If you have been injured, a personal injury lawyer can help you pursue a case against the negligent party or parties. A lawyer can handle the lawsuit, prepare your case for court, and help you settle a claim.
There are thousands of personal injury lawyers in the state of California. A quick Google search will likely yield results with dozens of lawyers near you. With so many options, it can be difficult to find the lawyer best suited to manage your case.
Let’s discuss strategies you can use to find a personal injury lawyer.
Here are 5 steps that you can take to find a personal injury lawyer.
It can be difficult to identify a good personal injury lawyer, especially if this is the first time you need to pursue a case. You are probably unfamiliar with law firms near you, and you might ask yourself “what constitutes a good personal injury lawyer?”
If you do not know where to start looking for a lawyer, turn to the web and do some research. Here are 5 tips to help you in your initial search for a personal injury lawyer:
1: Make sure the lawyer practices law in your state. If you live in California, and you were injured in California, then you need a personal injury lawyer who is legally allowed to practice law in California. This might seem obvious, but the first thing to double check is that the lawyer(s) you find in your initial search can practice law in your state. If not, then you know not to consider them.
2: Consider the types of cases the law firm handles. Lawyers can practice law in many different disciplines, from personal injury law to tax law. Maybe you heard about a lawyer that recently helped a friend and are thinking about reaching out. Before you do so, be sure they handle personal injury cases.
3: Find out as much as you can online. In addition to ensuring the lawyer you find online practices personal injury law, use the lawyer’s website to look at the types of cases they handle. For example, if you were injured in a slip and fall accident, be sure to find a lawyer with a track record of helping those injured in a slip and fall. You can also do some research to find reviews for the lawyer you are interested in. And look for any awards or accolades awarded to the lawyer or law firm—these are signs that the firm is respected and accomplished.
4: Schedule a consultation. Once you compile a list of several reputable personal injury lawyers and firms near you, start scheduling consultations. You can do this by calling the law firm directly and explaining your situation. In most cases, you also have the option of filling out an online contact form if you would rather start the conversation that way. The firm that you contact will want plenty of details and information about your situation so come prepared to discuss.
5: Determine if the law firm has substantial experience taking personal injury cases to trial. Your goal in pursuing a personal injury case should be to receive damages that are equal to your injury and related suffering. This often requires that you take your case to trial. But many personal injury law firms do not have much experience taking cases to trial and through verdict. Some law firms even refer out to a different lawyer in cases that get too big. You want to find a law firm that 1) has experience taking cases to trial and 2) has experienced personal injury trial lawyers who have pursued cases just like yours in the past.
For reference, Penney and Associates has several very experienced former insurance company trial lawyers that have taken several personal injury cases all the way through verdict. We never refer cases to a third-party.
You can also find a personal injury lawyer by asking friends and acquaintances for recommendations.
Doing research online is a great way to find a lawyer, but it is not the only way. You can also talk to friends, family, and coworkers and find a lawyer based on their recommendation. Getting referred to a law firm by someone you trust is always a good thing!
Start by contacting friends of family who may have previously been represented by a lawyer in their personal injury claims. Try to learn about their experience. Ask how the case turned out and what the relationship was like with the lawyer.
With a recommendation and some basic information in hand, you can go online and follow the steps above. You will have more insight—and perhaps more confidence—when it comes to contacting them. But remember, you do not have to hire a lawyer based on a recommendation. Doing your own research and making your own decision is critical. Talk to the lawyer and their firm. Gauge if their style and personality are a good fit. Wait to hire them until you have met, discussed your case, and are comfortable with the working relationship.
After you contact a lawyer, what should you discuss during the initial consultation?
Scheduling a consultation with potential lawyers is a must. You can learn about the lawyer and their firm, and the lawyer can learn about you and your case. Most lawyers do not charge for a consultation so use this time to really get to know them.
The lawyer will have plenty of questions about your case, so come prepared. Bring with you documents pertaining to your case, including the police report, medical bills, correspondence with insurance, and income loss verification. Be very clear about what you know about your case and be willing to share details. Even at the beginning stages, being honest about your situation is the only way that you can inform and build a rapport with the lawyer that may take your case.
You will also have the chance to ask the lawyer questions to determine if they are a good fit. Ask questions like:
- How long have they been practicing?
- Have they pursued cases like your case in the past? What were the outcomes?
- Do they mostly represent plaintiffs or defendants?
- Do they ever refer cases to a third-party?
The consultation stage is a great way to get to know the lawyer and their firm and answer any questions that you have. It will also allow the lawyer to understand the scope of your case.
Discuss the fee structure ahead of time.
Talk to the lawyer about their fee structure before you enter a working relationship with them. In general, most personal injury lawyers work on contingency, meaning you do not pay their fee up front. Working under a contingency means that you will only pay when damages are awarded, or a settlement is reached.
Talk to the lawyer about their fees so there are no surprises. After all, if you win your case, you want to know how much you stand to receive and what percentage the lawyer will take as their fee for working on the case.
Be sure to ask about any up-front costs. Even lawyers who work on a contingency basis may expect you to cover costs related to travel and the like. At the end of the case, if you are awarded damages, these costs may be part of the percentage of their contingency fee or they may be fees on top of that percentage. Understanding the lawyer’s fees from the outset will make the entire process easier.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can be difficult. There are bound to be dozens of firms in your local area. It is important to do some research to find the best lawyer for you. Follow the four steps outlined above to narrow your search. Schedule a consultation to learn more about the lawyer and to explain your case. Be upfront about details surrounding your injury. Talk to the lawyer about their fee structures so there are no surprises.
If you have been injured, the lawyers at Penney & Associated are here to help. We help people just like you receive the compensation that they deserve. Our lawyers have decades of experience and are experts in personal injury law. Get in touch today to schedule a free consultation to learn more!