If you or a loved one has suffered an accident or injury, an accidents & injuries attorney can help, but not every attorney will be right for you.
In this guide, learn how to choose the right accident & injury attorney: how to research your accident & injury attorneys, why you need to contact them and meet at their office. Also, find out what are the 8 questions you should ask during your first interview to decide whether or not she or he will be in charge of your case.
Do You Need an Accidents and Injuries Attorney?
Filing an accident & injury claim can be a hassle sometimes. Not only will you be dealing with your injuries, but you will also be dealing with the legal aspect of the accident.
The first thing that you need to do right after the incident is to seek immediate treatment for any significant injuries. But then, you also have to deal with your insurance company. However, your insurer may not give you the right amount based on the injuries and other subsequent losses you acquired because of the accident. Also, if you wish to submit an accident & injury claim, you may not have the knowledge of the law. In this case, one of the best options is to hire an accident & injury attorney.
Indeed, accident & injury attorneys handle cases involving physical injuries – like neck injuries, back injuries, brain injuries, and catastrophic injuries – and nonphysical injuries – like emotional distress and defamation (libel and slander).
Not Every Accidents and Injuries Attorney will be Right for You
You must be sure that your philosophy of how to handle your accident & injury case matches that of your attorneys; both of you need to be on the same page. It is important that you ask questions and gather information which reveals the attorney’s philosophy for handling cases.
The way you choose the right accidents and injuries attorney for your case will help you get through legal problems with the least amount of time, stress and money.
Research Your Accidents and Injuries Attorney
Once you have selected an accident & injury attorney to meet with, the next thing you should do is look into that attorney’s experience and background. There are several ways to do this:
1. Search the Internet: Do a Google search on your accident & injury attorney. Look for a legal blog, a website, news stories quoting or featuring the attorney, and other online information. Ideally, your attorney should devote almost all of his or her practice to the accident & injury matter you are willing to solve in the area.
2. Contact the State Office of Court Administration: This office can tell you when the attorney was admitted to practice law in your state, where he or she went to school and when he or she graduated, and whether the attorney is in good standing or has a record of disciplinary actions.
3. Ask Around: You should ask your circle of friends and professional advisers (accountants, attorneys, even some of their past or existing clients, etc) what they know about the attorney, or if they know someone who does know about the attorney.
Contacting the Accidents and Injuries Attorney’s Office and Scheduling Your Initial Consultation
Now that you have selected an accident & injury attorney to interview and have done research on him or her, the next step is to contact the attorney’s office and schedule an appointment. You can learn a lot about how your attorney will behave if you retain him or her just by how he or she handles the simple but important task of scheduling a meeting with you as a potential new client.
Contact the accident & injury attorney’s office by telephone or e-mail and request an appointment. When you do this, it is important to tell the attorney’s office that you would like to discuss a specific type of accident & injury case. Take careful note of how quickly your message is answered. Your inquiry should always be answered promptly. If the attorney you contacted cannot manage to reply to a potential new client who is bringing him or her a new case and therefore new fees, that fact should tell you something about how he or she will behave once he or she already has your money.
Also, pay close attention to who you deal with in setting the appointment and how you are treated. Most good accident & injury attorneys rely on an assistant to schedule their appointments, and that person is very often responsible for much of the day to day communications and interactions with you once you hire your attorney. If you are not comfortable with the assistant who sets your appointment, it is a sign that the attorney may not be right for you and your accident & injury case.
Finally, you should ask about the cost of the initial consultation. Evaluate the response you get to these questions. Was the response clear and unequivocal?
Visiting the Accidents and Injuries Attorney’s Office: What You See & Hear is What You Get
The experience of meeting your accident & injury attorney at his or her office is critical to determining whether this attorney is a good fit for you and your special case. An attorney’s office is, in effect, his or her professional home. And the rules that apply to a attorney’s professional home are the same as those that apply to your own home. So, you should pay careful attention to what you see and hear in your attorney’s office.
1. Visit during normal business hours. Set up your appointment during normal hours when the rest of her staff is present. Why? Because you want to meet the staff and see just how well they take care of clients.
2. Is the office neat and clean? This tells you something about how organized and focused the accident & injury attorney is. If the office is a mess and there are papers and files everywhere, imagine how that will affect the attorney’s ability to find your file and deal with your case at critical moments.
3. How does the attorney and his or her employees behave towards you and each other? It is important to observe how the accident & injury attorney’s staff treats you and each other during your visit. What you see when you are there is likely to be their best behavior. If you are not well taken care of during your visit or you observe inappropriate behavior during your visit, you can be certain this conduct will get worse once you are a client of the firm and the attorney has your money in hand.
Interviewing your Accidents and Injuries Attorney: 8 Questions You Should Ask
Preparing for your interview with your accident & injury attorney will help you make a better and more informed decision. You should organize discussion topics prior to meeting and bring with you any relevant paperwork. Your accident & injury attorney may need some of the documents you bring with you so be prepared and retain copies for your own records. If you can, you should write down dates and times of events, the names and addresses of any witnesses and any other important facts.
You should try to understand that accident & injury attorneys have professional and ethical commitments to all of their other clients, so you should expect your interview to last about 30-45 minutes on average.
At some point during the meeting, you should be able to ask questions about your case. You should try and write down as many of your questions as you can before the meeting so that you make sure you remember to ask them.
The 8 questions you should ask in the attorney interview are:
1. How much experience do you have with accident & injury cases like mine?
2. How much of your practice is devoted to the type of law I need help with?
3. What other types of accident & injury cases do you handle?
4. How do you communicate with clients? Do you prefer e-mail, text message or telephone?
5. How quickly do you answer calls and other communications from clients?
6. How much will your services cost me? What is your retainer fee for accident & injury cases?
7. Do you bill for normal business ‘overhead’ such as faxes, postage, and photocopies?
8. How long does an accident & injury case like mine usually take if there are no unusual developments?
Deciding Which Accidents and Injuries Attorney is Right for You
While you are interviewing an accident & injury attorney, you should listen carefully to the answers provided. You should also pay extremely close attention to your attorney’s personality, his or her manners and behavior, and how you feel during the interview.
How does the attorney make you feel? Comfortable? At ease? Are you treated as an equal and with respect? Or do you feel like the accident & injury attorney has a superior attitude and talks down to you? Has the attorney spent meaningful time with you and provided answers to your questions and concerns in a friendly and appropriate manner?
How you feel about your accident & injury attorney and how he or she behaves towards you will have an effect on your ability to trust and communicate effectively with that person over emotional and highly personal matters. Once the interview is over and you have time to reflect, assess the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate. Did the accident & injury attorney listen to you? Did the attorney provide enough information to make you feel comfortable that they know the law and procedure in your country? Did you feel confident?
Once you have gone through all of these steps, you now have the information and experiences necessary to decide which accident & injury attorney best suits your needs.