Whether you’re pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit due to a car accident, workplace accident or medical injury, you’re going to need a personal injury attorney to guide you along the way. While you’re not technically required to hire a lawyer, you’ll probably quickly find if you try to navigate the legal system on your own that not having one puts you at a significant disadvantage.
That doesn’t mean, however, that all lawyers or all law firms are equally well suited to help you with your case. Here are five things you should know about hiring a personal injury lawyer as you contemplate legal action:
- Any and All Legal Action Is Inherently Unpredictable
Even lawyers from the best law firms lose cases, and no one can guarantee the outcome of a legal action. You want to find an attorney who’s honest with you about the strengths and weaknesses of your case, not one who builds your expectations up.
- Experience Matters Far More Than Educational Credentials
A degree from a “brand name” law school might be appealing, but it actually tells you very little about how successful a lawyer will be in handling your case. Instead, ask about relevant experience (that means not just legal experience, but specifically cases like yours) and how successful he or she has been in the past.
- You Won’t Necessarily Have to Fight in a Courtroom Trial
Some people worry that hiring a “courtroom lawyer” means they’ll end up in an extended legal battle. But no lawyer really wants to end up going to court unless it’s necessary to get you the compensation you deserve. In fact, the other party may even be more willing to give you a fair settlement if they know you’ve got a top personal injury attorney on your side.
- Hiring a Lawyer Needn’t be Prohibitively Expensive
If you can’t afford to pay a lawyer up front, don’t think that you’re out of options. Many — perhaps even most — personal injury lawyers work on contingency fees, meaning they get a percentage of your settlement if you win one. You should be aware that you’ll be expected to cover expenses either way, since attorneys need to be paid for their time just like other workers.
- You Should Feel Comfortable Talking and Asking Questions
Yes, your top priority should be hiring a personal injury attorney who is an expert in this area of the law. But you should also look for a lawyer who is a good communicator and with whom you can build a rapport. The legal system is confusing, and you shouldn’t feel cowed or awkward if you need to ask a question.
Do you have anything to add to this list? Share your feedback in the comments.