What to consider when hiring a personal injury attorney (III)
It’s really impressive to see how much detail is involved in the process of choosing a lawyer, personal injury or not. That is why, in order to try to cover the complexity of the matter, we decided to prepare a series of explanatory articles, so that everyone who needs a lawyer can recognize the importance and the details of the search for one in particular.
In the previous articles (see I and II), we discussed the first stage of the personal injury attorney selection process: the inquiry or investigation stage. We explain, in detail, what should be taken into account at this stage, including a series of tips to maximize search efficiency.
Well, if you’ve already completed that stage and followed our instructions to the letter, then you should have a list of about 10 candidates. This number of candidates, it should be noted, is a natural result of the inquiry stage, so it may vary depending on the way you have carried out that stage. However, it is recommended that the number of candidates be no more than 10, so that you do not have time problems in the selection process for your future personal injury attorney.
Once you have your 10 candidates, continue the stage of getting to know them personally.
Set up an individual meeting with your candidates
Of course, hiring a personal injury attorney cannot be done without first arranging an individual meeting with your candidates. In other words, it is not recommended that you purchase the services of a legal professional based solely on online or offline information or personal phone calls or recommendations. It is necessary that you personally meet with your candidates. As we said in one of the previous posts: logic and rationality are essential, but the importance of the subjective component cannot be overlooked.
But don’t rush it, though! Before you begin preparations for personal meetings with your aspirants, you should prepare yourself. To do this, it is essential that you make a list of the questions you will ask each of the candidates.
1) List of questions
How does the statute of limitations apply to me?
What do you specialize in? Are your legal skills more focused on what area?
This case like mine… Is it the first one you’ve taken or have you taken on many similar cases? If it is the second option, could you tell me, exactly, the number of similar cases you have assumed; or, failing that, could you tell me an approximate of that number? Also, continuing with the assumption that you have experience in this type of litigation, would you be so kind as to indicate to me what has been the outcome of those cases that have been under your responsibility?
Do you work individually or together? If I am the second, how many additional people will be on my case? And could you tell me who they are?
Based on your knowledge of the area and your experience (if any), how long do you think this case will last? How long do you think his resolution will take?
What will the cost be and in what way will it be carried out? Do you do you work on a fee or hourly basis? If it is the first, what will be the commission? What percentage will you assume? If it is the second, how much do you charge per hour?
You – You notify me of the progress of my case? How often do you send me reports on the direction of my litigation? And how will you notify or send these reports?
In keeping with your experience with cases whose characteristics are the same or similar to mine, could you tell me what your propensity is to go to court? I mean, how often do you, uh. take these cases to court?
At some point in your career, did you has been subject to some kind of suspension? Have you received any warnings? Have you been accused of violating any provision of the code of ethics governing your profession? Has a state bar ever sanctioned him?
If you are a are you a member of any firm, can you tell me if that firm is related to any insurance company? Do you, in the plural, have any connection with insurance companies? Or, on the contrary, you guys are independent of these companies?
With respect to the direction of the case, will you drive it considering only your own criteria; or, on the contrary, will you be the one to drive it? listen and consult with your client? Will you heed my wishes and interests or omit them and act only on your personal judgment?
Finally, I would like to know your personal opinion of my litigation. What is your perception? How much trust can you place in my case? Do you think it’s good? Will it have any satisfactory resolution?
Of course, these are not the only questions you can ask your applicants; you can omit some, choose the ones you feel are most appropriate, and add others of your own choosing.
The importance of these questions lies in the information that can be obtained from the candidates’ answers; information, needless to say, that can be very helpful in making the right selection of your personal injury attorney. Additionally, these questions can help you determine how comfortable you may feel with your future legal representative.
2) Information and documentation of the case
Keep in mind that you won’t be the only one asking questions, but your own candidates will ask their own questions. A personal meeting with your applicants is an initial consultation, so they will try to get as much information as possible about your case. That is why, another thing you should do before you prepare a meeting with the lawyers is to gather as much information as possible from your litigation: ask your witnesses questions, consult with other professionals, among other things. These data must be registered to be presented to your candidates.
However, it is necessary to note the following: a very common mistake during this information gathering process is to omit or exclude data, with the belief that they are irrelevant or of little importance. This belief is dangerous and must be removed: all information in the case is relevant, as well as the smallest detail, so don’t be too careful about the extent of the data collected.
It would also be great if you could get documents relating to your legal matter. Documentation is essential not only so that your future lawyer can be properly informed of the case, but also so that a satisfactory resolution can be made. The documents may serve as evidence, which doubles their relevance in legal proceedings.
Summarizing the main facts of a personal injury claim is not an easy task because the amount of information, as well as its characteristics and relevance, may vary from claim to claim. However, it is possible to note some “universally important” data, i.e. that they are always relevant regardless of the particularities of the cases. Here are some of them:
- Medical documentation: Medical records are certainly the most important information. So make sure you get bills (short and medium term treatment costs); diagnoses that certify the severity and nature of the injuries; medical tests or tests to supplement the diagnoses; and any other medical information.
- Police documentation: It is also important to have on hand documents relating to the arrests of the parties involved, showing all the details concerning them. Also, get records of citations issued.
- Professional documentation: The opinion of experts in the field is taken very seriously, both by your future personal injury lawyer and by the judge in a court of law. That is why it is advisable to collect documents reflecting professional judgment, for example, opinions on the reconstruction of the site where the accident occurred.
- Photographic documentation: Although it can be manipulated and used at convenience, the photographic record is one of the best tools to reconstruct what happened. If you did not take pictures of the accident, there is a chance that other people (witnesses) may have done so. In the midst of the information age, it is virtually impossible for a high-impact event, such as an accident, not to be photographed.
- Testimonial documentation: As a complement to the rest of the other documentation, the testimonies of various witnesses of the accident are key to your candidates being able to know exactly the truth of the facts and, in this way, prepare your defense, determine the probability of victory, position the case in your favor, among other things. So, don’t forget the witnesses and take their statements from them.