Personal Injury 101: How to Choose a Personal Injury Attorney
The phrase “personal injury” refers to a broad area of law encompassing several different types of cases, including motor vehicle and truk crashes, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and more. Today’s post continues our “Personal Injury 101” blog series, which aims to offer straightforward information that – in our law firm’s experience – will be most helpful to injury victims considering filing a lawsuit. Today, our blog focuses on personal injury clients, and specifically, what clients should be looking for when they are trying to find the right personal injury attorney. The blog is divided into two sections, each of which is designed to assist clients in identifying the right lawyer for their case: (1) general tips on finding a quality personal injury attorney; and (2) questions to ask an attorney during the initial consultation.
Tips on Finding a Personal Injury Attorney
- Conduct initial research on personal injury law. A great starting point for your attorney search is to gather a basic understanding of personal injury law. To that end, reliable sources like the American Association of Justice, Chicago Bar Association, and Illinois and Indiana Bar Associations all have great pieces focused on the practice of personal injury law. The Coffman Law Blog also recently published an informative article describing to potential clients what they should expect during their personal injury case.
- Make a list of desirable attorney qualifications. Once you have familiarized yourself with the general practice of personal injury law, it can then be helpful to make a list of the qualities you are seeking in your personal injury attorney. Given the plethora of attorney options (especially in a large city like Chicago), this type of list can help narrow down your selections. Examples of qualifications or qualities a potential client may be seeking could include location, years of experience, area(s) of legal specialty, and foreign language skills, to name but a few options.
- Ask family and friends for personal references. Outside of internet research, it can also be helpful to ask your family and friends about any positive experiences they have had with a local personal injury attorney. Referrals can be helpful in ensuring that you are working with an attorney who practices in your area. Moreover, knowing that an attorney has assisted someone you care about in the past adds to their reliability.
- Research specific attorneys online. While online search results certainly do not tell the whole story about an attorney’s experience and reputation, they can nonetheless help understand the scope of that attorney’s practice and a bit about their professional achievements. Specifically, general online searches can sometimes highlight an attorney’s track record and history of notable cases. Also, review whether the attorney has written about the subject that you’re inquiring through website blogs and social media posts.
- Schedule consultations with the lawyer(s) you are interested in. Most personal injury lawyers should offer free consultations in which they ask you questions in order to understand the important details of your accident and corresponding injury. Thus, once you have narrowed down your list to a small group of potential attorneys, consultations are likely the last step in determining which attorney is right for you and your case.
Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer
During the consultation, you should not hesitate to ask any questions that you may have. There is truly no such thing as a “stupid question” during an attorney-client consultation – after all, you are the attorney’s client, so they should be prepared to help you understand every aspect of the legal process. A few of the most helpful questions to ask a personal injury attorney include:
- “What percentage of your cases concern ______ (*insert your type of case*)?” “Personal injury” is a broad area of law, and many different types of lawyers label themselves as “personal injury attorneys.” Therefore, asking a question like this will help you understand whether the attorney truly specializes in the legal area that encompasses your case. For example, if you are looking for an attorney to help with your car crash case, you probably would not want a “personal injury attorney” who spends 90% of their time handling product liability cases.
- “Who would be handling my case?” At many firms – especially larger ones with a litany of younger associates – the attorney who interviews potential clients will not necessarily be the same attorney who handles the cases. Thus, it is important to understand from the outset whether the attorney you are dealing with will be the same person who will continue to work with you for the entirety of your case.
- “How long have you been practicing personal injury law?” In general, it is helpful to gather an understanding of how long an attorney has been practicing law. More importantly though, as a potential personal injury client, you want to know how long the attorney has practiced in the personal injury space.
“What is your fee structure?” Though financials are not the easiest item to bring up in discussion, you should not hesitate to ask the attorney you are considering hiring about their fee structure. Most personal injury lawyers employ a contingent fee structure where they agree to take somewhere between 25-40% of the final settlement amount, minus any litigation costs and expenses. Nevertheless, it is helpful to understand an attorney’s selected fee structure from the outset so that you can get it in writing.
These questions described above are just a few of the most important questions you could ask the attorney you are considering. However, there are a litany of other questions that, depending on the circumstances of your case, could help you decide on the right personal injury attorney. Here are a few additional questions that may apply in your situation:
- What practice areas do you specialize in?
- What kinds of outcomes have you secured in cases similar to mine?
- How long do you expect my case to last?
- How confident are you in the strength of my case?
- What is the statute of limitations for my claim(s)?
- Should my case go to trial, what type of trial experience do you have?
- How will you keep me updated on the progress of my case?
- Do I have any other options for recovery besides filing a lawsuit?
If any readers have suffered an injury and are considering their legal rights to recovery, do not hesitate to reach out to Coffman Law. Owner and Founding Partner Brian Coffman has handled virtually every type of personal injury matter, and through his experience defending corporate insurers for years prior to founding his own firm, Brian has also come to understand the strategies typically employed by insurance companies in these types of cases. Click HERE to contact our office for a free consultation.
About Coffman Law Offices, P.C.
Coffman Law is Chicago’s leading personal injury law firm and is committed to providing superb legal representation for people who are suffering from severe personal injuries or are dealing with the loss of a loved one due to negligence or misconduct. Coffman Law is a results-driven law firm focused on ensuring that clients receive the compassion, attention, and consideration that they need to seek adequate compensation for injuries or loss. The firm is led by Owner and Founding Partner Brian Coffman, who has dedicated his career to helping accident victims navigate the legal system and obtain compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured or lost a loved one, contact Coffman Law today for a free consultation.