Filing a personal injury claim is not something that people generally plan ahead for or even think about until something happens. Because of this, most people do not have a great deal of knowledge to help them do so on their own. When that lack of preparation is combined with the physical and emotional trauma of the accident, the best option is often to seek professional help. Hiring the right personal injury lawyer is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. You want to know that you have chosen the right person for you and your case.
16 Things to Look for in a Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury law is a broad term that encompasses many specialties, each with their own unique rules and regulations. Most attorneys will have their own areas of focus which means that every law firm will have its own way of doing things depending on the specific types of cases they handle. Although different types of personal injury claims may have different requirements, there are some universal attributes and things you can look for when hiring any personal injury lawyer.
While there is no guaranteed outcome to any case, you still want to look into a personal injury lawyer’s track record. It is good to know if a prospective attorney is more or less likely to get you the best possible compensation for your claim. You want to work with someone who consistently produces positive results and wins personal injury cases they represent. Out-of-court settlements as well as trial outcomes can be helpful information to have in order to make a fully informed decision. Most attorneys will list some examples of previous successes on their website.
Relevant Personal Injury Experience
You want to know that your attorney has the experience and the understanding of relevant personal injury laws to handle your case. Personal injury attorneys develop their skills best on the job. The more experience they have, the more likely they are to be prepared for any unique variables or obstacles that may arise. Even though most personal injury cases are settled out of court, it is still good to have an attorney who also has trial experience if needed.
Experience Dealing with Your Specific Personal Injury Type
Lawyers are like doctors in that they tend to focus on a specialty. Many attorneys have more than one specialty and some firms may have multiple attorneys with different specialties. Be sure that your attorney has enough experience, not just with personal injury claims in general, but with your specific type of personal injury claim as well. A lawyer with years of experience handling medical malpractice might not have much experience with cases involving defective products or workers compensation. Go over the details of your situation and confirm that they have the knowledge and experience to take on your case.
Commitment to Your Personal Injury Claim
There is a certain level of compassion and empathy that a personal injury lawyer should have for their clients. You want to know that your attorney genuinely cares about helping you beyond their own personal gain. You want someone who is committed to fighting for you rather than just trying to earn a paycheck. They should see you as a person rather than a case number and take your thoughts and feelings seriously.
Compatibility With the You
You don’t have to be best friends with your lawyer or even like them all that much in order for them to be a good fit. When trying to determine compatibility, some things to consider include:
- How comfortable you are with them
- How much you trust them
- How they communicate with you
- How much they listen to you
- How they treat you
If you are unhappy or uncomfortable or frustrated with the way an attorney does things, it can make the process more difficult for both of you.
Honest and Ethical
It is often stressed how important it is that you be completely honest with your lawyer, but it is equally important that they be honest with you. They should be clear about the strengths and weaknesses of your case as well as the risk of potential obstacles. They should not promise specific outcomes at the beginning of your case or try to pressure you into making decisions that you are uncomfortable with or don’t understand. They should explain your options and advise you of the positive and negative potential outcomes of each. Pop culture tends to paint a very negative image of the morality of lawyers that influences what people think about them in real life. However, ethical integrity is actually a fundamental cornerstone of the profession that is taken very seriously by good lawyers.
Strong Communication Skills
In order to achieve the best possible outcome for your case, you and your lawyer need to be on the same page. You are a team working towards the same goal and need to be certain that you both have the information necessary to make each move. The communication skills of your attorney are crucial for many reasons, including but not limited to:
- Making sure you understand your rights and options
- Keeping you updated and aware of the process
- Making sure they hear you and understand you
- Obtaining all the information and details they need from you
- Being able to negotiate with the insurance companies
- Preparing you for situations such as depositions
- Presenting your case in court if necessary
Thorough Research and Analysis
There is a lot of information and documentation that is needed to build a case. Your attorney should have the resources and skills necessary to obtain everything and consolidate it into a concise and coherent case. They need to be able to analyze the facts of the accident, calculate the economic damages, and determine an appropriate value to the non-economic damages. They also need to be able to present the final result in a way that ensures the best possible compensation.
Building a case comes with many different expenses and may require additional support such as expert witnesses. If the case goes to litigation, there are additional fees and costs to consider. The nature of a contingency fee agreement means that the funds needed for a case are paid by the attorney who is then reimbursed when a settlement or award is received. When choosing a personal injury attorney, you want to be sure that they have the resources to build your case fully and properly.
Strong Negotiating Skills
Negotiation is one of the most important parts of a personal injury case. Studies have indicated that the effects of negotiating can dramatically increase your settlement compared to accepting the insurance company’s first offer. On average, negotiating is estimated to increase settlements by over $30K . It is also important to have a strong negotiator working alongside you. You could have a strong case with clear evidence, but if your attorney cannot properly negotiate with the insurance company, then you will end up with less than you deserve. You want to know that you have an attorney who is able to hold their ground, fight for you, and win. This is a quality that can sometimes be difficult to research on your own before working with them. However, if you found them through a personal recommendation by a former client, it is something that you can ask the person who referred you.
Extensive Litigation Experience
While most claims are settled out of court, there is always the chance that you will have to go to litigation. Your attorney should be prepared for that possibility and have trial experience. Not all personal injury lawyers have that experience, so it is important to ask and find out how they handle cases that need to be fought in court.
Comprehension of Basic Medical Knowledge Related to Your Claim
Your attorney is not a doctor and cannot give you medical advice or dictate your treatment plan. However, because they tend to specialize in specific types of claims, they also have experience and familiarity with specific types of injuries. They can tell you what types of treatments are usually necessary as well as how long those treatments generally take and how much they cost. They can also provide some guidance and recommendations when it comes to seeking treatment from qualified specialists and experts.
Direct referrals are one of the most common ways to find a lawyer. Speaking to someone with firsthand knowledge of how the attorney works and how they treat their clients can be very beneficial. It is also a good sign when their former clients are willing to vouch for them and recommend them to others. You can also go online and see what kind of reviews various clients have posted.
A Professional Office
When searching for an attorney, one thing to pay attention to is the office itself. If it is messy and chaotic, things can be overlooked or lost. This could indicate that cases are not being given the full attention and care that they deserve. You want an attorney who is organized and efficient. You want to be sure that things are being done right and that deadlines are met. You should have confidence that your attorney can take care of you and your case.
Associated with Reputable Trial Lawyer Groups
There are many groups and organizations that attorneys join that tell you a great deal about who they are professionally and where their priorities are. Knowing what groups a prospective lawyer belongs to can be helpful in learning more about them and what they stand for.
Contingency Fee Payment Structure
Most attorneys specializing in personal injury work on a contingency basis. Their payment comes at the end of the case out of the money that they win for you. This is generally a percentage of the settlement and additional expenses. Contingency fees ensure that your attorney has a personal interest in getting you the best possible outcome. It also ensures that you do not need to worry about whether or not you can afford to have legal representation because the cost of a personal injury lawyer is deducted from the final award.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
Navigating the legal process is a skill that takes years of education and years of experience to develop which is why most people need a personal injury lawyer to represent them. There is no reason to face that process unprepared and alone when you don’t have to. After being injured in an accident, your focus and energy should be on healing and getting your life back to normal. Having a personal injury lawyer gives you someone to take care of the heavy lifting, reduce the stress of the entire situation, and give you the best chance for a positive outcome.
How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury cases can drag on for years, which makes choosing a personal injury lawyer a very important decision. Their expertise and experience will help you win the largest settlement or award possible and allow you to focus on your recovery. Selecting a personal injury lawyer that is both competent and compatible with your case can be an intimidating task. It is important to review the different qualifications listed above to see what kind of personal injury lawyer will work for you. Always do your due diligence, ask the right questions, and don’t be afraid to meet with multiple personal injury attorneys to see who is the best fit for your needs.
Contact Mesriani Law Group if You Are Looking for a Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer
Hiring the right personal injury attorney for you and your situation can be a daunting task. There is a lot to consider and a lot of firms to choose from. At Mesriani Law Group, our personal injury attorneys have years of experience winning cases for our clients, whether through negotiations or in the courtroom. We are dedicated to each of our clients and do everything in our power to make sure that they are taken care of both legally and personally. We have offices in Santa Monica and represent clients throughout Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California. If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, call Mesriani Law Group today for a free consultation.
Personal Injury Lawyer FAQs
What percentage do most personal injury lawyers take?
The standard base contingency fee for a personal injury lawyer is about 30-50% of the final settlement. This number varies depending on the firm and several variables and typically increases depending on how far the case has to go into the litigation process. There are also often legal fees and other expenses that are added to the amount. All of these terms should be outlined in the agreement you sign when you hire a personal injury attorney.
Is Super Lawyers legit?
Super Lawyers is not an official rating system, but it is respected within the field. Super Lawyers is an annual list that ranks the best of the best attorneys based on professional standards and achievements. They utilize various methods to make their selections including in depth research and peer nominations.
What is the definition of personal injury?
The official dictionary definition of personal injury is physical damage to a person's body. In the legal field, it is a type of tort law relating to physical or mental damage caused by another person. A personal injury claim can also include property damage involved in the incident, such as with a car accident, but there has to be some kind of actual injury in order for there to be a personal injury claim.