Choosing a personal injury lawyer to help you handle a claim is a big decision. A good personal injury lawyer can make a massive difference in the outcome of your claim, including the compensation you ultimately recover for your injuries. You will often need to work closely with your personal injury lawyer for an extended period, making finding the right one essential. What elements should you look for in a good personal injury lawyer, and how do you know you have found a lawyer that fits your specific needs? Make sure you consider these critical questions, as they may impact your pursuit of compensation.
The Lawyer’s Experience and Capability
When you first start looking for personal injury lawyers to help handle your claim, you need to narrow your search to lawyers who have the necessary tools, skills, and experience to manage your case. Start with a basic look at the lawyer’s website. You may want to look for:
Where the Lawyer Practices
You need a personal injury lawyer that practices where you intend to file your personal injury claim. Lawyers are licensed to practice in specific states, and those licenses restrict their practice to those locations. Some law firms may span multiple states, or a lawyer may take the time to receive licensing for more than one state. However, before you start moving forward with a claim, make sure that the law firm you want to use can legally practice law in the state where you will need to file your claim. Not only does licensure matter, but you may also find that state laws, particularly with regards to personal injury law, vary a great deal. In some states, you may have a shorter statute of limitations than others. States may have different laws regarding the assignment of liability in an accident. An attorney who practices law in the state where you need to file your claim can help you navigate those challenges and help you understand your rights.
The Type of Law Practiced by the Firm
You likely know that you need a personal injury lawyer to help with your personal injury claim. While some law firms handle several types of cases, you need to know that your lawyer has the skills and experience to provide advice and support as you navigate a personal injury claim. In addition, however, you may want to carefully evaluate the specific type of personal injury law practiced by a firm. For example, some law firms focus heavily on car accident claims. If you suffered injuries in a construction accident, you might not want to bring your claim to that specific firm. On the other hand, if you did suffer injuries in a car accident, you may find that a lawyer focusing on car accident claims can provide clear insights into the steps you need to take to protect yourself after your car accident.
The Firm’s Experience and Results
As you examine a firm’s website, look at their overall experience and results in past cases. You want to know the firm has as much experience as possible with claims like yours, and you may also want to know they have had success with those claims. Past results will not guarantee your claim results, but working with a law firm that has seen success for its clients can help you feel confident about the eventual outcome of your claim. Additionally, you may want to look closely at the specific claims the law firm has handled in the past, not just general categories, especially if you have a unique or complicated injury claim. Suppose, for example, that you suffered injuries in a construction accident while working on a job site. You may find it more beneficial to work with a construction accident lawyer who has dealt with construction accident injury claims in the past rather than one who primarily focuses on workers’ compensation cases. A firm with a great deal of experience can help you feel more confident about your claim as a whole. While new law firms may approach your claim with determination and compassion, many people feel safer about their claim in the hands of an attorney who has extensive experience with the process.
The Firm’s Reviews
Before you select a personal injury lawyer, it can be helpful to read reviews offered by people who have used the firm in the past. Reviews have varying degrees of reliability. Ideally, you’d like to have reviews from friends and family members. However, if you do not have friends and family members who have dealt with personal injury cases in the past, you may find it difficult to get personal recommendations.
Social Media/Google Business Reviews
When looking for public reviews, start with those on the attorney’s Google Business page or the firm’s social media accounts. You will often find more detailed reports of what other people have experienced when working with the law firm. Furthermore, the firm cannot control the posts on those pages as easily, which means you may get a more accurate idea of what it is like to work with the firm. Look carefully at both good and bad reviews. Good reviews may tell you how clients who have received successful resolutions to their claims feel about working with the law firm. On the other hand, bad reviews can also tell you several things about the firm. Take those bad reviews with a grain of salt: people often prove much more likely to post bad reviews when they have had a negative experience than to post good reviews when they have had a good one. Furthermore, since anyone can post a bad review, you may want to consider the possibility that someone other than the party that used the lawyer’s services wrote some of those reviews. At the same time, make sure you read through and look for common threads. Furthermore, evaluate how and if the law firm has responded to any negative comments. Sometimes, the law firm’s response can give you a better idea of what working with them might be like and how you might expect the firm to handle situations that could crop up with your claim.
Example of Law Firm Social Media
The Law Firm’s Website
Many lawyers post testimonials from satisfied clients on their websites. Those reviews, controlled directly by the lawyers, will usually reflect the best of working with a specific firm since they want to put their best foot forward. However, the law firm will post reviews that showcase what it prioritizes: supporting its clients, for example, or an aggressive representation that will help maximize the compensation the injured party can recover. Those reviews can help you decide if a law firm’s priorities align with yours and whether a law firm will be a good fit.
Working With the Attorney
As you manage your personal injury claim, you need to consider and discuss several aspects of your case with your lawyer.
When you talk to a lawyer, how much compensation do they think you can recover for the injuries you sustained in your accident? The best attorney for your needs will likely assure you that you can get reasonable compensation for your injuries. That does not necessarily mean that you should always go with the lawyer that offers you the highest compensation numbers during your free consultation. If you have consultations with more than one attorney, you will likely get a range of numbers based on the extent of your financial losses, including medical bills. However, most lawyers will be within the same general range regarding the compensation you might recover for your injuries. If you speak with a lawyer whose estimate falls well outside that average range, you may want to choose a different attorney for your claim.
Communication often becomes a vital part of working with an attorney on a personal injury claim. You will need to determine how your attorney prefers to communicate and how those preferences may influence your claim. You may need to consider two aspects concerning communication. First, ask your lawyer how they prefer to communicate: via phone, email, text, or another method. If you prefer communication in writing to remember it later (which may prove particularly important if, for example, you have a brain injury), you may not want to work with a lawyer who prefers to make only phone calls. On the other hand, if you prefer phone conversations, which may allow a more personal level of communication between you and your lawyer, you may want to work with a lawyer who is always a phone call away. You may want to talk to your lawyer about how often the attorney prefers to communicate with clients. If your lawyer does not have anything to report about your claim, will he still check in? How often will the attorney share updates and other information about your claim? Getting a good feel for that information upfront can make it easier for you to determine which lawyer is the right one for you.
Who Handles Your Case
When you look for a personal injury lawyer, you may deliberately choose a big firm with experienced lawyers and big names to handle your case. You may feel connected to or trust a specific attorney, including the one you speak to during your initial consultation. However, choosing that firm does not necessarily mean that you will work with that lawyer throughout your claim. Often, a law firm will have junior lawyers handle lower-profile cases or deal with many of the details associated with the claim. You may meet with a different lawyer when you initially meet with a law firm than the one who will represent you in court. Talk to the firm about who will handle the case and what you should expect once you hire the office.
Before you select an attorney, consider asking if you can speak with a client who has worked with the law firm in the past. A past client can give you an idea of what you should expect throughout your claim, including their personal experience working with the lawyer or law firm. While not every law firm will have past clients that will speak with you, many lawyers can connect you with people who have dealt with them. If you need to file a personal injury claim, working with a lawyer can help you reduce the burden of handling that claim and increase the compensation you ultimately recover. Contact an attorney as soon after your accident as possible to help understand the next steps you can take to protect your right to compensation.