Written by Avvo Staff

How to hire a personal injury lawyer

If you are filing a lawsuit or are being sued for personal injury, an experienced lawyer can help you successfully navigate the litigation process. An attorney with a winning track record for your type of injury is the easiest way to ensure the best outcome for your case. Find out what to look for when hiring a personal injury attorney.

What a personal injury lawyer does

Personal injury attorneys typically focus on one type of personal injury claim, such as car accident injuries or medical malpractice. They also have experience in tort law, which involves civil litigation to recover financial damages in a settlement.

The following are a few scenarios where you might consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to represent you:

  • The insurance company refuses to pay for your injuries.

  • You've suffered a long-term or permanently disabling injury.

  • You've suffered a severe short-term injury that resulted in significant medical costs.

  • You suffered an injury or illness as a result of negligence by a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other health care provider.

  • You were exposed to a toxic substance as a result of negligent contamination of air, water, or food.

  • You've experienced psychological trauma or illness as a result of another's negligence.

  • You're being sued by someone claiming negligence on your part.

The cost of a personal injury lawyer

Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. In other words, you don't pay your attorney any up-front costs. Instead, you sign an agreement to pay a certain percentage of your settlement amount, usually somewhere between 30% to 45%.

Remember that a personal injury lawyer already has extensive experience with the settlement negotiation process, and can negotiate much more effectively than someone who is unfamiliar with personal injury law.

How to find a personal injury attorney

You can also ask other lawyers or the local bar association for recommendations. Online reviews can help you determine which attorneys you want to schedule an initial consultation with.

Look for an attorney whose experience matches the goals of your individual case. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation to briefly review you case and answer questions. This is also your opportunity to interview the lawyer before you decide to hire them.

Top 5 questions to ask a personal injury lawyer

Before you hire a personal injury attorney, you'll want to meet for an initial consultation. Many attorneys will offer this consultation for free, as the meeting helps them decide whether you have a viable case.

Here are a few questions you'll want to ask during the consultation:

1. Have you handled cases like mine before, and what were the outcomes? Find out if your attorney has dealt with the type of accident or incident that caused your injury.

2. How long would I have to wait before I received a settlement or judgment? A personal injury lawyer should be able to give you a general estimate of how long the process will take.

3. Do you bill on a contingent fee basis? Find out how your attorney will charge you and when.

4. How many personal injury cases have you tried? Ask whether your attorney has practical litigation experience with personal injury claims and what the outcomes of those trials were.

5. Do you have past clients who would be willing to speak to me? Talking to past clients is the most reliable way to gauge an attorney's response to concerns or questions.

While no one settlement can truly alleviate all discomfort for either party in a personal injury case, an attorney can help you reach the best outcome.

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