Tips for Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Choosing the right personal injury lawyer can feel like a daunting task. You need an attorney that knows the law, has worked with your type of case and understands your specific needs. While choosing the right lawyer seems difficult, below are six tips for hiring a personal injury lawyer that is right for you.
1. Choose an Attorney Based on Your Type of Case
Personal injury is a broad category of law. It includes everything from medical malpractice to car accidents to wrongful death. You can quickly narrow down your choice of attorney based on the type of personal injury law they practice. Ask yourself, What kind of case do you have? Does the attorney practice that type of personal injury law?
2. Find a Lawyer with the Right Type of Experience
f you suffered injuries in a car accident, you should search for attorneys with experience handling auto accident cases. Personal injury attorneys with extensive legal experience in a particular field will understand the relevant law, know how to investigate your claim and be able to craft a strong legal argument.
Start by searching a law firm’s biographical information, and search the firm’s website for articles or posts related to your case. If these articles appear informative and helpful, this can help you gauge the level of knowledge and experience of the lawyers working at the firm.
When you meet with your attorney for an initial consultation, it is good practice to ask them questions to determine if they have the proper level of experience.
Consider asking questions such as:
- How many cases have you handled like mine?
- How much does your firm focus on these kinds of cases?
- What was your most recent case?
- What was the outcome of the case?
Remember to take good notes during your meeting so you can compare the attorney’s answers with answers from other firms.
3. Search for Lawyers with a Good Reputation
An attorney’s professional reputation will provide you important insights into the quality of their legal practice.
Attorneys with strong professional reputations have extensive experience and a history of success, and they have also gained the respect of their peers. While searching, look for attorneys who belong to trial attorney associations and whether they have received awards or hold leadership positions.
You can search associations such as:
- The local chapter of the bar association,
- SuperLawyer.com, and
In addition, you can search for law firms based on customer reviews. Previous customers may describe what it was like to work with a lawyer, how they handle customer relations, and the customer’s overall experience and satisfaction.
4. Search for Attorneys with a History of Success
While there are many attorneys in San Francisco, you should choose one based on their level of success when handling a case. Experience and reputation are important, but they do not always show whether an attorney can achieve a successful outcome.
Most law firms will have a section on their website describing past cases and the outcomes.
When reviewing a law firm’s website, consider the following:
- When was their last successful case?
- What was the type of case?
- What was the outcome?
Personal injury lawyers with a history of success will fight for your interests and work to secure you the best possible outcome.
5. Compare Fees for Each Law Firm
Attorneys will always charge fees for their legal services. However, law firms will have different types of fee structures.
- How much do you charge?
- Do you charge hourly or a flat rate?
- Do I need to pay upfront?
- Do you offer payment plans?
Make sure you discuss and agree to a fee structure you are comfortable with before hiring an attorney.
Qualities To Look For In A Personal Injury Lawyer
Here are a couple of suggestions to narrow down your list. Take these tips to heart.
1. Check their Winning Record: With the amount of personal injury attorneys in California it makes no sense going with someone “new” who doesn’t have a track record of searchable judgments. Make sure to ask what their experience is and most importantly, for past verdicts to peruse.
Although past successful verdicts don’t guarantee a successful outcome on your case, they certainly do provide you a more complete picture of the overall competency and experience of the firm or attorney with which you are considering.
2. Check their Resources: The average personal injury case can cost thousands of dollars to research, litigate and win. For example, a brain injury negligence case can cost in excess of $100,000 to persecute. And, personally, we’ve expended as much as $250,000 here at the firm on specific cases.
Very few lawyers and firms have the resources necessary to fight AND win complicated personal injury cases. Why is this important? If you choose a lawyer with limited resources they may feel pressed to settle a case too early and that costs YOU money!
3. Check their Reputation: The best law firms and attorneys have accolades to spare. Do they advertise on their site they have been recognized as part of the 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the USA by Newsweek or made a list of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers put out by the National Trial Lawyers Association?
More importantly, view their testimonials. Do they present detailed videos, Facebook reviews, and on-site testimonials from current and past clients who have been pleased with how the attorney/firm handled their cases? If not, why not?
4. Check their Fee Policy: The BEST personal injury attorneys and firms offer a “No Fee Unless They Win” guarantee as well as a Free Initial Consultation. This is also called a “contingency” arrangement and is common in the personal injury niche. Simply stated, this policy says: if the firm doesn’t win your case or force a settlement, they don’t get paid.
As the American Bar Association explains, most personal injury claims involve motor-vehicle collisions. That means if you were hurt in an auto accident, nearly every law firm you consider will probably have at least some experience resolving such claims.
If your injuries were the result of medical malpractice, on the other hand, you must look for a practice that has actually taken on healthcare providers and medical facilities. Otherwise, you could end up hiring someone who does not have the background to devise a winning strategy for your case.
A Track Record of Success
Look for an attorney who knows how to negotiate for sizable settlements. A reputable lawyer will never promise to achieve a particular outcome for your case; however, during the initial consultation, he or she should be able to explain proven legal strategies that have been effective for past clients who were in similar situations.
People who are recovering from serious injuries not only are financially vulnerable but also are emotionally vulnerable. You deserve an attorney who practices with the utmost professionalism but is still empathetic and warm when helping you navigate the claims process.
Check the personal injury lawyer’s references and testimonials
You may be thinking of a particular personal injury lawyer because someone in your personal network offered a recommendation. You trust your friend or colleague and their recommendation, and you can easily follow up with questions about why they recommend that personal injury lawyer and whether he or she seems qualified for your case. You are lucky. Part of your work to choose a personal injury lawyer is already done. You also may want to check the lawyer’s name with other people in your network, ask for other recommendations, and follow the tips in this blog to widen your research.
If you found the personal injury lawyer online, you can easily check for references and testimonials on the lawyer’s website.
You can also directly ask the personal injury lawyer for references and testimonials. Use the contact form on the lawyer’s website or make it one of your questions during your free consultation.
What Are Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer?
When you meet with a personal injury attorney for the first time, be prepared to ask and answer certain questions. Bring all the information you have with you so the lawyer can offer you accurate legal advice. Questions that you should ask may include:
- How much experience do you have with this kind of personal injury claim? It is important that you find a lawyer who understands how to investigate and pursue your particular kind of claim. For example, if you sustained injuries in a bicycle accident, then you need a lawyer who is familiar with cycling, bike values and the unique aspects of a bike accident claim.
- Do you take cases to court? You may not want to go to court, and the truth is that the majority of personal injury claims settle. However, you do not want a lawyer who always settles and never goes to court. This is a sign that he or she is interested only in a quick turnaround and may accept the first settlement offer, regardless of whether it is fair. Instead, look for a lawyer who will devote time to your case and can fight for you in court, if necessary.
- Will you actually handle my case personally? Sometimes, you may meet with a partner at a law firm, but then your case will be passed to a less experienced associate. Therefore, you should always clarify exactly who will be your lawyer. If you do not get a straight answer, then consider finding another law firm.
- How do you handle contingency fees and expenses? Personal injury lawyers generally work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not have to pay any attorney fees until the end of your case. Then, your lawyer gets a percentage of your settlement or verdict. One major benefit of this system is that you usually do not owe any fees unless you recover compensation. However, expenses are separate from fees, and some attorneys charge clients for expenses, regardless of the outcome. Make sure to clarify this system before you hire a lawyer.