Personal injury law is a big umbrella. It involves claims where another person’s negligence hurts someone. That can include many types of cases, including slips and falls, dangerous consumer products, auto accidents and workplace hazards.
It’s crucial to find a good match for expertise in your type of accident and with you personally. You will communicate with this individual often and trust them with your claim. Here’s how to make a good choice.
Referrals are an excellent way to find a great attorney. If you know anyone who hired a personal attorney recently, ask them about it. You may receive a great referral or know who to avoid.
If no one in your immediate circle hired an attorney recently, the Circuit Court of Cook County lists resources for attorney referrals. You can call any of those telephone numbers to receive a referral and guidance on the type of attorney you need.
Look for Specific Experience
When looking up lawyers and viewing their websites, seek specific experience. You want to hire someone who does plaintiff’s personal injury law. If an attorney represents large corporations or insurance companies, they likely represent defendants in these lawsuits and won’t be a match for your case.
You want attorneys who deal with cases like yours. For example, medical malpractice is challenging and often technical. An attorney focusing primarily on car accidents and workers’ compensation will likely not have the experience or knowledge to handle a medical claim. So, you want an attorney with a medical malpractice background and proven results in that field.
Personal injury attorneys should also be litigators. While many claims settle and never see a courtroom, there is always a chance that the defendant or their insurance company disputes your claim. Attorneys reluctant to take matters to trial are often not good fits for personal injury law.
Ask About Fees
Attorneys can charge up to $100 to $500 per hour, which quickly becomes expensive. But personal injury matters are handled on a contingency basis, meaning the attorney’s fee comes from your settlement or verdict amount.
When you call lawyers, ask about their fee structure. You want an attorney who takes your case on contingency as that protects you from large upfront payments and monthly bills.
The usual contingency fee is 33 percent of a settlement. That percentage may increase if your case advances to arbitration or trial. You will see these terms in a contingency fee agreement. Beware of attorneys who aren’t transparent about their fees. If you have questions, ask.
Follow Your Gut
When you meet with an attorney, you should feel hopeful. Many people leave a lawyer’s office feeling less burdened. If you feel hesitant or worried, there is a good chance that the attorney isn’t right for you.
After all, you will share many details with your personal injury attorney. Some of those may be awkward or embarrassing. However, if you don’t share all details about your injuries and their effects on your life, you may not get as much compensation as you deserve. So, choose someone you can talk to openly and trust.
You want a professional office with attentive staff. When you visit, assess their office. Listen to how the receptionist talks to and about clients. If you feel like an invader, leave and meet with another lawyer.