How To Pick A Personal Injury Lawyer: Ultimate Guide

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Not all personal injury lawyers are made equal. Choosing the right personal injury lawyer after you have suffered an injury or been accused of causing one is paramount to ensuring your interests are protected.

Picking a personal injury lawyer is not a complicated process, but it does require you to do your homework. To help you pick a personal injury lawyer, we have put together the following guide.  

What Is A Personal Injury Lawyer?

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A personal injury lawyer specializes in legal cases in which the plaintiff has been injured and is now looking for some ways to hold the other party at fault for what they have done. The lawyer can also represent the defendant that is being accused of causing the injury.


More often than not, the case is settled outside the courtroom with the culpable party paying the injured party monetary compensation, such as medical fees. In situations where the case cannot be settled privately, the lawyer will take the case to trial.

At the most basic level, the personal injury lawyer's first step in taking on a client's case is to investigate the client's alleged injury. From there, the lawyer will interview witnesses (if there are any,) gather evidence and request relevant documents, such as police reports, hospital records and an employer's documentation of the injury.


If the lawyer determines there is a case to be made against the alleged defendant, then he or she will have to decide whether it is in the client's best interest to settle or go to trial. To make this decision, the lawyer will consider the weight of the evidence, witnesses and the weight of their testimony and, finally, the likely outcome of the case if it were to go to trial. The lawyer will also take into consideration the wishes of the client. 

Why You Might Need One?

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You May Overlook Certain Details Of Your Case


As a victim in a personal injury case, it may be difficult for you to see things that make the defendant seem less guilty. Without a set of professional eyes to examine the facts of the case, you may place unwarranted culpability on the defendant and ignore facts that make you look at least a little to blame. Vise versa, you may overlook evidence that pins the fault on the defendant and instead wrongly conclude that it was something you did that caused the injury.


In either situation, you risk forfeiting your right to receive compensation or pursuing legal actions that were baseless in the first place. The result is time, energy and money wasted. Or, in the case of a warranted action, the result is money lost.

You Are Ill-Equipped To Fight The Big Guy


Say you slipped and fell inside a big box store while shopping for groceries because the floor was wet and there were no signs to warn you of any danger. Your shoulders are hurt because of the fall. For a month now, the discomfort from it has kept you from doing the things you enjoy doing. You decide to sue the store.


You are confident you'll win because there was, you hope, a video of your fall and witnesses who would come forward to testify on your behalf. So, you file a case and, shortly after, the store responds by filing a reply to dismiss your claim. The court agrees. You are at a loss and without a solution to the injury you so unjustly endured.


The moral of the story is you can't — and shouldn't — fight the big guys alone. Corporations and insurance companies are well-equipped with high-salaried lawyers to defend their clients. They will harness whatever resources there are to not have to pay for your injuries or, God forbid, admit fault.


When you are faced with a Goliath of a defendant, it's best to solicit the help of a personal injury lawyer, especially one who has experience in handling these kinds of defendants.

You May Say Or Do The Wrong Thing To Jeopardize Your Case


We've all been warned against apologizing in the event of a car accident. What about other things and rules we should observe when we fall victim to injuries or someone accuses us of being the perpetrator of an injury? Either way, having a personal injury lawyer on your side can help prevent and correct mistakes as your case gets resolved.

You Don't Know The Ins And Outs Of The Legal Process And Medical Terminologies


A qualified personal injury lawyer should have a well of knowledge regarding personal injury law. He or she can advise you on the weight of your evidence, file legal documents and requests, and tell you if it's too late to file your claim. Without the aid of a personal injury lawyer, you risk missing out on key defenses and filing deadlines, and confusing procedural rules, which can all cause your case to go down the drain despite any obvious merit.


Retaining a personal injury lawyer is important if you want to navigate successfully through the often congested and complicated legal system. It also is important to hire a personal injury lawyer for the purpose of understanding anything related to medical diagnoses and processes, which is a highly specialized area of knowledge that cannot be learned easily by lay people.

How To Pick A Personal Injury Lawyer

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Do Your Research


Don't just rely on the advertisement on the bus stop bench or the one on the radio station repeated that's repeated every half hour. Don't even base your decision on what you see on the billboard on the side of the highway. Do your own research. And, while you're at it, ask yourself what you're really looking for in a personal injury lawyer, and know what you're looking for hinges largely on what kind of money you're willing to spend.


Some personal injury lawyers will take on a case on a contingency basis, meaning he or she will only receive compensation if your case resolves favorably in court or in a settlement. This is often the case with lawyers specializing in car accident injuries. Otherwise, fees for lawyers will vary depending on the level of experience and expertise.


Some things to consider in your research:

  • What type of personal injury lawyer is this? Pro-plaintiff (for the person injured), pro-defendant (for the person alleged to have caused the injury), or both?
  • How has this lawyer's cases gone in the past? Did they represent corporate clients, low-income clients, high-profile clients or a mix of different clients?
  • Does the lawyer have trial experience, or is the lawyer an experienced negotiator who has successfully settled many cases before trial?
  • How long has the lawyer been in practice?
  • Does the lawyer practice personal injury law only, or does he or she take on other types of cases?
  • Does the lawyer understand medical terminology and processes?
  • Is there any client testimony regarding the lawyer's performance?

Check And Verify The Lawyer's Record And Claims


After you have done your initial research, verify the lawyer's records and claims with reliable sources.


Here is a list of things you should check and how to check them:

  • Disciplinary record. No one wants a lawyer who was in violation of a state's bar rules. To find out if a certain lawyer you are considering has been disciplined for bad conduct, check with your state's bar association. Disciplinary records are a matter of public record and can be accessed easily online in some states.
  • Reputation. Check lawyer review sites like Avvo.com to see if the lawyer is as reputable as he or she claims. Better yet, ask those in your community about the lawyer's reputation. Is the lawyer involved in local affairs, attend events and known as a straight shooter?
  • Referrals. You might know someone who has used the lawyer's services before, so ask them if they would recommend the lawyer to you?
  • Track record. What were the outcomes of the cases the lawyer handled in the past? Was he or she more successful at negotiation or conducting a trial?

Tools to help you find the right personal injury lawyer include:

  • Google. Search for personal injury lawyers in your area. From there, read the lawyer's website thoroughly and consider the things mentioned above. 
  • State bar association. You can always contact your state's bar association's referral service.
  • Lawyers.com. This search tool not only lets you find qualified lawyers in your area, but it also shows the lawyer's community ratings.

Contacting And Meeting The Lawyer For An Initial Consultation


Once you have narrowed your list of potential lawyers, the next step is to call and request an initial consultation. Before you go to that first meeting, prepare a list of questions to ask your potential lawyer.


You may want to ask the lawyer about:

  • His/her fee structure 
  • Other similar cases and their outcomes
  • Details of the lawyer's experience and areas of expertise
  • The degree of confidence the lawyer has for winning your case
  • How long the case is expected to take

Do not hesitate to contact the lawyer after the meeting if you think of follow-up questions. Choosing the right personal injury lawyer to represent your interests hinges on the information you learn.

Conclusion

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Whether you are an injury victim or are being accused of causing an injury, you do not have to go through it alone. With the help of the right personal injury lawyer, you can rest easy knowing your interests are represented with the care and diligence you are due.

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