Top Ten Tips for Choosing Your Personal Injury Attorney
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the length of time in which an injured person has to file his or her lawsuit. What time frame must your case be filed and can your potential attorney timely manage your case?
Legal Fees and Expenses
What is the attorney's fee, contingent or hourly? If the fee is contingent, what is the percentage the attorney charges? If the fee is hourly, what is the attorney's hourly rate? Further, how are legal expenses paid? Does the potential attorney have any expectation of a retainer, or money paid in advance of the case?
Jurisdiction includes both the geographical location of the court in which your case could be filed but also which court, federal, state or municipal court, for examples. In what jurisdiction(s) should your case be filed and is the potential attorney licensed to practice in that particular court? Is the potential attorney accustomed to practicing in that particular court?
Does your potential attorney work near to you or further away? Near to the appropriate jurisdiction or further away? Does geography matter in your case?
Experience With Your Type of Case
Does your potential attorney have experience in personal injury law? Does your potential attorney have specific experience in the area of law in which you seek assistance such as motor vehicle crashes, slip and falls, product liability, wrongful death, nursing home malpractice, medical malpractice and such? Is the attorney familiar with the documents required, processes and procedures and nuances of your case?
Ease of Access
Is your attorney or his or her office attentive to your questions and requests? Do they regularly return phone calls and emails and otherwise keep clients informed? Your attorney may have many cases, but for you, this is likely your only pending case. Will this attorney treat your case with the same importance that you do?
Your Gut Instinct
You and your attorney may have to work together for several years. This can be a very personal relationship, especially depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. Is your attorney a good match for you? Can you imagine a good and trusting relationship through the close of your case?
Does your potential attorney present himself or herself in a professional manner, in a manner appropriate for your case? Is your potential attorney candid about the strengths and weaknesses of your case?
How did you come to find your potential attorney? Did you find his or her name through a trusted friend, colleague or referral source? Referrals certainly are not necessary, but they sure are nice, aren't they?
Are you the client who will hand their case to an attorney and sit happily in the background, or a client that prefers regular updates and wants to be actively involved in his or her case? Perhaps you are somewhere in between? Communicating this preference to a potential attorney will assist the both of you in making the best out of your relationship.