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Seeking compensation for an injury can be a stressful ordeal if you go it alone. You’re probably unsure of your legal footing and negotiating a claim with insurance companies is no easy feat. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer solves these problems. A good lawyer can clarify your rights, negotiate skillfully, and win you a much larger settlement.
But you have to choose the right attorney. It’s unwise to hire just any lawyer or pick one of the ambulance chasers who offer their services to every accident victim they can find. The wrong legal representation could lose your case or win a settlement that’s too small to cover all your medical bills and other costs. With this in mind, let’s look at how to find the very best personal injury lawyer possible.
The first step is to search online for personal injury attorneys in your town. Bar associations are a great place to begin. These are the organizations that regulate local lawyers and discipline any who break the Code of Professional Responsibility.
In Kansas City, you have the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association and also the Kansas Bar Association. All the region’s best personal injury attorneys will be members. To find potential candidates for your case, contact these associations or use the “find a lawyer” feature on their website.
As with most services, a recommendation from someone you know goes a long way. Personal injury law cases are pretty common, and you might be surprised how many people you know have experienced their own personal injury claims. A friend, coworker, or family member might be able to point you to an excellent lawyer.
There are all kinds of personal injury cases. The most common are auto accident injuries. You also have medical malpractice, product liability, wrongful death, slip and fall accidents, and many other case types. It’s usually best to collect the details of personal injury lawyers who deal with your particular type of accident because they’ll usually have more relevant legal know-how and experience.
Your next step is to request an initial consultation with each lawyer on your list. These consultations are almost always free of charge. While interviewing each attorney, don’t hesitate to ask plenty of questions, and look for the following qualities:
Law is complex, but good personal injury lawyers can simplify and clarify it for their clients. When they explain their fees, experience, methods, and how things will proceed, you should be able to understand without any trouble.
They should also be happy to answer all of your questions clearly and openly. During the consultation, if you start feeling lost, mystified, or frustrated, consider it a red flag.
Almost all personal injury lawyers charge on a “no win, no fee” basis. This means when you win, the insurance company pays both you and your lawyer’s legal fees. If you don’t win the case, your lawyer doesn’t get paid.
Ask each lawyer what percentage of the settlement amount they take as a fee. This will usually be between 20 and 40 percent. The best attorneys usually charge a higher percentage; they’re also much more likely to win you a larger settlement.
Make sure that any expenses accrued during the legal proceedings are included in the “no win, no fee” contingency arrangement. These out-of-pocket expenses include routine tasks like copying, printing, postage, and court filing fees.
You’re also likely to have investigation costs, expert witness fees, deposition costs, and more. Whatever the agreement for covering expenses, ensure you know how it works and what will happen if your case is won or lost. Most personal injury lawyers will be fine with this arrangement.
Personal injury attorneys never agree to represent plaintiffs when they aren’t very sure of winning. It’s therefore easy to assume that any lawyer willing to work with you has a great deal of confidence in your claim. But this doesn’t paint the whole picture.
You don’t simply want to win compensation; you want to win a fair and substantial amount: enough to account for all of your accident-related costs and suffering. With this in mind, ask potential lawyers how much they think your claim is worth, what strengths and weaknesses they see in it, and how confident they are of achieving that outcome. Ideally, you want to gain a sense that they’re ready and willing to fight to the end for maximum compensation.
Usually, a personal injury claim is negotiated and settled out of court, provided that the insurance company agrees to a fair settlement. But claimants occasionally need to file a personal injury lawsuit and take things before a judge and jury.
If this happens, you’ll want a lawyer by your side who knows how to handle court cases. Ask potential attorneys if they take trials to court, how often they’ve done so before with cases similar to yours, and what their success rate is with jury cases.
Many less experienced attorneys rarely or never take proceedings are far as the courtroom because they can earn a decent living settling cases as quickly as possible. But this strategy weakens their hand during settlement negotiations.
The insurance company and defense lawyer opposing your claim will know whether or not your chosen law firm and personal injury attorney have a reputation for taking cases to court. If they see you’ve hired a lawyer who’s willing to go all the way, they’re more likely to agree to a larger settlement.
Most lawyers should be ready to share a few success stories from the personal injury cases of past clients. Ideally, they’ll be able to tell you about a recent personal injury claim or two that were very similar to yours.
Attorney/client privilege won’t allow them to share specific details, but the broad strokes of a previous case will give you an idea of the lawyer’s style and what you can expect from working with them. If an attorney can’t share any success stories, consider it a red flag.
Experienced lawyers should also be happy to provide references and testimonials from past clients. Even before you approach a personal injury attorney, search their website for testimonials, reviews, and details of case outcomes.
More often than not, the best attorney you speak to will have the highest quality references and plenty of clients singing their praises. Again, look for reference cases with accidents similar to yours where the claimant was awarded excellent compensation. And if any personal injury lawyer you meet is hesitant or unwilling to provide references, look for the nearest exit.
Ask each personal injury lawyer you meet roughly what percentage of their business comes from other lawyers. Experienced and well-reputed attorneys in any field of law exchange a good deal of referral business.
While lawyers commonly refer cases to each other, no attorney refers clients to someone they don’t trust to do a good job. For this reason, a lawyer’s referral is a valuable indicator of quality. The right personal injury lawyer for you will ideally get plenty of business from his or her peers.
Every personal injury lawyer you talk to will either be a sole practitioner or working with a law firm. Be aware that some firms will float an impressive senior partner during your initial consultation but then assign your personal injury case to a far less experienced lawyer.
This slightly crafty bait-and-switch tactic doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive poor representation or service. Just be sure to ask them about this in advance and then ask about the attorney you’ll be dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Request to meet that individual and find out how qualified and experienced they are.
Find out how much supervision and support a junior lawyer will receive from more senior attorneys at the firm. Neither a well-established firm nor a small firm seeking to make its name wants losses and unhappy clients dirtying up its track record, so your primary lawyer will often have access to supervision and support from senior lawyers: perhaps even from several lawyers. Personal injury lawyers work together on thorny cases at times in order to ensure a win for the team.
Make sure any lawyer you choose has time to dedicate sufficient personal attention to your personal injury case. Good lawyers are frequently in high demand, and they might have several other personal injury cases on the go at once.
Ask them how many cases they’re currently working on. Also, ask how often you can expect updates on your case, how long they expect your case to take, and how much time they’ll have to provide your case their personal attention in the coming months.
Finally, the right personal injury lawyer will show a great deal of interest in your case. You will be able to tell they are excited to take you on as a client, and they are motivated to fight for the best possible outcome. The most successful attorneys want to win and win big, for their clients and also for their own reputations, careers, and sense of professional pride.
A disinterested attorney is more likely to settle as quickly as possible, without putting up much of a fight, so they can collect their commission and move on to the next client. They’ll also be less pleasant to work with. And one crucial service a personal injury lawyer must provide is giving you moral support and a smoother, less stressful litigation journey. Needless to say, avoid disinterested attorneys like the plague.
Contact Wendt Law today at 816-542-6734 to have an excellent, highly motivated personal injury attorney fight your corner. Our award-winning team of attorneys has won over 1,000 personal injury cases. We’re committed to gaining you the full compensation you deserve.