Choosing the right lawyer can make an immense difference in the result of your personal injury claim, which makes picking out the right lawyer a vital decision. Majority of lawyers who concentrate on personal injury law represent only one side of these cases – either the plaintiff (the injured person) or the defendant (the person entity that allegedly caused the injury). Word of mouth and personal recommendations are often the best place to start searching for a lawyer. Web resources are also a good starting point for creating an initial list of candidates to consider.
Whittling It Down
However you found those candidates, you’ll have to trim down your list to three or four with the use of the following criteria:
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> Biographical Information – Learn about the lawyer’s background. Does he look like an expert in the type of personal injury claim you have? His profile must reflect the kinds of cases he usually takes up (and which side). If it seems hard to tell, you can always call the office and ask. Check for other information that you can in these lawyers’ websites. The more informed you are, the better you will be able to decide.
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> Professional Associations – See if the attorney belongs to any trial lawyers’ associations, whether local, state or national.
> Location – If you have a working relationship with a certain attorney who practices in another area, ask for names of some worthwhile prospects in the local scene.
> Professional Standing – Visit the lawyer’s website or call your state bar association to know if the lawyer you’re interested in is in good standing.
Conflicts of Interest
Does the attorney represent any person who may be affiliated with any of the parties you are thinking of suing, or any person with an interest in the case outcome? After narrowing down your list of candidates, inquire about a consultation . You don’t have to strike a lawyer off your list just because he couldn’t meet you on short notice. Remember, good personal injury lawyers are usually busy.
Most personal injury claim scenarios allow you to hire an attorney on a “contingency fee” basis. This means that you will only have to pay the lawyer when you have received the settlement or court award – usually about a third of that amount – and if you don’t receive any, your lawyer won’t get paid his legal fees either. In any case, you have to read the contract before signing it, and understand that you may still have to pay for costs associated with your case (which are separate from legal fees), like expert witness fees, court stenographer fees, etc.