If you have been the victim of an accident, it is important to consider exploring your legal options. You have rights which should be defended. Here at Hastings and Hastings, we have over 35 years of experience in personal injury law. We have fought for the rights of accident victims in a wide variety of cases, from dog bites to slips and falls, to automobile accidents, to wrongful deaths. Our highly experienced legal team is adept at handling every aspect of a personal injury case from initial consultations to finally closing the book on a successful settlement.
Personal injury law suit are complex issues which make it very important to enlist the aid of the right lawyer. You need someone who has extensive experience dealing with your specific type of case. They need to know how to maximize the value of the settlement making sure you receive all the compensation you deserve. They must also be prepared to bring the case to trial should that be necessary.
Finally, selecting the right personal injury attorney often comes down to fit. You are going to be entering into a partnership you want to feel comfortable with. In today’s blog, we will talk about the process of selecting a personal injury attorney. We will also help you prepare for an initial consultation, arming you with the questions you need to ask and equipping you with the knowledge you need to help you make the best decisions for you.
Understanding Your Needs
Personal injury attorneys are not quite like any other legal professional. They have experience and expertise practicing in a very specific type of law. First, it is important to know what personal injury law is. This way you know that you are indeed looking for the correct type of lawyer. Now the question is what exactly is personal injury law?
Personal injury lawsuits occur when one individual brings a claim against another individual holding them accountable for an injury. Often, these injuries are a direct result of an accident. Common types of personal injury cases are those involving car accidents, dog bites, slips and falls, premises liability or product liability. Personal injury cases are civil proceeding, not criminal matters, however often settlements are reached without the need to go to court. Settlements are reached as both parties negotiate, coming to an agreement finalized in writing. Both sides agree to forgo any further action. Typically, settlements will result in financial compensation for the injured party.
A personal injury attorney assists accident victims in several ways. They possess an in-depth knowledge of personal injury proceedings and legal precedents enabling them to navigate through the labyrinthine and intricate tangle of paperwork, documentation, negotiation, communication and orchestration necessary to reach a favorable settlement. Further, a quality personal injury attorney is more than prepared to take their client’s case to court should they be unable to reach a settlement.
A personal injury attorney shoulders the entire legal burden facing an accident victim, allowing their clients to focus on the one thing that matters most, recovery.
Selecting a Personal Injury Attorney
Once you begin your search for a personal injury attorney, one thing will quickly become apparent; there are lot personal injury attorneys out there. How do you make sure you find the attorney who is the best fit for you, who will ensure that you receive a favorable settlement? We will begin by making a list of specific traits and factors you should be looking for.
You want to find an attorney who has experience practicing in personal injury law. The more experience the better. An attorney who has been practicing personal injury law for years will be able to properly asses the value of the claim while expertly navigating red tape. In personal injury law, experience matters.
- Good Reputation
It is important to look into the reputation your potential personal injury lawyer. Reputations are not something that can be bought or faked. A good, genuine reputation has to be earned. Speak with other individuals who have been involved in an accident and employed a personal injury attorney. Ask them what their experience was like. What the positives were and what the negatives were. This can also help you organize your own personal list of priorities.
Consider contacting the state or count’s bar association. They will have specific lawyer referral services which you should utilize. There are also resources such as lawyers.com which compile databases of attorneys with phone numbers and links to their websites.
- Trial Experience
While most personal injury matters are settled without the need to go to trial, it is important for your attorney to be prepared for that eventuality.
- History of Success
Don’t be afraid to ask them if they have a history of success. If they shy away from the subject, you may wish to dig deeper.
Ask About Their Fee Structure
Typically, personal injury attorneys charge what is called a “contingency fee.” A contingency fee is paid out if, and only if a settlement is reached. The personal injury attorney will then be paid a percentage of the total value of the settlement. Other lawyers may charge a flat fee or have an hourly rate.
Most personal injury attorneys will charge a contingency fee of between 33%-40%. You should also ask if other expense such as filing fees will be added on should they be deemed necessary. The fee may also rise if a settlement cannot be reached and the case has to be taken to court.
Preparing for an Initial Consultation
Some personal injury attorneys will offer initial consultations for free. This is an excellent opportunity. One you want to make the most of, which means being well prepared for the consultation. Now we will talk about what you should expect at an initial consultation and what you should do to prepare.
What to Bring
- Relevant Documentation
Make sure you bring any documents that may be relevant to your case, including insurance information, police reports, witness contact information, information regarding medical treatment, or even photos. Make copies. Keep the originals at home and give the others to your attorney. These documents will help them gain a complete understanding of your case enabling them to advice you accordingly.
- Pen and Paper
Your potential attorney will likely begin offering you advice on how to best proceed. Be prepared to write everything down. This does not mean you are obliged to retain their services. This information should factor in to your decision to retain them however.
- Prepared Questions
This is your opportunity to pick the brain of a legal professional. You more questions you have prepared the more you will get out of this consultation. Ask what they think of your case. Ask them to give you a timeline based on other cases they have handled in the past. Definitely ask about their fee structure.
Following the Consultation
Once you have taken consultations, it is time to make your decision. Consider the many factors we have discussed here today. At Hastings & Hastings, our combination of experience, reputation, infrastructure, and our history of success makes us an ideal candidate to represent you in any personal injury claims. If you want to learn more, or would like to start the path towards representation with a free initial consultation, visiting hastingsandhastings.com or call us at (480)706-1100.