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Choosing a Good Personal Injury Lawyer Hiring the right lawyer can make a huge difference in the outcome of your personal injury claim, which makes picking the right lawyer a critical decision. Most attorneys who focus on personal injury law represent only one side of these kinds of cases – the plaintiff (the individual who was injured) or the defendant (the person or entity alleged to have caused the injury). Generally, personal recommendations and word of mouth are the best place to begin a search for a lawyer. Internet resources are also a great jump-off off point for making an initial list of prospects to get in touch with. Whittling It Down Regardless of where you found your prospects, you’ll want to trim down that list to three or four using the following criteria:
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> Biographical Information – Learn about the lawyer’s background. Does it seem like he has expertise in your type of personal injury claim? His profile must reflect the kinds of cases he usually takes up (and which side). If you can’t seem to tell, call the office directly and inquire. See what other information you can find in these lawyers’ websites. The more you know about them, the better.
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> Professional Associations – Determine whether the lawyer is part of any national, state or local trial lawyers’ associations. > Location – If you have a working relationship with a lawyer whose practice is based in another area, ask for names of some good local prospects. > Professional Standing – Visit the lawyer’s website or call your state bar association to know if the lawyer you’re interested in is in good standing. > Conflicts of Interest Does the lawyer represent anybody who might be affiliated with any of the parties you are planning to sue, or anybody who may have an interest in the result of the case? Once you’ve trimmed down your list of prospects, ask them each about a consultation . You don’t have to cross a lawyer off your list simply because he doesn’t have the time for an appointment with you on short notice. It’s natural for good personal injury lawyers to be busy. Money Issues Most personal injury claim scenarios allow you to hire an attorney on a “contingency fee” basis. This simply means that the lawyer will be paid a percentage – about one-third – of any settlement or court award you get, and if you don’t get any, he won’t be paid his legal fees too. In any case, you have to read the contract before signing it, and understand that you may still have to pay for costs associated with your case (which are separate from legal fees), like expert witness fees, court stenographer fees, etc.