Personal injury claims can be complicated as there are numerous parties involved, including the insurance company, medical professionals, and lawyers. That is why choosing a good personal injury attorney is crucial.
An attorney can help you go through the legal process, help understand your options, and get the compensation you deserve. But hiring the right personal injury lawyer isn’t simple either.
There are a lot of factors to consider when hiring a lawyer. Many people get it wrong since it’s usually their first time and they end up making costly mistakes.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
Firstly, it’s important to understand the duties and responsibilities that a personal injury lawyer needs to handle and exactly what they do for you.
A personal injury lawyer fights for legal recourse and compensation on behalf of those people that have sustained injuries due to the negligence, liability, or intentional act of another party or entity.
While car accidents are the most common cases covered by a personal injury lawyer, they are specialized in handling cases like workplace injuries, product defects, pedestrian accidents, etc. This infographic from clslawyers.net describes examples of personal injury claims and how they work.
The following are some of the most common mistakes and blunders people make when hiring a personal injury lawyer.
1. Not Doing Enough Research
There are just as many good lawyers out there as there are bad ones. Some are simply better at disguising themselves as reliable and reputable. That’s why, when looking at potential lawyers, it’s essential to conduct a thorough background check on them and make sure they don’t have prior criminal convictions.
Additionally, a lawyer’s disciplinary records should give you a good idea of how reliable and trustworthy they are. Another way to find a good lawyer is to ask trusted friends, family members, and colleagues to get their opinion on a particular lawyer.
But before you even hire a lawyer, this infographic by myazlawyers.com explains what you should do immediately after a car accident.
2. Focusing On the Wrong Things
If your claim involves personal injury, then you should look for an attorney experienced in injury law, that has a record of handling cases like yours. You shouldn’t just settle for any general practice lawyer since they won’t be qualified or experienced enough to handle your case.
For instance, if you had some sort of heart disease, you wouldn’t go to a general doctor, you’d consult a cardiologist. In the same way, you should hire a lawyer that has worked with similar cases and has a deep understanding of what you’re going through.
3. Paying Their Fee Upfront
There is no need to pay any money upfront to hire a personal injury attorney. Most of them work on a contingency fee basis, meaning if they fail to get money on your behalf, you won’t be required to pay the attorney’s fee. They typically charge you a certain percentage of the final settlement you receive.
The contingency fee that lawyers charge is on average around 1/3rd of the total earnings or 33% but can go as high as 40%. In some cases, you may be required to pay minimal expenses that the attorney incurred, such as fees for obtaining medical records.
4. Not Keeping Your Options Open
There are numerous types of personal injury claims, some concerning car accidents and others involving workplace or slip-and-fall incidents. Even if you think you’ve found a legal professional that you can trust, it’s always good to have another option or backup plan.
Getting the opinion of multiple legal advisors should help you determine the best course of action. For instance, instead of going through the process of litigation, trying mediation and settling out of court might be a more efficient and quicker option. In case you have to go to court, trial lawyers dedicated to justice and your best interests are crucial.
5. Not Asking the Right Questions
Your lawyer is someone you’ll have to work with very closely so it’s important for you to be comfortable around them and treat them like a trusted legal advisor. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask them any questions. Asking them questions will help you determine if they’re a good fit for you and if they have your best interest in mind.
Ideally, you should interview at least two or three attorneys before you decide on who you’re going to stick with. The following are some important questions you should ask your potential personal injury lawyers:
- How much will you charge?
- Why do you think I have a good chance of obtaining compensation?
- What are the weaknesses in my case?
- Have you handled cases like mine in the past?
- How much is my case worth?
- How many successful verdicts have you won in court?
- If the case doesn’t settle, will you take it to trial?
- How long will it take to resolve the case?
- If I lose, will I be obligated to pay any case-related costs?
6. Hiring Someone Who Promises Money
An attorney that only boasts about putting cash in your wallet as quickly as possible is likely untrustworthy and untruthful. What you really need is a lawyer that can analyze your case and set appropriate expectations for your case with honesty. It’s unwise to hire someone that only promises monetary benefits.
There’s an unsettling number of lawyers that take advantage of injured victims by charging unreasonably high rates or taking extra fees from them. To avoid such lawyers, you need to look for ones that are reputable and respected in their community and have a proven track record.
7. Choosing An Unlicensed Attorney
There are plenty of unlicensed attorneys that promise to help you obtain an unreasonable settlement, but these individuals are mostly scammers or people who don’t have the needed qualifications to help you get your compensation.
Furthermore, it’s illegal for anyone to practice law without an official license in most countries and states. To avoid having to deal with unnecessary consequences, only hire a licensed attorney with a good record and clean background.