In the US, the personal injury law industry is worth approximately $27 billion.
If you’ve been in an accident and you’re injured, you may be owed compensation. A personal injury attorney can help receive the compensation you deserve and need.
If you’re thinking of talking to a personal injury lawyer, there are many things you’ll need to consider before beginning your search for a good lawyer for you and your case.
Hiring a personal injury attorney can be a challenge if you’ve never used one before. There are countless attorneys out there who all claim to be the real deal, so it’s difficult to know who to pick and what to consider.
Luckily, we’ve created the ultimate guide to finding and choosing a personal injury lawyer for your particular case.
How to Know If You Need an Injury Lawyer
If you’ve suffered an injury, you might want to consider contacting a personal injury lawyer who can give you legal advice and then be your representative if you opt to proceed with a personal injury case.
Here are the most common injuries which might need a personal injury attorney:
- Work-related injury
- Traffic accidents
- Botched surgeries and medical malpractice
- Repetitive strain injury
- Falling in a private or public place
- Chest diseases
If you’ve suffered any of the above injuries, make sure to contact a personal injury attorney right away.
How Personal Injury Attorneys Work
After hiring a personal injury attorney, it’s their duty to protect your interests when filing your case and chasing compensation. Top personal injury lawyers will do the following:
- Help you receive medical care from the best medical professionals, doctors and physical therapists
- Research your particular case and find out the settlement for comparable cases
- Negotiate with the insurer and defendant
- Work out a settlement that’ll pay for your injuries and aftercare (if any is needed)
- Represent you in court if you fail to reach a settlement
- Regularly communicate with you so you know how your case is going
Personal injury lawyers also calculate the cost of doctors, physical therapists, consultants, legal experts and other experts who help to build your claim against the potential settlement.
This means that while you’re not expected to pay up while your case is going on, the lawyer’s office is noting all the expenses and will deduct from your share of the award or settlement.
How Much Do Personal Injury Attorneys Charge?
Almost all personal injury attorneys charge a contingency fee, which means they’re only paid based on your settlement or award at trial.
If the case is settled out of court, this figure is usually 33%. If your case proceeds to trial, the figure could go up to 40%.
Additionally, attorneys are refunded for any fees and costs related to your claim that they paid for.
Their charges may seem exorbitant, but your attorney is taking a massive financial risk in handling your case. Basically, they have to pay for everything in advance without the guarantee that they’ll recover that money.
If they lose your case, they get nothing and yet they’ve spent a fortune building up your case.
How Much is a Case Worth?
This will be determined by the circumstances of an accident. It’s possible that you can get damages beyond the usual expenses related to your treatment and recovery.
Your personal injury lawyer will fight to make sure you get every penny you deserve in any of these categories.
Your lawyer will collect all the bills and similar medical documents that show the cost of your medical treatment and recovery. They’ll also consult medical professionals to get an estimate of how much it’ll cost to treat your injuries in the future.
You might lose days or weeks or months of wages if you’re out of work due to injury.
Your attorney can help work out how much you’re losing based on your employment history and the promotions and benefits you’ve missed.
Pain and Suffering
This is not a simple calculation, but it’s just as critical.
If your injury results in permanent disability or lasting emotional trauma, your attorney can find credible witnesses who’ll prove the reduced quality of life you’re living.
Your lawyer can get compensation for the pain and suffering you’re going through.
If your case is extremely horrendous, you can be entitled to punitive damages. These are awarded to punish the liable party.
How to Find a Personal Injury Attorney
Finding a good personal injury attorney can be tough. Fortunately, there are several steps you can follow to make your search simpler and get your case started in the right away.
Word of Mouth
This is one of the best methods to find a reputable attorney. Simply ask the people around you. Relatives, friends, neighbors and workmates are great resources who will give honest feedback.
Since people often don’t talk about legal stuff with others, you may not know that your workmate or friend used a personal injury attorney recently.
It’s best to get a variety of recommendations to pick a personal injury attorney who best suits your needs.
Another way to find referrals to experienced personal injury attorneys is through other attorneys you know.
Attorneys usually refer cases to each other, and most attorneys will know other attorneys who handle personal injury cases for plaintiffs.
However, like with referrals from relatives or friends, simply don’t take any attorney’s referral as the best choice.
Read client reviews about the lawyer. You can find reviews on places like Google+, Avvo and Yelp.
Does the attorney have a site? Are you impressed with what you see? Find out their areas of practice, as well as the cases they’ve tried and won.
What kind of settlements do they pursue? Read through client testimonials and find out what previous clients have to say.
Also check if the attorney has certifications and awards. Review the website and see how much you can learn.
Is the lawyer or their law firm found in professional lawyer directories? Check to see if you can find the attorney on sites like Avvo, Lawyers.com and FindLaw. These sites are a goldmine of information.
Be sure to check the attorney’s client rating on each of these sites.
Lawyer directories are great for finding lawyers as they contain plenty of information about lawyers and law firms, including the cases the law firm has handled.
Other information includes:
- Cases tried
- Cases settled
- Awards won
- Speaking engagements
- Associations that the lawyer belongs to
- Work history
- Any complaints about misconduct
- Client reviews
- Peer endorsements
When trying to find a personal injury lawyer, it pays to research someone behind the scenes.
Prepare a Set of Questions
Before contacting and meeting up with an injury lawyer, prepare a set of vital questions to ask.
Have them ready for your phone interview or bring them to the consultation. Sometimes it can be hard to stay on track once the conversation gets going.
Here are some essential questions you should ask prior to working with a personal injury attorney.
1. What are Your Charges?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they don’t get paid for their services until they win a case or a settlement is reached. It’s vitally important to ask what fraction of your damages they’ll deduct for their work and how much they’ll charge for any extra legal fees.
Some lawyers may charge by the hour for specific tasks or charge different prices. Others might charge a larger percentage for different kinds of cases.
Make sure you understand all the possible charges and ensure you’re fine with that payment arrangement.
2. How do You Deal With Advance Costs of the Case?
Attorneys can charge for all advance costs. Based on your case, such costs can be substantial and are usually deducted from your own share of settlement or award.
Ask your attorney to guarantee you that you won’t be responsible for the advance costs.
3. What’s Your Field of Specialization?
It’s vital to know about your lawyer’s field of specialization.
Just like it’d be unwise to hire a car mechanic for a leaking pipe instead of a plumber, it’s also unwise to hire a lawyer that doesn’t specialize in a variety of personal injury cases.
It’s important to note various lawyers focusing on different law areas like accidents, product liability, wrongful deaths, etc. Be sure to hire a lawyer that specializes in personal injury law. This will increase your odds of a favorable outcome.
4. Have You Taken on Any Similar Personal Injury Cases Before? If Yes, How Many? What Results Did You Get?
There’s a very wide range of personal injury cases out there. Ask your lawyer about their experience and outcome in handling your kind of case. Have they got the right experience?
5. How Much is my Case Worth?
Your attorney should be able to give you an estimate of the potential compensation but be wary of attorneys who make seemingly unrealistic promises. They could mislead you.
6. Will You Handle my Case?
Ask your attorney who will deal with your case. Will the attorney be available to talk to when you need to? Will the lawyer have time to work on your case? Hiring a lawyer who will communicate and answer your questions is important.
7. Do You Most Often Represent Defendants or Plaintiffs?
Does the attorney most often represent defendants or plaintiffs? You don’t want someone who’s largely been an attorney for defendants representing you.
Their attitude might be too similar to the mindset of insurance firms and they may not work as hard (unconsciously or consciously) for your case.
8. Can You Get a Larger Settlement for me Than Other Lawyers? If so, Why?
You only have one shot at trying your case. You must take advantage of that. Ask your lawyer why you should choose them.
9. Does Your Law Firm Have the Personnel and Financial Resources to Handle my Case?
Personal injury cases often incur huge pre-trial expenses and consume precious lawyer time. Can this law firm handle that?
10. How Long Will My Case Take to be Resolved?
After talking about your case with your injury lawyer, they should be able to give you a rough estimate of the time it’ll take for your case to be concluded, either through a settlement or an award.
Your lawyer should also let you know if there are any issues that might drag your case on.
11. How Often Will You Update Me on My Case?
If you’ve never used a lawyer before, you may be unaware that one of the biggest complaints by clients is that they can feel lost while their case is going on.
They often have no idea of what’s happening because the lawyer or their paralegal isn’t giving them regular updates.
The last thing one wants to discover is that they’ve got some deadline and their lawyer tells them about it at the last minute.
12. Do You Have Referrals?
Make sure to ask your attorney if they have referrals. A good attorney will have plenty of other attorneys or past clients who are ready to give their frank opinion about the attorney’s services.
Find a Good Personal Injury Lawyer Today
When all is said and done, you have to trust your gut feeling when it comes to how to find a personal injury attorney to work on your case.
You need a lawyer who you feel will represent you ably and cares about the results of your case. A quality personal injury lawyer can help defend your legal rights as you both work together to recover your damages.
If you or somebody you know has suffered injuries due to no fault of their own, arrange a free consultation with Spohrer Dodd to know what your options are. Contact us today.