One of the most important decisions you will need to make regarding your personal injury case is choosing the lawyer who will represent you. Before you sign the retainer agreement, there are some important considerations you need to make about your potential attorney, including:
An attorney may have been practicing for many years, but if his area of expertise has no relevance to your claim, it doesn’t mean much. For example, if you’ve been injured in an automobile accident and the attorney you’re considering does mostly wills and trusts and rarely appears in court, it would probably be best for you to keep on looking.
It’s also wise to ask roughly what percentage of the lawyer’s practice involves personal injury cases, and if he typically represents plaintiffs or defendants. You probably don’t want an attorney who does a lot of personal injury cases but has primarily represented defendants, as his attitude (consciously or subconsciously) may reflect that of the insurance company that is refusing to pay your claim.
An effective personal injury attorney should have a record of success. Before you make a final decision, you should ask a lawyer how long he’s been practicing, and inquire about the outcome of previous cases he has handled that were similar to yours. You can also check online attorney rating sources such as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America, and Martindale-Hubbell.
It’s important to have the representation of a respected attorney in any legal matter, but particularly in a personal injury case, where effective negotiation skills are critical when dealing with insurance companies. If an attorney isn’t comfortable conducting depositions, settlement negotiations and standing in front of a jury, he probably isn’t the right one for you.
When looking for a personal injury attorney, you should feel confident that the one you select will be dedicated to your case and will put your interests above all else. If you’re thinking about retaining an attorney in a large firm, ask if he will personally handle your case, or if he will pass it on to another attorney in his office, perhaps an associate with less experience. Find out who will have ultimate responsibility for your case, and if another lawyer will be involved, ask to meet him too.
Most lawyers who specialize in personal injury offer free initial consultations. But before you meet with an attorney, find out whether he plans to charge you for the first interview. If the lawyer wants to charge you just to discuss whether or not he wants to take your case, consider going somewhere else.
Choosing the Best Lawyer for You
You should never make a decision about an attorney solely on someone else’s recommendation without meeting him in person first. A face-to-face meeting will usually reveal vital things about an attorney, including his personality, philosophy and level of empathy for your situation. Sitting down with a lawyer to discuss your claim and the way he would handle it will go a long way in helping you decide whether or not he is the right lawyer for you.
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