A personal injury lawyer can represent you if you want to bring a case against someone for any injury he or she may have caused you. Your lawyer can also defend you if you are at the receiving end of a lawsuit.
Having a lawyer is important because legal cases are covered by technical rules that may determine whether your case proceeds or not. A lawyer also has the training needed to determine the arguments that best fits the facts of your case.
The choice of who to hire should not be based on technical expertise alone, however. The following are other guidelines for choosing an attorney for your personal injury lawsuit.
License to practice
This should be the first consideration to make. Working with an unlicensed lawyer or one who has had his license suspended in your state can result in delays. Check state registries for the names of licensed lawyers in your area so you can be sure that the person you hire is legally allowed to practice. This is also one way to see if your lawyer has a disciplinary record that limits his practice, or a suspension that bars him from practicing altogether.
In some cases, years of experience may not directly equate to trial experience. Many personal injury lawsuits end up in settlements and therefore do not proceed to trial. There are lawyers who specialize in this field who only take cases that are likely to end up in settlements because they don’t want to go to trial. However, you want a lawyer who is prepared for both outcomes, preferably one with ample trial experience.
Focus of practice
Lawyers tend to focus on one or two fields as their practices progress. A personal injury lawsuit needs the expertise of a lawyer who has handled similar cases. A lawyer who specializes in corporate law may not have the right experience nor technical skills that a malpractice or negligence lawyer has.
Years of practice
Years of practice usually goes hand in hand with focus of practice. A lawyer with lengthy experience is more likely to have the requisite number of wins in the field so you can be assured of a good chance of winning your lawsuit.
Your lawyer’s reputation in the community and among his or her peers can go a long way towards helping your chances of getting a favorable verdict, or at the least, getting you a fair and speedy hearing. Reputation is one indication that your lawyer does his job well, unlike someone who intentionally fails cases, has a reputation for being late to hearings, or someone who is not liked by the judges in your local courts.
Check your state bar association.
The first step is to check your state bar association especially if you already have a few names in hand. This is the surest way to find out if your lawyer is allowed to practice, has a disciplinary record, or a suspended license.
Ask for referrals.
Ask for referrals from friends and family members who have successfully won personal injury lawsuits. Personally asking for referrals is one way to know more about the lawyer’s skills, ability to interact with clients, professionalism, and other important factors that you want to consider when choosing legal representation.
Do an online search.
Online searches can bring up more information about the lawyer that you have included in your shortlist. You can visit the lawyer’s website, view client testimonials and even browse through credentials that may help affect your decision to work with the lawyer.
Choosing and getting ready to speak with an attorney for your personal injury lawsuit requires a little bit of diligence on your part. However, all that work will pay off because the right lawyer can give you the best chances of winning your lawsuit, whether you are the one filing one or trying to defend yourself. Know what you need and do your research. By doing so, you can prepare for your case the best way possible.