to settle out of court, you may want to consider it. Ask your attorney what they would do in that instance, as some will refuse to go to court and hand you over to another lawyer, and others will represent you in court but for a higher fee. You must feel confident that your attorney can present a solid case to persuade a jury.
3) What Are Their Fees?
This is probably the most important question to many people as it can significantly affect the amount of compensation you get.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, so you’ll only have to pay them if they win your case. But it’s not always as clear-cut as that. Some lawyers will charge you for clerical work such as getting copies of medical records and the crash report, filing paperwork, and other administration, even if you lose.
Your attorney should be clear with you upfront about any additional fees and be able to give you a rough estimate of what their overall fee would be. The average percentage of your settlement a law firm will take is 33%, but this varies from firm to firm. It’s wise to shop around, but don’t base your choice of personal injury lawyer solely on the cost, as paying extra for a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can add zeroes to your settlement.
4) Where Are They Based and Can They Practice in Your State?
If your accident happened in a different state to the one you live in, you must ensure that your personal injury lawyer can practice law in that state.
Say you had a road traffic accident in Greenville, South Carolina, but you live in Henderson, North Carolina. You’d want to appoint a car accident lawyer in Greenville, SC, as they will understand the complexities of South Carolina law and be qualified to handle your case and win you the compensation you deserve.
5) What Is Your Gut Feeling about Them?
The age-old adage “trust your gut” is important when choosing the right lawyer for your case. If something feels a bit “off” with them, you should seriously consider whether they are the right attorney for you. You will likely have to spend months or even years in a relationship with them, so you want to feel you can trust them to fight your case with your best interests at heart.
Ask yourself a few questions. Are they polite? Do they happily spend time talking to you and explaining things clearly, or do you feel rushed and a bit of a nuisance? Are they easy enough to get hold of? Do they reply to left messages or emails promptly? Do you feel reassured that you can leave your case in their capable hands? Do they put you at ease?
If you like an attorney but are unsure whether they are the best fit for your case, check out what former clients think on Google Reviews or Trustpilot. Here, you will learn about other people’s authentic experiences, not just what the law firm has put in its case studies and testimonials. Check the good and bad reviews to know how other clients felt the attorney performed for them.