When you’re injured in any type of accident, one of the first things you should do is consult a personal injury attorney. The first consultation will give the lawyer a chance to evaluate the strength of your case, but it’s also an opportunity for you to determine if this is the right attorney to represent you. Here are a few ways to determine the quality of any attorney.
Check Out Their Peer Reviews
There really isn’t an official rating system for lawyers, so the best way to determine any attorney’s reputation is by reviewing what others have said about them. In particular, you can see what other attorneys have said by visiting their LinkedIn page or the state bar association’s website. You can also search for them on an online review site, such as Superlawyers or The Martindale-Hubbell Bar Registry.
Ask About the Lawyer’s Case Load
If you’re hiring a larger firm that’s staffed with dozens of attorneys and paralegals, this won’t be a concern. This should be addressed in dealing with smaller practices, however. You should ask the attorney how many cases he normally handles and how many cases he’s currently handling. This will help you make sure your case will get the attention it deserves. It’s also important to ask who will be working on your case to ensure you won’t be handed off to a junior paralegal.
Ask How Many Cases Have Gone to Trial
The answer to this question will be tricky to evaluate. A lawyer who rarely goes to trial may indicate someone who will take any deal if it will keep him out of court. On the other hand, an attorney who almost always goes to trial suggests someone who isn’t open to negotiation. Ideally, you should look for a lawyer who has a fairly equal mix of positive trial outcomes and settlement agreements.
The initial consultation is also the time to discuss the attorney’s fee. It’s a standard practice for personal injury lawyers to work for a contingency, or percentage of your settlement. This means the attorney doesn’t get paid unless he obtains a favorable outcome for you, but the lawyer may charge extra fees to cover administrative costs. Be sure you agree to the contingency rate and extra fees before hiring your attorney. This will help you avoid any misconceptions as you seek damages for your injuries.