On a regular day, we don’t usually think about the legal system and hiring a good attorney, but life has its own way of playing out. In the blink of an eye, you can be wrapped in some kind of legal trouble. The legal labyrinth can be confusing and intimidating, especially when you are an outsider. Your attorney can quickly become the person whom you will depend on the most through this trying period of your life.
Picking the right attorney for your case is of paramount importance. Those who have had good attorneys can vouch that how having the right lawyer has helped deal with the lost days at work and the piling medical bills, and made it much better. Here’s what you need to know when hiring a personal injury attorney.
Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation. Take advantage of this situation, and consult with multiple lawyers. If you are wondering if this is needed, you will find this to be completely worth your time. In these consultation sessions, ask a lot of questions.
Through your interactions, gauge the proficiency, expertise, and empathy levels of each lawyer. Pick the one who has past successful experience. Experience is an indication that the lawyer can look at a situation through different angles, and anticipate the problems that may arise. Also, make sure that the person who you are hiring has complete knowledge about the local and state laws. Familiarity can give an edge to any personal injury case.
When you decide to file a suit, you are going to constantly be in touch with your attorney. You will need to interact with him or her on a personal and professional level. For these reasons and many more, it is best for you to pick a personal injury lawyer who is close to your place of residence – that is, a local lawyer. Personalized appointments and face-to-face conversations are a much better option than e-mails and phone calls, when it comes to critical matters.
Physical presence enables you and your attorney to connect better, and build a stronger case. Opting for a local lawyer becomes even more important when your case is going to go to court.
Dealing with a personal injury is physically, emotionally, and financially draining. Hiring an expensive attorney – no matter how reputed – can be difficult at this stage. Luckily, most personal injury lawyers function on a ‘contingency fee’ basis. This implies that your attorney receives a percentage of the settlement or court award that is given to you. On the other hand, your attorney does not receive anything if you are not paid anything for your claim.
This is an important reason why personal injury lawyers work strategically on a case. Their own fees depend on the outcome. However, there are a number of lawyers out there who might quote the contingency clause, but charge you a huge amount (not through official legal fees) by stating other costs associated with your case. Go through the fine print very carefully, and read the contract thoroughly before signing it.
To be on the safe side, make sure that you ask the attorney about his or her fees when you go for your initial consultation. Note down the fees for the different attorneys, and then make an informed choice. If you are already facing money constraints, make sure that you opt for a reliable and reasonable attorney who offers you the ‘contingency fee’ option.
One of the key factors in choosing the right lawyer is the competence and the capability of the lawyer. Often, the suing party opts for a lawyer who is easily accessible. One needs to remember that the best in the industry may be occupied when you approach them. They may take some time to get back to you, but they will provide you with the strongest case and the best settlement or court award.
One thing to remember when you appoint a fairly known or popular attorney is that, though the main discussions will be held with that attorney, he or she may also delegate a lot of work to junior staff. That may be his or her style of work. Don’t get too perturbed by it. This in no way means that the lawyer is not paying attention to your case.
Contacting the state bar association about the lawyer’s standing is a good way to find out about the credibility and competence of the lawyer. Competence is also indicated by the fact that the lawyer has expertise in the specific area that you are looking for. For example, if you are looking for a mesothelioma attorney or a domestic violence attorney, you can narrow it down from attorneys to personal injury attorneys, to finally the specific practice area for which you are looking.
Professional capabilities of a lawyer are obviously important in a case. However, your choice of a lawyer should also be determined by the level of psychological connection that you share with the attorney. A good personal injury attorney is one who empathizes with your condition, and someone with whom you are comfortable discussing all details of the case.
This does not mean that the professional boundaries should be blurred, but having an understanding and positive relationship facilitates transparent communication between the two parties, and ultimately strengthens the case.
Before finalizing your choice of attorney, it is a good idea to ask around among friends and family about good attorneys. Personal reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations are still very good tools to use in finding a good lawyer. I have a dear friend who appointed a personal injury lawyer in Chicago after hearing positive things about the firm from a couple of colleagues. She received a just and handsome settlement through working with this reputed law firm.
Discussing with friends, family, and acquaintances can indeed get you in touch with the best lawyers, as they are probably speaking from first-hand or second-hand experience, and only have your best interests in mind. On the other hand, this could also be a good way of preventing confusion in difficult times, and a simpler way to search for a reliable and expert lawyer.
The above tips will be helpful to you, if you ever need a personal injury attorney. Lastly, remember to do your research, be clear about what you want, and pick an attorney who (i) answers your questions, (ii) is professional and well-versed with the law, and (iii) competent and considerate at the same time.
Guest post by:
Angela Coughlin is Customer Service Representative at Volgelzang Law, a personal injury law firm in Chicago, IL. She acts as the bridge between the attorney and the client, and communicates all the information related to the case between them.