If you or a loved one have been injured through no fault of your own, whether in an automobile or motorcycle accident, slip & fall, dog bite, or because of medical malpractice, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is without a doubt the best action you can take to help you recover from any financial hardships that may arise from your injuries.
Based on research performed by the All-Industry Research Advisory Council (ARAC), it was discovered that when analyzing personal injury cases, individuals with legal representation received approximately 40% higher settlement amounts than people who did not seek or obtain an attorney. A separate study, performed by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), found that 85% of all settlements paid out by insurers were provided to victims represented by lawyers in bodily injury claims.
With the understanding that hiring a personal injury attorney is vital to you receiving the compensation you deserve for your injuries, let’s take a look at what to look for when choosing an attorney, some important questions to ask during your interviews, and the steps required to actually hire the attorney of your choice.
If you start your quest for a personal injury attorney by simply Googling “personal injury attorney near me” you are likely going to be bombarded by dozens of similar looking options, and it might seem overwhelming to thoroughly research them all. It is important; however, to still do some level of due diligence. Provided below are several tips you can follow to help you winnow your potential lawyers list down to a manageable size.
When browsing local attorney’s websites, be sure to focus on if they mention how many years of experience their attorney’s have under their belts. If they don’t mention combined years of experience anywhere on their website, it is very possible that it is a new firm, comprised of inexperienced lawyers, and likely best to move on to other options.
Lawyers with experience have likely worked on cases like yours before, and will know exactly what to do to try to either maximize your settlement or secure a victory during trial.
When choosing your personal injury lawyer, it is imperative that they are not only experienced, but experienced in the field specific to your case. Not all personal injury lawyers focus on every practice area under the umbrella of “personal injury,” so, if you’ve been injured in a car accident, it is imperative that you look for “auto accident injuries” as a speciality for any potential attorney working on your case.
A lawyer may have a great track record of proven results, but if all his wins are related to slip & fall cases, and has no experience with car accident injuries, it would not be in your best interest to hire him for your case.
It is vital to hire a lawyer who is available to discuss your case. A communicative attorney will guide you through the entire legal process and keep you updated on your case’s progress. They will also listen to you and seek to understand the effects of the injuries on your life in order to represent you the best that they can.
In addition, your lawyer should be available to answer all of your concerns related to your injury claim. Attorneys who do not return your missed calls or answer your emails are not truly invested in working on your case and do not have your best interests in mind.
While it may seem obvious, it is still very important to see what the community has to say about any lawyers you’re considering hiring. Websites like Google and Avvo exist as a resource to consumers to showcase attorneys with great user reviews and attorneys with terrible user reviews. If lawyers have a large number of 1 star online reviews, it would likely be wise to take your business elsewhere.
It should come as no surprise that some attorneys are more expensive than others, with differing fees and retainers. Some lawyers don’t even offer free initial consultations. Calculate your budget that you are allowed to spend on your legal needs, and share this information with lawyers that you’re interviewing. Some will try to be accommodating, others will not. Find a lawyer who is more interested in winning your case for you, than they are in simply lining their pockets with your money.
For more information on what to look for when choosing a personal injury attorney, check out our complete guide here: How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer
As part of the attorney hiring process, it is important that you schedule consultations with multiple lawyers, in an attempt to find a lawyer with the right expertise and experience for your type of case. As discussed above, an attorney may be great, but if his speciality is slip & fall accidents, and you were involved in an auto accident, he might not be the right lawyer for you.
It is very important to have a list of questions prepared before you go into your consultations, so you can receive the information you need to make an informed decision. Here are several great questions to ask:
For additional information regarding questions to ask a personal injury lawyer, you can check out our guide here: Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer [Infographic]
Now that you have done your research, had your initial consultations, asked your questions, and determined which attorney you want for your case, it is time to officially hire them! This is a fairly straightforward process, and can be accomplished with a single meeting.
After you and your attorney come to an agreement on how you will be billed for your case and the rate that your attorney will charge, it is time to sign the letter of engagement. The Attorney Engagement Letter is a formal document that contains the names of the client and legal firm, the compensation arrangements, and the legal services being offered. The state where the agreement is taking place will also be noted.
After the engagement letter has been signed by both parties, your lawyer has been hired officially. The second the engagement letter goes into effect, the attorney-client relationship will officially commence, and you and your lawyer can begin working on your case in earnest.