If you go to the Yellow Pages, and even to lawyer sites on the Web, you might think that all personal injury lawyers are the same. After all, their ads and Web sites certainly look a lot alike, and many say the same thing: free consultation, we work hard for you, etc.
So, how do you find the personal injury lawyer who is right for you and your case? Often, when people move to a new city, one of the first things they do is find a new doctor and a new dentist for their family. However, they don’t usually go out to find a new personal injury lawyer — they don’t need one.
You probably didn’t ask that question before you were injured in an accident. After all, it’s not like you got up in the morning knowing you were going to be injured and need a personal injury lawyer to help you. After all, people don’t need a personal injury lawyer until after they have been hurt by someone else.
Finding the lawyer who is right for you and your case is very important. You and your lawyer will be working together for many months, and you should have someone who “fits” you. Here are some ideas to help you successfully find the right attorney for you.
- Think about what you want in the lawyer who you will hire to help you with this problem.Do you want someone who is in a particular geographical area so you won’t need to drive very far to meet her at the office? Do you want someone who drives a fancy car? Is it necessary to you that your lawyer shares a specific religious philosophy with you? Do you care if the lawyer is male or female? Does it matter to you whether your first meeting will be with the lawyer who is going to handle your case? Do you want a lawyer with lots of cases because that must mean the lawyer knows what she’s doing?
What kind of person can you work with best? Do you want someone sympathetic and empathetic who is also forceful and optimistic? Or, must your perfect lawyer be organized and available? Is it most important to you that your lawyer update you often?
Decide ahead of time what kind of lawyer you want to work with.
There are hundreds of competent personal injury lawyers in Virginia, so you have many to choose from. Be prepared to find the one who’s best for you.
- Ask someone you know and trust for a referral. If a family member or trusted friend has had experience with a personal injury attorney, they will probably be happy to tell you about that experience — good or bad. If you were injured in an accident with an18-wheeler truck, ask your family member or the trusted friend if the personal injury lawyer they had handles that kind of case.
This is an excellent way to start your search. If no one in your family or circle of close friends has a referral for you, ask your hairdresser/barber or people in your religious community or children’s school or even at the grocery store. Even if you don’t know these people very well, if they have someone to tell you about, that’s a better start than just a random call to someone whose ad you see on TV or in the Yellow Pages without any personal reference at all.
- Call the lawyer’s office and talk to the person who answers the phone.See if you are comfortable with the answers to your questions and the way the office is set up to respond to people who call with a problem. If you don’t like what you hear and how you are treated on the first call, you probably won’t like it any better over time.
- Ask the lawyer about her experience handling cases like yours.You want someone who mainly represents people who have been injured by someone else who was at fault. Did your family member die from the injuries? (This is called a wrongful death case.) Were you seriously hurt by falling merchandise in a store? Did you fall because of a defect in the premises? Did a doctor make a severe error during surgery? Was your child injured on the playground? Just like you wouldn’t go to an orthopedist for colon surgery, you need a lawyer with expertise in handling personal injury cases.
Also, some lawyers who advertise for injury cases don’t go to court; they settle all their claims. A good trial lawyer does solve cases. But, if the insurance company will not make a fair offer, a good trial lawyer will take your case to trial. Insurance companies know who is afraid to try a case and who is not. Be sure to find out if the lawyer you are talking to tries claims in court.
WHAT THE RIGHT LAWYER WILL DO FOR YOU
If you or a family member has been injured and someone else is at fault, you have many things to be taken care of —most importantly, healing your injuries.
You have many questions about the future: “How will the bills get paid? What will happen if I’m out of work and can’t pay my bills? What if I need more treatment in the years to come? How will I get around now that I have this permanent injury?” This is a scary and frustrating time.
When you hire the right personal injury or medical malpractice lawyer to represent you in your injury case, she will answer these questions and take many burdens off your shoulders. Your injury attorney should provide you valuable service such as these:
- The lawyer’s office will do a thorough investigation of the events that led to the injury. Witnesses will be contacted and interviewed. If the incident is a truck accident or car accident, she and her staff will go to the scene to find out exactly what happened. Photographs will be taken of the scene, the vehicles, and the injuries. If the incident is a medical malpractice case, the lawyer will find an expert in the same field to explain what the doctor or hospital did wrong and testify on your behalf.
- The lawyer and the staff will take over the job of talking to the insurance companies for you. Insurance companies often call the injured person or his family and ask detailed questions about what happened. Sometimes, they call many times. These calls not only interrupt your life, but they also cause you worry and stress. Insurance companies know correctly what to do and how to do it because they do it all the time. You don’t know how to deal with them and their requests for information. An injury lawyer will do this for you. Once you hire a lawyer, insurance companies are not allowed to speak to you again.
- The lawyer’s staff is trained to gather all the medical records that will prove the extent of the injury. Injury lawyers are accustomed to dealing with doctors and hospitals to get the medical evidence necessary to show the harm.
- The lawyer will bring the case to a conclusion. Once you are finished treating for your injuries or the doctor can establish what your future condition will be, the lawyer will begin negotiating with the insurance company to try to get your case resolved without having to file a lawsuit. However, if the case cannot be settled, the lawyer will file the lawsuit in court. A claim that is presented in court will take many more months to get concluded, but an injury or medical malpractice lawyer who goes to court and tries circumstances can give you the best advice about how to handle your particular situation.
And, all along the way, if s/he is the right lawyer for you, s/he will keep you informed of what is going on in your case. Sometimes, there won’t be much happening. Other times, the lawyer and his/her staff will be very busy on your case, getting it ready for the next step.
Recovering from an injury caused by someone else is never pleasant. But, when you have the lawyer who is right for you working for you, the whole process will be more tolerable.