Finding answers to these questions should tell if you have got the most suitable personal injury lawyer
Even if it is easy to know about some personal injury lawyers by obtaining references from close acquaintances or by browsing the internet, selecting one from the short list involves close interaction with the lawyer. Asking a few questions should help to probe various dimensions of the person as an individual and get some idea about his or her professional competency. While knowledge, experience, and expertise are the determinants of competency, you must pay equal attention to the personality and behavior too. The latter is important because you must have good working chemistry with the injury attorney so that the two of you can team up well.
Here are some questions that you should consider to complete the process of due diligence during the selection process that helps to make the right choice.
Is the lawyer familiar in handling personal injury cases?
The first thing to avoid is a lawyer who is a Jack of all trades. Many lawyers are general practitioners who handle all types of cases including personal injury cases, sometimes. Occasionally, they may be handling cases related to toxic exposure and medical practice but not every day. Such exposure does not add much value because you need a lawyer who handles personal injury cases almost daily and knows everything about it inside out. Practicing the same type of cases everyday means they have higher skill levels in handling cases that turn them into specialists with time. Such lawyers can get the best results for you.
How experienced is the lawyer?
Like in any other profession, experience matters a lot and makes the difference between the good and ordinary lawyer. One who has seen the world longer and has handled a variety of personal injury cases is always a better choice over a less experienced lawyer. Moreover, you need not pay anything extra for hiring a lawyer with longer experience because personal injury lawyers charge contingency fees meaning they earn a percentage of the compensation only after settlement. For the same fees, you can hire a newbie and a seasoned lawyer.
What is the settlement and verdict record of the lawyer?
When choosing an insurance company, people refer to their track record of claim settlement which is an indicator of how good it is for clients. Similarly, when choosing a personal injury lawyer, you must consider the list of the successful outcome of cases which is a pointer of performance. The insurance companies are aware of which lawyers are competent in settling cases in court and who is not. Accordingly, they work out their risk exposure. If you choose a lawyer with a proven record in the settlement, the insurance company would prefer to settle things amicably without much fuss because they are aware of the strength of the lawyer.
Does the lawyer try most lawsuits in court or prefer out of court settlement?
Insurance companies would not dare to undermine the strength of a lawyer who regularly handles lawsuits in courts and go for trial as it could turn out too much costly for them. By hiring this type of lawyer, you send out a signal that you are ready for the battle in court. This could make the insurance company forget about playing truant with you. Conversely, if you hire a lawyer who settles most of the cases out of court, the insurance companies would know that you could never make it to the court and as a result would offer a substantially low settlement amount. Even some lawyers take up cases and then refer it to some other lawyer to take it forward towards a conclusion. Keep away from such lawyers for your own good.
Will the lawyer handle your case on his own?
A lawyer who accepts your case needs to clarify if he or she would be handling the case or asking someone else to handle it. This is a very important aspect that you must probe carefully because of the skill and experience of the lawyer who handles the case matter most to you. In case the lawyer you select would like to utilize other lawyers for the case that also should be acceptable provided you know the roles of the legal team members and how the team will operate. It is nothing wrong if the senior lawyer keeps the bigger issues to himself or herself and delegates less important or routine work to others who are less experienced.
Contingency fees – what does it really mean?
Lawyers usually charge contingency fees for personal injury cases. You must pay the lawyer a certain percentage of the compensation only after settling. Does it also mean that you pay nothing if there is no settlement? This is what you must clarify with the lawyer because to run personal injury cases, especially those that are complex and involve high value, legal firms must bear lots of expenses like fees for an expert witness, court reporter fees, treating nursing consultants and healthcare providers and many other payments made to third parties. The expenses may run into several thousand dollars. Will, the lawyer recover the money from you or leave it altogether – ask it clearly before you sign on the dotted line of the contract. Paying the litigation fees regardless the fate of the settlement is the responsibility of clients, and you must be clear about how to make the payment.
Is the lawyer a member of legal organizations dedicated to personal injury?
When a lawyer is a member of some legal organization that specializes in personal injury cases, it is a sign of the lawyers close engagement with the specialized field in the profession. Such organizations arrange for educating its members which helps them to stay tuned with the latest trends and best practices of the trade and even enrich their experience by knowing new things that they have not yet encountered. When all things are equal, it makes better sense to go for a lawyer who is a member of some legal organizations as it would give you an edge when it comes to tackling difficult situations during the proceedings.