What To Consider When Choosing A Personal Injury Lawyer
Each year, millions of people get involved in all sorts of accidents. Hundreds of thousands more may sustain serious injuries, enough to warrant taking legal action. Getting compensation from an insurance company is usually not a sure thing. In this instance, a personal injury attorney becomes an essential part of that process of claiming compensation.
Due to the number of accidents, the number of law firms specializing in personal injury lawsuits has continued to rise too. This number doesn't factor in those lawyers with private practices not big enough to form a reputable firm. Depending on your geographical location, a plethora of options could be available to you.
The process of hiring an attorney may not be as straightforward as most people would like to think. Certain essential factors are required for you to select the ideal attorney for your case.
A lawyer that is a “Jack of all trades” may not be the best choice. Some injury cases require the legal expertise of a personal injury lawyer with years of trial experience. Sometimes, winning a case (and a fair settlement) can come down to presenting facts in a new light. Insurance companies are usually reluctant to pay compensation to victims of personal injury. Such companies tend to have a legal team whose primary aim is to prevent payouts. This situation requires the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney. Consider the following factors when choosing a personal injury attorney:
- Do They Specialize In Personal Injury?
Specialization in personal injury (or tort) law is essential for anyone considering legal action against a third party. Numerous personal injury laws came into existence as a result of common law. Common law is one made by a judge and not a legislative body. For example, when an injured party launches a legal campaign to get compensation from an insurance company. Assuming there were no laws covering that aspect of the lawsuit, a judge can hand a verdict based on the facts of the case. The judge’s decision becomes legally binding and sets a precedent for all lower courts in that particular jurisdiction.
Personal injury as a branch law is so vast. Poor representation due to inexperience can lead to a victim not receiving justice or compensation. Always ask about the lawyer’s expertise regarding this area.
Additionally, ensure that the attorney has actual trial experience. Many personal injury cases involve large insurance companies. Through their lawyers, the insurance company may drag its feet during the settlement process in a bid to settle at a lower amount. Ensure that your lawyer is capable of proceeding to trial should the need arise.
- How Aggressive Is The Lawyer?
As mentioned, a lack of trial experience can be a serious disadvantage for any personal injury attorney. The stakes can be very high in cases involving corporate malfeasance. The potential settlement from such cases can go into eight figures. When such vast sums of money come into play, the temptation for the defendant’s legal team to use underhand tactics is highly likely. Hire a personal injury attorney that will do whatever it takes to win, as long as that attorney does not break the law.
Ensure that their determination and drive are very evident before agreeing to hand your case over to them.
- What Are Their Qualifications And Credentials?
It is not above some attorneys to fabricate their credentials to appear more experienced than they are. It goes without saying that a competent attorney should have the basics in place; a law diploma from an accredited learning institution and a valid license with which to practice.
As these attorneys increase their experiences through trying cases, they will become more knowledgeable. They may even acquire some certifications and other credentials along the way. Enquire about any such credentials before hiring a personal injury attorney.
Some attorneys may choose to form a fraternity or belong to one. Membership in a prestigious law fraternity can be a strong indicator of an attorney’s competence.
- Does The Lawyer Have Any Testimonials?
Much like positive product reviews can help a company’s image and boost sales, testimonials about a personal injury attorney can go a long way toward solidifying their reputations. Imagine finding an attorney with a track record of bullying corporations and employers into a fair settlement; such an attorney would become your first choice if you need legal advice involving accidents or malpractice.
- Fee Structure
A crucial sticking point for many potential clients is attorney fees. With different payment terms and arrangements, clients can be confused about the exact amounts they have to pay. Many lawyers charge a flat fee for consultation, although some offer free consultation in a bid to boost business.
An hourly rate is the industry standard in many cases; the client. This hourly rate can change depending on the nature of the case. A contract at the beginning of any attorney-client relationship ensures that such seeming trivialities become very clear.
Personal injury lawyers usually work on a contingent basis. Contingency means that payment is issued to the attorney only if the client wins. This payment is a fraction of the settlement amount.
Potential clients need to remember that they have to pay certain costs regardless of the outcome of the case. Hiring expert witnesses and other costs related to pursuing the case all fall on the client. Ensure to read the contract thoroughly before committing to any form of representation.
- Character Of The Lawyer
Many clients overlook the importance of compatibility with their attorneys. Personal injury cases can drag on for long periods, sometimes even years. It’s crucial to have an attorney with whom your personality matches. The strain of protracted legal battles can take its toll, even on the best relationships.
All in all, a lot of thought should go into hiring a personal injury attorney. It would be remiss for accident victims to take such matters lightly. Insurance companies and all other liable parties know that their attorney may find some legal wiggle room that can acquit them of blame. Victims of accidents need to act quickly when the need arises.
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