If you’ve suffered a personal injury through the fault of another, you may be out of work, overwhelmed with piles of medical bills, or in constant pain and agony. Under any of these circumstances, researching, locating, and retaining the best lawyer to handle your personal injury claim in court can seem like yet one more insurmountable obstacle. There are, however, some guidelines that can help you select the right personal injury attorney. With the right advocate on your side, you can breathe a sigh of relief and let someone else carry at least part of your burden, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a personal injury attorney is whether the attorney has experience in and concentrates his or her legal practice on personal injury law. Attorneys with personal injury law as their primary focus have a decided advantage in that they understand the complexities of the area, can more easily keep abreast of the latest developments and ever-evolving laws, and are more likely to know the habits and tactics of opposing counsel-all of which can give their clients an edge over the defendants. Plaintiffs’ attorneys with demonstrated experience dealing with insurance companies and their attorneys may have also gained credibility with these and similar types of common and recurring opposing parties, and thus have “less to prove” in order to achieve an equitable settlement on their clients’ behalf.
Another factor worth considering is whether a particular personal injury lawyer has experience trying cases and winning substantial verdicts. Although most personal injury claims are settled out of court, knowing that an attorney is a skilled litigator can add an additional dimension to the client’s overall sense of security. And if the case does fail to settle, strong and shrewd litigation skills can almost certainly precipitate a better outcome for the plaintiff.
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingent-fee basis, under which the client pays a fee only if he or she wins the case. Typical contingent fees range from thirty to forty percent of the amount of damages recovered; if no damages are recovered, no legal fees are due, but costs may still need to be paid. Although it may be tempting to choose a lawyer based on who will take the lowest percentage, fees alone should not be the determining factor. Often the most experienced lawyers may claim the higher fees, but if the attorney is not skilled and experienced, the plaintiff may have a lesser chance of prevailing, and any percentage of nothing is nothing.
Many lawyers provide initial consultations free of charge. Thus, potential plaintiffs may interview multiple candidates before signing a fee agreement. Care should be taken, however, to make a selection in a relatively short period of time, since the law provides strict limits on the time periods in which suit may be brought. Once engaged, a lawyer should be responsive to the client’s needs, answering questions satisfactorily, returning phone calls promptly, and, most importantly, representing the client’s interests zealously. If at any time a client is dissatisfied with his or her counsel, the client should be able to change lawyers without penalty.
Dealing with an injury, potential income loss, almost certain medical bills, and the resulting stress and anxiety can be overwhelming. One way to alleviate some of the immediate pressure and ensure the most favorable long-term consequences is to select a lawyer who is experienced, skilled, and responsive to his or her clients’ needs.
Experienced lawyers can take care of all of your legal needs so that you can focus your energies on your recovery, and they may even be able to help you secure interim benefits to which you are legally entitled, well in advance of resolution of your lawsuit. If you have been injured, contact us today.