Answer These Five Questions Before Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

When you’ve had an accident and need an attorney, it may feel like the last thing you have time for is evaluating different lawyers. However, even if you have to have a family member or friend do this for you, it’s important that you get the best representation you can to reach a fair settlement with an insurance company and other at-fault parties. Read on for three questions you need answers to before you hire representation.

What’s Your Reputation?

While it’s good to find out more about a practice from its website, do more digging. Start at the ABA website to find your state’s licensing organization. Here you’ll be able to find out about the licenses its attorneys carry and any specialty licenses that the state might offer. Consider what other attorneys are saying. Check out sites like The Martindale-Hubbell Bar Registry or Superlawyers, where attorneys review other attorneys. See what other customers are saying by reviewing sites like Yelp. It’s also important to get first-hand accounts from people you know. Ask your friends, family, neighbors and even your doctor about their recommendations.

What’s Your Experience?

You’ve already done your research so it’s to be hoped you have a basic idea of how long your attorney has been in practice, but it’s time to delve more deeply and meet a couple of attorneys. First, establish who will be handling the majority of your case. If the attorney with whom you are speaking isn’t the one who will be doing most of the legwork, ask to meet that person to establish their qualifications and dedication. Find out what percentage of cases go to trial and your attorney’s trial experience. Most cases will settle long before they would ever reach a courtroom, but you want to know that your attorney can and will go to bat for you in the courtroom if necessary. Make sure that his experience matches your needs. Check that the attorney has experience in the specific area of personal injury that affects your case.

How Do You Handle Case Expenses?

Even if your attorney says there will be no fee unless they collect a settlement on your behalf, your case may involve case expenses like investigator fees, court filing fees or fees to have your medical records copied that he may consider separate from the attorney’s fee. Ask for the policy to be spelled out in the agreement the attorney offers you. Some attorneys will ask you to pay for most of these expenses out of pocket as the case goes on or ask you to pay them in addition to the percentage fee they collect from your settlement. Others will wrap it into your percentage fee when your case is settled. Like the settlement percentage, there is the potential to negotiate these additional fees and how they are considered. Decide whether paying fees upfront and as the case progresses may impede your ability to proceed with your case.

Of course, you’re always better off asking more questions than fewer. Consider special certifications, whether the attorney is on top of recent rulings, and any other aspects that are important to you personally. With just a little legwork you’ll find an attorney that will fight not only for you but beside you.

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