Working with the right lawyer can make a large difference in the conclusion of your personal injury claim, which makes selecting the right lawyer a crucial 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). Personal referrals and word of mouth are usually the best place to begin when you’re looking for an attorney. Internet resources are also a great jump-off off point for making an initial list of prospects to get in touch with.
Whittling It Down
Regardless of your source, you need to trim down that list to three or four candidates with the help of these criteria:
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> Biographical Information – Know the background of the lawyer. Does it seem like he has expertise in your type of personal injury claim? His profile should give you a picture of the nature of cases he usually handles (and which side). If it’s hard to tell, just call the office and ask directly. Check for other information that you can in these lawyers’ websites. The more you know about them, the better.
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> Professional Associations – Find out if the attorney belongs to any national, state or local trial lawyers’ associations.
> 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 cross a lawyer off your list simply because he doesn’t have the time for an appointment with you on short notice. It’s natural for good personal injury lawyers to be busy.
Most personal injury claim scenarios allow you to hire an attorney on a “contingency fee” basis. This means that the lawyer will be get a portion of any court award or settlement you receive – typically around a third – and if you don’t receive anything, neither does your lawyer does get paid legal fees. In any case, read the contract before singing it as you may still need to pay for costs (not included in legal fees) such as court stenographer or expert witness fees, photocopying fees, and so on.