When you’ve been injured, finding the right lawyer to represent you in your personal injury lawsuit should become one of your top priorities, second only to getting well. But how do you find that attorney? Here are 10 tips to help you narrow your search.
1. List Your Search Criteria
Make a list of the things that are important to you. For instance, consider the following:
- How do you want the attorney to treat you?
- How do you want him or her to handle your case?
- How much involvement do you want in your case?
2. Ask Your Friends and Family for Referrals
If any of your friends or family members have gone through a personal injury lawsuit, ask them to tell you about their experience. Would they recommend their attorney to you?
3. Do a Google Search
Even with referrals from friends and family, you still should do a quick Google search for personal injury lawyers in your area. Looking at a few attorney sites should give you a better idea of who all is out there and how they go about practicing personal injury law. Make notes – pro and con – as you go.
4. Shortlist Three or Four Attorneys
From your lists and your family’s and friends’ referrals, you should have no problem picking your top three or four choices. If you haven’t already done so, make sure these lawyers offer free initial consultations.
5. Call for an Initial Appointment
Call the offices of your top three or four candidates to set up appointments. Does a real live person answer the phone? If your call goes directly to voicemail, this attorney likely is too busy to handle your case and you should take him or her off your list.
6. Ask Numerous Questions
During your initial consultation, do not be afraid to ask questions. After all, finding a personal injury lawyer is an important undertaking. You want to make sure that you get to know him or her so you can more realistically assess whether or not (s)he’s the attorney for you.
7. Be Sure to Ask about Legal Fees and Expenses
Find out how the attorney charges for his or her services. Most PI attorneys charge on a contingency basis, meaning that they don’t charge you a legal fee until they successfully resolve your case.
8. Trust Your Gut
If you feel uncomfortable with this attorney for any reason, you probably should forego his or her services and look elsewhere. Remember, you’re putting your financial future into his or her hands, and you’ll likely be working with him or her for several months, longer if your case goes to trial. It’s important that you feel that you and (s)he have established a rapport.
9. Sign an Employment Contract
Your lawyer of choice should give you an attorney employment agreement to read and sign within a day or two of your initial consultation. This contract should cover all the things you and (s)he discussed, including the fee arrangement.
10. Sit Back and Relax
You’ve done it! You now have an attorney with whom you feel comfortable and who you trust to get you the compensation you deserve. Now all you need is patience. Remember, personal injury lawsuits don’t settle overnight. The typical case takes a minimum of three months to conclude. Most take six months or more.