If you or a loved one has been injured by the action or negligence of someone else, a qualified lawyer can help you get financial compensation for your suffering. It is possible to settle without one, but usually the settlement amount will be less than what you would have received with an attorney. Since there are many lawyers available, you first need to know how to choose a good personal injury attorney.
Finding Qualified Attorneys Nearby
The local phone directory will have listings for local personal injury attorneys. There are also many online resources. People in your circle may be good referral sources. The local bar association may also have a referral service.
A referral service of this type may list attorneys according to their specialty and qualifications, but it may also not be this selective. Be careful and ask how the lawyers were screened for the listing. Only a lawyer with solid experience in personal injury cases will know the applicable law and the rights and remedies available.
Personal Injury Lawyers Specialize in Certain Types of Cases
Be aware that many do not handle workers’ compensation cases or practice medical malpractice law. For a medical malpractice or workers’ compensation case, a law firm should have experience in the specialty. Workers’ compensation cases go through a special administrative court system.
Besides these specialized areas, law firms may focus on particular types of injuries or causes of action. For instance, some may work mostly on spinal cord, brain or burn injuries. Other practices may concentrate their work on defective products, car accidents or construction injuries. Before narrowing the candidates, it is important to know if the attorney has solid experience in the type of injury relevant to the case.
Scheduling an Initial Consultation
After narrowing the selection, it is time to interview each person. In scheduling a meeting, be sure to ask in advance whether any fees will be charged for the meeting. Most lawyers do not charge for this initial consultation. Any person who charges a fee will also likely demand a retainer payment. As most lawyers in this field work on a contingency basis (which means no payment until compensation is received), you can afford to pass up this person.
Experience and Resources Can Influence the Result
Many claims can be resolved without going to court or without a trial, but it is essential that the lawyer has considerable trial experience in handling similar claims. Depending on the claim, the quality of resources can make a difference. For proper handling, some claims may need an investigator on the staff, as well as sufficient financial resources. Access to data information resources and additional staff on hand are signs of in-demand lawyers. Ask questions about these issues in this meeting.
There is a Difference between Fees and Expenses
An attorney’s fee is usually quoted as a percentage of the settlement, but it is not the same as expenses. There usually is a separate charge for any expenses. Ask about the expense policy in the first meeting.
Compare the information you have gathered to choose your counsel. By following this methodical process, you will see how to choose a good personal injury attorney. Don’t forget to complete the process with a written agreement to protect your rights, after reading it carefully and understanding every printed detail.