An injury can throw your entire life out-of-whack. You may need time off of work, or have to see specialists for your injuries. You may need to find in-home care for a loved one, or a long-term babysitter for your children. You could be facing bills from a mechanic, or fighting with your insurance company about how much they’ll cover for your rental costs.
It can be a lot to handle. The stress of choosing an attorney can add to that, at a time when additional stress is, literally, the last thing you need. That is why we wanted to discuss what to look for in a personal injury lawyer – and what to avoid.
Doing research is important
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to hiring a lawyer (for an injury or for any reason) is to hire the first firm you see. We know that you probably want to get this part over quickly, but a little bit of time – especially if you have a spouse, partner, friend, or loved one to help you – can make a really big difference. Here are a few things you should look for and ask, either on the firm’s website or during a free initial consultation:
- How long have you been practicing personal injury law? An attorney might have 25 years of experience, but if 24 of them are in something other than plaintiffs’ personal injury, he or she might not be a good fit.
- Do you ever go to trial? Most people don’t want to go to trial; they’d prefer to get a fair settlement, and move on with their lives. But sometimes, the only way to get that fair award is to take a case to trial. Trials are not easy, and experience in a courtroom really matters. If the attorney prepares every case as if he or she might go to trial, you could get a better, more just settlement offer without ever having to set foot in a courtroom, too.
- Who will I talk with about my case? There are a lot of firms out there with really big names, and really big staffs. They’re good at what they do, but their clients might not even speak with an attorney until the day their cases settle. You want to make sure that if you hire an attorney, you’ll work with an attorney from the start of your case until the end.
- What do other people have to say? Word-of-mouth is a strong testament to a firm’s abilities. If you have friends and family who recommend a lawyer, schedule a meeting. If the firm has a lot of strong reviews – especially reviews that include a little write-up about the person’s experience – you can get a pretty good idea of what working with the firm and its attorneys will be like.
- What kinds of settlements and verdicts do you get? It’s always a good idea to see what kinds of case results the attorneys get, and for what kinds of cases. Sometimes, the descriptions need to be a little vague for confidentiality reasons, but you can see what kinds of work the firm normally handles.
- Are you close by? Remember that you’re going to need to meet with your attorney sometimes. Choosing a lawyer who is close to where you work or live may be beneficial to you. If you live in Huntsville and work in Union Hill, or live in Madison and work over in Decatur, then hiring an attorney from Mobile might not be best for you. You want someone who is familiar with the area: its roads, its local hospitals, its unsafe sidewalks, its construction zones. If you’re too injured to travel, you want an attorney who can make the trip to you when necessary, too.
What to avoid when hiring a personal injury lawyer
If you’ve narrowed down your search to a dozen or so attorneys, it is time to start weeding out the ones who may not be a good fit for your needs. Remember that every area of the law is different, so these tips may not always apply to an attorney who practices another type of law. Generally speaking, though, you should avoid:
- Firms which use shared workspaces or “virtual” offices, where proper security measures may not be in place to protect your information
- Firms which do not call you back, even after repeated calls from you
- Firms which won’t allow you to read and review their contracts before you sign
- Firms with unaddressed or unresolved complaints lodged against them with the Better Business Bureau or the Bar Associations
- Firms with high turnover rates for attorneys
The biggest “red flag,” however, is your instinct. If you feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or unheard during a consultation, then the firm is not a good fit for you.
Living with an injury is challenging. Choosing the right Huntsville injury lawyer need not be. At Martin & Helms, you’re treated like a person, not a case. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney whose name is on the front door, please call 256-539-1990 or complete our contact form. We proudly serve clients in Huntsville, Decatur, Madison, Athens, and throughout North Alabama.