Last week we spoke about the most basic things you should be aware of when seeking a personal injury lawyer, so this week, we’re going to delve a little deeper to help you find the right personal injury lawyer for your needs.
Before meeting with a personal injury lawyer, you should always ensure you have as much information as possible about the accident, any injuries, and the financial losses you’ve sustained. Also your personal injury lawyer will want to look all relevant documentation – including any correspondence between yourself and the insurance adjuster, so do make sure you have everything when you go to that initial consultation.
It may sound like a no-brainer but not everyone who has been injured in an accident, and who seeks medical treatment, thinks to keep all of their documentation. If you are going to sue for compensation, you absolutely have to make sure that you have the following:
- all emails from the doctors and other medical staff involved in your treatment and care
- each and every receipt, no matter how small
- your notes from your doctor
- any injury management instructions that your doctor or other healthcare worker has issued you
- photographic evidence of your injuries, if you have it
Do be sure to take all of this to your initial meeting with your personal injury attorney, so they can get a better idea of how to assess your claim.
As a general guide, the type of questions you should be asking a personal injury lawyer are:
- How much of their practice is devoted to general personal injury claims
- What are the bread and butter cases they deal with
- How much experience do they have with the kind of injury you have sustained
- Are they a member of any legal organizations which specialize in personal injury
- How long have they been handling personal injury cases
- What percentage of their cases are referrals from other lawyers
- How many successful cases have they represented
- Do they actually have adequate staff and finance to be able to take on your case
- How long might the case take
- What kind of settlement might you be looking at
- What are the chances of an out of court settlement
- What are the chances of the case going to court
- Do they have experience of taking cases to court, and if so, how much experience do they have
- Are they a board-certified civil trial lawyer by the National Board of Trial Advocacy
- Do they teach other lawyers, and lecture at legal education seminars (obviously if the answer is yes then the chances are that they and their expertise are well-respected)
- What happens if the case is lost
- Will you be liable for any costs or expenses if the case is lost
- Will they will handle every aspect of your case, and if not, how much of it you will be expected to sort out yourself
- What is their fee structure
- Which additional expenses and costs could you be liable for, in addition to the personal injury lawyer’s fees, if you win
If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, or if you feel that the lawyer is not giving you honest answers, then look for another. A good personal injury lawyer will understand that this is a difficult time for you, and will do their best to put you at your ease.
Increasingly some personal injury attorneys seek out traffic accident reports to find names and addresses of victims, and then send out unsolicited mail (virtual and/or physical), offering to represent them. Victims may receive more than a dozen of these letters from different law firms. Follow-up letters/emails usually ensue, and it’s not unknown for victims to also receive unsolicited telephone calls to check whether the mailings have been received. Needless to say that these law firms rarely get referrals from peers or satisfied clients, and some states are in the process of making it illegal for law firms to send unsolicited mail to victims of accidents.
Because most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations, you can afford to meet with as many as it takes for you to find the one which suits you. You are under no obligation to hire a personal injury lawyer just because you’ve had a meeting with them. You need to be as certain as you can be that the personal injury lawyer you give your business to is going to do their very best to secure a fair result for you. You’ll also need to make sure that you actually get along with them, and you’ll need to be confident that they are being honest in their assessment of what kind of settlement you may be awarded. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll have some idea of what a fair settlement would be, so don’t be tempted to fall for promises of hugely exaggerated sums.
At Antin, Ehrlich, and Epstein LLP, our New York personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of personal injury, so if you have suffered a personal injury, you may be entitled to damages, including compensation for resultant medical expenses and loss of earnings. Contact us today on 212-221-5999 to schedule a free, no obligation, consultation to help you understand your rights.