Here’s the scenario: you get injured at work, but your employer refuses to pay you financial compensation. This may end up in court. Alternatively, someone accuses you of negligence resulting in injury, and you need a defense. It’s absolutely crucial that you choose the right lawyer to ensure the best possible outcome and costs. I’m now going to set out a number of things you need to consider.
Hopefully you took photos of the incident and collected names, phone numbers, and signed statements from the witnesses. The sooner you appoint a lawyer, the better. If you click here you’ll see the recommendation that this should ideally be done within 24 hours of the incident. This is because lawsuits must be filed within a limited time. When you finally make your choice of lawyer, make sure they achieve this!
When you’re considering a specific lawyer, you’ll want to speak to some of their previous clients to get their feedback – the good and the bad. Ask your friends for recommendations of local lawyers. Then research them online. For a Google search you need to enter as many keywords as you can, to narrow down your search results. Choose a closely located lawyer so you can pop in whenever you need it.
There are websites that provide lists of legal firms for you to consider. These include Nolo, Findlaw, and lawyers.com. The results will be a bit like Google results, however – the top sponsored sites will appear first. That doesn’t mean the best firm will appear first, just the ones who paid the most.
Feel free to use your telephone to ring the county and state bar associations and individual firms. Even after your initial consultation with a lawyer, there is nothing to stop you from asking more questions over the phone.
These are usually free, although some lawyers will charge you. Bring everything you can with you – medical documents, bills, and any written material from experts (e.g. re. crash site reconstruction) that will be crucial too.
It’s important to find out the statute of limitations for your case. Do these scenarios usually lead to a court hearing? How likely are you to win the case?
You’ll want to know your lawyers’ areas of experience and expertise, e.g. knowledge of medical diagnoses occurring through work injuries, experience with negligence, passenger injuries, and their negotiation skills. It’s important that they have experience of trials too, in case your claim ends up going to court.
Your lawyer’s success record will tell you a lot – it will reflect the behind the scenes factors like the quality of interviews, the presentation of documentation and the ability to interact with the opposing counsel and judges. You’ll also want to know how often you’ll be kept updated on things.
If you’re impressed with one particular person, go home and research the company and the individual online for more information. It’s important they are specialized for your circumstances. Do they have company insurance? Is their aim to settle the case for the lowest amount? How much will they respect your wishes in the proceedings? How many years’ experience do they have and what are their success rates? If a lawyer has ever been disbarred, suspended, or complained against, this will appear in an online search under disciplinary records.
If this individual looks perfect, there is one more consideration. Will they be doing all the work on your case or do they delegate some of it to a colleague? If that’s the case you’ll need to ask questions about them too!
Find out the total fees expected, and the lawyer’s hourly rate. Once you’ve chosen your lawyer you’ll need to request a written fee agreement. This will be confirmation of what they’ll do for you and how much it will cost. If you win your case you’re likely to only take home two-thirds of the money.
If you are researching lawyers, you’ll want to have at least ten to consider before reducing the number. You don’t have to choose a lawyer just because he gave you a free consultation. It’s an expensive process so you have to be thorough and totally objective. How they made you feel is important too. If there is no natural rapport, you could have trouble dealing with them as the case develops. The worst thing that could happen is being unhappy with your lawyer halfway through the process. Having said that, judges usually understand if things are held up because you are changing your representative.
You’ve now researched companies and individuals. You know all about your chosen lawyer and can give a number of reasons why this was the best person. You know how much this is going to cost you, the likelihood of winning, and whether it will end up in court. You have a rapport with your lawyer and know how often they will give you an update. You are now placed for the best result you can expect. Good luck!