After an accident, the first question you may ask yourself is, Do I Need A Personal Injury Attorney? A personal injury attorney will have special expertise, experience and certification that can make an enormous impact on the outcome of your claim. A personal injury attorney should have trial experience, negotiation experience, knowledge of medical terms and processes and of course, a deep understanding of Texas negligence law. It is likely that you will be going through this injury claim process for the first time, and you will need someone to guide you who handles such cases every day.
Once you understand the importance of having legal representation throughout your personal injury claim process, your next question is likely, How Do I Choose A Personal Injury Attorney? There are a number of factors that go into selecting the right attorney for you. These factors include the attorney's expertise, certification, reputation, references, responsiveness and even personality. Here are some tips to help you find a personal injury attorney that can best represent you.
Know your case
An attorney can determine the possible outcome of your case based on the information you provide in an initial meeting. In order to make this discussion as productive as possible, you should come prepared. This involves writing out all the facts about your claim, including dates, times, conversations, and other aspects that may be important to your case. In addition, you will want to provide as much documentation as possible, including medical bills, diagnostic reports or test results. You will also want to provide any photos taken by you or others that may be relevant to the case.
Ask the right questions of a potential personal injury attorney:
- What are your areas of specialization?
In addition to asking if the attorney specializes in Personal Injury cases, you can ask for experience in your specific area of interest, such as car accidents, motorcycle accidents, 18-wheeler truck accidents, product defects or other areas of negligence.
- Have you taken on cases like mine before? How many? What were their outcomes?
A good personal injury attorney will be able to answer how many cases he/she has taken to trial and the result of each. You will want to partner with someone with a good winning percentage.
- How often do you go to trial in similar cases?
It is important to find an attorney who is willing to take your case to trial, if needed in order to achieve the fairest compensation. Some attorneys may wish to avoid trial and only settle out of court, which may not be in your best interest.
- Do you have references or testimonials from former clients?
Happy clients are often pleased to help the next person by referring an attorney, so a good attorney should be able to provide such references.
- Are you Board Certified?
You can ask if the attorney is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law.
- What is the typical process for a personal injury claim?
A good personal injury attorney will take the time to explain the process you will go through, the possible pitfalls to avoid and the best advice for a successful outcome.
- How will you keep me informed of my case's progress?
It is important for you to set expectations with your potential attorney for how communication will occur. A good attorney will keep you up to date and will be available for your questions/concerns.
- How long do you expect this case to take before it is resolved?
While each case is different, understanding the timeframe for your involvement is an important factor in selecting an attorney.
- What is the statute of limitations for my case?
Your attorney should be able to answer this specifically for your state and individual case.
- What is your fee structure? Will you take my case on a contingent fee basis? If so, what is your percentage? If not, what is your hourly rate?
There should be no surprises in billing or costs, and many attorneys will take on 'contingent fee' payment, meaning they get paid only if your case is awarded compensation.
- Have you ever been disciplined, suspended, or disbarred by any ethics committee or state bar association?
Needless to say, you will want to choose an attorney with a clean record and an ethical approach to your case.
- How confident are you in my case? Do you think I have a good case?
After hearing the details of your accident and asking some important questions, a good personal attorney should have a feel for whether you have a good case or not.
Be comfortable with your attorney
Once you sit down with a potential attorney, explain your case and ask the right questions, it is okay to ask yourself, Do I Feel Comfortable With This Attorney? The attorney's attitude, personality and ability to communicate may be as important as his/her professional credentials. Remember, you will be spending a fair amount of time with this person, and you want to feel at peace entrusting this important work to this person. An important aspect of being comfortable with your attorney is to know specifically the fee structure; most importantly, will it be on an hourly rate or a contingent fee basis.