My last post provided a general overview of how to select a personal injury attorney, but I now want to discuss some specific qualifications you should look for in making your decision. First, and most important, is whether that attorney has trial experience and would be willing to take your case to a jury trial, if necessary. Be sure and meet with your attorney, not just a paralegal, and ask that attorney about his/her trial experience. An attorney’s willingness to try a case is important because insurance companies keep close track of a personal injury attorney’s record. When an insurance company determines that the attorney will settle for the last offer, whatever it may be, instead of proceeding to trial, it will never offer a reasonable some for your claim. Instead, the insurance company will simple make a minimal offer and wait until the attorney agrees to settle to avoid a trial. This does not mean every personal injury claim should be tried and, in fact, most personal injury claims are settled for a reasonable sum without a trial. But you have little chance of receiving what you deserve if there is not a credible threat of trial.
Second, look for an attorney who can provide you with individualized service. After all, you are hiring your attorney to serve your needs at a very difficult time in your life. Therefore, you should be able to speak with your attorney when you have questions and you should expect that attorney to be willing to tell you exactly what progress is being made on your case and what a reasonable expectation for the future may be. In some cases you maybe working with your attorney off and on for several years, so you should feel comfortable with your lawyer.
Look for an attorney that has experience in your type of personal injury claim. There are many different legal claims that fall under the umbrella of “personal injury” law. These include workers compensation, which involves any on the job injury by an employee, construction site injuries; involving injured workers that may have claims in addition to workers compensation, automobile accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice claims, defective products or medical devices, pharmaceutical claims, etc. Very few “personal injury” attorneys handle every type of claim, and even the ones who advertise for certain types of claims, such as claims against drug manufacturers for injuries caused by side effects, will refer your claim to another attorney who is actually litigating the claim. It is particularly important for you to find a lawyer who has experience if your claim involves more complex litigation. For example, medical malpractice claims in Indiana are very difficult claims that should only be handled by experienced attorneys. This is because Indiana has some peculiar laws related to malpractice claims that can create traps for the inexperienced that may prevent a recovery in an otherwise valid claim.
Another consideration when looking for a personal injury attorney, is whether that attorney is willing to advance the litigation expenses of your case, to be reimbursed out of any settlement, or whether they expect you to pay those expenses as the case proceeds. Litigation expenses include items such as, medical record copies, court filing fees, physician opinion letters, expert fees, depositions, etc. These expenses can be a few hundred dollars or tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the nature of the case and whether it is tried or settled. Caroline and I are here to help you, not add to your burdens, and if you come to us because you have unpaid medical bills and then you are asked to pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, for litigation expenses, we have done nothing but add to your burden. Your personal injury attorney should have enough confidence in your case and enough capitalization to be willing to advance any expense that may be incurred while representing you.
Caroline and I are here to serve you by using our expertise and knowledge of the law to help guide you through our complex legal system. If you want to know if we can help you or your family call us or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.