Hiring a personal injury attorney after a car accident or other serious injury can be a Catch-22. You’re looking for a lawyer to help you untangle the complex web of law, procedure, and insurance company tactics. But, the internet is a complex web of personal injury lawyers. For the inexperienced, it can be hard to know who to trust, or how to tell.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take and questions you can ask to help identify not just the right personal injury attorney, but the right personal injury attorney for you and your case. The first step is understanding what your attorney can do for you.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
There’s no legal requirement that you hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you. But, there are many pitfalls to going it alone. For example:
- Insurance companies don’t always play fair, and if you’re not experienced with personal injury claims and negotiating with insurance companies, it’s easy to make costly mistakes
- When it’s time to file a lawsuit and litigate your claim, you don’t get any special consideration because you’re on your own–you’re expected to understand and comply with all technical, legal, and procedural requirements
- Pursuing a personal injury claim can be very expensive, and most people don’t have the resources or the knowledge required to identify and retain experts, have testing conducted, and otherwise prepare an effective case
So, you’ll want to work with an attorney who is experienced with personal injury cases, knows the local court system and insurance company attorneys in the county where your case will be filed, has a network of experts and both the knowledge and resources to retain and work with them, and can be counted on to manage deadlines, filing requirements, production of evidence and other technical aspects of the case. But, that’s just the beginning.
It’s also very important that you’re comfortable working with the attorney and have confidence in the law firm.
This is where free consultations come in. While you can learn about an attorney’s education and experience on a law firm website, there’s equally important information that can only be gathered by speaking with the attorney.
Choosing Your Personal Injury Attorney
Most people go into a free consultation with a personal injury attorney with just a couple of questions: do I have a case, and how much is it worth? Of course, those issues are important. But, your free consultation isn’t just an opportunity to learn about your case. It’s also your opportunity to learn about the attorney and the law firm.
That’s only partly achieved by asking questions. You’ll gather some of the most important information by paying attention to how the attorney and any staff you encounter interact with you. Take note of things like:
- Whether the attorney listens to and seems to understand your concerns
- Whether you are comfortable asking questions and sharing information with the attorney
- Whether the attorney explains things in a way you can understand
Also, be on alert for overpromising. While an experienced personal injury attorney can tell you what similar cases have settled for and what factors will impact your case, no reputable lawyer will promise you a specific dollar amount.
Preparing Questions for Your Free Consultation
When you have a lot of questions, it’s easy to get distracted with follow-ups and forget something important. That’s especially true if you’re nervous. So, it’s a good idea to write down your questions and take the list with you. You’ll undoubtedly have concerns specific to your case or your situation. This list of general things you should know will help you get started.
- How much of your practice is dedicated to personal injury cases? You don’t need an attorney who does nothing but personal injury, but an attorney who only takes on an occasional personal injury case may not have the specific knowledge and experience required to get the best possible settlement or successfully take your case to trial.
- How often do you go to trial? Most personal injury cases settle, so expect any attorney you speak with to settle more cases than he or she tries in court. But, it’s important that your attorney is willing and able to effectively argue your case to a jury if that’s in your best interest.
- Have you handled cases of this specific type before? Not all personal injury cases are the same, and there are many related case types with significant differences. At the simplest level, a commercial truck accident case is likely to be more complex than the typical car accident case. Federal regulations that don’t apply to individual drivers may come into play, and it’s likely that some parties may be out of state. Medical malpractice cases, product liability cases, and others loosely in the personal injury arena also differ in important ways.
- How will I communicate with your office? Some law firms assign a secretary or paralegal as a single point of contact for most communications. In some, the attorney handling your case responds to all calls and emails personal. Still others take a team approach. There’s not necessarily a single right answer to this question, but unreturned phone calls and a sense of not knowing what’s going on with the case are two of the most common complaints clients have about personal injury law firms. It’s important to know what to expect.
The best attorney for you will be one who:
- Is knowledgeable about the appropriate area of law
- Is ready and willing to fight for you in the way that best suits your case
- Has the resources and network to support your case
- Listens to your concerns and answers your questions in a way you can understand
- Makes you feel comfortable telling your story and asking questions
Atlanta attorney ReShea Balams fights for maximum compensation for people who have been injured through someone else’s negligence, including victims of motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall injuries, medical malpractice and more. The Balams Firm offers free, no-obligation consultations so injury victims can gather the information they need to make good decisions in difficult times. You can schedule yours right now by calling 855-352-2727 or filling out the contact form on this page.