Hiring a personal injury lawyer is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make after being in an accident. A good lawyer can help you recover monetary damages and obtain justice. Still, a lawyer who doesn’t have your best interests at heart can jeopardize your claim, resulting in you receiving less than you deserve for a quick win. The first step in finding the right lawyer is understanding what to look for. Some vital factors include their fee structure and how much hiring a lawyer will cost, which types of claims they specialize in, and what previous clients have said about them.
Here’s what to look for when hiring a personal injury lawyer to ensure you make the right choice.
How Much Do They Charge?
When looking for a personal injury lawyer, there’s one thing that can block you from moving forward before you even begin — the cost.
Being in an accident doesn’t just have a physical and emotional impact — it also has a massive financial impact. Even minor injuries can lead to high costs, such as emergency room fees, prescription medication, and travel to and from appointments. If you have a severe injury, you may need surgery, physical therapy, or aids to support you at home, and these costs add up quickly.
On top of that, you might be unable to work for weeks, months, or longer.
When you have a family to provide for and medical bills to pay, the additional cost of legal representation can add another layer of stress.
Does that mean you should try to claim compensation on your own or forfeit the idea of claiming entirely?
Many law firms work on contingency, which means you won’t pay fees unless they win your case. Your legal fees are typically a percentage of your settlement, but that doesn’t mean you should shop around for the firm that takes the lowest percentage, nor should you settle for the first firm you come across that works on a contingency basis.
If a firm charges a low percentage, it might indicate that they don’t have as much experience and, therefore, won’t have the skills and expertise to negotiate a fair settlement. Alternatively, it might signal that they won’t spend as much time on your claim, which can be a problem if you have questions for your attorney and can’t reach them because they never return your calls.
Likewise, just because a firm offers a contingency agreement does not mean they are interested in fighting for maximum compensation. Some firms will offer to take your case and then encourage you to accept an early settlement to avoid a lengthy claim. This allows the firm to add another win to their tally and make a quick buck, even if you could be entitled to much more compensation.
Of course, this isn’t the case with most attorneys, but it does happen. The best way to find the right lawyer for your case is to do thorough research and consider their fees, experience, and qualifications, in addition to your overall impression of them.
What Area of Law Do They Specialize In?
You might find a lawyer — or even be recommended one by family or friends — who seems like an excellent fit for your case. But as you poke around their website to find out more about them, they look more and more like a generalist. They handle car accident claims but also practice commercial law and represent criminal defendants.
Many law firms practice broadly and do so successfully — that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t do a great job representing you. But for every one-stop legal shop, many more focus exclusively on one area of law.
Many personal injury lawyers cover multiple claims but specialize in one or two main areas, such as auto accidents, medical malpractice, or work injuries.
Every case is unique, as injuries affect people differently, but there will always be an overlap. When you choose a lawyer who specializes in your type of claim — such as an 18-wheeler accident lawyer if you’re hit by a truck while driving home from work — and has success negotiating settlements for previous clients whose situation is similar to yours, you’re far more likely to get the compensation you deserve.
Do They Have Testimonials?
Many law firms display the settlement amounts they’ve negotiated for their clients. You’ll often see mentions of six and seven-figure payouts and sometimes specific numbers. These can be helpful when you’re making a decision — after all, you want to choose a personal injury lawyer who has won cases. However, they won’t tell you what the attorney-client relationship is like.
This is where testimonials can be valuable. For genuine reviews, look at third-party sites such as Google Reviews or TrustPilot and see what past clients have said about their experience. Was the lawyer responsive or near-impossible to get a hold of? Did clients feel supported throughout the process, or did it just add unwanted stress?
Do They Put You at Ease?
Never underestimate the power of an excellent first impression. Reading reviews and researching whether a lawyer is qualified to handle your case provides a great foundation for choosing which lawyers to meet with. Still, you should ultimately rely on your gut instinct. When speaking to them, do they seem genuinely concerned for your wellbeing and the outcome of your case? Do they clearly explain what to expect in terms of negotiation and how long it might take, or are they pushy and more interested in getting you to sign on the dotted line? If you feel uncomfortable at any point, you should consider looking elsewhere.
Hiring an attorney is rarely a pleasant experience because, in an ideal world, you wouldn’t have been in an accident in the first place. Still, you should walk away from a meeting with a lawyer confident that they’ll handle your case with care and fight to get you the compensation you’re entitled to. By considering the above, you’ll be one step closer to making the right choice.