When you have been injured in an accident, you have a lot to deal with. Adding the task of finding a good personal injury attorney may seem unbearable at the time. Still, it is good to take some time and find the right one for your case. Most personal injury cases are on a contingency basis, meaning the lawyer only gets paid if they win the case. One thing to look for is the track record of the attorney. A law firm like Stephenson Rife has a history of winning cases and getting big settlements.
Do They Go to Court?
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court, but there are times when insurance companies or lawyers for the other side will not negotiate in a fair manner. When that happens, you need to go to court. Ask if they take very many cases to court. Insurance companies, or whoever you are suing, need to know that your attorney will go to court if necessary. If they know your attorney rarely goes to court, they may feel they do not have to give as much in negotiations.
Ask to see some results the law firm has had. Do they have a history of winning big settlements? If they don’t win big settlements for others, it is hard to believe they will with your case as well. If possible, ask others who have worked with this law firm to get a reference. Ask how long they have been in business, and what all kinds of cases they handle. If personal injury is something they rarely take on, it might be good to look elsewhere.
Who Will Be Your Lawyer?
When you meet with an attorney during a free consultation, the person you are talking with may not be the one who will handle your case. Find out who will be handling the case and see if they are a good fit. The size of the firm may or may not make a difference here. Large firms have more attorneys, and it may be more likely someone else will work on your case, but the same can happen with small operations.
How accessible will your lawyer be during the time the case is going on. It is important to have a solid line of communication and to be kept in the loop as far as progress is concerned. Lawyers often have several cases they are working on, but they should still have time to talk with you while your case is being negotiated.
Large or Small
In addition to finding out about the individual attorney, it is also good to consider the law firm itself. It may seem that a bigger outfit would have bigger and better resources to use in your case. That may be true, but bigger firms are often busier and may not have as much time to devote to your case. It is counter-intuitive perhaps, but a smaller office that only handles personal injury cases might be able to give your case more individual attention. Insurance companies also know the big firms, and that they are busy. This might mean an insurance company would make a lower offer to start negotiations with the bigger firm, hoping a busy lawyer will settle.
The Taste Test
After you have looked at measurable things like the attorney’s record and experience level, it is time to look at intangibles. See how you feel about working with that attorney. Sometimes personalities fit and sometimes they clash. A case like this will be stressful for both of you. If you do not get along, it may be harder on both of you and that could affect the outcome of your case. Find someone you feel good about working with.
Another consideration is what you hope to obtain, as well as what the lawyer thinks a reasonable outcome could be. There are three possibilities.
- Get a settlement in a certain range with as little involvement as possible.
- Get as much as possible, no matter what it takes.
- Getting an amount that is more than what the insurance company offered.
It is important to be on the same page as your attorney, and that you have the same goal in mind. Another consideration is how well will the attorney adjust if you change your mind. The lawyer gets a percentage of what you are awarded, and you have to pay some of the attorney’s expenses. At some point, you may decide it is not worth continuing because the legal expense is getting too high. It is also possible you or your attorney could decide you and get an even bigger settlement than you first thought, so you have to decide if you want your attorney to keep fighting.
The Lawyer Could Turn You Down
While looking for an attorney, realize that the attorney could turn down your case. While most offer a free consultation, they are able to refuse the case for any reason. It is possible to hire an attorney to represent your case anyway, but if the potential payoff is not big enough, or if there is little chance of winning, the attorney might reject your case. There is also the intangible reason that you could reject a lawyer. If the attorney feels you are not a good fit for their style or personality, they could turn down even a winnable case.