You might assume, after an accident, that you can simply handle the claim on your own, but then you discover that the insurance company is not willing to offer the compensation you really deserve. Or you might know as soon as you suffer injuries in an accident that you want a lawyer on the case—and that you want to hire one as soon as possible.
Where do you start?
How to Locate a Personal Injury Lawyer Near You
You have several good ways to start the search for a personal injury lawyer near you:
1. Ask friends, family, and other connections if they have a recommendation.
If you have a friend or family member who has filed a personal injury claim in the past, ask for recommendations. A friend or family member who has worked closely with a lawyer can tell you about their experience working with that attorney.
Do you have a lawyer that you work with in other legal areas, such as a family attorney or criminal lawyer you have consulted in the past? That lawyer may be able to offer you recommendations for highly regarded personal injury attorneys in your area.
2. Use your preferred search engine.
Search engines can go a long way toward helping you locate relevant services, including personal injury lawyers near you. Do not rely on the first hit at the top of your search results, however. Do a deeper search to learn more about the lawyers in your area.
Check Google Reviews
Often, Google will have reviews about a particular attorney. Make sure you read both the good reviews and the bad reviews. Look for common patterns in what reviewers have to say. Keep in mind that in some cases, bad reviews may be posted by people on the opposite side of the case: for example, someone whose insurance company had to pay out considerable compensation after a car accident they caused. A pattern of reviews can help give you a better idea of the attorney’s overall skills and what it will be like to work with that attorney.
Look at the Attorney’s Website
An attorney’s website can tell you a great deal about what the attorney considers important. Are you looking for an attorney who will focus on fighting aggressively for you? One who will offer compassionate service and support as you recover from your injuries and pursue compensation? The website will tell you what the attorney focuses on, which can help you determine whether the lawyer will offer a good fit for you.
3. Check out a legal search site.
A wide variety of databases exist that can help connect you to a lawyer that fits your specific needs: in the case of a serious injury for which you want to seek compensation, personal injury lawyers.
You can check databases like:
Depending on the website you choose, you may be able to narrow your search according to the type of lawyer you need and the lawyer’s location. You may also have the ability to browse ratings by others who have used that lawyer in the past, which can help you determine whether a specific lawyer will fit your needs.
What Should You Look For in a Lawyer?
Choosing the right lawyer can make a big difference as you move forward with a personal injury claim. Not only can a lawyer’s skills and experience make a big difference in your claim, you may find that having confidence in your lawyer can make you feel more comfortable with the claim as a whole. As you consider the right personal injury lawyer to handle your claim, look for these assets.
1. Make sure you choose a lawyer who specializes in the kind of claim you need to file.
First, make sure you have chosen a personal injury lawyer, not a lawyer who specializes in another type of law. A family attorney or criminal lawyer may not have the experience and knowledge necessary to effectively handle a personal injury claim.
As you consider the lawyer who will best fit your needs, you may want to consider one who specializes in the specific type of personal injury claim that you need to file. For example, if you suffered serious injuries in a car accident, you may want to choose a car accident attorney who focuses on car accident law specifically. On the other hand, if you need to file a workers’ compensation claim, working with an attorney familiar with workers’ compensation can make it easier for you to learn about the rights of workers in your state.
2. Find an attorney near where you need to file the claim.
When you need to file a personal injury claim, you need a personal injury attorney who knows local laws. Attorneys have a license to practice in a specific state. While some law firms may cover more than one state, you need to make sure that you choose a lawyer who can practice law in the state where you intend to file a claim.
A lawyer in your local jurisdiction will know the local laws, your state regulations, and how they apply to your specific claim. A local lawyer may also have a better understanding of the intricacies of the law, which can make it easier to see how it applies to your specific claim.
3. Consider the attorney’s experience.
An experienced attorney can offer immense advantages to your personal injury claim. A law firm with considerable experience, especially if the lawyer has experience with other claims like yours, can bring that experience and understanding to the table in your claim.
An experienced lawyer has dealt with local insurance companies and knows what types of offers they usually make and what to do when an offer does not fit your needs. That attorney will know whether any specific exceptions apply to your case. Not only that, an attorney who has considerable experience in managing personal injury claims can tell you with confidence about the strength of your claim and how it will likely progress.
An inexperienced lawyer, on the other hand, may struggle more with the details of your claim, which can make it harder for you to recover the full compensation you may deserve.
4. Determine who, at the law firm, will handle your claim.
Often, when you go into a lawyer’s office for a free consultation or meet with a lawyer over the phone, you will not speak with the lawyer who will ultimately handle your claim. Some law firms have big-name partners, but those partners will not handle every claim. In fact, those partners may handle a relatively small percentage of the firm's claims.
If you have a great rapport with the person handling your initial consultation, or you wonder about whether the big names on the letterhead will handle your claim personally, make sure you ask questions about who will handle your personal injury claim. Frequently, law firms will assign smaller cases to junior attorneys. While those attorneys will still have access to the same resources and tools available to the firm as a whole, you still want to know—and feel comfortable with—the lawyer who will handle your claim.
5. Ask if the law firm has adequate time and resources to take on your claim.
During your initial consultation, ask about the firm’s workload. During very busy periods, it may be difficult to get a response to your questions or help move your claim through the insurance company. If the law firm is too busy, some of the details of a specific claim may even fall through the cracks. Make sure the firm has adequate time to handle your claim and provide you with the support you need.
6. Determine what fees the lawyer will charge.
For many personal injury clients, the fees associated with a personal injury claim can make the difference in paying their bills and managing other expenses associated with the claim. Ask upfront what fees the lawyer will charge. Most lawyers will start with a free consultation, which will help you understand more about your right to compensation and give you a better idea of what you should expect as you progress with your claim.
Most personal injury lawyers also accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that they do not charge upfront for their legal services. Instead, they charge a percentage of the settlement or award you receive from the liable party. Before you sign a contract, make sure you know exactly what percentage of your settlement the lawyer will receive and whether you may need to pay any additional fees associated with the claim.
You may also want to ask what the lawyer will do, in terms of fees, if they do not win your case. If you do not recover funds for your personal injury claim, will you have to pay legal fees for the attorney’s efforts on the case, or will you walk away without any net financial losses? If you know you may have to pay even if you lose, it may change the way you approach the claim.
7. Consider how much compensation the lawyer thinks they can help you win.
Lawyers may estimate the compensation you could recover based on your claim. Generally, lawyers will have a similar view of how much compensation you could recover for your injuries, since compensation in personal injury claims is based on the same general elements. However, some firms will think that they can win more compensation for you than others.
You do not necessarily, however, want to take the lawyer who thinks they can bring in the highest settlement. Sometimes, a lawyer may have a good reason for increasing the compensation they think you can recover, including information about your accident that you may not have provided to other lawyers. In other cases, however, that high offer might reflect false confidence. Choose a lawyer who seems confident in your ability to recover compensation and in the amount you can recover for the right reasons, and who can break down and logically explain the compensation they think you will receive.
8. Evaluate the lawyer’s preferred communication style.
Communication is extremely important when you have to deal with a personal injury claim. You want to know that your lawyer has your back and will answer your questions.
How does the lawyer prefer to communicate? Does the lawyer usually communicate via text, phone, or email, and how does that fit with your usual communication style? In addition, ask how often the lawyer communicates with clients. Should you expect updates even if the lawyer does not have anything to report? How frequently should you expect to hear from the lawyer if things with your claim do not move forward? Make sure the lawyer’s communication style and preferences fit well with your own.