Four Things to Look For When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
How do you know if you need a personal injury lawyer? If you need an attorney, how do you choose the best personal injury lawyer to handle your case? Let’s discuss each of these questions in detail.
Why Should I File a Personal Injury Claim?
If you or your family member were injured because of another party’s wrongdoing, errors, or negligence, you could be entitled to compensation.
Under Georgia personal injury laws, you could receive compensation for:
- Economic damages and financial losses, including lost income, medical bills, and personal care costs
- Noneconomic damages or “pain and suffering,” which includes your physical, emotional, and mental suffering
- Punitive damages are awarded in only a few types of personal injury cases, but could be available if your case involves gross negligence or willful conduct that exhibits a disregard for the safety of others
Pursuing a personal injury claim can be daunting. The investigation and claims process can be time-consuming and expensive. In some cases, the matter might require a trial to settle the dispute.
Personal injury law firms are equipped to handle complicated legal matters. The lawyers have the experience, skills, resources, and knowledge required to pursue an injury claim.
When Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Generally, anyone who sustains an injury can benefit from a personal injury lawyer’s guidance and advice. However, there are some cases in which it is strongly advised that you talk with a lawyer as soon as possible. Cases that indicate you might need a personal injury lawyer include:
- Cases involving multiple parties who could share liability for your injuries and damages, such as a commercial truck accident or a defective medical device claim
- Claims involving government entities, including car accidents with government vehicles, trains, or buses
- Injuries that result in permanent impairments and disabilities, including cases involving catastrophic injuries
- Cases that involve product liability laws or premises liability laws
- Claims for childhood injuries, including birth injuries and daycare cases
- Cases involving claims of comparative fault
- Injuries arising from medical malpractice claims
If you are unsure whether you need a personal injury lawyer to represent you, it is wise to talk with a lawyer before making decisions regarding your case.
The insurance claims adjuster protects the insurance company from liability. Adjusters are not acting in your best interests.
Therefore, it is unwise to rely on information provided by a claims adjuster regarding personal injury laws or the value of your injury claim. You need a legal advocate who fights for your best interests by seeking the maximum compensation for your claim.
Four Things to Look for When Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer
In addition to feeling “comfortable” talking with an attorney, you should also consider four important factors when choosing an Atlanta personal injury attorney.
Experience Handling Cases Similar to Your Case
The first thing to look for when searching for a lawyer is experience. However, the type of experience is important.
You need an attorney who handles personal injury claims. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer or a real estate attorney to handle a personal injury case is unwise.
You want an attorney who focuses his or her law practice on cases involving personal injury.
You also want an attorney who handles cases similar to your case. The laws related to a construction site accident differ from the laws related to a dog bite claim. Therefore, always remember to ask how much experience the attorney has handling cases that involve facts and circumstances similar to your personal injury claim.
Success Inside and Outside of the Courtroom
Most personal injury cases settle without filing a lawsuit. Personal injury attorneys need to be skilled and talented negotiators.
However, some cases result in a trial. Therefore, you want an attorney who is also an aggressive trial lawyer.
Always ask the attorney what percentage of his cases are settled outside of court and the percentage of cases that go to trial. An attorney who settles close to 100 percent of their cases might not have the trial experience you need to handle your claim should it go to court.
It is also acceptable to ask the attorney how many cases he wins. What is the success rate for cases that go to trial? Additionally, does the attorney have a high success rate of obtaining settlement amounts close to or above the claim’s initial value as calculated by the attorney?
Attorneys’ Fees and Costs
Many personal injury attorneys represent clients on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee means that you do not pay the attorney a retainer fee when you hire the attorney.
The attorneys’ fees are based on a percentage of the recovery. Contingency fees and the costs of the case are deducted from the settlement proceeds before you receive any money for your claim.
Case costs may or may not be payable if the attorney does not win your case. Be specific when asking about costs. Ask whether you must reimburse the attorney for costs if the attorney does not recover money for your claim.
Also, ask the attorney if the fee agreement changes if the attorney files a personal injury lawsuit, and the case goes to court. The costs of the case could increase substantially if the case goes to trial. Ask the lawyer who is responsible for the costs if he loses the case at trial?
Willingness to Listen and Communicate
An attorney should listen to your story before giving you any advice. He may ask you numerous questions to make sure that he understands what happened to you. For an attorney to represent you to the best of his ability, he needs to know what happened to you.
If an attorney tells you he can get you a huge settlement without listening to what happened to you, it is wise to get a second opinion. You are not at the attorney’s office to hear a sales pitch. You need competent, trusted, and skilled legal counsel.
Ask the lawyer how he intends to communicate with you. How often will you receive updates on your case? Can you call the lawyer if an issue or problem arises?
Good communication and regular updates are an indication that you are hiring a compassionate, thorough, and accomplished personal injury lawyer.
One Last Thing to Remember
Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. You can and should meet with more than one personal injury lawyer.
Meeting with several attorneys gives you an idea about the validity of your case. It also helps you judge the type of attorney you want to work with to resolve your personal injury claim.
Hasner Law offers a free consultation to accident victims in Atlanta, Savannah, and throughout the state of Georgia. Contact our personal injury lawyers to schedule yours and discuss your options today.