If you've been injured in a car accident, you may have already realized that hiring a personal injury lawyer is in your best interests. What you may not know is how to go about it. Depending on your view of lawyers, you may think they're all smart or all something less desirable, so why does it matter which one you get unless they charge different amounts? While all lawyers are technically competent to handle any and all cases, the truth is that the difference between a good and great lawyer can be thousands of dollars. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Start your search like you would with any business.
Law is a customer service profession, and the same principles apply. Talk to friends and neighbors to see if they know anyone. The local bar association often provides a list of attorneys and online directories now provide easy access to reviews by former clients. Try to pick a few possibilities before moving on to the next steps.
2. Find out what a lawyer does.
After you've looked a several attorney websites, you may have seen a few that seemingly do everything. While lawyers need to diversify their practices to stay in business, trying to do too much can work against their clients. Ask each lawyer when the last time they handled a personal injury case was and how many they've handled. If you've been in a car accident, ask what kinds of car accident cases they've handled, the types of injuries they happened, and what was at issue to see how closely it matches your case. A lawyer with more experience in a specific area may be more likely to pick up on a subtle nuance that can change your recover by thousands than a generalist.
3. Ask who handles the cases.
Will the lawyer you're talking to do most of the work, assign it to an associate, or even farm it out to another firm? The most important thing to be sure of is that your case won't be passed around or forgotten. An attorney that has a junior associate dedicate a large amount of time to a single case so they know it better may be good, while a firm that passes cases from lawyer to lawyer may leave you with someone that doesn't really know your case when it's time for trial.
4. Ask about past results.
The first words out of any good attorney's mouth will be that they don't guarantee anything and each case is fact specific. However, you do want to get some idea of their track record. Besides making sure they haven't lost all of their cases, you want to know how many cases they settle and how many they've tried. Settlements can often be beneficial to both sides, but many attorneys settle everything just to quickly earn a fee. Attorneys that have taken cases to trial have shown that they are willing to aggressively fight to the end if needed.
5. Go with your gut.
You're going to be spending a lot of time with your attorney discussing your case and preparing for a possible trial. One of the worst mistakes is to pick someone despite not really liking them. The more comfortable you are working with your attorney, the better your results will be as it will help them gather information and better sell your case to the opposing lawyer, the judge, and possibly a jury. Make sure you get a lawyer with a low contingency fee.