You likely don’t want to deal with a legal case when you’re facing serious injuries after an accident. That’s where hiring a lawyer can help. But the question of how to choose a personal injury lawyer could hold you back from taking the next step for your case.
You should want to do your research before hiring an attorney. Look for lawyers with a track record of results with experience in your case type. Browse online reviews to understand clients’ past experiences with the firm. And take advantage of free case reviews whenever possible to gauge the firm’s service and experience for yourself. Read on to learn everything you need to know about choosing a personal injury lawyer.
Ask for Recommendations for Injury Lawyers
Even in the age of Google, word-of-mouth recommendations can still prove valuable. Ask friends and family if they’ve worked with an injury lawyer and if they have any recommendations or advice about which firms to avoid.
However, remember that you might have different legal needs than others you speak with. Your coworker might have had a great experience with an injury lawyer because their expertise with slip and fall accidents matched perfectly with your coworker’s needs. On the other hand, your truck accident case might require an attorney with different experience.
Keep These Questions in Mind
While you’re at it, take the opportunity to ask questions to get a sense of what it’s like to work with a lawyer. Even if you don’t end up working with the firm your friend or family member suggested, you can still learn a great deal from their experience.
Ask them questions like:
- How did the firm communicate throughout the case?
- What type of fee structure did it use?
- What did you like most and least about working with the firm?
The answers to these questions can help you start thinking about what’s most important in a personal injury lawyer. It can also help you understand what you can expect from working with a law firm.
Search Online to Find Attorneys With Relevant Experience
As mentioned, consider that all lawyers have different specializations and areas of expertise. Personal injury law is a broad field that encompasses anything from vehicle accidents to workplace injury cases. While some injury law firms focus on many areas of personal injury, others have far more experience in a small handful of case types, such as car accidents.
And just because they’re a personal injury lawyer doesn’t mean they’re willing or able to handle all injury cases. For instance, some law firms may not take on work injury or wrongful death cases. When compiling your list of possible attorneys, research their backgrounds and experience.
To do this, start by searching online for:
- Personal injury lawyers in your location
- Lawyers in your location with experience in your case type (e.g., “truck accident lawyer in Myrtle Beach, SC”)
Then, look at the websites of prospective law firms to get a sense of their practice areas. If you want a truck accident lawyer, and you find a firm with a lot of content on its website about truck accident cases, it likely has plenty of experience in that area. Include that firm in your list of potential organizations to contact.
Of course, keep in mind that online research can’t tell you everything. If you find a well-reviewed firm that strikes your interest, but you can’t verify that it can take on your case type, you can always call to learn more.
Read Reviews and Personal Injury Case Results
While you’re browsing law firms online, pay attention to their posted case results and testimonials. These two things can tell a lot about a law firm’s ability to resolve your case successfully.
What to Know About Reading Client Testimonials
As for client testimonials, you might find select reviews on the firm’s website. Again, these reviews can prove helpful, but you might want to look further. After all, the firm will likely publish strong reviews on its website.
So, be sure to look at other sources for law firm reviews, such as:
- Google Reviews: Most people use Google Reviews to determine which restaurant or retailer to visit, but Google Reviews can also tell you a lot about a law firm. Look at the trends in what people have to say. Maybe past clients regularly comment on the firm’s client service or their satisfaction with their case results. If you discover negative reviews, look at how the firm responds.
- Avvo.com: This database offers lawyer profiles, ratings, and reviews. On Avvo.com, a lawyer’s rating comes from several sources of information, including state bar association data.
- The Martindale-Hubbell Online Directory: This respected database offers ratings of lawyers by industry peers. This can give you a good idea of what the legal community thinks of a lawyer, giving you invaluable perspective.
Keep These Things in Mind About Previous Case Results
You can even review the firm’s posted case results if available. Again, this likely represents the firm’s best work that it wants to highlight. These results don’t guarantee that you’ll get the million-dollar awards that the lawyer names on their website.
Still, a strong record of past results says a lot about a firm’s ability to do the job. If it has a track record of big settlements and awards, this indicates something about the attorney’s skills and experience at trial.
Reviewing these case results can also tell you which case types the firm often seems to represent. If it’s won six-figure settlements for slip-and-fall injury cases, and you want a slip-and-fall lawyer, that’s a law firm you’ll want to include on your list of prospects.
Determine What’s Most Important to You in an Attorney
No two injury law firms are the same. They vary in terms of the number of lawyers on staff, how they handle communications, and the types of cases they take on, among many other factors. So, as you research personal injury lawyers, start thinking about what’s most important to you in an attorney.
Some law firms make it a point to ensure that you work closely with a lawyer not just a case manager. At other firms, you’ll have contact almost exclusively with a team member, such as a paralegal. For some people, it’s crucial to know that they’re working with an attorney as closely as possible throughout the legal process. You may share similar sentiments.
All law firms handle communications differently. Some lawyers may give you their own phone numbers and invite you to contact them. Others might offer you text, email, or phone call access and take pride in prompt replies.
Think about what you need to feel confident about your case. You may want to speak with someone as often as possible at the firm, or you may feel more hands-off about your case.
Communication is a big part of client service. However, law firms may also provide other services to their clients. For example, they may offer free case reviews or work with you to schedule important appointments. When a law firm prioritizes client service, it shows that it cares about its clients.
As mentioned, a lawyer’s track record says a lot about their experience and skill. If an attorney can get big settlements and awards, they could apply their skills and experience to your case.
Size of the Firm
When you hire an attorney, you’re also hiring a law firm. Some firms have many lawyers and serve huge geographic areas. They may even have a national presence. But the size of the firm doesn’t always mean better results. In fact, smaller law firms can often provide more one-on-one attention to their clients. Before hiring a lawyer, think about what kind of experience you’d prefer to have.
Prepare a List of Questions to Ask a Law Firm
Once you have your list of attorneys that could make a good fit, call them for a case review. Most injury lawyers offer free case reviews, so this shouldn’t come with legal fees. Try to call at least three firms or more so you have several personal injury lawyers to choose from when you make a decision.
Before you call, prepare a list of questions to help you make your determination. Ask different types of questions, ranging from the firm’s fees to their approach to service. Whatever will help you get a good sense of what the firm would be like when handling your case.
Consider these sample questions to get started with your list:
- What’s your firm’s experience with my case type? Do you have past results with a case like this?
- How long has your law firm handled cases like mine?
- How does your firm handle communications?
- Will I work with a lawyer directly? How often will I be in touch with a lawyer?
- Do your attorneys have experience going to trial? Would you take my case to court if necessary?
- What’s different about your firm compared to other injury lawyers?
- What legal fees can I expect? If you work based on contingency fees, how do these fees work?
- Does your firm hire experts to build a case’s evidence, if necessary?
The answers to these questions can give you keen insight into what it’s like to partner with a specific law firm.
You Could Learn More During a Complimentary Case Review
So, you’re ready to interview a few law firms. Again, it’s a good idea to stick with firms that offer free case reviews. Take advantage of your opportunity to ask questions not only about the lawyer but about your case, too.
You can ask the firm questions like:
- Could I have a case for compensation?
- What types of damages could I seek?
- What’s the typical process like for a case like mine?
During this call, the law firm may also take the chance to learn more about your situation and determine if it can help you. So, you should be ready to discuss your accident or injury. Have any relevant paperwork in front of you? If the law firm’s team member asks you about certain documents or details, you’ll have this information ready.
If you prefer, some law firms will also offer you case reviews through an online form. This could prove convenient if you cannot call due to time constraints or the seriousness of your injuries.
What to Avoid When Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer
So, you have a good sense of the kind of lawyer you want to choose. It also pays to keep in mind the top signs that a law firm will likely not serve your best interests.
You may want to think twice before working with an injury lawyer who:
- Promises a certain outcome from the start
- Does not work based on contingency fees, but charges upfront fees or by the hour
- Has limited experience in your practice area
- Has limited reviews, case results to report, or recognitions from the legal community
- Does not have trial experience or refuses to go to court
- Does not work with experts to build a case’s evidence
- Sends you mail to get your business after you were in an accident
Free Consultation With A Personal Injury Lawyer
During this free consultation, you will describe your case to the attending attorney. Since this is a new experience for many people, it is a good idea to write down the facts beforehand. In addition, bring any pertinent information along.
After asking questions, the attorney should be able to give you information about the options available to you. He/she should also answer any questions you have. This can be used as a glimpse of what your experience will be if you choose this personal injury lawyer or firm.
Choose a Lawyer You Like
Remember that working with a lawyer also means having a relationship with that person and their firm over weeks, months, or even a year. That means you’ll want to hire someone you’ll like working with.
At a minimum, choose a personal injury lawyer with a communication style that aligns with your expectations. Also, make sure that the firm shows signs of genuinely caring about your case. If the attorney seems to treat you like another case number from the outset, that’s a pretty strong sign that they won’t prioritize client service during your partnership.
When you’re dealing with the challenges and uncertainties of the legal process, you likely want a lawyer who can provide trustworthy guidance and support throughout the process. Bottom line: Choose a personal injury lawyer who seems like a worthy partner from start to finish.