Choosing the right lawyer can make an immense difference in the result of your personal injury claim, which makes picking out the right lawyer a vital 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). Word of mouth and personal recommendations are often the best place to start searching for a lawyer. 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
However you found those candidates, you’ll have to trim down your list to three or four with the use of the following criteria:
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> Biographical Information – Research the lawyer’s background. His profile must offer a picture of the types of cases he often handles (and which side he’s on). 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 learn about them, the wiser your decision will be.
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> Professional Associations – See if the attorney belongs to any trial lawyers’ associations, whether local, state or national.
> 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 lawyer represent anybody who might be affiliated with any of the parties you are planning to sue, or anybody who may have an interest in the result of the case? 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 make it possible to pay an attorney on a “contingency fee” basis. This simply means that the lawyer will be paid a percentage – about one-third – of any settlement or court award you get, and if you don’t get any, he won’t be paid his legal fees too. 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.