5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
By Zac Pingle, Staff Writer
Finding the right lawyer to represent you when you have been seriously injured is crucial to your case’s success. However, every personal injury case is different. Here are five questions to ask yourself when choosing a lawyer:
1. Does the lawyer have experience in dealing with cases similar to my own?
Cases vary depending what type of injury and what caused it. Not every lawyer has experience with every type of personal injury case. For example, a lawyer that has a long history of successfully handling auto collision cases may not have experience with a product liability or a medical malpractice case. More important, a lawyer who primarily represents clients in divorce or bankruptcy litigation, probably does not have extensive experience handling personal injury cases. This could be extremely important if the case is complex or involves significant injuries.
Consequently, the first thing you should determine is whether the lawyer or law firm you are considering has successfully represented clients who have cases similar to yours. Ask to see examples of verdicts and settlements your lawyer has obtained in similar cases. Make sure that the lawyer actually has tried some of these cases. While most cases are settled out of court, a lawyer who never tries a case to a jury will have a reputation with the insurance companies and they may be more willing to present lowball offers because they are not afraid to go to court.
2. Does the lawyer have time to take my case?
Your lawyer being busy may be a good sign, but he or she should always be able to make time to answer your questions and address your concerns. You should be able to get a sense for this in your initial consultation with the attorney, but you might also ask to speak with some former clients. The important question here is whether the lawyer is available to his clients when they need him.
3. Does the lawyer have good reviews?
One of the best things about the World Wide Web is that you can read reviews about products and service providers before you buy. Retaining a lawyer is no different. Check out your lawyer’s reviews on Yelp, Google, Avvo and some of the other important online review sites. Read the reviews carefully. Don’t just look at the results that the lawyer obtained, but try to get a sense of how the lawyer treats his clients. However, you have to read these reviews with a grain of salt. Some people will leave negative reviews no matter how well they are treated.
4. Is your case going to be handled personally, or is it going to be handed off to an associate?
When dealing with a large firm, it is for smaller cases to be handed off to junior associates so they can cut their teeth. While this is not always bad, you should try to get a sense of how the firm works. Do they work as a team with a senior trial lawyer in charge and the associate handling the paperwork and discovery process? Can you always speak with the senior partner if you are not happy with how your case is being handled?
5. Does the Lawyer have the necessary resources to take your case?
More complex cases and cases involving serious injuries and death are often litigated more aggressively by the insurance companies to minimize their settlement payouts. This means that your lawyer will need to retain a team of investigators and expert witnesses to prepare your case. These resources are expensive and the lawyer will have to front the money to pay for them. The question you need to ask is whether your lawyer and his law firm have the financial resources to match the insurance company. You want to make sure that the insurance company can’t bleed the lawyer through an expensive litigation process and thus soften him up for a low ball settlement offer.
These are tough questions, but if you want to win your case, you need to know the answers before you get started. And, no matter what the answers, make sure you feel comfortable on a personal level with the lawyer who will be representing you. You will be spending a lot of time with him and you don’t want to be grinding your teeth at every encounter.
Finding the right lawyer might take a little time, but is worth doing in the long run.