How To Hire A Personal Injury Attorney

According to the National Safety Council, multiple accidental injuries occur every single second in America. Those accidents aren’t all related to vehicle collisions. In addition to car accidents, people are hurt slipping and falling, in workplace or equipment-related incidents, by dog bites, by unintentional poisoning, as a result of using a defective product or one without a proper warning label, or as a consequence of false imprisonment, among other circumstances. If you’ve been injured in an accident or other event that may be the fault of someone else, and are dealing with lost wages and medical bills, a personal injury attorney can help protect your interests, and work to get the compensation you need to continue moving forward with your life. Here’s how to find and hire a personal injury lawyer whose experience and approach will be the best match for your case.

  1. First, seek medical attention for your injury.
  2. Get your claim in order by gathering documents, reports, information, and photos.
  3. Screen multiple attorneys by asking about their expertise and success rate with cases like yours.
  4. Understand the process of the lawsuit, and what your role will be.
  5. Weigh the benefits of settlement against the risks of going to trial.

First, seek medical attention for your injury.

When you’re dealing with a personal injury, you may need to act quickly to attend to your physical needs.

If the injury is major, seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 or having someone bring you to an emergency room. Even if you believe you’re okay, it’s important to get checked out by medical staff to ensure you don’t have internal injuries or other issues that could arise later.

Whatever injury you’re dealing with, focus on your recovery by following doctor’s orders, taking medications as prescribed, and getting rest. One of the reasons you’re hiring a personal injury lawyer is so that the attorney can handle the details of case while you focus on your own well-being and recovery.

ExperTip: Seeking medical attention right after your injury doesn’t just help ensure the best physical and emotional outcome following your injury. It also helps document the fact that you were injured and can help begin the paperwork trail that might be required to demonstrate that the injury was related to a specific event or accident. If your personal injury claim is related to medical malpractice, you’ll may want to seek treatment from a different doctor or in a healthcare facility that is not the subject of your claim.

Get your claim in order by gathering documents, reports, information, and photos.

Evidence can be a critical factor in any personal injury lawsuit or settlement, and it’s important to gather it as soon as you can. As time goes by, you and other people may forget critical facts about the event in question, and the evidence itself might be erased.

While your personal injury attorney will help gather evidence, it’s a good idea to start even before you hire one. If possible, at the scene of an accident or event that caused injury:

  • Take pictures and shoot video to document what happened (don’t try to do this yourself if you’re seriously injured, but if you can, allow someone you trust to shoot pictures and video for you).
  • Get contact information for witnesses who may have seen what happened, and speak to them soon after the incident, to get their statements on what they saw.
  • Collect and organize documents and records such as insurance letters, medical records, police reports, and the name and insurance information of anyone else involved.

Screen multiple attorneys by asking about their expertise and success rate with cases like yours.

Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. They do this, in part, because they need to decide to take your case as much as you need to decide to hire them. A consultation provides them a chance to find out more about your case so they know if it might be worth their time or something they can successfully fight for.

A consultation provides you with a chance to narrow down your field of prospective attorneys by asking the right questions, including:

  1. How much of your practice is devoted to personal injury cases?
  2. How much experience do you have (how many cases have you handled) with my specific type of personal injury claim?
  3. What is the largest settlement you’ve won in a personal injury case?
  4. What percentage of your personal injury cases result in pre-trial settlements?
  5. How extensive is your trial experience?
  6. Have you ever been professionally censured for behavior related to your law practice?
  7. Have you been recognized or received special designation from any national or state professional organizations or peer reviews?
  8. What damages can I claim, and what do you think my case is worth?
  9. How long do you expect my case to take?
  10. If the lawsuit is not successful will I be liable for any out-of-pocket expenses?
  11. Will I be working primarily with an attorney or with a paralegal or support staff?
  12. How frequently will you update me on the progress of my case?
  13. How many cases are in your current caseload?

Understand the process of the lawsuit, and what your role will be.

One you’ve narrowed down your selection to one or two attorneys, make sure you understand what the process of the lawsuit is and what you might need to do during it. Talk to your prospective personal injury lawyer to find out how much work the legal staff will take on and what might be relegated to you so you are prepared. This also helps you make a good decision on which legal team is the best fit for your needs.

While every case is different, some common processes in a personal injury case can include:

  • Gathering evidence and information
  • Notifying insurance companies and others that a lawyer is involved
  • Preparing and filing a lawsuit and other pleadings
  • Taking the case to court (which includes complaint, discovery and motions phases)

Typically, a lawyer handles the heavy lifting when it comes to legal paperwork, sending letters, deposing witnesses, and even making a case in court. But you may be called upon to provide information, be present at meetings, or get evaluations by medical staff or others.

ExperTip: Don’t rush treatment for your injury or ignore your doctor’s advice. After doing the initial work to establish fault, your personal injury attorney won’t move forward with your case until your physician determines that you have recovered from your injuries, or your condition has stabilized, and releases you. Neglecting treatment will only prolong this process, and delay any settlement negotiation.

Weigh the benefits of settlement against the risks of going to trial.

Personal injury cases can be concluded in a number of ways. A personal injury settlement occurs when both parties agree to a resolution outside of court. Your lawyer might be able to negotiate a settlement even before filing an official lawsuit.

Typically, the earlier a case is settled, the less expensive it is overall. That means you get to keep more of the settlement money. But if you settle too early, you might risk accepting compensation payment that’s lower than the amount you need to cover the cost of your damages. It’s important to work with your attorney to balance your approach to a settlement, and to ensure that your lawyer will agree to the

If you don’t settle, your attorney will likely file a lawsuit. That puts you on a track to have evidence and testimony about the case presented in court. In this case, a jury, judge, or panel of judges decides whether the evidence supports your case and how much compensation should be awarded. Between filing a lawsuit and the actual trial, you can still settle at any time. Your attorney will likely work with you through this process to recommend what might be best for your case.

Ready to speak to a lawyer? Here is our list of the best personal injury attorneys near you.

 Disclaimer

The materials provided in this article are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Use of and access to this article or any of the links contained in the article do not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the user or browser. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.