Choosing an lawyer is a difficult task in the average circumstances, but choosing a lawyer becomes even more troublesome when you or a loved one are injured. Personal injury lawyers are involved in this line of work for different reasons. Some personal injury lawyers are considered by the public to be ambulance chasers, while other personal injury lawyers are considered to be a savior in a time of need. Here are a few pointers of how to choose a personal injury lawyer.
Contact the American Bar Association for a referral list of personal injury lawyers in your area. On the ABA website there is a "Find Legal Help" icon. Choose it and the webpage will take you to a U.S. map where you choose your state. Follow the links for a list of lawyers. The ABA website will give other legal resources that will prepare you for your legal journey.
Talk to friends and relatives and ask if they know of a good lawyer. A friend's advice is very valuable because not only do you find out the outcome of their case, but your friend can tell you how the attorney acted along the way. A friend will tell you whether the lawyer returned phone calls quickly, whether the lawyer was competent, whether the lawyer was friendly, and other valuable information that you won't be able to get from cold calling lawyers yourself.
Ask your present lawyer for referrals. Many people have some contact with a lawyer in some manner or another. Call the lawyer who wrote up your will and ask if they know of anyone who does personal injury law. Lawyers went to law school with other lawyers. They have friends that they know intimately and usually are more than willing to give referrals of their friends and fellow lawyers.
Set up an appointment once you have a list, and go and meet with a handful of personal injury lawyers. Ask whether the lawyer has dealt with your situation, whether he won the case, how difficult the case will be to win, how much does it cost, and finally ask the lawyer to get back to you with other information that they can't give you right away. Your case may need some research so allow the lawyer to do the brief research.
Inquire about the fees up front. Ask whether there will be a fee to evaluate your claim and initial consultation. Many personal injury lawyers will allow you to pay them out of the settlement, if settlement is likely. Get a fee agreement in writing and review it before signing.
Determine whether you can get along with the lawyer before hiring her. You will spend a lot of time with this person, so you need to get along with her. Only a very small percentage of cases go to court. Most are settled through negotiations. A friendly and good negotiator is a huge asset in a lawyer. If you get along with the lawyer others will, too.
Be patient and ask for regular updates. Lawyers have several cases going on at the same time. They can only work as fast as their case load allows, but also as fast as the person on the other end will allow. If you were injured at a store, your lawyer must wait on the store's internal process and negotiation chain of command. Be patient, but ask for regular updates so you know the lawyer is working for you.
Fire your lawyer. If the case is a complete disaster there is always the possibility of parting ways with the lawyer. This should be a last option, but it is an option.