Serious injuries can permanently alter your life, and they’re more common than you might think. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2020, the U.S. experienced 200,955 preventable deaths, 55.4 million injuries, and $1.158 trillion in injury costs.
Suffice it to say, you never know when you might become a part of a personal injury statistic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get the compensation you deserve.
If you find yourself seriously injured at the hands or negligence of someone else, a personal injury lawyer can help. They can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, maximize your settlement, and defend your case in court.
However, not every personal injury lawyer is the same. Some are better than others. So it’s important that you choose wisely when considering what personal injury attorney to hire.
To that end, here are some traits and skills you should look for:
1. Specialized knowledge.
This may sound obvious but look for a lawyer whose practice focuses on personal injury. Some law firms handle a variety of case types, of which personal injury is just one.
However, a law firm that specializes in personal injury (or even a specific type of injury) will have more specialized knowledge to handle your case.
2. Extensive experience.
On a similar note, look for a personal injury lawyer that has extensive experience. The more experience that they have under their belt, the more likely it is that they’ve handled a case similar to yours in the past.
So ask potential personal injury lawyer prospects when they became a lawyer and how long they have been in the business.
3. Proven track record.
It’s also important that a personal injury lawyer has a strong track record of success. After all, just because they have a lot of experience doesn’t necessarily mean they always win their cases.
So ask the attorney about their success rate. Do they consistently win high settlements for their clients or do they tend to settle for low ones? Do a little research to find out.
4. Strong trial and negotiation skills.
A personal injury lawyer should have strong trial and negotiation skills. This is important for making insurance claims and for fighting your case in court if it goes to trial.
Your personal injury lawyer should know how to make a strong case that will convince the judge and/or jury to side with you.
5. Good communication skills.
Being a good personal injury lawyer isn’t just about negotiating well or performing well in court. It’s also about being friendly and communicating clearly with clients.
Your personal injury lawyer should walk you through the entire legal process, explain complicated laws in simple terms, answer any questions, and always have your best interest at heart.
6. A reasonable price and payment model.
Most lawyers work on a contingency-fee basis. That means you only owe them if you win your case. The personal injury lawyer then takes a percentage of whatever your settlement is (usually somewhere between 25% and 40%). The riskier your case is for them, the higher the percentage fee they will charge.
Be aware of how the personal injury lawyer’s pricing and payment model are structured to ensure it fits your budget and expectations, and don’t forget to check whether they offer free initial consultations. Most lawyers do, but it’s best to verify.
7. Basic familiarity with medical concepts.
A personal injury lawyer should also have a basic familiarity with medical concepts such as injury prognosis, diagnostic criteria, and estimated medical costs. That way, they can better assess your personal injury case and refer you to the right medical professionals if necessary.
Having a good medical network and knowledge allows personal injury lawyers to help their clients navigate a case from start to finish.
Lastly, a personal injury lawyer should have a reputation for being honest. That means they will give you their honest assessment of the case and not sugarcoat anything. They’ll clearly explain the pros and cons of different courses of action and won’t pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to.
You want a personal injury lawyer that will be sincere with you, someone you can trust to put your best interest first.
At the end of the day, finding the right personal injury lawyer can take some time. Do your homework until you find the one that will be most dedicated to your case.