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Questions You Need to Ask Before Hiring an Injury Lawyer

Finding the right lawyer to represent your case is often the most important factor in a successful outcome.

Insurance companies can afford to pay for skilled lawyers that specialize in personal injury defense. Your lawyer’s experience and skills will determine the amount of compensation that you receive.

Many injury victims don’t know that even the most experienced and successful personal injury lawyers in their community can charge fees similar to inexperienced lawyers with no track record of success in courtrooms.

Do not make the mistake of selecting a personal injury attorney solely from advertisements. Unscrupulous lawyers will quickly settle your case for the lowest possible settlement offer from insurance companies. These firms are known for their “high volume” and “quick turn” work ethic. There are many personal injury “wannabes” in every community who will grab your case quickly and settle it for low money (but a high return on the lawyer’s investment).

How do you find the right lawyer to represent your case in a serious personal injury suit?

You should do your research on local lawyers before making any important decisions. You need to make sure you ask the right questions in order to determine if an attorney has a track record of success before you meet with them.

This free report will give you information that many injury victims don’t know about personal injury lawyers. This report can help you make a difference in your case. It could mean the difference between winning it or losing it.

1. Some sources rate lawyers for personal injury based on the opinions of their peers.

How can you find the best lawyer to represent your serious personal injury case? Before you decide which lawyer to consult, there are many resources that can be used. A reliable way to find out about a lawyer’s credentials is to look at reviews of personal injury lawyers. These reviews are based on the opinions of other lawyers and their competitors. There is no official rating system for personal injuries lawyers other than peer review by other attorneys. These are the peer-reviewed rating systems you should look at:

Martindale-Hubbell Bar Registry (www.martindale.com), has more than 1,000,000 lawyers from across the country with peer review ratings. The site publishes brief biographies of these attorneys. Martindale-Hubbell is the most trusted source of reliable and authoritative information about the American legal community for over 130 years. 

A lawyer or a firm is rated “AV” if they have a high-to-preeminent level of legal ability. This rating is indicative of their expertise, experience, integrity, and overall professional excellence. Martindale-Hubbell ratings were established by attorneys for lawyers and state that it “clearly indicates a demonstration or the highest professional and ethical standards.”

The Best Lawyers in America. (www.bestlawyers.com) The lawyers listed in Best Lawyers have been selected by their peers as “the best” in 57 specialties, including personal injury and medical malpractice law.

Superlawyers. ( www.superlawyers.com) Super Lawyers is an annual listing of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Law & Politics conducts the research and polling that results in the selection of Super Lawyers. This is a process to identify lawyers who have achieved high levels of peer recognition and professional accomplishment. Only five percent (5%) are selected to be Super Lawyers in each state.

2. Ask the lawyer: “What percentage are your cases referred by other lawyers?”

Ask local lawyers for recommendations on the best personal injury lawyers in your area. It is important to determine if a large percentage of a lawyer’s caseload is derived from referrals from other lawyers. Professionals in any profession or field know who is good and who is not. It might be worthwhile to ask a friend or an attorney who practices law for advice. 

Even if they don’t specialize in injury cases, it is likely that they have friends who are knowledgeable about malpractice or personal injury lawyers who are regarded as the best in the area.

3. Avoid lawyers who write “solicitation” letters after an accident.

Personal injury lawyers are increasingly hiring “gophers”, or runners, to obtain traffic accident reports from local and state police officers. After the accident reports have been obtained, staff members of the law firm will go through the report and find the victim’s name and address. 

The law firm will send a “solicitation letter” to the victim informing them that they are available and willing to represent him/her in a personal injury case. It is not uncommon for accident victims to receive solicitation letters from law offices between fifteen and twenty times a year. 

A law firm in Indiana sends a solicitation every time a traffic accident victim is reported to them. Some law firms will continue to send out solicitation letters even after the initial one is sent. Staff members will even call the accident victim to verify that they have received the letters.

Most law firms that rely upon solicitation letters work on a “high volume and quick turnover” basis. Because they have trouble attracting referrals from satisfied clients, or other lawyers, they resort to mass mailing hundreds (or even thousands) of solicitation letters in the hope that they will get responses to their mass mailings. 

It is likely that most injury victims who are influenced by a letter in the mail to choose an attorney are not doing extensive research on the law firms they are considering hiring. Numerous states are currently enacting laws and rules to ban lawyers from sending out solicitation letters to victims of accidents.

4. Nearly all personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation. They will not charge any fees unless there is a recovery.

Anybody who has seen or heard any type of advertisement (TV commercials and yellow pages, websites, online sites, direct mail solicitation letters, etc.) knows that they are all the same. Personal injury lawyers quickly discover that all injury lawyers make the same offers.

“No recovery, no fee”

“Free consultation”

“We will visit your home or hospital.”

If a lawyer offers you a free consultation and says that there will be no fees unless you recover, this is known as a contingent fee agreement. This is not something you should expect. The offer is common for almost all lawyers who specialize in personal injury cases.

5. What does it mean for a lawyer to say “No fee if there is no recovery”?

Nearly all personal injury lawyers work on a contingent basis. If there is a recovery, there are no attorney fees. The fee is a percentage. (i.e. Usually 33.33% of the amount that is recovered. This means that the lawyer won’t charge the client a fee unless the client recovers. 

It sounds simple, right? It’s not so easy. Personal injury victims should be cautious before making a decision about a lawyer to represent them.

A lawyer who agrees to take on your case for a contingent fee and then loses it, will not be able to determine if you owe him or hear anything. You don’t owe any money. One-third of everything is not enough. Consumers must realize that attorney fee are not the same as case expenses.

Nearly every personal injury case will require some case expenses to properly prepare it. The case expenses include money paid to third parties in order to keep the case moving. These expenses can include expert witness fees, court reporter fees, court fees, charges to medical records, physician reports charges, filing fees, and many other costs that are involved in a personal injury lawsuit.

Different law firms handle case expenses differently. The case expenses for a motor vehicle accident case with a settlement of less than $100,000 is usually less than $5,000. The litigation costs can reach $50,000 for serious personal injury cases involving catastrophic or permanent injuries or medical malpractice cases. These ongoing litigation expenses can be handled in different ways by different firms depending on their financial resources and their philosophy.

  • The other way is to ask for itClientTo pay all or a significant portion of litigation expenses at the beginning of a case, or on an ongoing basis. This can cause serious financial problems for clients.
  • Another option is to have the lawyer pay all expenses throughout the case and the client reimburse the lawyer for any recovery at the conclusion of the case. If the recovery is $270,000 and the client and lawyer have agreed to a one third contingent fee plus reimbursement for expenses advanced by lawyer, and the lawyer has deposited $10,000 towards the case expenses, then the final disbursement will look something like this:You will be awarded $170,000. The lawyer will get $90,000 to cover his attorney fees.
    – $10,000 will go back to the lawyer for expenses reimbursement.

What happens to expenses if the case goes missing? Some lawyers do not ask clients to reimburse them for “out-of-pocket” expenses. Others expect clients to reimburse the firm for all expenses, even if the case is dropped. You have options and should find out what the lawyer’s policy is on reimbursement for expenses in the event that the case is lost. A lawyer will not tell you what to do.“Don’t worry about losing a case, I have never lost one, “Don’t accept this response. Even the most skilled personal injury lawyers can lose cases from time to time.

6. Is this lawyer able to handle my case financially and with the right staffing?

As we have already mentioned, lawsuits that involve catastrophic or serious personal injuries can be extremely expensive to bring to court. A typical case involving medical malpractice can involve six, or more, medical specialties. Each one needs an expert witness to address issues within that particular specialty. 

Trucking companies can be sued for serious injuries. This includes accident reconstruction experts, trucking safety specialists, and the experts needed to testify as to the extent and nature of the client’s injuries (treating doctors, life care planners and vocational experts, economists, and so on). 

A lawyer may cut corners to save money if he or she does not have the funds to properly fund the case. A client may be forced to settle for a lower settlement. A lawyer with the financial resources and the ability to handle a case to trial is a wise investment.

7. What types of cases does the lawyer deal with on a daily basis.

A general practitioner is a lawyer who handles many types of legal cases. A lawyer who is experienced in handling personal injury cases will be able to assist you if you have a serious injury case. It is almost impossible for a general practice lawyer to keep up with all developments in law and medical malpractice law. 

Insurance companies hire experienced specialists to defend personal injuries cases. When a general practitioner takes on a law firm that specializes only in personal injury cases, he or she is likely to be at a great disadvantage.

8. How long have they been representing personal injury victims?

Most lawyers who represent victims in personal injury and medical malpractice cases charge the same “contingent fee” regardless of how long they’ve been practicing. A lawyer with 3 years of experience will charge you the same amount as someone with 25 years and 100 jury trials in personal injury cases. You should consider hiring a more experienced lawyer. Your case’s outcome can be affected by the experience of your lawyer.

9. Is this lawyer really able to try cases in court?

Many people assume that all personal injury lawyers are in court to try cases. It is impossible to believe that this could be farther from the truth. Many lawyers who claim to be trial lawyers or personal injury lawyers have very little or no experience in jury trials. You should first ask whether the lawyer has tried cases in court and if so, how often. This is a crucial question that many people don’t think to ask.

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Personal injury lawyers know which injury lawyers actually take cases. This information is used by insurance companies to assess their risk. Who represents the plaintiff? This is one of the most important questions that an insurance adjuster will ask after receiving a serious claim.

Only one way to get the highest settlement for your case is through a settlement. Your lawyer must be able, willing, and able to take the case to court. You can expect a significant discount if you choose a lawyer that settles all cases and never takes the case to court.

10. Is this lawyer able to teach other lawyers?

Lawyers who regularly lecture at legal education seminars (called “CLE”) have the respect of their professional peers. Because other lawyers want to hear their opinions, they are often asked to speak at legal education seminars. Article writers for legal publications are often the best in their field. They know what they’re talking about. 

Many personal injury lawyers will post the topics of speaking engagements and publications on their websites. You can check the website of the lawyer to see if they teach other lawyers about the latest developments in personal injury law. If so, ask for a copy.

There are many organizations, both state and national, that are dedicated to representing injury victims. These organizations sponsor legal publications as well as legal education programs. They also lobby for consumer rights. The American Association of Justice is the most well-known national organization. 

The Indiana Trial Lawyers Association is an organization of plaintiff lawyers that advocates for injured people in Indiana. While you can find a lawyer that doesn’t belong in any of these groups you shouldn’t expect them to represent you in serious injury cases.

12. Are they certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy?

The medical profession has used a system of peer evaluation and testing known as “board certification.” This is a way to identify doctors who are experts in a specific sub-specialty or specialty of medicine. The legal system has been mimicking the board-certification process for the medical profession in recent years. 

The National Board of Trial Advocacy is a national organization that offers a process for civil trial attorneys to obtain board certification. The National Board of Trial Advocacy forms part of the larger organization, called the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification. 

The NBTA certification of a “civil trials attorney” is available only to experienced attorneys with extensive experience in courtroom work and preparation for trial. An applicant must have experience in the courtroom and pass an all-day exam before being granted board certification by the NBTA as a civil trials attorney.

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  1. What to Look For in a Personal Injury Lawyer
    When looking for a prospective personal injury attorney, you should find detailed information about the attorney’s experience.

    When hiring a personal injury lawyer, consider the following:

  2. The lawyer’s position in the firm
  3. The lawyer’s experience in personal injury
  4. The lawyer’s experience in handling cases similar to yours
  5. The lawyer’s success in related cases
  6. The lawyer’s fees for related cases
  7. The lawyer’s view on the projected outcome of your case
  8. How many other cases the lawyer is currently working on
  9. The average amount of compensation the lawyer wins in related cases
  10. Any conflict of interest issues
  11. Don’t hesitate to conduct a thorough interview with the attorney. The outcome of your personal injury claim will hinge on having a dependable attorney-client relationship before any litigation begins.

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