Hiring the right personal injury lawyer can mean the difference between securing a fair settlement that fully compensates you for your damages and being left with medical bills and other costs after your accident. If you are like many accident victims, you have never needed to hire a lawyer before and may not know exactly where to start.
Here is an ultimate guide to hiring a personal injury lawyer to help you with your injury claim, including what you should look for.
What Area of Specialty Do You Need Help With?
The first place to start is determining the type of lawyer and area of specialty you need. Personal injury is a very broad area of law. Not all personal injury lawyers have experience handling all types of claims.
A good place to start is searching for personal injury attorneys who have extensive experience with your type of case, whether it is medical malpractice, a car accident, or a slip and fall (premises liability) case.
Search for Only Experienced, Licensed Lawyers
Once you know the type of specialty you need to look for, you can begin searching for legitimate lawyers who are licensed to practice law. You may want to avoid vague or general search terms as this will turn up paid results for lawyers who may have a large marketing budget but limited experience, skill, or even time to commit to your case.
A more important thing to consider is the lawyer’s experience and expertise. You can search within professional organizations based on specialty or the Maryland state bar association. With this strategy, you can ensure they are licensed and meet minimum requirements for inclusion in the professional organization.
Assess Their Resources, Size & Connections
With a list of licensed, experienced lawyers in mind, you can begin narrowing down your options.
There are many ways to compare law firms, including the:
- Size of the firm
- Level of experience, including experience with cases like yours and settlement or jury awards
- Age of the firm
- Connections with medical experts and physicians
Do not assume that the largest law firm is necessarily the best. A large firm that spends a great deal on marketing, for example, will likely cost more than a smaller firm. They may or may not have the time to commit to your case. On the other hand, you still want to choose a personal injury law firm that has the resources and connections needed to see your case to the end and build the strongest claim possible.
Check for Disciplinary Actions
Attorneys may be disciplined for many reasons, including violations of ethical rules. You should always check if a personal injury lawyer has a history of disciplinary actions or is currently being disciplined. In some cases, an attorney who has been disciplined is no longer even eligible to practice law.
To check an attorney’s disciplinary history, you can visit the disciplinary agency for the American Bar Association in your state. You can visit the Maryland Bar website here to search public record information for attorneys licensed in the state.
Read Reviews from Past Clients
Past client reviews are an excellent opportunity to understand how a lawyer works, how personable he or she is, and how they achieve results. You want to see that past clients felt comfortable with the lawyer and confident in their skill, experience, and ability to negotiate.
Do not rely solely on the testimonials on a lawyer’s website. You can also look for reviews on Facebook, online reviews sites, and legal matching services like Avvo. After this step, you should be able to narrow down your list to just a few options.
Schedule an Initial Consultation
Once you have narrowed down your options to just a few personal injury lawyers, the best thing to do is schedule a free consultation. The initial consultation can be helpful in many ways, not only to discuss potential strategies but to essentially interview the lawyer and learn more about their approach.
You should be prepared for the consultation with any correspondence from the insurance company and defendant, your medical records, any incident or police reports, statements from your insurance company, and details of your accident.
Ask Plenty of Questions
The initial consultation should be treated as an interview to decide if the lawyer is a good match for you. You should feel comfortable that the personal injury lawyer has the experience, time, and resources to successfully handle your claim. You should also be confident in their ability to negotiate on your behalf and, if needed, present your case before a jury.
Be prepared for your consultation with plenty of questions to help you assess the lawyer’s level of comfort and experience and the approach they will take. The following are some important questions you may want to ask.
- How much will you personally participate in my case? If you will not, who will?
- How comfortable are you presenting my case in court if it goes to trial?
- How much experience do you have with this type of personal injury case?
- Have you settled similar cases recently?
- Do you have the time it will take to work on my case now?
- How long do you expect it will take to resolve my case?
- Do you think my case will go to trial? What is your success rate for cases that go to trial?
Remember that choosing a personal injury lawyer is an important decision that will impact the success of your claim. Make sure you ask questions so you can make an informed decision.
Consider Your Level of Comfort & Confidence
After you have had a couple of consultations, you’re ready to consider your options and consider which lawyer you feel most confident in representing you. You should be comfortable with the lawyer while discussing your case, feel they are being truthful, and believe they have the skill, experience, and time your case deserves. If you feel you can trust and collaborate with the lawyer moving forward, it is a good sign.
Choose the Right Personal Injury Lawyer for You
Once you’ve made your decision, you will be ready to actually hire a personal injury attorney. This will be done by signing a contingency fee agreement which also outlines the terms of your attorney-client relationship.
Are you ready to discuss your potential injury case with an experienced personal injury lawyer? Contact William G. Kolodner, P.A. to schedule your free consultation. Our Baltimore personal injury lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience and we are ready to put it to work for you.