The Things That Do and Do Not Matter When Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are in the market for a personal injury lawyer, something bad has happened. An accident has left you or someone you care about injured and in need of help. It is a stressful and emotional time – not an optimal time to make an important decision. However, optimal or not, you need to consider hiring a lawyer. I hope the following tips will assist you if you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation.
The Things That Matter Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or your family member have been injured, you need a lawyer experienced in the field of personal injury law. It is a complex and evolving area of the law and you may not be well-served by a lawyer who “dabbles” in personal injury litigation. If I needed to hire a personal injury lawyer, I would only consider lawyers whose primary practice area is personal injury law.
Your relationship with your personal injury lawyer will likely last for several years. It is important that you and your lawyer are a good fit for one another. You will interact a lot and your ability to communicate effectively with one another is extremely important.
When looking for a personal injury lawyer, it is advisable to meet with more than one candidate. How you get along with the various candidates should be one of the factors that you consider in ultimately deciding which lawyer you would like to hire.
You should research any lawyer that you are contemplating hiring and you should also research the firm at which they practice. Hiring a particular firm simply because you have seen that firm name advertised frequently on television, for example, may not be a wise decision. Remember, that firm is paying for you to see their name.
Instead, ask around. If you are in a hospital, ask your doctor and ask the hospital social worker who is helping you and your family. You can also ask other lawyers for their recommendations even if they do not practice in the area of personal injury law. For example, the lawyer who drafted your Will or did your real estate deal probably does not practice in personal injury but they may have recommendations about the lawyers or firms that you should consider hiring.
Lastly, ask your friends and family members for recommendations. Perhaps one of them has had occasion to hire a personal injury lawyer in the past. They may be able to direct you to (or away from) a particular lawyer or firm.
Businesses that exist for generations do so for a reason – they’re doing it right. When looking for a personal injury lawyer, see how long the lawyer has been in practice and see how long the firm at which he or she practices has been in operation. While there are no guarantees, it may give you some added comfort to know that your lawyer and his or her firm have been around for a long time.
Be alert to firms that boast of 35 years of experience, for example, and show a picture of 14 lawyers. If it is 35 combined years of experience, that is (a) misleading and (b) not very impressive.
The Things That Don’t Matter When Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer
Location Doesn’t Matter
It is not necessary for you to retain a personal injury lawyer who lives in or near the place where you live. Communication technologies are so advanced that it is really of no consequence if you happen to be even a number of hours apart from your lawyer (and most lawyers will travel to meet with you in person anyway – I know that I do).
Cost Doesn’t Matter
To say that cost doesn’t matter may strike you as a curious statement. However, almost all personal injury lawyers will offer to be retained on a contingency fee basis. This means that your fee will be equal to an agreed upon percentage of the compensation that is recovered for you. If a lawyer with 10 years of experience and a lawyer with one year of experience both offer a contingency fee retainer of 30%, for example, wouldn’t it make sense to hire the more experienced lawyer?
Address Doesn’t Matter
Some people are inclined to think that they need to hire the biggest firm on the best known street in the biggest city in their Province so that the ‘Insurance Company’ knows that they mean business. If you hire a lawyer based on the “Things That Matter” factors listed above, the Insurance Company will already know that you mean business.
Calling Too Soon Doesn’t Matter
Many people who call me in the days or weeks following an accident do so apologetically. They say things like, “I was only in an accident a few days ago and I don’t want to waste your time but I wondered what my rights are?” There is no need to apologize and there is no such thing as calling too soon. In some cases, the lawyer may not be in a position to provide you with an opinion on whether or not you have a viable lawsuit if your accident occurred too recently, but they can and will let you know about applicable limitation periods and notice requirements. They can also tell you about your rights and about the availability of any benefits that may be able to assist you in the short-term while you heal and recover.
I genuinely hope that you never need to hire a personal injury lawyer. However, if you do I hope that you will consider these tips and that they will assist you in hiring the right lawyer to help you.