Our Top Tips for Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Your Complete Guide to Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer – CHAPTER 1
Finding an experienced and compassionate personal injury lawyer who can fight for your rights when you’ve been hurt on the job, in an auto accident, or as the result of a medical mistake may seem like an intimidating or overwhelming task. However, with a little preparation and knowing the right questions to ask during an initial consultation, it doesn’t have to be.
As part of our ongoing post series, your complete guide to hiring a personal injury attorney is right here on our blog to make your search for the best personal injury lawyers easy and worry-free. Today we’re bringing you our top tips and questions to ask before and during a consultation with a prospective legal partner so you can get the most out of this conversation and ultimately hire the lawyer that’s right for you and your unique case. Here are your “must-dos.”
Before the Consultation
So, you’ve been hurt in an accident at work or perhaps even due to bad or recalled medications. You have bills you can’t pay because you’ve been unable to work, and you’re scared. You likely already know that a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you, but you have a lot of questions, and you’re not sure the ads you’ve seen for lawyers on TV really seem trustworthy.
You’d love to set up a consultation – after all, you’ve heard that these initial meetings or phone conferences are often free – but how do you choose who to call?
Talk to family and friends
One of the best places to start when you’re looking for a personal injury attorney is within your own network of family and friends. If someone you’re close to has gone through the legal process related to a workers’ compensation (WC) claim or Social Security Disability benefits dispute, among other personal injury issues, you can guarantee that they’ll either happily recommend their attorney or be able to steer you in another direction based on their experience.
The most successful personal injury attorneys put great stock in word of mouth advertising, and we love referrals from past clients!
If you don’t happen to know anyone personally who has worked with a personal injury attorney, another way to gather honest recommendations is to ask Google or Facebook about law firms you have already heard of in your city or region. You can also ask people you know in your community who tend to talk to others about their personal experiences – a trusted professional like an accountant, medical professional/counselor, or pastor/religious leader may have some good leads on the best attorneys in your area.
Do your research and get organized
As mentioned, online resources can be excellent for helping you find highly-rated personal injury legal practices close to you. Read reviews and customer testimonials and make a short list of individual lawyers and practices that appeal to you based on their stated experience and what others are saying. Most reputable personal injury firms and attorneys proudly advertise themselves with clear photos and profiles on their websites and social media pages so you can easily get to know the people you might be working with before you even pick up the phone or fill out a form to get in contact.
While you’re looking into lawyers, also collect all your paperwork that could pertain to your case – medical bills, letters from insurance companies, even correspondence with HR reps at your employer (if you’re working through a WC issue). Have a basic file of information assembled before you set up a consultation so you can help your prospective attorney understand your needs quickly and you can ask specific questions you may have about forms or things you’ve received in the mail.
During the Consultation: Things to Discuss
While you can always make initial contact with personal injury firms you’re interested in via website contact forms, we suggest actually picking up the phone to call and schedule your consultation. You can get a sense of how a practice operates from how they handle their incoming phone calls, and that first impression you get simply speaking to a receptionist or legal assistant may tell you a lot.
Once you’ve got a consultation scheduled, and you have a chance to talk with an attorney directly, be sure to ask the following questions in addition to discussing your case details.
Talk about fees
As we talked about in the first chapter of our guide, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t charge you unless we win you money. That doesn’t mean that you should feel shy asking questions about our fees when we do win, however. And, in fact, you should always ask to see a breakdown of fees in writing before you sign an agreement for services.
The best personal injury attorneys seek to be upfront about all of our costs, and we are not offended by questions like, “how much do you get paid if I win my case?”
Ask about experience and focus on personal injury law
When you need a personal injury lawyer, you should seek only attorneys with this specific experience. There are lots of types of law practices, and not all lawyers know the ins and outs of personal injury law – it’s a specialty that requires specialist knowledge.
Just as you wouldn’t go to a heart doctor for problems with your eyes, you don’t want to trust your personal injury case to just any lawyer, even if they believe they can do the research and defend your rights. Ask lawyers that you consult with what their outcomes have been for personal injury clients, and also ask whether their practice deals with other types of law.
Here at Westmoreland Injury Lawyers, for instance, we’re so dedicated to only personal injury law that we even have dedicated paralegals for each personal injury specialty to offer our clients in-depth support.
Who will be handling your case?
When consulting with an attorney in solo practice or a smaller personal injury firm, it’s probably true that you’re speaking directly to the person who will be handling your case. Paralegals and other office support staff may be involved, as well, but it is important to find a personal injury lawyer who cares enough to take the time to talk with you personally. Make sure to ask this question if it’s at all unclear who will be handling your case and answering your questions as you go along.
In the end, you need to find a personal injury lawyer you can trust and who inspires confidence through their experience and integrity. You do not have to hire the first lawyer you have a consultation with, and it’s also fine if someone a close friend recommended just doesn’t feel like a good fit.
Do you like this attorney? Trust your gut!
After you’ve had an initial conversation with a potential legal partner, ask yourself – is he or she likable? Did this attorney make you feel like they sincerely cared about the hardships you’re experiencing? If you’re not sure, or your answer is definitely negative, get a second opinion by scheduling a consultation with another lawyer. Depending on the complexity and details of your case, you could be working with your personal injury attorney for many months, so it’s crucial that you like and trust this person.
Get in Touch with Westmoreland Injury Lawyers
Located in Greensburg, PA? Westmoreland Injury Lawyers has the experience you’re looking for in personal injury law. Give us a call today for a free consultation about your unique case.