Choosing the right lawyer can make an immense difference in the result of your personal injury claim, which makes picking out the right lawyer a vital decision. Majority of lawyers who concentrate on personal injury law represent only one side of these cases – either the plaintiff (the injured person) or the defendant (the person entity that allegedly caused the injury). Generally, personal recommendations and word of mouth are the best place to begin a search for a lawyer. Internet resources are also a great jump-off off point for making an initial list of prospects to get in touch with.
Whittling It Down
However you found those candidates, you’ll have to trim down your list to three or four with the use of the following criteria:
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> Biographical Information – Learn about the lawyer’s background. His profile must reflect the kinds of cases he usually takes up (and which side). If it seems hard to tell, you can always call the office and ask. See what other information you can find in these lawyers’ websites. The more informed you are, the better you will be able to decide.
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> Professional Associations – Find out if the attorney belongs to any national, state or local trial lawyers’ associations.
> Location – If you have a working relationship with a lawyer whose practice is based in another area, ask for names of some good local prospects.
> Professional Standing – Visit the lawyer’s website or call your state bar association to know if the lawyer you’re interested in is in good standing.
Conflicts of Interest
Does the lawyer represent anyone connected with any of the parties you are intending to use, or anyone who could have an interest in how the case plays out? After you’ve narrowed down your list of prospects, inquire about an initial consultation . You don’t have to cross a lawyer off your list simply because he doesn’t have the time for an appointment with you on short notice. It’s natural for good personal injury lawyers to be busy.
Most personal injury claim scenarios allow you to hire an attorney on a “contingency fee” basis. This means that you will only have to pay the lawyer when you have received the settlement or court award – usually about a third of that amount – and if you don’t receive any, your lawyer won’t get paid his legal fees either. In any case, read the contract before singing it as you may still need to pay for costs (not included in legal fees) such as court stenographer or expert witness fees, photocopying fees, and so on.