What to consider when hiring a personal injury lawyer
The process of selecting a personal injury lawyer has been downplayed. Usually, people base their decisions on superficial and completely irrelevant aspects in determining the quality and expertise of a legal professional.
A personal injury attorney is a person who is responsible for representing you in the event that you are injured or wounded as a result of the negligence or irresponsibility of a third party, and vice versa. A personal injury lawyer will be the one to defend you in court when you are held responsible for an accident that resulted in injury to others.
Regardless of the scenario, it is extremely important that you choose a good personal injury lawyer who, in addition, you can afford and with whom you can be in complete confidence and comfort.
That task, namely, the choice of a qualified lawyer, has a certain degree of difficulty. It is therefore not a process that can be completed quickly but requires considerable time. Keep in mind that there is a time limit for filing personal injury claims: this time usually spans a period of 1 to 6 years. Although it’s a long enough time, people get carried away by disinterest and a lack of motivation and fail to manage in time.
So, for the reasons outlined above, we decided to produce an informative article with guidelines for choosing an appropriate personal injury attorney. Take note of what we will say below.
Inquiry process on candidates
Every candidate must be subjected to a process of investigation or inquiry. In this way, you will be able to evaluate whether the person fulfills the necessary requirements for the work that will be entrusted to him/her. This process of inquiry, however, involves its stages.
1) Importance of a personal injury lawyer
The first stage of the inquiry process is none other than recognition of the usefulness of hiring a personal injury attorney. As we have been commenting on in the past, this lawyer is special and has a certain uniqueness that makes him or her different from other lawyers: he or she is a professional in the legal and judicial area specialized in those cases in which a person has been injured due to the fault of a third party.
It is clear that you can either be one of the two parties: either you can be the injured person; or you can be the person accused of causing injury to a third party (assuming it wasn’t so, but you were simply wrongly accused).
The possibility of such scenarios reveals the profound importance of a personal injury attorney. However, you need to have a basic understanding of the virtues of such a specialized professional:
Court experiences: A personal injury lawyer has been in court a lot of times and has had conversations with judges, prosecutors and others. This trajectory makes him the holder of a great torrent of court experience.
Negotiation experience: A personal injury attorney is characterized by an impressive negotiating ability. It is virtually impossible not to find a professional of this kind who does not have the ability to reach satisfactory and fair deals.
Knowledge of medical procedures: A personal injury attorney is fully informed about the medical procedures that must be performed in order to counteract personal injury resulting from the accident.
Knowledge of negligence regulation and the like: A personal injury lawyer handles a fairly extensive knowledge of the legal specifications regarding negligence, liability, apportionment of blame and other legal factors involved in a personal injury case.
2) Parameters for choosing a lawyer
The selection of an excellent legal professional who specializes in personal injury cases must adhere to certain parameters. The following parameters are not the result of an arbitrary selection process. On the contrary, these parameters are basic, dictated by logic and common sense, and are recommended by any law firm. It’s a good idea to pick up paper and pen and write each one down.
Location: A very important element, but strangely excluded from most of the articles and information guides in this regard, is the candidate’s location. No matter how good if your potential representative does not come from the state where the accident took place, then they should be automatically discarded, because he or she will not have the license required by the law of each state.
Specialization: If you need legal advice for a divorce, would you hire a lawyer who specializes in defective product cases? Obviously, no. The same applies to personal injury cases (and a lot of things, actually): make sure that the lawyer is dedicated exclusively to resolving cases like yours. A simple general lawyer is not a good option.
Reputation: It is true that reputation (such as fame) can be made by morally detestable methods, so a lawyer with a wide reputation is not necessarily the most appropriate. However, a reputable lawyer is always preferable to a non-reputable lawyer. You can corroborate the lawyer’s reputation. You may find references from your own community or from people you trust deeply, such as friends or family.
Time in practice: A personal injury lawyer who doesn’t have much time in practice is an attorney who doesn’t have the experience or knowledge to ensure a victory in a personal injury case (especially considering how delicate they are). Therefore, a condition sine qua non is that the candidate must be a professional with many years of legal practice.
Behavioral record: Another essential parameter, but at the same time ignored and unnoticed, is the conduct record. By reviewing these files, you can see how the lawyer has behaved throughout his or her period of practice; you can see if complaints or grievances have been filed against him or her; and you can also see if the lawyer has not been reprimanded (license suspension, etc.). Conduct registers can be found on the Internet; most states have them uploaded. At least in California, you can review this information at the State Bar. All you have to do is enter the lawyer’s number and you will see on screen everything concerning his conduct during his years of work.
Courtroom experience: As we discussed in the first part of this article, one of the virtues of a personal injury lawyer is that he or she has come a long way through the courts. A lawyer with extensive court experience knows the workings, dynamics and movement within courts. He or she also knows judges and prosecutors, so he or she can exert more influence on them and thus position the case in your favor.
Case statistics: Last but not least, a review of the results of all the cases handled by the lawyer, i. e. statistics regarding victories (successes) and defeats (failures). Ideally, the professional should have very balanced statistics towards victories, as it is very problematic a lawyer who has numerous successful cases but at the same time has a multitude of failed cases. Balance toward success is essential to choosing a good personal injury attorney.
3) Personal references
Once you have written down all the parameters required for the process of selecting your lawyer, it’s time to start questioning your family, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and others about good personal injury lawyers. This stage of questioning can be called the search for personal references.
Naturally, personal references generate more self-confidence than reputation or fame. As we said before, reputation can be created artificially, while personal references cannot. There’s no conflict of interest between you and a friend. There is no reason why your friend, family member, etc., would lie to you about the lawyer he recommended. That is why lawyers who have multiple personal references are usually the ones who make you feel more confident.
Keep in mind that finding personal references is something that adds up some points. It’s an advantage, a plus. But you cannot and should not be guided by it exclusively. If a close friend recommends a lawyer, you should not hire that lawyer immediately. You have to analyze him properly and evaluate if he fits the requirements.
We have explained 3 stages of the inquiry process for candidates to be your personal injury attorney, but they are not the only ones. In another article, we will discuss the other stages as well as the other guidelines that must be rigorously followed if you want to get advice from a highly skilled personal injury attorney.