Choosing a personal injury attorney is a very important decision. Hiring a personal injury lawyer who is a good match for you as a client will make the process of conducting a lawsuit less difficult, for client and attorney alike. A personal injury attorney may specialize in one area of personal injury law or may practice law generally. For example, an auto accident lawyer may specialize only in cases dealing with injuries resulting from automobile accidents. Alternatively, a personal injury lawyer could specialize in something as specific as medical malpractice, and thus only take cases against doctors or medical professionals. Keep the list below in mind when choosing a personal injury or auto accident lawyer to represent you:
1. Make sure the attorney is licensed to practice in your state
This one seems self-explanatory but is very important. Attorneys are licensed to practice law in a given state by the bar association in that state. An attorney who is not licensed to practice in the state in which the lawsuit arises cannot represent you. Be sure to double check in which states the attorney is licensed to practice law and make sure your state is listed.
2. Check the lawyer’s specialty
Depending on the nature of your claim, check with the attorney with respect to what his/her specialty is. If you have a slip and fall case, ask your attorney how many cases like yours he/she has taken and what the outcomes were. If your lawyer has never taken that type of case, you may want to look elsewhere or seek out a specialist.
3. Take notice of your attorney’s personality
This one is less obvious and is often overlooked when choosing a lawyer. Lawsuits take an extremely long time to conduct, often stretching over multiple years. That means that you as a client are going to have a large amount of contact with your attorney over the course of the lawsuit. Make sure you have an understanding over the amount and frequency of things like follow-up calls and meetings to avoid client dissatisfaction.
4. Good bar standing
Check your attorney’s peer ratings on any reputable attorney rating website. Check with your state bar association to ensure that your lawyer is in good standing with no disciplinary proceedings against them.
5. Fee agreements
Make sure you have a clear understanding of how the lawyer collects his/her fees BEFORE engaging the lawyer for representation. Lawyers have very different ways of charging clients from retainers to contingency agreements so check with your lawyer to see how he/she charges and whether their method is acceptable to you.