How to Hire a Lawyer

By Carol McFadden

If you have been injured and are thinking of hiring a personal injury lawyer there are a few things to keep in mind.

First of all, find a lawyer who specializes in your type of case and in the type of law your case falls under. You want a lawyer who specializes in personal injury law, not one who specializes in other areas of law such as criminal law, wills, estates, or divorce.

Talk to several lawyers before hiring one to handle your case. Most personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. This consultation gives you the opportunity to ask the lawyer questions such as: how much experience he or she has; what the fees are; what he or she feels your chances of having a successful case are; who will be working on your case (it may be an associate rather than the person you have the initial consultation with); and how long he or she feels it will take for a resolution of your case.

The initial consultation is for the benefit of both you and the lawyer. While you are deciding whether or not you want to hire that particular attorney, the attorney is looking at the case and deciding if it is a case he or she wants to take on.

During the consultation ask each lawyer the same questions so you have the information to equitably compare each lawyer and decide who you can work with best. You want to work with someone you are comfortable talking to because you may have to discuss some very personal information with your lawyer; so take note of how comfortable or uncomfortable you are when you visit each lawyer.

Take all the information you have about your case with you for each initial consultation including photos but dont take your originals. Take copies. When you do sign a contract with a lawyer you may be asked to provide the originals, but copies should be fine for your initial consultations.

Before signing a contract with a lawyer, make sure you understand the contract. Personal injury lawyers almost always work on a contingency basis. This means the lawyer only gets paid if he or she wins your case. Instead of the fee being hourly, the fee is a certain percentage of your award, typically one-third. You would then receive the other two-thirds of the award. But if any fees such as filing fees, expert witness fees, etc. are paid out of your portion of the award the actual amount you receive could be significantly less than two-thirds. Make sure you understand whose responsibility the extra costs will be.

If an attorney declines to take on your case, dont be offended. Instead ask them for a recommendation of a lawyer they think may be able to help you with your case.

And keep in mind that using a small-claims court can be a viable option to using an attorney in certain personal injury cases, but it is still a good idea to consult with an attorney first to see if that is best course of action for you to take with your particular case.