Having a personal injury lawyer on your side when you’re dealing with the physical and emotional toll of a serious injury can make a huge difference in the outcome. It can be physically and mentally exhausting when you’re dealing with your recovery, the insurance company, and the legal system. Having an experienced lawyer to guide you through the legal process and ensure you get the compensation you are legally entitled to can make it all so much less stressful, but choosing a personal injury attorney can also be a confusing process.
It’s very important not to settle for just any lawyer. You need to find the best personal injury lawyer for your specific case in order to secure the compensation you are entitled to. Personal injury lawyers have a wide range of resources and experience, and ensuring that you choose a personal injury attorney and law firm that have the right resources to tackle your claim is crucial to having a successful outcome.
Do Your Homework On Personal Injury Lawyers
It can feel like a simple decision to call the first number you see on a billboard, but there are so many factors that can make the difference between a failed claim and a large settlement. It is worth your time to research personal injury firms in your area before hiring someone so you know you have the best personal injury attorney to support your claim.
Choosing a Personal Injury Law Firm
If a law firm handles a dozen different types of law, they may not see personal injury cases very often. That means they won’t have ready solutions and resources for challenges, and the process may take longer or get stalled.
Each type of personal injury claim needs a different approach. Most personal injury lawyers have a decent grasp of what needs to be done, but some will be much more prepared than others. Choosing a personal injury that is currently handling cases similar to your personal injury case will help ensure they are prepared to move quickly to make progress on your settlement or court case.
Lawyers within a law firm often share staff and resources, so law firms that specialize in personal injury cases are likely to also have highly-trained staff and contacts that can help find answers to your questions more quickly and can readily find good resolutions to inevitable problems along the way.
A good law practice will encourage its employees to seek continuing legal education to expand their collective specializations so they can help more people. Law firms that encourage their teams to grow will ultimately have better in-house resources, which can help reduce costs.
Look For an Experienced Lawyer with Extensive Trial Experience
If you find that you can’t reach a settlement, your case will likely end up in court. Personal injury litigation involves a specific set of skills, and experienced lawyers with proven track records of success in the courtroom are much more likely to convince a jury to award you what you deserve than those who rarely see the inside of a courtroom.
Choosing an experienced personal injury lawyer means they already have an understanding of the culture in the court system and will be more likely to have more productive interactions with the other lawyers and justices. If your attorney is well-regarded in the legal community, they are more likely to be treated with respect, which will be an advantage for your case.
Learn About Their Reputation in the Community
Lawyers commonly refer cases they aren’t equipped to handle to colleagues they have a good relationship with. As you ask around, if a law firm doesn’t handle your particular type of personal injury claim, ask them if they have any other lawyers they can recommend to you. A lawyer’s referral can tell you a lot about your chosen personal injury lawyer’s ability to work respectfully in an often-challenging system.
Talk to friends and family about their experience with personal injury lawyers and the experience of their friends. Find out who has a good reputation for treating people fairly and getting the job done. That’s an excellent starting point for understanding how an attorney relates to their clients.
If your prospective personal injury attorney has a good relationship with a number of former clients, right up to providing you with references, chances are good that they treat people well.
Find an Attorney Who Has Experience With Your Type of Personal Injury Case
If you have been in a bad car accident, there are different concerns than there would be if you were injured at work.
Many personal injury lawyers have specific areas of experience. If the attorney you’re considering has prior experience dealing with a similar personal injury lawsuit to yours, chances are good they will already know where to start and how to efficiently approach the problems they are already anticipating that they will need to solve.
Networking can be an important component of preparing a successful personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury attorneys often build teams of trusted advisors and professionals to help them navigate the details of the types of cases they handle. They may also have contacts in the justice system that can answer protocol questions or specific details that can help keep the chances of a case being thrown out on a technicality to a minimum.
They may already have relationships with expert witnesses, should you need them, and the best personal injury attorneys will understand the particular part of the insurance system you’re up against. Less experienced attorneys will be starting several steps behind.
Insurance companies tend to have entire herds of very experienced lawyers who spend most of their time fighting personal injury cases and who know every dirty trick in the book. Having an attorney who knows how they work can be a significant advantage for you.
Look Into Their Track Record
All the courtroom experience in the world won’t do any good if they lose more than they win. No one gets anything if they lose in this situation. The best personal injury attorney has been through a lot of cases, and they get results.
If an attorney has handled a sizable case, chances are decent it can be found on Google. There are also a number of paid databases you can search through for court records relevant to your prospective personal injury lawyer, if you’re inclined to be as thorough as possible.
You can check their website for testimonials from past clients, and you can ask your attorney about past cases and their results. A good personal injury lawyer will have a list of clients who are happy to talk to you.
Check That Your Attorney Is in Good Standing With the State Bar Association
The Missouri Bar Association maintains an online database of lawyers in good standing. The Official Missouri Directory of Lawyers allows you to search for your prospective lawyer to check if they are in good standing with the Supreme Court of Missouri. The search will also tell you if they are inactive.
Attorneys who are not in good standing are not included in the online database. Attorneys who are inactive or not in good standing are not able to practice law in Missouri, which means they are not allowed to handle your case.
If a particular lawyer is not listed, you need to make sure they are, in fact, legally allowed to represent plaintiffs in legal proceedings. Under no circumstances should you work with someone without a license in the state where you file.
Discuss Costs and Fees Ahead of Time
Contingency Fees vs Retainers
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. That means that the plaintiff doesn’t have to pay anything unless they win a settlement or award from a jury. Traditional retainer fee structures pay attorneys an hourly rate and are practical in situations where you know there will be as few costs as possible. Personal injury cases are often involved and require resources to put together, so they would typically be prohibitive for most plaintiffs, leading to the contingency fee agreement.
A contingency fee agreement is typically recovered as a percentage of the amount won in the case or settlement. Since many claimants would be unable or unwilling to pay fees and wages out of their regular income, it offers a possibility of a significant payout for both parties, with minimal risk for the injured party or for the lawyer.
Costs Are Variable But Significant
Depending on the nature of the claim and how complex it is, costs can build up quickly. Between filing fees, the cost of staff to prepare the case, expert witness fees, fees to retrieve medical records, and potentially much more, the amount a law firm lays out ahead of the settlement can be substantial, and that may be reflected in the percentage that is requested in final compensation.
The key point here is that you need to know ahead of time what the costs are and roughly what percentage they’ll need to offset that so that it’s not a shock when you see the math at the end. A high percentage isn’t necessarily a bad thing if that means that the law firm is planning to throw a lot of time and resources into winning your case, and a good lawyer can explain that.
Unscrupulous lawyers may be vague about the percentage and expectations of how involved your legal action will be. You’ll want to watch for signs that they are not being straightforward or misstating the percentage they will take.
Consider the Law Firm’s Proposed Timeline for Your Claim
Smaller personal injury law firms may have a more personal touch, and you may have better access to your personal injury attorney if you have questions about your claim. But they are also likely to have less help with your case, which could ultimately mean a longer timeframe for resolution.
Discuss how long they expect your case to take. They should be experienced enough in similar cases that they can put together a reasonable estimate of how long you should anticipate it to take for everything to get resolved so you can (ideally) get paid.
This is particularly important if you need a settlement to resolve medical bills or other expenses. Bear in mind that if the law firm underestimates how much time they need, that may affect your ability to handle your financial obligations in the meantime, so finding a law group that you feel you can trust can make a big difference to how badly this injury affects your life.
Meet Your Attorney Face-to-Face
If you have a good candidate personal injury lawyer, set up an initial consultation to discuss your case. It’s important that you feel comfortable talking to your attorney and that they can explain things to you in a way that you understand what’s going on and what needs to happen.
You don’t need to be friends with your legal representation, but you should feel mutual respect. You don’t want to feel like you’re bothering them when you have questions or updates about your case or when you are requesting information or updates. You will be interacting with your lawyer a lot while you’re working on your personal injury case together, so your lawyer’s style is an important factor.
Do they actually seem interested, like they care about your well-being? The right lawyer cares about you and not just the bottom line and will be more invested in the outcome of your case.
Consider Your Personal Injury Claims From Multiple Angles
If you were injured using a product that was not clearly labeled, you need an attorney who can recover your losses from both your and the manufacturer’s insurance companies and potentially the manufacturer themselves.
If the manufacturer failed to issue warnings to protect consumers, they may have a liability issue on a larger scale, with many potential injuries to future customers to consider. Their insurance company may be willing to settle with you to avoid the publicity, and the best personal injury lawyers will be ready to negotiate aggressively with them.
Specific Product Specialists
You may find personal injury lawyers that have handled several cases involving injury from a specific product. That can be a significant advantage simply because they will already have a network of knowledgeable experts to help you establish the basis of your claim. The manufacturer may also already be familiar with your attorney and may have already conceded in a similar case, giving you a significant advantage.
Common Products Vulnerable to Liability Claims
Medical equipment or devices are particularly vulnerable to liability concerns because they can cause so much pain and damage when they fail. Similarly, when medications fail, they often result in sickness, pain, or loss of health.
When a vehicle fails, the consequences can be catastrophic injuries and even death to multiple people. So, when they fail even to a lesser degree, it is a serious cause for concern. If you were in a car accident that might have been caused by equipment failure, the manufacturer may have liability exposure.
If guidelines are not completely followed in the process of manufacturing and marketing children’s toys, they can cause injuries to some of the most vulnerable of our society, and few people look kindly upon that, making it a liability nightmare for the companies involved.
Home power tools are frequently used by inexperienced homeowners. Safety precautions are an integral part of the manufacturing process. If safety guidelines are unclear or safety protection devices are missing or ineffective, manufacturers may be responsible for injuries or damage resulting from their failure or misuse.
Most often, product liability claims are filed based on strict liability or breach of warranty.
Liability involves failure by the manufacturer to manage the danger of using the product as intended or failure to test adequately to uncover potential dangers. Even if the manufacturer did not intend for the product to be used in a dangerous way, they could be held liable.
Breach of warranty is when a product fails and causes harm before the expected end of its lifetime. An express warranty is when a manufacturer claims that a product will act as described for a specified time period, while an implied warranty is a reasonable expectation a consumer would have that a product would be functional without harm. Violations of either can leave a manufacturer open to liability problems.
Personal injury attorneys are experienced in determining which approach is the most appropriate and most likely to result in a successful claim.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Property owners are responsible for maintaining their buildings and grounds so that visitors can use them safely. If a guest slips and falls due to a failure of maintenance or safety precautions, they may be liable for the often serious injuries caused by such falls and vulnerable to personal injury claims.
There will be medical bills, insurance companies, and property owners to deal with after you slip and fall. Accident victims are often in pain and struggle to move a claim forward, so it’s crucial that you contact your personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to ensure you don’t lose track of vital information that could help your case.
Burns are frequently catastrophic injuries that impact a victim significantly for the rest of their life. Burn injury victims may be dealing with pain and disfigurement, loss of work, and psychological trauma, among other things.
If you were burned due to negligence, including failure to properly maintain the property according to fire codes, you’d need to deal with doctors, insurance companies, and potentially the business or building owner who failed to prevent the fire.
Early medical intervention is key to the best recovery outcome possible for burn victims. Hiring the right personal injury lawyer as soon as you can helps ensure you have access to necessary medical interventions early, when you need them most, rather than fighting your insurance company for approval every step of the way.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you cut through a lot of that red tape so you can focus on healing.
Electric Shock Injuries
If a building’s electrical systems have not been built and maintained up to electrical code, it can result in serious injury from electric shock or burns from an electrical fire, including fatal injuries to a loved one.
If an appliance, faulty wiring, or another electrical hazard causes harm, the building owner and manufacturer may be liable for the failure. Personal injury lawyers can help line up engineers and safety experts to assess the problem and help get compensation for what was lost.
Construction Site Accidents
Construction sites are inherently dangerous places, which is why we have extensive safety rules and regulations to prevent injury or death. When those laws are circumvented or overlooked, accidents are frequently the result.
Both workers and visitors are susceptible to injury in a construction zone with poor safety measures in place. Personal injury cases have been successful against a wide range of safety failures on construction sites, including equipment failures, falls, electrocution, and from issues like chemical spills or debris.
A good personal injury lawyer will quickly put together all the components into a cohesive personal injury claim that will secure you the resources you need.
In any personal injury case, the ultimate result of a tragic and catastrophic accident can be death. The victim may leave behind a spouse and children who are unprepared for life without them, both financially and emotionally.
There will be a long list of extra expenses in the case of wrongful death, like funeral costs, end-of-life care planners, therapy costs for survivors, outstanding debts and costs for settling the victim’s estate, and more. Personal injury law firms are experienced in seeking fair compensation for the unexpected and tragic loss of a loved one in an accident.
Nursing Home Negligence
It can be incredibly painful to leave a loved one in long-term care. You have to trust the people who are employed at the facilities, and when they turn out to be untrustworthy, your vulnerable loved one can be the one who is harmed. Watching them suffer because of someone else’s negligence is extraordinarily painful.
A personal injury lawsuit can both compensate you and/or your loved one for that harm and force the facility to change its behavior so the harm is stopped for other current and future residents. In cases like this, the injury victims are often incapable of speaking up for themselves, and that’s where good private injury lawyers can step in to be their voice.
Nursing home abuse may be an issue of a single bad actor or systemic neglect. It’s important to address both the person responsible and the institution to affect change and recover losses.
Insurance companies also need to be held liable for oversight, as they are often complicit in funding these situations with very little verification that what they are paying out is actually being provided to the residents.
There may be issues of negligent facility maintenance, poor training, inadequate supplies, or any number of other complications. This is where the right lawyer’s experience can make all the difference in the world. When they have seen what can go wrong in these places, it is much easier to anticipate what needs to be investigated and added to the personal injury lawsuit. Less experienced attorneys might miss important details or connections that could make or break the case down the road.
Car accident cases often result in tragedy and long-term damage for those involved. The right lawyer can adeptly handle both the property damage to the car and the scene of the accident and ensure that any short- or long-term injuries get the care they need.
There is also often mental pain and suffering as a result of the trauma that comes with a violent car crash. No one should be forced to relive that moment, and getting access to the right therapeutic resources can change that.
You may want to contact your injury lawyer before you even file the police report. Errors in reporting can cause issues with your ability to recover damages from the accident. Your insurance company may question the validity of your account if there are discrepancies in the report.
You’ll need an injury lawyer who also handles vehicle accident cases to ensure you get both the immediate financial recovery to get your car repaired or replaced and also someone who has seen the long-term effect common after a car accident who will help you follow through to get the care you may need, and that your insurance company pays for it.
Choosing the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
Choosing a personal injury lawyer can feel like a daunting task. It’s often difficult to maintain your perspective about your own personal injury claims, but the best personal injury lawyers can help you do that while they get you a fair settlement.
Personal injury cases can take a massive toll on you and your family’s life, but when you choose a personal injury lawyer that handles personal injury cases like yours frequently, it makes it much easier to balance out your medical needs, your insurance company, and recovering the financial losses you’ve incurred as a result of your injury.
A good team of experienced and aggressive lawyers can help you recover what you’ve lost. Call Holman Schiavone Law, LLC today at 816-320-6108 to set up a free initial consultation about your case.