Huner Law Office Blog

Things to Consider before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

(Image credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Law3.jpg)

Finding the right personal injury attorney to represent your case after an accident is extremely essential.

It is only natural for victims of personal injury to get caught up in their physical and mental pain and suffering. Add to that, the stress of researching and finding a competent personal injury lawyer, and pretty soon you could be wondering if it would be a better idea to represent yourself.

Legal matters, however, tend to be complicated and can leave the layman perplexed. The victim may be unfamiliar with the various laws that govern the field of personal injury. That coupled with the worries of fighting your case yourself heightens the severity of the situation a great deal.

You’re better off handing that stress over to a skilled lawyer, and focus all your attention and effort only on getting well.

Hiring the right lawyer can make all the difference to your personal injury case. A good lawyer multiplies the chances of a verdict in your favor, whereas a bad one may just sink your boat.

In this post, we look at a few things to consider before you hire a personal injury lawyer.

1. Expertise

One of the most important factors to consider when looking for personal injury attorney to represent you is to find one whose primary area of practice is personal injury law. He should also be well-versed with the laws in your state. So if you’ve got a case in Chicago, you will need to look for a personal injury lawyer in Chicago.

Think about it this way – Would you go to a dentist if you had a fever? Of course not! Similarly, you would do well to engage a lawyer with expertise in fighting personal injury cases, rather than other ones.

The point of this is to ensure that you have a lawyer who knows and understands the intricacies of the laws associated with this field. He will be able to guide you according to the specifications of your case and suggest tactics that would work in your interest.

2. Experience

This is a crucial factor as well. Only an experienced and a skilled personal injury lawyer would be able to help you with minimal fuss, and in the rapidest manner. Consider hiring a lawyer who is familiar with the state as well as the national personal injury laws. Apart from that, he should also have considerable experience in dealing with insurance companies and healthcare providers.

Further, you should hire a lawyer who has significant experience in actually taking a personal injury case to the court. Most of the time, personal injury claims are settled out of court, which means there are several lawyers out there who may have never even seen the inside of a courtroom.

Insurance adjustors might be aware of this and could try to take undue advantage. Their lawyers know which lawyers are content to settle out of court and use this information to evaluate the amount of financial risk to themselves. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if your lawyer has a reputation of invariably settling out of court, the insurance lawyers will try to use this to their advantage, which may result in a lower compensation for you.

Your chance of getting the compensation you deserve will increase only if you hire an attorney who is experienced and prepared to go to court. That way, the party responsible for your personal injury as well as your insurers will know that they could have a potential legal battle on their hands.

3. Fees and Expenses

Two types of fees can be charges by personal injury lawyers –

  • Contingency fees
  • Hourly fees

Typically, they charge their clients only a contingency fee, which requires that the clients pay their attorney only when a monetary settlement has been reached. Such an arrangement is beneficial to clients who are already spending money on their treatment and cannot afford an hourly attorney rate.

Certain attorneys, however, insist on an hourly rate which depends on:

  • The lawyer’s experience in the field
  • The type of case
  • The state/nation in which they practice law

The lawyer’s fees are often stated as a specific percentage of your settlement. These fees, however, only pay for the lawyer’s time. There may be times when your lawyer will have to pay someone else to work on your case. These are called ‘expenses,’ which have to be borne by you separately.

Most lawyers pay these expenses on your behalf and then bill you the total expenses at the end of the case. Do make it a point to ask about these additional expenses before you sign a contract with an attorney.

4. Initial Consultation

Many a time, people avoid engaging the services of a lawyer fearing that doing so may turn out to be too costly. A confident personal injury lawyer, however, will be willing to discuss your case facts in the initial consultation, which is usually free of charge.

In this consultation, he will let you know whether or not he believes that you have a case. Also, he will usually not collect a fee unless you’ve been compensated.

5. Time Estimate

All personal injury cases are different and some may take a considerable amount of time to complete. When you consult lawyers, ask them as to how long they think the case will take. A good lawyer should be able to give you a realistic time frame.

Steer clear of lawyers who promise quick settlements and/or fast cash. Most of the time, such unrealistic and tall claims fall flat on the floor. Further, avoid lawyers who guarantee a favorable result. No one can guarantee this and there’s a high chance that this lawyer will take you for a ride.

Conclusion

A personal injury attorney is your best bet when it comes to building a solid case, negotiating terms with an insurance company, and even representing you in court during trials. Because you will already be enduring high levels of physical and mental distress and duress, having an experienced lawyer by your side can ease some of the pressure, and increase your chances of receiving justice in the form of a fitting compensation for all the suffering caused. Do bear in mind the above tips before you decide on an attorney, and you will surely make the right choice.