Top 3 Tips for Choosing the Right Personal Injury Lawyer - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Top 3 Tips for Choosing the Right Personal Injury Lawyer

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You or a loved one has been hurt in an accident. Now what?

Most people know to work with an insurance company. But did you know cooperating with an insurer without hiring a lawyer could work against you? That’s especially true if you’re talking with the other party’s insurer.

If you believe another person or business is at fault, you can expect their insurance company to look for a reason to deny your claim or limit your settlement. That company doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

By hiring a personal injury lawyer, you have someone focused on what you need. An attorney will protect your rights during the insurance claim process and help you maximize your compensation.

But hiring the right personal injury lawyer takes effort. You’ll need to do some research online and through friends and family.

Tip 1: Check Their Credentials

When researching a firm or individual lawyer, there are several credentials to consider, such as:

  • Years of experience;
  • Specialty certifications from a bar association or trusted organization;
  • Industry recognition and awards;
  • Client reviews; and
  • Case results.

Reviewing a lawyer’s credentials means looking at the results they’ve obtained over the years. Some personal injury lawyers achieve a great deal in a short time. You shouldn’t necessarily discount attorneys with fewer years of experience. A younger attorney also might be backed by a wealth of experience at their firm.

Lawyers can go through some specialty certification programs depending on where they practice. Not all states or areas of law have these programs. But they’re good to look for as they demonstrate a lawyer’s dedication to a certain practice area.

Industry recognitions and awards shouldn’t be your deciding factor. Many successful lawyers don’t advertise these online. But they can indicate how effective and successful an attorney’s been over the years.

You may see lawyers advertise recognition from:

  • SuperLawyers,
  • Rising Stars,
  • Martindale-Hubbell,
  • Best Lawyers,
  • Avvo,
  • American Bar Association,
  • American Association for Justice,
  • The National Trial Lawyers,
  • American College of Trial Lawyers,
  • Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame,
  • National Law Journal,
  • Bell Society Mel Award,
  • Benchmark Litigation,
  • U.S. Business News Top 100,
  • Who’s Who,
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum,
  • Attorney.com,
  • National Association of Distinguished Counsel,
  • American Society of Legal Advocates, and
  • The National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys. 

Instead of weighing awards too heavily, focus on a lawyer’s online reviews. Many lawyers have reviews on Google, Yelp, and Avvo. Look at what people had to say about how the personal injury attorneys handled their cases and helped them.

Tip 2: Meet in Person & Ask Questions

Finding the right personal injury lawyer is about more than experience and results. Your case might get contentious or take longer than expected. You want the lawyer fighting for you to be someone you like and trust because it will make the process a little easier.

The personal injury attorneys at McCleery Law Firm highly recommend talking with a possible lawyer in person or, until the COVID-19 pandemic is resolved, virtually. Many personal injury law firms offer free initial consultations. There’s no risk in talking about your situation, the law that applies, and your rights.

The in-person or virtual consultation is also the perfect opportunity to ask the lawyer questions about their experience.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Have you handled cases involving similar accidents to mine?
  • Have you handled cases involving similar injuries to mine?
  • What were the results in similar cases?
  • Did you take any of those cases to trial?

It’s also a good time to get to know how your attorney works. Ask about their caseload, preferred method of communication, and availability. You want an attorney who can talk with you when and how you like, whether that’s picking up the phone or sending a text.

Tip 3: Review Their Fee Agreement

An attorney’s fees shouldn’t necessarily be your deciding factor. But it would be unrealistic to tell you to ignore them. You should always review a personal injury lawyer’s fee agreement before deciding who to work with.

All you have to do is ask for a copy of the fee arrangement. An Ohio personal injury lawyer should show you the agreement in writing. If they waffle or say you don’t need to see it yet, that’s a red flag, and you should work with someone else.

Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay anything up front, and the firm doesn’t charge hourly fees. Instead, you pay the lawyer a percentage of your settlement or court award. The lawyer’s fee has to be reasonable based on the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.5.

You don’t pay the lawyer if they don’t win you compensation. This arrangement makes sure that anyone can access personal injury representation.

A contingency fee seems simple, but arrangements vary. Not all personal injury attorneys handle them the same way, so you should learn the particulars.

You’ll want to know the percentage the lawyer receives. About one-fourth to one-third of a financial recovery is common, but it can depend on the type and complexity of the case. The final percentage also might depend on how far the lawyer takes your case, such as to a pre-trial settlement or through trial.

You should review how the lawyer handles your court costs. They pay for various things like filing fees, expert witness fees, and deposition transcripts. Many lawyers deduct these costs from your recovery first, then take their fee. You also need to know if you’re liable for any of these costs even if you lose.

Quick Review: How to Find the Right Personal Injury Lawyer

To sum it up quickly, you should:

  • Review a lawyer’s experience, awards, case results, and client reviews;
  • Schedule a consultation and have your questions ready; and
  • Read a lawyer’s fee arrangement carefully.

Finding the right personal injury attorney is all about finding someone with experience winning cases similar to yours and whom you trust.


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