In many areas of the country, it may seem as though advertisements for personal injury lawyers appear everywhere. Choosing the right one, however, can be critical to a personal injury claim after a serious accident. How do you know you have chosen the right lawyer? What factors should you consider?
Find a personal injury lawyer near you by following these key steps.
Start With a Basic Search
If your Google search turns up overwhelming results, try narrowing it down with a search on Super Lawyers, LawyerLegion, or your state’s database, where you may narrow down your search or find out more information about the firms with the best history.
Once you have located a lawyer, check the reviews left by past clients. You can find reviews in several locations.
- Google business reviews can help showcase what other people who have worked with the lawyer in the past genuinely think. Keep in mind, however, that anyone can post a review on Google, so you may end up with some disgruntled people who dealt with the lawyer on the opposing side of a case as you read through reviews.
- Social media pages will allow reviews with social proof: reviews often attached to names and faces. However, many people prefer not to post on social media, especially if the lawyer handled a confidential claim for them.
- The lawyer’s website will hold specific reviews that the attorney has chosen to present. These reviews will nearly always paint the attorney in the best light possible, so they may not offer you an entirely accurate look at what working with the attorney will actually look like. However, you can learn a great deal from those reviews, including what the attorney might choose to prioritize.
- Reviews on legal search engines and legal databases will often offer an unbiased look at what it means to work with a specific attorney. Those reviews often contain clear rating systems that the client can use to showcase what it felt like to work with that attorney.
As you read through the reviews for the attorneys you want to consider to handle your claim, make sure you know what to look for. Star ratings alone may tell you which firms have some of the top attorneys in the area, especially those who have the skills needed to handle your specific claim. However, those star ratings may not provide you with all the information you need to satisfactorily determine which attorney will best fit your needs.
Take a look at both high and low reviews.
Read through the high reviews and see what they have in common. What does the attorney seem to prioritize? How do other people seem to feel about working with this specific attorney and the resolution they received to their claims? Then, consider the low reviews. Those low reviews can tell you several things about the law firm.
First, what do those low reviews say? Do their contents seem to indicate outliers: disgruntled clients, people the lawyer did not actually take on, or even people who may have a vendetta against the lawyer for another reason? Next, take a look at how the law firm responds to those poor reviews. Sometimes, the lawyer’s response can give you more insight into how the firm handles challenges as they crop up.
Evaluate the lawyer’s focus.
Reviews on the lawyer’s page, in particular, can give you a better idea of the law firm’s preferred method and priorities. Some firms, for example, prioritize communication and giving you, the victim, a chance to tell your story. Those firms want to provide comprehensive support at every stage of your claim, keep you informed, and make sure you have answers to all the pressing questions that can crop up when you need to deal with a serious personal injury and the aftermath.
Others, on the other hand, prioritize an aggressive drive toward results. They want to help maximize the compensation their clients can recover as much as possible, and they will fight to help increase those odds, regardless of what it might take. Which type of lawyer do you want? Your specific preferences may depend on the type of claim you need to file, what you want from the law firm, and how you prefer to connect with people.
Look at the Law Firm’s Website
On the law firm’s website, you will find a great deal of information that can help you determine whether you want to work with a specific firm. Before you get started, have an idea in mind of what you want to prioritize as you look for a lawyer. You should get to know industry standards or even discuss experiences with others who may have worked with lawyers to seek compensation in the past.
Take a look at relevant case results.
While browsing through reviews offered by past clients, take a look at the law firm’s results. Often, attorneys will publicize the best results on their websites. Look through those results and see how they compare to other lawyers in your area.
You may find that some lawyers have significantly more case results than others, or that some lawyers highlight higher-value settlements than others you have reviewed. Keep in mind that those results do not guarantee the results you will see in your claim. They can, however, help give you a baseline for the lawyer’s overall performance.
Check the lawyer’s experience.
Personal injury law can be incredibly complex, and depending on your state, it may vary based on the type of injury you suffered. In some states, for example, you may have a more limited time to file a medical malpractice claim. In others, you may need to move forward quickly on any claim involving a government entity.
You need a lawyer with experience in those specific areas. Experience means familiarity and the ability to streamline many of the tasks associated with your claim. A lawyer who has that experience often knows the ins and outs of the law and the compensation you deserve.
Examine the tone of the website.
Consider how the lawyer presents themself on the website. Does the firm seem personable? Trustworthy? Reputable? All those factors may matter when you need to deal with an attorney.
Carefully consider the tone of the website and what the law firm chooses to focus on. The pages of the website may give you more details about the lawyers’ history, their community involvement, and other factors that could become important to you.
Consider how the firm handles payment.
Dealing with a serious injury and all the bills that go along with it can make a serious dent in your wallet: the reason, in many cases, that you need to pursue a personal injury claim. Before selecting a personal injury lawyer, make sure you know how the firm handles payments. Most personal injury lawyers understand the financial demands that often go along with serious injuries. As a result, a good lawyer will frequently offer two things to help make it easier for you to pursue the compensation you deserve.
First, the lawyer will offer a free consultation. During a free consultation, you will have the chance to go over your claim and your rights, which may make you feel more comfortable with many of the challenges and processes ahead of you. Second, the lawyer will have a chance to review your claim and determine whether they want to accept the case.
Many lawyers also take cases on a contingency fee basis. If an attorney accepts your claim on a contingency fee basis, that means you do not have to worry about paying attorney’s fees upfront. Instead, your payment will come out of a percentage of your settlement or court award.
For many accident victims, that simple shift in payment structure makes legal assistance much more affordable. Review our blog about how much does a personal injury lawyer cost to learn more about the fees and costs associated with hiring a lawyer.
Contact the Firm
Once you have narrowed down the firm or firms that you most think you would like to work with, contact the firm. Pay attention to how long it takes the firm to respond after you fill out a contact form or make a phone call. While a busy firm might not have the means to contact you immediately, especially in the middle of its busiest seasons, you should expect to hear back promptly. An attorney who does not value your time upfront may not value your time or your needs in the future.
Schedule your consultation with the lawyer. Some law firms prefer to do it over the phone or via video chat. Others may invite you to come into the office. Regardless of which type of meeting you have with the lawyer, make sure you use the time to ask some valuable questions that can help you get a feel for whether you want to work with this particular firm.
Who will actually handle your case?
Sometimes, law firms have big names that have substantial case results, but a non-lawyer case manager in the office will most likely handle most of the interactions with the insurance company and any other issues related to the case. If you plan to hire the firm because you want to work with the heavy hitter on the signs, that could disappoint you. Make sure you know who will really handle your claim.
What does the firm’s current caseload look like?
Before you decide to work with a firm, make sure the firm has a reasonable current caseload. You do not want an overworked firm managing your claim, since it could cause your case to slip through the cracks—especially if you have a relatively minor, or lower-profile, claim. Instead, make sure the firm has room on its schedule to handle your claim on time.
How does the firm, or the lawyer who will handle your specific claim, usually prefer to communicate?
Communication can be critical to your personal injury claim. Make sure you know the lawyer’s communication style before you start moving forward with the claim. Ask both how the attorney prefers to communicate and how often the attorney usually communicates. Does the attorney prefer text, email, or phone calls?
If you suffered a traumatic brain injury, or have memory difficulties related to the medications you must take to manage pain after your accident, you might prefer to get your communications in text form, rather than through a phone call. You should also ask if the lawyer will contact you even if things do not move forward with your claim or they have nothing to report, or if you should expect periods without communication.
Can you talk to a past client who can provide more information about interacting with the firm?
Before you make a final decision about your lawyer, ask if you can talk to a past client who can provide a review of the firm. Sometimes, law firms will have clients who will allow future clients to get in touch with them. Those clients may allow you to ask a few questions about what it might really look like to work with a specific attorney, the results that the attorney got for them, or how they felt about the claim process.
Finding the right attorney can make or break your claim. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can to begin the claim process and protect your rights.
For more information about the legal process around your claim speak with an attorney today at one of our office locations: