Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury cases are serious matters. They often involve grave injury, permanent disability, and even death. Victims depend on the financial damages they are awarded to cover their medical treatments, replace permanently lost income, and compensate for their pain and suffering. Without a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney, their chances of receiving fair compensation plummet.
That's why it is imperative that, if you have been a victim of personal injury, you choose the right personal injury attorney to represent you. Here are a few things to consider when making your selection:
Choose an attorney who specializes in personal injury
You wouldn't see an ophthalmologist if you had a heart problem, so why would you hire a lawyer who doesn't specialize in personal injury? Your lawyer should be able to accurately assess the merits of a personal injury case, approximate its monetary value, and determine the best strategy for pursuing it. He or she should also have extensive experience in the field. Further, because landmark cases can change the legal landscape, your lawyer should be one who keeps current with the latest developments in personal injury law - these may be used to your advantage.
Choose a personal injury attorney experienced in dealing with insurance companies
Insurance company lawyers represent most personal injury case defendants. These corporate lawyers seek to pay out the least amount possible, so an inexperienced personal injury attorney may be at a disadvantage in these negotiations. Therefore, choosing a personal injury lawyer with a proven track record of successful negotiations is essential.
Choose an attorney with trial experience
Although most personal injury claims are settled out of court, personally injury lawyers sometimes obtain favorable settlements by threatening to take cases to trial. The defendants are often willing to pay out more money to the plaintiffs to avoid expensive trials, negative publicity, and the chance that a court would award the plaintiffs more money. In this case, experience is key: if your personal injury attorney has never won cases in court, the defendant in your lawsuit may not take the threat of going to trial seriously.
Choose an attorney who respects you as a client
Remember that when you hire a personal injury attorney, you are paying him for a service - and you should be satisfied with the quality of that service. He or she should return your phone calls promptly, communicate with you personally, and keep you updated on the status of your case. He or she should also discuss the terms of your contract, including fees, up front (Most personal injury attorneys work for a contingency fee, meaning that they are paid out of your settlement. If you don't win, you don't pay.). If your attorney's performance is less than stellar, realize that you can still replace him or her at your own discretion.