Unfortunately, sometimes accidents happen and an injury results. And even more unfortunate is when these injuries aren’t accidents at all. Regardless, when things go wrong people need to turn to a lawyer for help, and in either of these instances you need to find a personal injury attorney. The question is never “should I hire a personal injury attorney?” but rather, “who is the right personal injury attorney for me?”
The first thing you need to understand with personal injury attorneys is, if you are the plaintiff (the plaintiff is the party filing the lawsuit a.k.a. the party who has been injured), that they will all cost about the same; personal injury attorneys typically work for what is called a contingency fee. A contingency fee essentially means that the lawyer won’t get paid unless he wins your case, and then the lawyer will take a percentage of the total winnings. That percentage varies from firm to firm but is usually in the 30%-40% range. Therefore, if the lawyer loses, he doesn’t get paid at all. If you are the defense, or the person getting sued, the personal injury lawyer will typically charge you on an hourly rate (see more info about attorney rates and prices).
So now that we understand that the price of the lawyer will essentially be the same percentage regardless, you need to focus on the steps for how to hire the right lawyer.
Step 1: Proximity – Ideally, you want to find a personal injury attorney who lives nearby. While it is by no means a requirement, it is definitely easier to work with a lawyer who is located nearby for meetings and for court appearances as well. Communication with your lawyer is extremely important and communication is usually better accomplished in-person.
Step 2: Experience – This is probably the most important aspect of finding the right personal injury attorney. Just as with medicine, there are specialists in each area of law. For instance, some personal injury attorneys focus on medical malpractice and other personal injury attorneys just work on car accident cases. While any personal injury attorney is probably perfectly capable of handling your bicycle accident case, it is probably best to find a personal injury attorney who specializes in bicycle accident cases. This will increase the likelihood of winning your case because your lawyer has dealt with your type of case in the past.
Step 3: Enthusiasm – How enthusiastic your lawyer is about your case might not seem like an important reason whether to hire that personal injury attorney or not, but I would be hesitant to hire a lawyer who doesn’t seem to like the odds of winning your case. Lawyers often work harder on cases they find interesting or have a better chance of yielding them a higher monetary gain on the win. Not only is this important for the result of your case, but the entire process of working with your personal injury attorney will be much more enjoyable if the attorney is enthusiastic about your case.
Step 4: Reviews – The importance of reviews varies with how you found your lawyer. If you were referred your personal injury attorney by a friend who used the attorney for the same reason (i.e. you both used this personal injury attorney for a car accident case), then you are taking less of a risk hiring this attorney. However, if your case is far different from your friend’s or you found the personal injury attorney on a website, you should look for previous client reviews online. Reviews from previous clients are far more valuable than endorsements from fellow lawyers since those are often insincere and used by friends to promote each other’s business. If you find that multiple clients enjoyed their experience with the attorney and that personal injury attorney was successful in winning their cases, you can feel more comfortable using that attorney.
In conclusion, which personal injury attorney you hire can often make or break the success of your case. Do not take this decision lightly, look for options and compare and contrast those options. Remember, personal injury attorneys want your business so use that to your advantage when searching for the right one. Ask for more information, look online for reviews, and make the right decision for your individual circumstance. Even try bargaining their fees…you never get what you don’t ask for.