Personal injury lawyers may be the butt
of many jokes, but they are the best recourse for many people
after an accident.
When hiring a personal injury lawyer it
is advisable to do a little research first. A personal injury
lawyer may be your best friend in times of crisis when you've
been injured through no fault of your own because of the negligence
or malciousness of another.
If you've never hired a personal injury
lawyer before, then most likely you'll have many questions.
On this page, we try to address some of the questions you may
want to ask the personal injury lawyers when "interviewing"
them for the job. Before you find a lawyer to interview, though,
you'll have to go through the process of finding one that you
think is qualified and you'll be able to trust.
There are many ways that you can find a suitable personal injury
lawyer for your claim. Asking a friend, doctor or a known attorney
for a referral are some of the ways one can be found. Other methods
include the Yellow Pages, the State Bar lawyer referral service,
online directories, advertisements or television and radio ads.
There is no one way to find a personal injury attorney for your
If you do receive a referral to a personal injury lawyer from
another attorney, be aware that this attorney may receive a significant
referral fee for doing so. The amount is usually one-quarter to
one-third of the fee of the personal injury lawyer who ends up
handling the case. If this makes you a little nervous, this would
be a good question to ask the attorney giving the referral.
When you're seeking the services of a personal injury lawyer
be aware that some personal injury lawyers will specialize in
one kind of case or another. For instance, a personal injury lawyer
may specialize in medical malpractice
law, worker's compensation law or neither. Personal injury lawyers
may also specialize in a very specific area of the law such as
brain injuries, birth
injuries or product
liability. A good question to ask is whether the personal
injury lawyer has experience in your particular type of case.
Personal injury lawyers will rarely charge for an initial consultation
but this should be discussed upfront before the meeting so that
no unexpected charges come your way afterwards. Remember that
you're not obligated to hire the personal injury lawyer just because
of the free consultation. When you meet for the first time, just
remember that you're interviewing the personal injury lawyer for
the job and will decide later whether or not they get the job.
When you meet your personal injury lawyer for the first time,
find out if they work on contingency, which is typically 30 -
40 percent if you win and nothing if there is a loss. Note also
that though there is no fee associated with the case, their may
be a cost you'll have to pay the personal injury lawyer for such
things as the filing fee for your lawsuit. Find out this information
right away so that you don't get hit with unexpected charges later.
One of the first things you'll want to do when interviewing a
personal injury lawyer, after discussing the initial costs, is
to find out the attorney's qualifications for handling your case.
The first item to discuss is if your attorney is, in fact, a personal
injury lawyer or one who handles these kinds of cases along with
other general duties such as criminal law or bankruptcy law. One
who specializes will generally get their clients a more favorable
outcome. How much experience does this personal injury lawyer
have in dealing with insurance companies? Insurance companies
are the first line of defense in any personal injury case, and
if the attorney has much experience, they may be able to generate
a favorable settlement for you without ever going to court.
How much trial experience does the attorney have? Without much
trial experience, your personal injury attorney may be walked
over in court by the other side. What is your personal injury
trial attorney's success rate? If your lawyer does not have a
track record of favorable outcomes, then again this attorney and
you may be walked over in court.
Does the personal injury attorney that you're interviewing treat
you with respect? The upcoming litigation may be long and you'll
work many hours with your lawyer, so you'll want one that does
not patronize you, but instead treats you with respect and as
a team player. This is also an indicator of the personal injury
attorney's people skills. Would you really want a lawyer without
good people skills negotiating on your behalf?
After asking the personal injury lawyer about their qualifications
for your case make sure that you're willing to take some time
to decide if this person is right for the job. Remember, this
is a big decision, so go cautiously if need be.
When you do finally decide to hire a particular personal injury
lawyer ask for a written retainer agreement as this is the best
way to protect your rights. If at some point, you wish to fire
your lawyer, this can be done, but your lawyer is still entitled
to part of the contingency fee once the case has been resolved.
Try to work things out first since you should be acting as a team
and working off the same page in this case.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can be a scary ordeal if you've
never done it before. Doing online and offline research is one
way to take some of the anxiety out of the whole process.