The search for a personal injury lawyer is typically prompted by tragic and traumatizing events in people’s lives. Besides physical pain and emotional hurt, they may also be facing serious financial hardship brought on by an injury for which someone else is at fault.
While entering into a relationship with an attorney is something no one should take lightly, for many people, it can be impossible to know where to begin, confusion that is compounded by the stress of their circumstances. Finding the right match can make the difference between a successful claim with a high level of damage recovery and a frustrating, futile process.
Drawing on our extensive experience helping clients in a variety of personal injury cases, we’ve put together these four points to aid your search.
Consider the Lawyer’s Experience
First, determine how long the lawyer has been practicing. If they specialize in multiple areas of the law, also consider how much experience they have in taking each type of case to court. Experience levels are closely correlated with outcomes, and seasoned trial lawyers are always the best people to handle cases with complex circumstances.
Insurers and other large organizations defending themselves will frequently try to take advantage of plaintiffs with inexperienced counsel, such as offering to settle a case for well below its worth.
You can verify the information a lawyer provides by checking resources like your state bar website, Justia.com, or Martindale Hubbell. Additionally, Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers site allows you to search for the top-rated attorneys near you by specialty area, including personal injury.
Determine How Much They Know About Personal Injury
How much of the lawyer’s case volume is personal injury? When was the last time they handled a case like yours? It’s also critical to ask about the lawyer’s history of success in the courtroom.
Many self-described personal injury lawyers are actually generalists, professionals whose practice covers multiple legal areas. The most common problem this poses is when defendants come to court with personal injury defense specialists on their side, lawyers who have refined their knowledge of this tort over a long period of time, and are aware of the ins, outs, and tricks to succeed in a case. Practitioners like those at Jehl Law Group, who handle this area on a regular basis, will have proven records in several kinds of personal injury cases, such as nursing home abuse and neglect.
For firms that have multiple partners and associates, it is also important to determine whether or not the lawyer you speak with at your first meeting will be the one handling the case, or if another member of the team will. It’s important to meet and develop a rapport with the professional who will actually represent you at depositions or in front of a judge.
Does the Lawyer Represent Plaintiffs or Defendants?
Surprisingly, this is often overlooked by people in their searches. All experience isn’t alike, however. You will not want to be represented by someone whose exposure to personal injury cases is largely from the perspective of defending insurance companies or other organizations being sued by injured parties.
Some people might think that a benefit of employing a defense attorney is getting an “insider” well-versed in all of the strategies their adversaries will employ. But this can be risky. However sympathetic and well-intentioned they are, a lawyer who deals primarily with personal injury defense work is not used to a plaintiff’s point of view, and you may find them to be less effective counsel as a result.
It will usually be clear on the lawyer’s website or materials around the office what type of clients they spend most of their time fighting for. This information should influence your choice accordingly.
Does The Lawyer Seem Interested in Your Case?
This may seem like a given. But when everything else checks out, it can be tempting to overlook lawyers who seemed to spend a lot of time looking at their phones or computers as you spoke, or even professionals whose tone of voice or facial expressions seemed dispassionate.
Other red flags include lawyers who express how busy they are, put time limits on meetings, or outsource communication with you to other members of staff. Always choose a lawyer whose passion for your circumstances, and clear interest in taking on your case are palpable.
While these are strong starting points for your search, the only sure way you will know whether you have found a match is to set up an initial consultation. If you have any questions or concerns about a personal injury case, the experienced trial lawyers of Jehl Law Group are a phone call away.