What to Look for in a Personal Injury Attorney After an Auto Accident

When deciding which personal injury attorney to work with after an accident, do not take the decision lightly. Not only could the decision mean thousands of dollars more or less in your bank account upon settlement, it could also mean the difference between sleepless nights wondering “did I screw up this decision” to sleeping like a baby knowing you are in good hands.

Here is what to look for when making your decision of who to work with as a personal injury attorney.

1. Do not look for the biggest billboard you can find and make your decision based off of that criteria. This attorney may not be the one best suited for you, and also may be too busy to handle your case “hands on” enough. You may be pushed off completely on to a junior associate who does not have the experience or free mindedness to do what is right for you. He or she may have scripted mandates from the firm telling what to do, and that script may not be in your best interest.

2. Ask for referrals from friends or family who have had claims. What better way to find out about actual experiences and outcomes?

3. What is the track record of your attorney at recovering damages? You want a proven track record and an attorney who is not afraid of standing up for you enough to take your case to court if necessary. Ask questions about results and court cases.

4. Professional organizations. Which ones does the prospective attorney belong to?

5. Does the attorney charge a fee upfront for the case? Some do, some don’t. Having the attorney work on contingency will effectively give him or her “skin in the game” and make the outcome that much more important.

6. How much experience does the attorney have in personal injury and what percentage of his or her practice does it compromise? If it’s a hobby in the scope of the practice, keep looking.

7. Attorney’s philosophy. If the philosophy appears to be sign up as many as absolutely possible and then push off on the junior associate, keep looking. If the philosophy is to work closely with you and then the law firm takes a “hit” at the end of the case to get you a better settlement, then finish the meeting!

8. Avoid firms employing contract runners. You should sit face to face with the lawyer you are hiring to discuss your case and sign the contract for representation. This could be the most important meeting you will have with your attorney. Some higher volume firms utilize contract runners, and may refer to them as “investigators”. You should not agree to a contract runner and insist on meeting with your lawyer prior to hiring. Contract runners are usually not lawyers, and therefore not allowed to answer any legal questions you may have about the contract or the representation.

9. Ask the attorney if he or she will reduce their fees.

A personal injury attorney may make more money at the end of the case than the client. Doesn’t sound fair does it? This happens when the attorney takes his full one third fee, and then medical bills take up the rest of the settlement. The client may not even break even and have money still owed on medical bills! You should ask if they will cut their fee at the end of the case so that this will not happen. If the lawyer is unwilling to do this, consider hiring a law firm that will.

10. Ask if your attorney will handle your property damage claim for free.

If your case includes a property damage claim (vehicle) ask your attorney if they will handle this for free, assist with getting a rental vehicle, and take care of dealing with the insurance company that is paying for the issues with your vehicle.