Accidents happen. So much so that as of 2019, parties involved in personal injury cases spent a total of $36.9 billion in securing legal services.
When you’re staring at potential financial ruin due to injury, you need the best legal help you can find. Hiring a lawyer who has a depth of experience at the right time can lift you out of an abyss.
Lots of our readers are asking, “How do I find a personal injury lawyer near me?” Here’s an in-depth look at how to find a personal injury lawyer and how they can help your case.
A good personal injury lawyer is a kind of attorney who offers legal services to people claiming to be injured due to another party’s negligence. The injury such a lawyer deals with can be physical and/or psychological.
A personal injury lawyer helps you seek financial compensation from individuals, companies, or government agencies to offset your costs.
That serves the dual purpose of making you whole from a legal standpoint while discouraging others from attempting to commit the same mistakes.
Beyond representing your interests in the courtroom, a personal injury lawyer can help you in several other critical ways, which include:
One of the first things a personal injury attorney will help you determine is whether your claim is valid from a statute of limitations view.
The statute of limitations is the state law that sets the maximum amount of time in which you can file a valid personal injury claim. If you want to file a claim that’s beyond the statute of limitations, then you won’t have a valid case.
The state determines the deadline, and your attorney will seek to confirm that you are within the acceptable time frame before proceeding.
Generally speaking, the ‘countdown’ begins from the moment the injury occurred or the time you discovered the damage.
As not all personal injury cases are cut and dried, it pays to consult an experienced lawyer.
For example, there are cases where you can’t file a claim as soon as you are injured or discover the injury. In such scenarios, a personal injury lawyer can help you extend the deadline by filing alternative court documents that shield your right to bring a lawsuit.
When you suffer an injury, several things call for your immediate attention. You may only be thinking of the immediate impact the damage has on your life, which blinds you to more prolonged effects.
Your priorities might be to seek financial cover for the medical bills you face or that bill collector you keep dodging.
With such immediate pressures at hand, you may not objectively weigh the long term impact of the injury and account for it in the compensation you seek.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can come alongside you to more objectively determine the level of compensation.
Whenever you approach a personal injury lawyer, they first take a deep dove into your case to assess its viability. That’s because the attorney will be working on a contingency basis.
A contingency agreement means that the lawyer doesn’t charge you an upfront fee. Instead, they will take an agreed-upon percentage out of the settlement you will win.
Such a scenario implies that if your case isn’t strong enough for you to win an award, then the lawyer won’t make any revenue.
Once the attorney is satisfied that your claim can stand on its legs, they will need as much supporting evidence as possible.
It’s, therefore, a part of a personal injury lawyer’s scope of work to source this evidence. It could mean inquiring into any police reports and analyzing them to create a case.
If your case needs supporting photographic evidence, then a lawyer will hire a photographer to take the shots.
Based on this evidence, the personal injury attorney will advise you on how to proceed with the claim for the best chance of success.
Once your attorney looks at all the evidence and formulates a strategy, they can prepare and send out a demand letter to the insurer. A demand letter will state the issues surrounding the injury and demand a specific amount in damages from the defendant.
It is at this stage that a reliable personal injury lawyer becomes worth their weight in gold. The reason for this is that insurance companies hire a litany of counsel to find ways to pay the least compensation they can.
Unless you show up with an experienced lawyer, you will end up losing your shirt during the negotiations.
A credible personal injury lawyer will develop a realistic case as to why you should receive the compensation you seek. The insurer will then have 30 days from when they receive the demand letter to respond.
If the insurance company opts to settle, then the lawyer can negotiate on your behalf for the best payout possible. Remember your interests and theirs are aligned – the larger the payout you get, the more the lawyer earns.
On the other hand, if the insurance firm decides to contest the claim, then your lawyer can move the case to court. Their familiarity with trial procedures and customs ensures that your case gets heard without failure.
Knowing what a personal injury lawyer can do to help your cause is only helpful if you can locate a reliable attorney. Here are some top tips to apply when seeking to hire a personal injury lawyer for your case.
A natural place to begin or even deepen your search for an excellent personal injury lawyer is your circle of influence. You should reach out to the friends and family you have been involved in a legal matter in the past.
If they dealt with a personal injury case, they could give you a recommendation on the lawyer they found most useful.
But what if they dealt with other legal issues such as a divorce or bankruptcy? You can request them to reach out to the lawyer who represented them for recommendations on a reliable personal injury attorney.
Are there lawyers you already know personally or otherwise? Tap these relationships for referrals on a reputable personal injury lawyer.
However, if your relationship is personal, the lawyer might want to hang onto your case even if they have no experience.
In such scenarios, you should rise above the personal context to ask them to give you a referral instead of succumbing and allowing them to handle the case if they aren’t qualified.
With that said, don’t take another lawyer’s referral as the gospel truth and avoid carrying out your due diligence.
Speaking of experience, you must perpetually keep asking yourself if the lawyer you want to hire has the expertise you need.
Have they worked cases in court before? How many cases do they win (whether in trial or through settlement) versus what they lose?
Of especial importance is to ascertain that the personal injury lawyer has dealt with your kind of case before. A lack of direct experience in the realm of your type of case might make the lawyer miss out on subtle issues that can tank a claim.
For example, a personal injury lawyer who has never worked a workers’ comp case won’t know how to prepare you for the psychological evaluation. Seeing that the results of such an evaluation are critical to the success of a claim, you want a lawyer versed in shepherding patients through such assessments.
A lesser-known source of personal injury lawyer recommendations is referral services. A majority of the local bar associations have a list of certified lawyers arranged according to their specialty from which you can choose.
Beware that even though all attorneys on the list are licensed to practice, the quality of their services varies.
As such, before selecting any refereed attorney, first, ask what parameters the referral service uses to select the lawyers on its list. Zero in on a few candidates but refrain from deciding until you interview those you shortlist.
No matter where you source your leads for a personal injury lawyer, you need to interview several candidates. At a minimum, shortlist three lawyers who best meet your criteria.
As you talk to these shortlisted candidates, you will notice small subtleties that help you differentiate the clear winner.
At the day’s end, you will have identified a much better choice due to the competition than had you opted only to interview one candidate. These subtleties are what can give you an edge in winning your case.
You and your attorney will spend quite some time together once you sign the contract. Therefore, you need to vet the lawyer’s reputation to avoid getting into a sour working relationship.
Check the database of your local bar association for any sanctions or disciplinary measures the lawyer might have received.
In addition, you can search through online lawyer review platforms for any reputation issues that may portend trouble.
When you’re in a fix due to injury, the right personal injury lawyer can save you from a world of trouble. However, you don’t need any lawyer – only the most experienced and reliable attorney should come to your aid.
Therefore, you should take time to understand how to find a personal injury lawyer and the tips that can help you get the most out of your attorney.
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