7 Things to Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer: When you’ve been injured in an accident and it wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to compensation from the person or company responsible for causing your injuries. In these circumstances, hiring a personal injury lawyer can help ensure that you get the compensation you deserve while protecting your legal rights as an injured party. This article gives you 7 tips to help you choose the best personal injury lawyer based on your specific situation and goals.
1) What kind of injury did you sustain?
Was it your back? Your neck? A sprained ankle? Since injuries vary greatly, one of your first considerations should be what type of injury you sustained. Accidents are typically divided into two categories: personal injuries and property damage. If you were involved in an accident that resulted in property damage only, such as an auto collision or slip-and-fall incident, then you don’t need to seek out a personal injury lawyer; instead, consider hiring an attorney who specializes in property damage. Many insurance companies will provide legal services for claims regarding physical damage, including vehicle repairs and temporary housing costs.
2) Do you know who is responsible?
To have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, you need to know who is responsible for your injuries. It’s often not enough to simply prove that you were injured; you’ll also need to prove that someone else (such as an employer or contractor) was at fault for your injury. An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you determine who is responsible so that you can then decide whether or not it’s worth filing a claim. It may be helpful if that person also has knowledge of how insurance companies operate and what types of strategies they’ll use during an investigation, such as those related to insurance fraud. Once again, there are situations in which pursuing legal action makes little sense; consider how much time and money could be involved before deciding on a course of action.
3) How much are you entitled to?
In the wake of an accident, you may have questions about how much time you can take off work, what your medical bills will be, and whether you’ll get compensation for lost wages. A personal injury lawyer can help explain these things and make sure that you’re getting all of your benefits by federal laws. Your attorney will also know what evidence you need to present to prove that someone else is responsible for your injuries and make sure that no one tries to weasel out of taking responsibility for their actions. This is an area where it pays (literally) to have a professional on your side.
4) What resources do you have available?
If you were injured in an accident and don’t have insurance, it might be difficult to get legal help. For-profit law firms usually take cases on contingency, meaning they don’t get paid unless they win or settle your case. Some non-profit agencies offer free legal services, but unfortunately, those agencies can be hard to find because their offices are tucked away in less convenient locations. But what if you do have money available? Does that mean you should pay for a lawyer? Ideally, your lawyer will charge less than your claim is worth so that any remaining money goes directly into your pocket rather than toward legal fees.
5) Are there any state or federal laws that apply?
If you’ve been injured and someone else was at fault, you’ll need to know whether any state or federal laws apply. A personal injury lawyer will be able to help you determine what kind of case it is and who’s responsible for your injuries. For example, if your dog bites another person and causes an injury, that would likely be covered under a special law called dog bite law. If your slip-and-fall accident occurred in a grocery store or restaurant where there were inadequate safety precautions in place, you may have grounds for a civil claim against them under general business practices. Both scenarios fall under tort law, so even if they’re not criminally liable (say, in dog bite law), they could still be sued civilly by those involved.
6) Is your attorney experienced with this type of case?
Have you been in an accident? If so, one of your first concerns should be determining whether or not it was your fault. If you were partially at fault for causing your accident, then it is likely that your insurance provider will cover some of your medical bills. Unfortunately, if you were found to be completely responsible for causing your accident, then insurance providers are unlikely to pay anything toward your medical bills. In these cases, many people look into hiring a personal injury lawyer. The experience level of any potential personal injury lawyer is extremely important to consider when trying to determine whether or not they will make good on their claims and help you get proper compensation for whatever injuries they believe they’ve suffered as a result of their accident.
7) Does your attorney charge an hourly rate or contingency fee?
This is likely one of your biggest concerns. A contingency fee means that if your attorney doesn’t win you any money, you won’t have to pay him or her for their time (beyond whatever consultation fees you may have already paid). An hourly rate means that even if your case settles quickly and easily, your attorney will still take his or her normal fee (typically 30-40% of whatever sum you receive). Keep in mind, though, that some personal injury attorneys will offer free consultations. This is often used as an opportunity for you to assess how comfortable you are with your potential attorney and find out whether they have enough experience and expertise for your needs.