5 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
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In many areas, finding a personal injury attorney is a relatively easy task. Many lawyers may advertise in the white pages or online. However, it is important to be able to compare attorneys against each other to find the right fit for you. Some things to consider before hiring a personal injury attorney include:
Experience Can Differ
A personal injury attorney is someone who handles cases in which one person’s conduct results in harm to another person, usually based on negligent behavior. Personal injury cases may include slip and fall cases, medical malpractice cases, car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of accidents. Other attorneys may focus on one specific kind of case, such as medical malpractice or truck accidents. It is important to hire someone who has experience with the particular type of case that you are involved in.
Attorneys may charge differently for their services. While it is common in personal injury cases for personal injury attorneys to charge on a contingency fee basis, this is not always the case. Additionally, there is a distinction between legal fees and costs. Fees refers to the attorney’s time invested in the case. Often, personal injury attorneys will be compensated for their time only if the case settles or results in a favorable outcome for the client at which time the attorney may take a certain percentage of the award, usually one-third. However, attorneys differ as to how they handle costs, such as costs for postage, calls, doctor reports, copying fees, hiring an expert witness, court costs and deposition expenses. In some cases the client may be required to pay these costs upfront even if they are not successful with their claim.
Different attorneys have different approaches. Some attorneys may try to get out ahead of the case and move for a quick settlement. Others may be more aggressive and file suit when it is clear that insurance companies refuse to settle for fair compensation. It is important to retain an attorney who will take the approach that is best suited for your particular case, facts and circumstance.
Attorneys may communicate in different ways. Some may be so busy that they do not return client calls for days or weeks on end. Others may prefer to use email and may respond quickly. A lawyer should advise his or her client of developments in the case. Be sure that you ask about your lawyer’s preferred communication method and how often he or she will be in touch with you so that you can have a realistic idea about this subject.
While some personal injury lawyers may have handled similar cases to yours, no ethical lawyer should guarantee a result in litigation. There are no guarantees. A conscientious attorney can give a client his or her honest belief about the potential value of the case and its potential for success but cannot say for a fact that the claim will prevail.