Five Ways to Find a Lawyer for Your Case
If you have a substantial injury from an accident caused by another party, many attorneys may want to take on your claim. How do you decide the best attorney for your needs? What should you look for in a personal injury lawyer? Finding the right attorney to handle your claim can help provide the support you need to move through the process and get the compensation you may deserve for your injuries. Make sure to find an attorney who can support you and handle the claim according to your needs. Carefully consider these important elements.
1. Choose an Attorney Who Practices in the Geographic Area Where You Will File the Claim.
If you suffered an injury in Florida, you should consider a personal injury attorney to handle your claim, because personal injury laws and attorney licensing requirements vary by state. While some universal truths remain the same across most states, you cannot always guarantee that the same law will hold true in every state. In some states, for example, the bar or restaurant that serves an inebriated driver who causes a drunk driving accident may share liability for the accident. In other states, however, only the driver bears liability for ensuring reasonable alcohol consumption and for not driving while inebriated.
You may want to consider the attorney’s location, too. Sometimes, you may prefer to meet with an attorney in person, or you may need to take paperwork directly to the office. An attorney convenient to your home or office can make your life easier as the attorney manages your personal injury claim.
2. Look at the Attorney’s Results.
Results matter in personal injury claims. You want an attorney who has successfully navigated claims like yours in the past and has the potential to navigate similar claims to positive results in the future. Even an attorney who has achieved successful results in the past may not necessarily get the same results in your claim, and an attorney will not guarantee the results you will get for your claim. However, an experienced personal injury attorney will have extensive past claims with successful results. Many attorneys will display those results on their website so that you can browse through them while deciding whether to work with a specific attorney.
Keep in mind that, ideally, you may want to choose an attorney who has dealt with the type of claim you face. An attorney with experience and results in those specific claims would understand local laws and statutes and can bring that same experience to bear in your claim. Consider the types of injuries as well as how past clients sustained their injuries. A client who suffered a broken hip in a slip and fall, for example, may have a dramatically different claim from a client who suffered a traumatic brain injury in an auto accident.
Note that when it comes to personal injury claims, you will want a personal injury lawyer. If you have used an attorney for other tasks in the past—including working with a divorce attorney or one that specializes in business operations—you should find an attorney that specializes in personal injury law for your personal injury claim. Lawyers typically specialize in a specific area of the law, and going outside that specialization can mean that the attorney will not provide the best possible advice and assistance in handling your claim.
3. Review the Attorney’s Testimonials.
Take the time to carefully consider what you require from an attorney, not just in terms of past results, but in terms of the way they handle and treat their clients. Look through testimonials from clients who have used that attorney for personal injury claims in the past. You can find testimonials on the attorney’s website, their social media pages, and their Google business pages.
As you read through testimonials, consider:
- Attorneys will typically display only the best testimonials on their website. On the attorney’s website, you will read their best of the best, the clients who have the deepest appreciation for the attorney and have the best things to say about them.
- Some people will post bad reviews because of bad experiences. In a divorce case, for example, that might mean that the dissatisfied spouse of the lawyer’s client posts a poor review. For personal injury lawyers, it could mean that a potential client whose case the firm did not accept chooses to post a bad review, or that a client who did not obtain the funds expected chose to post a negative review even when the attorney did the best that could be done for the case.
- Testimonials will help tell you what the attorney considers to be most important. As you read through testimonials, focus on common themes. They will give you a strong idea of what the attorney considers important when dealing with a client. Some attorneys focus heavily on providing a caring interaction with clients and supporting them through a difficult time in their lives. Others focus on aggressively pursuing compensation. The testimonials your attorney chooses to post, as well as the themes you see showing up in those reviews, will help you understand what the attorney considers important and how that will inform their interaction with you.
4. Ask the Right Questions.
In addition to your research into an attorney’s past results, location, and testimonials, you may want to ask some highly specific questions before settling on the attorney that would help provide the best results for you. Make sure you ask:
How do you prefer to communicate with your clients? Choose an attorney that has a communication style that matches the one that you prefer. Some people prefer to talk directly with their attorney over the phone or to meet in person regularly to review their claim. Others, however, may prefer emails or text messages, which they can read, absorb, and refer back to later when needed. If you have a distinct opinion about how your attorney communicates with you, make sure you choose an attorney that matches your communication style.
How often do you communicate with clients? Should I expect to hear from you if you have nothing to report? Some people find comfort in knowing everything that happens as their claim progresses. They want to know if the attorney finds out any new information. They may even prefer that the attorney check in regularly throughout the claim, even if nothing changes.
Others, preferring to focus on their recovery, only want to hear from their attorney when they have something to report. They have medical appointments to juggle as well as the tasks of everyday life. They prefer minimal communication.
Look for an attorney whose style fits yours, including the frequency of communications. Feel free to discuss this with an attorney before you hire the firm since this will help make managing your claim easier.
How many cases are you currently managing? How much time will you have to deal with my claim? How much time an attorney needs to spend on your claim will vary based on the type of accident, the extent of your injuries, and the circumstances that led to the accident. An accident with a big truck that resulted in spinal cord injury, for example, may need much more serious evaluation than a minor fender bender that resulted in a few broken bones.
Likewise, if you suffered severe burns in a construction site accident, the attorney may need to do much more investigation than if you suffered relatively minor injuries in a slip and fall.
Discuss the law office’s current caseload and how much time the attorney can focus on your claim. You do not want to be the attorney’s only client, but you do want to know that your claim will receive the care and attention you deserve.
Who will actually handle and review my claim? You found an attorney with a sterling reputation and the kinds of past results you need to help build your confidence in the potential results of your claim. You have every confidence that the attorney will handle your claim aggressively, pursuing the compensation you really deserve. Unfortunately, an attorney may hand off claims like yours to a junior partner in the firm.
In many firms, a junior partner will receive clear oversight from a senior attorney. You will get the benefit of the attorney’s experience, but the junior attorney or a legal assistant may do the majority of the work, including investigating the claim. Before choosing the attorney you want to handle your claim, make sure you understand who will actually handle the claim and how it has the potential to impact your claim as well as how that could impact your claim.
Also consider who will go to court with you, if your claim progresses that far. You may not want to work with a junior partner or a legal assistant throughout most of your claim, only to have an unfamiliar attorney represent you when you actually go to court. By asking those questions ahead of time, you can avoid surprises as your claim progresses.
What do you think my claim is worth? Before choosing an attorney, discuss what the attorney thinks your claim is worth. Many attorneys will not accept your case if they feel you will not receive a reasonable settlement or if they do not think they can increase the settlement already offered by the insurance company. Others may have a lower estimate of the funds you might ultimately receive for your settlement.
You do not necessarily want to go with the attorney who has the highest estimate of the funds you should receive for your injuries. In many cases, inexperienced attorneys may overestimate the funds you deserve for your injuries. On the other hand, you do not want to go with an attorney who underestimates the funds you deserve following your accident, since this could ultimately lead to decreased compensation for your injuries.
Can I speak to a client you have worked with in the past? Talking to a past client can give you a better idea of what to expect as you work with the attorney. A past client can provide peace of mind and help you know that you made the right choice. Many attorneys will connect you with people they have worked with in the past to make it easier for you to decide on them.
5. Consider the attorney’s fees and how the attorney manages payment.
Many personal injury attorneys will accept payment on a contingent fee basis. For many accident victims, a contingent fee payment arrangement may represent the only way they can afford to hire an attorney to handle their claim. Other attorneys may accept a payment arrangement or will work with you to help you make payments in a way you can afford. Discussing these issues ahead of time can ensure that you find the right personal injury attorney for you. You do not want an attorney who will leave you with unexpectedly high legal fees down the road.
Make sure you understand upfront how much the attorney will take out in fees once you receive your claim. You can shop around to get a better idea of what other local attorneys charge and how much it will ultimately cost to hire a personal injury attorney. Keep in mind that many attorneys can help you recover more than you would have received on your own, even once you calculate those legal fees.
If you suffered serious injuries in an accident, choosing the right attorney to help handle your personal injury claim can make a big difference in the funds you ultimately receive. Contact an experienced attorney as soon after your accident as possible to learn more about your legal rights or to start asking questions to determine whether you have found the right attorney for your needs.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814