Are you trying to save time and money on looking for a personal injury attorney? Here are some factors to consider so that you find the right lawyer.
Hiring a personal injury attorney is a necessity if you want to get the most out of your settlement or trial award. Usually, that will be a settlement as only three percent of cases usually make it to trial, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
In the following article, we’ll be discussing the major motivating factors in your decision to hire an attorney for your personal injury case. First, however, let’s examine a few advantages of going this route instead of pushing for a settlement yourself.
Advantages of an Attorney
It’s true that you could forgo an attorney’s expenses if you opted to try a case on your own. That said, very few plaintiffs have the legal knowledge and acumen to be successful in so doing.
When you’re dealing with a personal injury, it can also be an added layer of unnecessary stress that an attorney-led settlement is more than capable of making up for. You could, for instance, be going through any of the following:
- Medical trauma due to malpractice
- Serious injury as the result of an auto accident or other form of negligence
- Wrongful death of a loved one as the result of a defendant’s negligence
It’s difficult to think straight when dealing with the fallout of these incidents. Good luck trying a case on your own! Instead, opt for an attorney for the following advantages.
They Know the Legal Terrain
Attorneys know the language of the legal system. They spend four years of undergraduate work and, typically, three years of law school before passing their states’ bar examinations.
That’s the specialized training they have and you don’t. There always will be exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, they will demonstrate the proper degree of knowledge to make an impact.
They Have the Experience
Having a law degree is one thing. Actually having used that law degree successfully is something different entirely.
You want someone with a Juris Doctorate, yes. But you also want someone who has a proven history of using that JD in actual trial scenarios. Most personal injury attorneys will have that level of experience, and it’s invaluable in getting you the outcome you want.
They Can Get You a Better Settlement
What is the average personal injury award? It’s hard to lock down a number. They run the full gamut from $5,000 to $75,000, depending on which attorney you’re talking to, and they can go much higher for high-profile cases.
What you can be guaranteed is this. The outcome will always be higher with an attorney working your case. That’s because they know how to play hardball when needed, as well as how to tell when it’s necessary to go to trial.
They Can Advise You on Legal Maneuvers
That brings us to another important role of the personal injury attorney. They are able to advise you when to lay on the gas, so to speak, and when to tap on the brakes.
In other words, cases that might struggle in a courtroom could best be handled with a settlement offer. The typical plaintiff isn’t going to know what moves to make to maximize that, and they can do very little to intimidate the deep pockets of a corporate defendant.
Listening to your attorney can keep you from making costly mistakes. It also can help you to press forward at the right moments.
They Provide Peace of Mind
It’s easy to get frustrated with the slow and plodding movements of the legal process. Knowing you have someone knowledgeable and experienced working your case will keep you from overloading on worry and frustration. It’ll help you get through each day with your sanity intact!
Now that you know why you need a personal injury attorney in your corner, it’s time to explore the factors behind picking one. Don’t make a decision until you’ve gone through the following 10 questions.
1. What Are the Practice Areas?
Each personal injury attorney you encounter will have key areas where they practice the most. For some, it could be related to Social Security Disabilities. Others might spend most of their time on car accidents.
While the knowledge might be there to try any case, you stand much better of a chance hiring the attorney with a special focus in your area. This only stands to reason since the attorney will be more passionate and knowledgeable about those particular types of cases.
2. How Much Trial Experience Do They Have?
Before hiring just any attorney, look at their experience with different cases in the field where you need help. Specifically, examine their trial experience. Why is trial experience important?
If your case warrants a trial, someone who settles every case may not be equipped to handle that next step. As a result, they may pressure you into a settlement for far less money when you could receive millions otherwise.
3. What Are Cost and Payment Terms?
The fee structure of an attorney is very important to know before you sign any contracts or provide retainer money. Know all the potential legal fees ahead of time, including what they charge for, what it includes, and what actions might result in additional charges.
Good attorneys will be upfront with you about details like these. However, others thrive on confusion and uncertainty. Ignore at your own risk!
4. Why Are They Qualified?
Of the questions to ask lawyers that might seem a little uncomfortable, this one is perhaps the most necessary. A good personal injury attorney will be able to easily point you toward his or her credentials, and he or she will do it without an air of defensiveness.
The good ones understand that you are out of your element, and they want to help ease your mind about the process. Never hesitate to ask for credentials and references.
5. How Easy Are They to Work With?
Do you find it easy or difficult scheduling your appointments with an attorney? Are they always away from the office and slow to return your calls?
Ideally, you want an attorney who’s more responsive than that. You want someone who knows you could have a lot of questions and concerns. If they make you feel like they’re put-out with you, consider going somewhere else.
6. Do They Come Recommended?
How did you find out about the attorney? Did you get them through randomly searching on Google or flipping through the phone book?
You can get lucky that way, but it’s always more convincing when you’re able to receive referrals from some of their other clients, preferably people who know you and have a vested interest in your success (i.e., friends and family). Attorneys who come recommended by people you know could feel more determined about your case as well.
7. Will They Prioritize You?
Attorneys usually have multiple cases they’re working at a time. You want that to some degree because it demonstrates they’re in-demand and good at what they do. That said, you may feel better with an attorney who makes you his or her number one priority.
Ideally, personal injury attorneys can find a happy medium. That happy medium is between caseload and prioritizing you, and it will place you into a position for a better outcome.
8. Any Items of Note?
Another necessary step you’ll probably want to take before hiring a personal injury attorney is personal research. Do a Google search. Check News categories for their names and relevant cases.
If you can’t find anything, that’s not necessarily a good or a bad thing. You’ll want to keep digging, looking at reviews on social media sites and websites that specialize in tracking attorneys.
A bad review can shed a lot of light on any complaints (founded or unfounded) that a former client may have had. It’ll also show you how the attorney responds to criticism, so don’t just look for the good and don’t necessarily base your decision on it either.
9. Will They Shoot Straight?
Be leery of attorneys who promise you the world. These individuals can seem more like salespeople than legal experts. Ask for their honest opinion about your case.
Do they see the case going to trial, or would it be best to settle? What difference would they expect in a settlement versus a jury award? Make sure they’re guiding you based on the merits of the case.
10. Do They Have Patience?
Some attorneys can get defensive when their clients ask too many questions. You can see this a lot with attorneys who have a well-established reputation and a heavy caseload.
Of course, if you trust their judgment, let them do their thing. However, your gut is often correct about people, and any bad feelings about the person representing you should be taken seriously.
Your Personal Injury Attorney Should Put You First
If you have a Massachusetts personal injury case and you’re not sure where to go next, consider going over the 10 questions listed above. Good luck!
Ready to hire a personal injury attorney with a wealth of experience and the support and resources to go to bat for you? Schedule a free consultation with Fitzpatrick & Associates today.