If you have been injured by another person, organization, or any other kind of grouped entity, and have decided to press charges – you will need to hire a personal injury lawyer to for legal representation. As with hiring any type of consultant, it would be wise to do a background check on your intended lawyer and the firm he or she works in before paying for their services.
The following enumerates what to consider when hiring a personal injury lawyer:
Basic Background Check
Do a basic background check on your intended lawyer through the internet. You can look up his or her name on the State Bar’s website to validate credentials. Beware of faked documents and so called “ambulance chasers” that contact you almost immediately after getting you get into an accident.
Free Case Assessment
Most personal injury lawyers provide a free initial consultation and case assessment, to clarify the parameters of the case and to give you sound advice on whether or not the case is actually viable. It is a lawyer’s responsibility to protect the best interests of a potential client, and they will be honest in reviewing your case.
The last thing you want is an inexperienced lawyer, especially when the parameters of the case are unclear and you are up against a reputable insurance company. Ask your potential lawyer how long he or she has practiced law. If it has been only for a year or so, then the lawyer might need to gain a bit more experience before taking on your case.
Familiarity with the case helps a lot, and may save a lot of time in doing research and building a strong case. Ask your potential lawyer if he or she has handled cases similar to yours before, and whether those cases ended in his or her favour. You might also ask for a ballpark figure of how much a case such as yours might be worth, and how long proceedings for such a case might take before a disposition is reached. It would also be good to know if your potential lawyer works strictly on personal injury cases, or diversifies with other types of cases as well.
Try your best to understand every cost involved in hiring your potential lawyer before signing a contract. By default, the lawyer will charge a fee that is a certain percentage of the settlement. However this only account’s for the lawyer’s time spent on the case. During the course of your engagement, the lawyer may tap additional resources for doing research and preparation of legal documents. Such expenses will most probably be charged to you as well, so make sure to ask your potential lawyer about all possible costs beyond the basic fee.
If medical bills for your injury have been covered by your personal insurance, you might have to reimburse these payments to the insurance company once you receive your settlement. Consult with your potential lawyer to help you get the most out of the settlement after paying for all medical bills.
No matter how strong your case may appear to be, there is no guarantee that you will receive a settlement. Additionally, there is no assurance that the settlement will be large enough to cover all your expenses. Beware of over-confident lawyers that guarantee a quick settlement and a large compensation. A good lawyer will lay everything out on the table and will discuss all the risks involved to give you a clear understanding of what you are getting into. Use your personal judgement to decide for yourself how to move forward.
Personal injury cases can take time to be resolved, especially when there are a lot of variables in play, or when similar cases in the past have gone both ways equally. While your potential lawyer may be able to give you a decent estimate, be prepared mentally, emotionally and financially for a longer engagement.
Use sound judgment, common sense and gut feel when selecting your personal injury lawyer. Remember to keep these pointers in mind when hiring your lawyer and you shouldn’t go wrong.