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Choosing a Good Personal Injury Lawyer

Working with the right lawyer can make a large difference in the conclusion of your personal injury claim, which makes selecting the right lawyer a crucial decision. Most attorneys specializing in personal injury law are inclined to represent but one side of these types of cases – the plaintiff (the person who has been injured) or the defendant (the person or entity who allegedly has caused the injury). Word of mouth and personal recommendations are often the best place to start searching for a lawyer. Web resources are also a good starting point for creating an initial list of candidates to consider.

Whittling It Down

Regardless of your source, you need to trim down that list to three or four candidates with the help of these criteria:
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> Biographical Information – Learn about the lawyer’s background. Does he seem to have expertise in the kind of personal injury claim you have? His profile must offer a picture of the types of cases he often handles (and which side he’s on). If it seems hard to tell, you can always call the office and ask. Check for other information that you can in these lawyers’ websites. The more you know about them, the better.
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> Professional Associations – Find out if the attorney belongs to any national, state or local trial lawyers’ associations.

> Location – If you have a working relationship with a certain attorney who practices in another area, ask for names of some worthwhile prospects in the local scene.

> Professional Standing – Call your state bar association or take a look at their website to determine whether the lawyer you are eyeing is in good standing.

> Conflicts of Interest

Does the attorney represent any person who may be affiliated with any of the parties you are thinking of suing, or any person with an interest in the case outcome? Once you’ve trimmed down your list of prospects, ask them each about a consultation . There’s no need to strike a lawyer off your list if he can’t meet 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, read the contract before singing it as you may still need to pay for costs (not included in legal fees) such as court stenographer or expert witness fees, photocopying fees, and so on.