What should I look for when hiring a personal injury lawyer?
If you are in the market for a personal injury lawyer, you may be overwhelmed with your options — particularly if you are already dealing with the aftermath of an accident. It can be difficult to know how to choose an attorney to represent you. The following criteria can be a helpful way to evaluate your options before making a selection.
First, look for a personal injury attorney with a practice that focuses on California personal injury law. While many lawyers and law firms have general practices, personal injury work is a specialized field of law. Working with an attorney with both knowledge and experience in this arena will help you get the compensation that you deserve, as your lawyer will be better able to negotiate with insurance companies — and take your case to trial, as necessary.
Second, seek out an attorney with a proven record, backed by trial experience. While many lawyers claim to do personal injury work, many of those attorneys have never taken a case to trial. Insurance companies know who those lawyers are — and they will be more likely to give them “lowball” offers. Hiring an attorney with trial experience and a demonstrated record of success will help you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
Third, look for a lawyer that has the resources to devote the necessary time and attention to your case. Many personal injury cases require extensive investigation, as well as expert witnesses to fully prepare your claim. Work with a lawyer who has the resources to accomplish these goals.
Fourth, because you want a lawyer who believes in your case as much as you do, select an attorney who will take your case on a contingency fee basis. This fee arrangement provides that your lawyer does not get a fee unless you receive a settlement or award — providing him or her with an incentive to work hard to get you the highest compensation possible.
Fifth, choose a lawyer who is willing to fight your case in court. A great majority of cases need to be fought in court simply because doing so generates a much greater settlement amount. Many law firms are not willing to fight your case in court. As such, they charge lower fees. Fighting cases in court requires a significant amount of time working on your case. It also requires the lawyer to place a significant amount of money at risk because if the case is lost, the attorney does not recover the money advanced to work on your case. Finally, fighting cases in court requires experience, knowledge, and skill otherwise the lawyer will not succeed. You want an advocate who is ready, willing and able to fight for you — someone with a proven track record.