How to choose the best personal injury attorney for your needs
When you or a family member have been injured through the actions or neglect of a third party, consulting with a knowledgeable and trustworthy lawyer is an important first step toward obtaining the fair compensation needed to help you cope with your life-changing situation. It may seem somewhat overwhelming to try to find legal representation when you are in such a vulnerable situation, but it is essential to go ahead and take this step as soon as possible in order to promptly obtain the resources you will need to ensure the best care possible and to protect your household resources.
Here are five basic, essential things to look for in a personal injury attorney:
1. Your lawyer should have experience and proven expertise in personal injury litigation. Personal injury law is particularly complex and demanding, so your attorney needs to be an expert, not only in personal injury law, but in cases that are similar to yours. Most personal injury attorneys specialize in certain aspects of this field and will be happy to provide information about the types of cases they have successfully represented. If, for instance, you were injured in a traffic accident, a lawyer who specializes in farm equipment mishaps may not be a good choice for you. You want an attorney who handles cases like yours regularly and successfully.
2. Your attorney should have a good reputation. You will want to consult with and be represented by a lawyer who is recognized and respected by his or her peers, judges and previous adversaries. An attorney who has earned the esteem of the legal community will be able to help your case move smoothly through the system, while a lawyer who is unknown — or even worse, disrespected — is likely to drag your case down with him. One place to check on a lawyer’s reputation is www.martindale.com, where attorneys’ ethical standards and legal abilities are rated by clients and by their peers.
3. Your attorney should be clear about any legal expenses related to your case. Personal injury cases are often represented “on contingency” which means that your attorney will only be paid if and when your case is successfully resolved. If there will be additional expenses, a lawyer should advise you of this at the outset so you can determine whether or not his/her service will fit into your budget. One positive aspect of being represented “on contingency” is that it is a clear indicator that your attorney is confident of winning the case.
4. In most cases, you will want to engage a local attorney. Unless you live in a remote area with few lawyers to choose from or your case is particularly unique, requiring a distant specialist, you will probably be best served by a local lawyer. There is a lot to be said for the quality of in-person communication and being able to visit your legal representative at your convenience. Long-distance legal consultation by phone and email is rarely as effective and satisfactory.
5. You will want an attorney whose personality is compatible with yours. You don’t need your lawyer to be your best buddy, but it is important that you feel that you can trust and communicate well with him or her. Trust and clear communication are essential to a successful attorney-client relationship, especially in a crucial area such as this, so you don’t want to have to depend on a lawyer whose personality clashes with yours. This doesn’t mean that you should expect to be happy about everything your attorney says or advises, but you should feel confident that you are being treated honestly, fairly and respectfully.
So, as you probably know very well, when you or someone you love suffers a traumatic personal injury, it can turn your entire life upside-down and inside-out. An important first step in rebuilding, strengthening and stabilizing your life is choosing a competent attorney who you can trust to represent you and to obtain the fair compensation you deserve. You have enough to focus on, dealing with your health needs, finances and family. Let your attorney worry about your personal injury case.