7 Must-Know Tips for Hiring an Attorney for Your Case

When you find yourself faced with a legal issue, the steps you take next can literally impact the rest of your life. Hiring a legal professional – and doing it the right way – is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.

Not sure how to hire an attorney for your case? You’re in the right place! Keep reading for ten must-know tips that will make hiring an attorney easy.

1. Ask for Recommendations

One of the best ways to find a good attorney is to ask people you trust for recommendations. Start with family and friends – ask if they’ve had a positive personal experience with an attorney in the area of specialty you’re looking for.

If you have a relationship with an attorney who works in a different specialty, he or she may also be able to give you a recommendation. For example, your business lawyer probably can’t help with a personal injury case, but he may be able to refer you to a great personal injury lawyer.

Use these recommendations to create a short list of three to five attorneys who you’ll investigate further before making a decision.

2. Do Online Research

Next, it’s time to hop online and start doing some research about each of the attorneys on your list. Check Google reviews and at least a couple of the lawyer review sites – like Lawyers.com and Justia.

It’s also a good idea to take a look through the lawyer’s website and their social media – including the reviews section. Remember that you can’t please everyone, so don’t put too much weight into one or two bad reviews, but if you start to see a pattern, consider crossing that lawyer off your list.

3. Schedule a Consultation

Once your research is done, narrow down your list to the top three, then call to schedule consultations. Most attorneys will meet with you for at least a brief consultation without charging you.

Pay attention to whether the person who answers the phone is polite and accommodating. When you arrive at the office, notice whether the location is convenient and whether you feel comfortable in the space.

4. Ask the Right Questions

When you sit down with the lawyer, it’s a good idea to have a list of questions prepared. This will ensure that you make good use of the time you have and that you don’t forget anything important.

Some of the questions you’ll want to ask include:

  • Do you specialize in cases like mine?
  • How long have you been practicing?
  • Do you feel that I have a strong case?
  • How much do you think my case is worth?
  • How often do you take cases to court vs. setting?
  • Who will be handling my case?
  • How and when will I need to pay?

Look for an attorney who is honest and upfront when answering your questions. Don’t be afraid to take notes, as you’ll want to compare the interviews with each of your top three options and remembering who said what could become a challenge.

5. Assess fees and Costs

You never want to hire an attorney based on cost alone, but, of course, price does matter. Ask the attorney to thoroughly explain their fees, and, if possible, to provide you with a written summary. Don’t feel like you’re “being cheap,” you deserve to know what you’re paying for and how much it’s going to cost you.

6. Review the Payment Arrangements

There are different ways that your attorney might bill you. Options include:

  • Contingency fee – the attorney receives a percentage of what you’re awarded if you win your case.
  • Flat fee – a set dollar amount for services. This is common for simple things like writing a will or filing a non-contested divorce.
  • Hourly rate – this is a set fee per hour. The final cost will depend on the number of hours worked.
  • Retainer – this is a fee you pay upfront. Lawyers often use this to pay expenses and fees associated with trying your case.

It’s important to understand how your attorney bills so you know when and how much you can expect to pay. If you don’t ask these questions, you could end up with an unpleasant surprise.

7. Listen to Your Gut

Once you’ve reviewed all of this information and met with each potential attorney, it’s time to evaluate your experience with each and make a final decision. You’ll use logic for most of this evaluation, but it’s also important to listen to your gut. If you have a really great feeling about one attorney that you met with – if you feel like you trust and believe in him or her – then this is a great indication that you’ve made the right choice.

The same goes for a negative feeling. Even if you can’ quite put your finger on it, if there’s something that just doesn’t seem quite right to you, then move on. There are thousands of lawyers out there, so it makes sense to keep looking until you find one that’s a good fit for you.

Hiring an Attorney is a Critical Decision

Follow these tips for hiring an attorney and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve made an excellent choice. If you need even more information, take a few minutes to scroll through some of our other helpful blog posts!

What is a Personal Injury Lawyer?

what is a personal injury lawyer

A personal injury lawyer specializes in fighting for legal recourse and compensation on behalf of those who have sustained physical injuries. Those injuries must in some way be the result of negligence, liability, or an intentional act (such as an assault) on the part of another person or entity. An injury under the law is any harm inflicted on an individual by the acts or omission of another.

As the name implies, this type of attorney deals in personal injury—not property damage, even if the damage results from an act of negligence as in a car crash. Personal injury (PI) cases are handled in civil court. They are considered tort law, which simply means they deal with a civil action that causes harm.

In civil court, a judge (and sometimes a jury) can award damages based in part on the severity of the injury, as well as compensation for pain and suffering. Though not typical, extreme cases have delivered billions of dollars in damages to those harmed, or their families.

What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?

Car accidents are by far the most common type of case a personal injury lawyer may cover, but these attorneys handle so much more and must be extremely knowledgeable. Consider the following examples:

  • Product defects: Unsafe products can have far-reaching consequences including cancer. When a product—anything from cars to medication—causes harm, a personal injury attorney can fight for the victim’s rights.
  • Premises liability: Property neglect, including slippery or broken sidewalks, can result in a slip-and-fall accident for which the owner can be held responsible. This category also covers dog bites, elevator mishaps, apartment fires, inadequate security, and more.
  • Workplace injuries: These are employee injuries a personal injury lawyer can help victims receive compensation for. Examples might be trips, falls, cuts, burns, flying debris, and broken scaffolding.
  • Medical malpractice: Perhaps the most complicated personal injury case, medical malpractice involves proving that a doctor, hospital, or healthcare provider deviated from the established standard of care in a way that caused serious harm.
  • Carmotorcycle, and pedestrian crashes: The victim of a car accident linked to another’s negligence may need to go to court to receive fair compensation for their injuries. Many times, insurance companies do not fully compensate victims, and this is especially the case when it comes to pain and suffering awards. What the car accident lawyer does is battle for more equitable damages.
  • Plane and other transportation accidents: Large-scale disasters like plane crashes or train derailments also fall under the umbrella of the personal injury attorney.
  • Wrongful death lawsuits: Under wrongful death law, a personal injury lawyer can fight on behalf of families who have lost a loved one to another’s violence or negligence, such as nursing home abuse. This is a way of seeking justice for the deceased through a financial award. Sometimes these lawsuits are related to medical malpractice cases.

What Constitutes a Catastrophic Injury?

Not every injury from a car accident or other traumatic event is severe enough to be permanent. An accident victim may suffer a broken bone that heals yet still win court damages via a personal injury lawsuit for pain and suffering, loss of work, medical bills, and more. They do not need to show the injury has disrupted their life forever.

When the injury is permanent and life-altering, however, as in catastrophic harm, a personal injury lawyer can mean the difference between financial suffering and solvency. Catastrophic injuries are severe, at times paralyzing, blows to the brain, spine, or spinal cord. Without a court award, the victim may lose out on the medical care they need and financial recovery.

What Makes a Good Personal Injury Attorney?

It’s more than the complexity of legal cases that makes hiring a skilled personal injury attorney worthwhile. Each case is a series of legal maneuvers none of which can be compromised, starting with the filing of the initial complaint within the required time frame—known as the statute of limitations.

A major role of the personal injury attorney is gathering evidence. The attorney will collect facts from reports and medical records as well as from the defendant in the case. The discovery process includes an opportunity for the personal injury attorney to officially question the defendant prior to trial. These formal questions are called interrogatories.

To find a capable personal injury attorney, look for someone with strong negotiating skills. They may be able to achieve a settlement without the time-consuming process of a trial by negotiating with the insurance company or the opposing party’s defense. The personal injury attorney’s role often includes a demand letter, which presents his client’s legal claim and demands restitution.

Both negotiations and the demand letter are attempts to settle the case early on. If the case does go to trial, the personal injury attorney is there representing his clients in the court of law with capable arguments and testimony.

How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer

To make sure a lawyer is the best fit for the case involves asking key questions—like whether they have experience with this type of case and how they might proceed.

Especially in a more complicated matter like medical malpractice could be an issue. A good fit would be a lawyer with knowledge of intricate topics like traumatic brain injury (TBI), a prime example of catastrophic harm. A lawyer who deals mostly with car and truck accidents may not be able to rise to the level of expertise needed for medical malpractice cases.

Other key questions to consider:

  • Is the attorney a solo act or if they have the support of a firm?
  • How can they be reached in case of an emergency or for periodic updates?
  • How strong is the case and what are the chances of winning?
  • What damages might be recovered?
  • How long is it likely to take to resolve the case?
  • What will be required of the client (e.g.: medical evaluations, accident records)?
  • What are the lawyer’s experiences and education?
  • Do they have access to medical experts if needed to testify in court?

What is the Standard Fee for a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Many people wonder what personal injury lawyers charge and whether they can afford to hire a lawyer to fight their case. They may have a strong complaint, even a catastrophic injury with a life-altering prognosis yet lack the resources to pay upfront for the legal help they need.

No doubt finances should be at the top of the list of what to ask a personal injury lawyer. The good news is that many law firms, like Resolutionforum.org, never take a dime unless they win the case. This non-pressured approach differs greatly from the law firms that charge by the hour and seek an upfront retainer.

When Sobo & Sobo wins a case, they are compensated through a portion of the settlement, which they helped to obtain. Never do clients pay out of pocket. All of this can be discussed at a free consultation where prospective clients can review their cases and ask questions in a relaxed atmosphere. The goal is for clients to have the utmost confidence in the legal firm they hire.

Consult a Personal Injury Attorney Today

If a personal injury has caused physical or mental suffering and someone else is at fault, schedule a free consultation with one of Resolutionforum.org’s skilled personal injury attorneys.  Reach out online and discover how easy it is to get a legal champion in your corner. You will discover first-hand their proven track record of success based on 40-plus years’ experience and how they can end the financial nightmare that often accompanies injury.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer?

A personal injury accident in Kentucky can be life-changing. Your life may never be the same again after someone else’s negligence. A personal injury lawyer is a licensed professional who represents injured accident victims during negligence claims. Hiring a lawyer to represent you could make a major difference to your case.

A lawyer can give you the information and assistance you need to successfully go up against the at-fault party. If you are unsure whether you should hire a lawyer, consider the benefits it could have before making your choice.

Knowledge of Personal Injury Law

An attorney will have the knowledge necessary to answer your questions and quell your concerns during a difficult time in your life. Your lawyer will serve as your confidant and trusted ally during the claims process. You can ask as many questions as you want and receive honest answers from your attorney, allowing you to make more informed decisions about your case.

Your lawyer will also have the ability to handle complicated legal processes for you while you focus on healing, such as filing your personal injury claim, documenting your injuries and proving negligence.

Professional Insurance Settlement Negotiations

It is not easy to navigate the insurance process alone as an injured accident victim in Kentucky. Insurance companies want to protect their pockets, not their clients. You may encounter insurance bad-faith tactics such as offering you too little compensation, delaying claims processing or denying a valid claim.

Having an attorney negotiate with an insurance claims adjuster for you can help you combat these tactics and receive fair compensation for your losses. You will not have to worry about going up against a claims adjuster after you hire an attorney to do so for you.

Saving Time and Money

You could save time during your claim by hiring a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will make sure you correctly complete the required legal procedures the first time around. Avoiding mistakes while filing your claim could eliminate back and forth between you and the insurance company, creating a more efficient legal process.

You could also earn more money by using an attorney to negotiate a settlement for you. A lawyer will not accept a lowball settlement offer from an insurance carrier. Instead, your lawyer will argue for maximum compensation for your damages, helping you recover a better award.

The Ability to Go to Court

Hiring a personal injury lawyer shows an insurance company that you have the ability to go to court. This can serve two purposes. In many cases, the ability to go to trial alone can be enough to convince an insurance company to offer a greater settlement amount.

The insurance company will see your lawyer’s history of going to trial and verdicts accomplished and may make a better settlement offer to avoid the expense and inconvenience of court. If the carrier does not offer enough money to settle, your lawyer can take the defendant to trial to strive for a better outcome from a judge or jury.

A Trusted Advocate in Your Time of Need

From handling the legwork of a personal injury claim to connecting you to the best doctors in Kentucky, your lawyer can take care of many important tasks for you while you focus on healing from your serious injuries. Hiring a personal injury attorney can give you all the information and assistance you need during a difficult time in your life.

Your lawyer can help you overcome challenges and obstacles, as well as advocate for the best possible case outcome on your behalf. Your attorney will be motivated to assist you, not only so the attorney can receive a paycheck, but because the attorney will be passionate about bringing the negligent party to justice. A personal injury lawyer can give you peace of mind when you need it the most.

Top 5 Reasons to Hire an Advocate as Your Personal Injury Lawyer

The accident happened so fast. Now you are trying to recover from your injuries and return to normal life. But the stress of your recovery keeps holding you back. Medical bills are piling up. Your finances are being drained because you’re unable to work. Your life and your well-being seem to be spiraling out of control. You wonder what you can do to get back on your feet again.

Don’t worry. We are here to help. The personal injury lawyers at The Advocates are on your side.

Our attorneys know how much frustration you are feeling and can help you through this difficult time. The Advocates are experts in settling and litigating accident claims.  Here are the top 5 reasons why you should hire an Advocate to represent you when you’ve been injured in an accident:

1. Your Recovery is our #1 Priority

The Advocates will be there to guide you from the time you seek treatment for your accident-related injuries to when it comes time to negotiate with the at-fault party to get you fair compensation. The injury attorneys with the Advocates are dedicated allies committed to your full recovery.

2. We Will Protect Your Legal Interests

Our experienced personal injury lawyers will help you get the compensation you’re entitled to. You may have injuries you’re not currently aware of or problems related to your accident that might have never have occurred to you. Don’t make the mistake of throwing away money you rightfully deserve due to an unfamiliarity with personal injury law. Our personal injury lawyers know the rules when it comes to issues such as mental duress, pain and suffering, and medical expenses for future care.

3. We Know the Ins and Outs of Your Case

The Advocates will ensure you don’t lose out on compensation you are entitled to due to a paperwork error, a loophole, or a mere technicality. When it comes to filing a personal injury claim, there are strict rules and guidelines you should follow. The personal injury attorneys with the Advocates will dig in and understand the individual ins and outs of your specific case and establish a customized legal strategy suited to your needs and your situation.

4. We are Experts in Evaluating Damage

We will help you establish proof that an accident wasn’t your fault. Having an experienced lawyer is absolutely crucial when it comes to identifying fault and establishing liability. We are experts in this field. We will fight to make sure there is no doubt regarding the extent of your injuries and how they occurred.

5. We Offer Peace of Mind

When you hire an Advocate to represent your personal injury case, you can rest assured that everything is going to be alright. What you need most after you’ve been hurt, missed weeks of work in order to recover, and now face a daunting amount of medical bills is the assurance your life will eventually return to normal. Having an Advocate on your side will provide you with the peace of mind you need to make a full recovery. Such peace of mind is the best reason to hire a personal injury attorney with the Advocates. Contact us today. You deserve an Advocate!

5 Tips to Hiring the Best Personal Injury Attorney for Your Case in 2021

How do you find a good personal injury lawyer? What are some good questions to ask while deciding which personal injury lawyer to retain?

Searching for lawyers online is like taking a stroll down a cereal aisle of a grocery store. A ton of shiny labels, a lot of bold claims, and a lot of variety. Especially in 2021 as personal injury lawyers everywhere have taken to the internet in droves.

Down where I live in South Florida, there are at least 339 personal injury attorneys in West Palm Beach492 personal injury lawyers in Broward, and at least 560 injury attorneys in Miami-Dade. There are probably triple that many that do not list “personal injury” as one of their practice areas with the Florida Bar.

Those are huge numbers to choose from.

When someone does get in a car accident or slips and falls and is injured, finding the right injury attorney is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

So, how do you find the best personal injury attorney for a case?

NOTE: Time is critical to the outcome of a personal injury case. While you can never be certain you made the best choice of personal injury lawyers, injury victims should avoid analysis paralysis and make the decision to speak with several lawyers as soon as possible since the delay caused by lawyer shopping can end up hurting your case more than hiring the “best personal injury lawyer”.

Here are my five tips for hiring a personal injury lawyer:

1. Begin by identifying what you want out of your injury attorney.

What’s most important to you? Past results? Convenient location? Big staff?

For many injury victims in search of a personal injury attorney, communication is key.

It’s not a surprise that poor communication is the most frequent complaint about personal injury attorneys.

If good and frequent communication are important to you, look for an attorney who will give you his or her cell phone number so you can send text messages.

Texting has made everyone’s life easier.

Especially when it comes to talking with your lawyer.

Texting allows you to send and receive photos of property damage, keep your lawyer in the loop about bills you receive in the mail, send your attorney screenshots of important claim documents, etc.

Gone is the day when you only communicate with your attorney only by email or through assistants and paralegals.

If good communication is important to you, insist on speaking with the managing partner of the law firm directly before signing a contract. If you get any pushback from the law firm or its staff about speaking with the partner or owner, you may not get the level of access to a lawyer you are looking for.

Caseload is Important

Another concern is the number of cases your attorney is handling, i.e. “caseload.”

While personal injury attorneys can handle hundreds of cases at a time with the help of a large staff, are you interested in more personal service?

Not every personal injury attorney handles hundreds of cases at a time.

Consider speaking with an attorney from a smaller firm or boutique practice that prioritizes quality over quantity.

Lawyer Pedigree

When you hire a personal injury attorney, you are hiring a professional who has gone to at least seven years of college and graduate school.

Ideally, you will be assigned an attorney who has a variety of experience handling an array of cases.

To some people, education, experience, and background are important.

You should choose the lawyer who you believe has the right qualifications for the job. That includes assessing the quality of the law school they attended.

Why do you think the Supreme Court of the United States only hires law clerks from the top 12 law schools in the country?

Because they can rely on their work to make tough decisions.

Feel Confident About Your Choice

When you hire a lawyer for your injury case, you should feel confident about your decision.

While you can switch attorneys any time in your case, many times, the work done early on in the case is critical to the outcome.

2. Know the specific type of personal injury attorney you need.

Not all personal injury cases are the same and not every personal injury attorney may be equally suited to handle your case.

For example, some lawyers have more experience handling trucking accidents versus motorcycle accidents.

Some lawyers are great at slip and fall cases and others are better with rear-end collision car accident cases.

If you are injured in a slip and fall at a grocery store, try searching for lawyers who have experience litigating slip and fall cases against that specific grocery store chain.

Or, if you were injured in a Lyft or Uber vehicle, or in a car accident in Fort Lauderdale, try searching for an attorney who has specific knowledge about ride-share car accidents.

Hit by an amazon delivery van? Consider searching for lawyers who have a plan to handle those cases.

Were you a pedestrian in Miami-Dade? What about a pedestrian or bicycle accident in Broward County? Maybe you are looking for an attorney who has experience handling trucking accidents?

Once you have found an attorney online, read their blog articles and biography pages and choose the lawyer whose message speaks to you.

3. Interview several personal injury lawyers: ask them these questions…

I have never seen a personal injury attorney in South Florida who does not offer free consultations.

There is no rule saying that you cannot get as many consultations as you want before hiring an attorney.

While I doubt anyone has the time or patience to consult with dozens of attorneys, most people have the time and energy to speak with at least three.

You should be asking these questions:

– Are you speaking with an attorney or a paralegal, investigator, or case manager?

– If you hire the lawyer, will you get their cell phone number?

– How many cases does the lawyer have?

– Will the lawyer be handling the case or a staff member?

– Where is the lawyer located (not just where they advertise their location)?

– Will the lawyer meet with you in person? If so, how often?

– Will the lawyer come to you or does he or she want you to come into their office?

– What is the lawyer’s plan for your case?

– How long will your case take?

– Can you meet and speak with an attorney before signing a fee agreement?

NOTE: The most important question anyone should ask a potential personal injury lawyer is: what is their average case settlement value? It doesn’t matter what their biggest verdict or settlement is or how much money an entire firm has made over the past twenty-five years. The vast majority of cases are average and the lawyer’s average settlement value across all settled cases is the best way of taking the temperature of a lawyer’s skill. That said, good luck getting a lawyer to commit to telling you their true average settlement number.

4. Discuss fee percentages before you sign up.

The Florida Bar caps personal injury fees at 33.33% of any recovery before filing a lawsuit and 40% of any recovery after a lawsuit is filed.

Although the Bar caps the fees, there is no rule whatsoever that says attorneys can’t charge you less than 33.33%.

For many lawyers, the fee percentage may be negotiable.

While I don’t recommend lowballing every lawyer until you find one to take your case for the lowest percentage, I do recommend that you ask for a reduction in the fee percentage before you sign the fee agreement.

If your case is relatively simple, like a rear-end car accident, then you are justified in requesting a small reduction because there are likely few issues regarding liability.

However, if your case is more complex, you are less justified in requesting a fee reduction.

It never hurts to ask.

5. Remember: you have the right to a lawyer of your choice.

You may cancel any fee agreement you sign within the first three days of signing up.

After the first three days, you can still change your lawyer.

However, your lawyer may want to get paid for some of the work he or she has done.

You pay for their services, no matter how brief, when your case settles.

You will still need to pay your new attorney too.

However, most lawyers who you hire will pay the fees incurred by your previous lawyer out of his or her percentage share of the recovery.

It is important to ask a new lawyer that you hire how he or she plans on splitting the bill.

If you are unhappy with your current South Florida personal injury attorney, call and interview several other accident attorneys in South Florida and ask them if they will pay the other lawyers lien out of their share of the fees.

If you are unhappy with your attorney, you should consider hiring a new one as early in the case as possible.

Those are my 5 tips for hiring a personal injury attorney. In sum, before you hire a personal injury lawyer in South Florida, do some research and narrow a few candidates down. Call and ask for free consultations and ask to speak with the lawyer directly versus a staff member. Interview several lawyers and choose the one you feel most confident in hiring. Finally, remember that your injury lawyer is working for you and not the other way around.

What is Family Law?

Family law is a legal practice area that focuses on issues involving family relationships such as marriage, adoption, divorce, and child custody, among others. Attorneys practicing family law can represent clients in family court proceedings or in related negotiations. They can also draft important legal documents such as court petitions or property agreements.

Some family law attorneys even specialize in adoption, paternity, emancipation, or other matters not usually related to divorce. The matter of family encompasses so many life aspects. Lawyers in the field, therefore, help all kinds of people facing all kinds of sensitive issues that many people wouldn’t immediately assume go under the family law umbrella.

The following is a primer on family law and what it entails.

Helpful Terms to Know

  • Emancipation: A court process through which a minor becomes self-supporting, assumes adult responsibility for their personal welfare, and is no longer under the care of their parents.
  • Marital Property: Property acquired by either spouse during the course of a marriage that is subject to division upon divorce.
  • Alimony: An allowance made to one spouse by the other for support during or after a legal separation or divorce.
  • Paternity: Origin or descent from a father (to establish paternity is to confirm the identity of a child’s biological father).
  • Prenuptial Agreement: An agreement made between a man and a woman before marrying in which they give up future rights to each other’s property in the event of a divorce or death.

Reasons to Hire a Family Law Attorney

Most family lawyers represent clients in divorce proceedings and other matters related to divorce. But family law is a relatively broad practice area, including such issues as foster care and reproductive rights. Since family law matters hit so close to home, having a trusted legal professional by your side can help you ensure your loved ones are properly represented and protected during any legal process.

The most common reasons to hire a family law attorney include:

  • Divorce: Each partner hires their own attorney, who will help devise a settlement plan in order to avoid a trial. Divorce attorneys typically are skilled at dividing marital property, calculating spousal support, and proposing a plan for child custody, visitation, and support (if applicable).
  • Child Custody / Child Support: Court orders and settlement agreements involving both custody and support usually are included in the larger divorce case, but maybe revisited as conditions change. For instance, child support may be altered after the non-custodial parent’s financial situation changes.
  • Paternity: In most cases, paternity cases are filed by the mother in an effort to secure child support payments from an absent father. But sometimes biological fathers file for paternity in order to have a relationship with their child. Paternity typically is determined through DNA testing.
  • Adoption / Foster Care: Adoption is a complex process that differs according to the type of adoption, where the child is from, variances in state laws, and other factors. Therefore, it’s important to consult with a family law attorney. Foster parents sometimes adopt their foster children, but the foster process does not necessarily require legal representation.

Related Practice Areas

Family law often intersects with a wide range of other legal practice areas. For example, instances of domestic violence and child abuse typically involve criminal investigations (and may result in arrests and charges). Along with that process, family courts are tasked with determining how to best protect the victims and ensure a relatively safe environment for those involved. Other related legal practice areas include the following:

Marriage and Divorce Laws Vary by State

States have the right to determine “reasonable formal requirements” for marriage, including age and legal capacity, as well as the rules and procedures for divorce and other family law matters.

The timeframe of the divorce process, for example, depends on location. Some states have divorce laws that require a waiting period. Same-sex marriage has historically been a state matter. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, some states restricted marriage (and divorce) to opposite-sex couples only.

Need Help With a Family Law Matter? Talk to a Professional

Whether you’re in the process of a divorce, need help with an adoption, or have questions about enforcing a child support order, it’s often in your best interests to work with an attorney. Get the help you need by contacting an experienced family law attorney near you.

How To Find The Right Personal Injury Lawyer

A lawyer can handle your personal injury lawsuit, help you settle your personal injury claim, and prepare your case for small claims court or arbitration. But you don’t want to hire just any lawyer. You want an experienced personal injury lawyer you can trust.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • methods for finding the right personal injury lawyer, and
  • tips on choosing the right lawyer to represent you.

Finding an Experienced Lawyer

The practice of law has become highly specialized, and many tax lawyers, for example, know less about personal injury law than you will after reading a few Alllaw articles. So, your first task is to find a lawyer who has experience representing claimants (called “plaintiffs”) in personal injury cases. You might not want to be represented by someone who has primarily been a lawyer for insurance companies, even if they’re experienced. Such a lawyer may be too accustomed to taking the insurance company’s side, and might not fight hard enough for your claim. On the other hand, a seasoned plaintiff’s lawyer who has some experience on the other side (representing personal injury defendants or insurance companies) can be a real asset.

A Lawyer Might Not Want Your Case

Finding a lawyer you want to hire is one thing. But that lawyer also has to want your case. And a lawyer could have several reasons for rejecting you as a client.

Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. (See “Managing Lawyer Costs & Expenses in a Personal Injury Case“.) This arrangement means that the lawyer’s fee is a percentage of what you ultimately receive in compensation. And if the amount you are likely to receive is small, most lawyers won’t take on the claim. That’s because a lawyer’s overhead—the cost of operating a law office—is too high to make small cases economically worthwhile.

However, even if your case is too small to have a lawyer take over the entire claim, you might still be able to hire the lawyer on an hourly basis to give you advice on particular parts of your claim.

Even if your injuries are serious and your potential compensation is high, a lawyer might decline to take your case if the odds of winning full compensation are low for some reason. For example, you might have been partially or largely responsible for the accident, or it might be difficult to prove that someone else was at fault, or the person responsible for the accident might have little or no insurance coverage.

Finally, a lawyer might refuse to take your perfectly good case for the same reason that you might not want to hire a perfectly good lawyer—the two of you might not like each other or feel comfortable with each other. If your personality and the lawyer clash right away, the lawyer might simply decide that handling your claim is just not worth it.

Friends and Acquaintances

Contact friends or coworkers who have been represented by a lawyer in their own personal injury claims. If they say good things about the experience, but that lawyer is on your list of candidates. But don’t make any decision about a lawyer solely on the basis of someone else’s recommendation. Different people will have different responses to a lawyer’s style and personality. Also, at any particular time, a lawyer may have more or less energy or interest to devote to a new case. So don’t make up your mind about hiring a lawyer until you’ve met with them, discussed your case, and decided you’re comfortable entering a working relationship.

Lawyers You Already Know

You may already know a lawyer, either personally or because the lawyer has represented you before in some legal matter. So, when you consider hiring a lawyer to work on your personal injury claim, it may seem obvious to hire this person you already know.

But this lawyer might have little or no experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases. If so, ask the lawyer to refer you to someone—either in that lawyer’s office or elsewhere—who might be a good fit. Lawyers commonly refer cases to one another, and most lawyers have someone in their network who handles plaintiffs’ personal injury cases. As with referrals from friends or coworkers, however, do not simply take another lawyer’s referral as gospel.

Websites

Online resources like Nolo.com and AllLaw.com offer free legal information and attorney directories to help you put together a list of potential attorneys to talk to about your case. You can also fill out the form at the top or bottom of this page to connect with an attorney for free.

Choosing the Right Lawyer

No matter how you initially connect with a candidate, it’s best to sit down with the lawyer in person to discuss your claim. Bring copies of all the documents you have concerning your claim: police report, medical bills, income loss information, and all correspondence with the insurance company, including your demand letter if you have reached that stage.

Most personal injury lawyers don’t charge for an initial consultation.

There are a few basic things to find out from the lawyer at the outset of your first interview.

General Experience

Find out a little bit about the lawyer’s background and experience. If you’re interested in where the lawyer went to school, ask that— although it isn’t as important as experience in the real world. Some other questions might be:

  • How long has the lawyer been in practice?
  • Roughly what percentage of the lawyer’s practice involves personal injury cases?
  • Does the lawyer most often represent plaintiffs (claimants) or defendants (businesses, insurance companies)?
  • Does the lawyer have experience with the insurance company in your case or even the particular insurance adjuster?

Who Will Work on Your Case?

In almost every law practice, lawyers work together on cases. Often, less experienced attorneys and paralegals handle routine tasks. This can benefit you if work gets done more quickly. And if you’re paying by the hour, it’s better for you not to have the more expensive senior lawyer handling routine paperwork.

Small Firm or Large Firm?

The size of a law firm does not have much to do with how well the office handles your case.

You may have the idea that a large law office will intimidate an insurance company into giving you a better settlement, but that’s rarely true. A small personal injury case can easily get lost in the shuffle at a big firm. Also, large law offices are in the habit of freely spending money on expenses that may use up much of your potential compensation.

Also, insurance companies know that large law offices often do not put as much time or concern into a typical personal injury case as do smaller law offices. Therefore, insurance adjusters dealing with a large office may make a lower personal injury settlement offer in the hope that the busy lawyer may recommend that the client take it. You are likely to receive more personal attention from a small law office, and many of the best personal injury lawyers choose to work in a law firm with only a few lawyers.

Make sure, however, that important work on your case is not left to less experienced lawyers or staff. When first interviewing a lawyer, ask which lawyer in the office would have primary responsibility for your case and which lawyer you would be dealing with directly. If more than one lawyer would be working on your case, ask to meet and discuss your case with the other lawyers, too. And ask which specific parts of the case the primary lawyer would handle personally and which would be turned over to a paralegal.

Lines of Communication

How well you and a lawyer will be able to communicate with each other is an important aspect of choosing a lawyer. Does the lawyer listen to you? Is the lawyer willing to follow your wishes about how to approach the case? Does the lawyer explain things well? Do you get the sense that the lawyer will keep you informed and will truly listen to your input before making important decisions in the case?

A lawyer’s willingness to listen and ability to understand you may affect how much you can help the lawyer and whether you can control somewhat how the lawyer does the job. A lawyer’s willingness and ability to explain what is happening in your case will likewise affect your ability to make good decisions. And your ability to talk to one another may make the entire process much less stressful.

Your Settlement Goal

After you have discussed with the lawyer the facts of your case and the history of your negotiations with the insurance company, the lawyer may give you a general opinion of how much your case is worth and how difficult it may be to get the insurance company to pay something in that range. This is when you should discuss with the lawyer the different ways your case could be approached, and whether the lawyer would be willing to handle it in the way you prefer. These approaches include:

  • obtaining a settlement amount for you within a certain range and with as few costs and as little hassle as possible
  • obtaining any amount more than what the insurance company has already offered you, as soon as possible, or
  • obtaining as much as possible, no matter how long it takes.

Asking to approach a case in a certain way when you first hire the lawyer does not mean that you are stuck with that approach. As the case goes along, you are always free to ask the lawyer to change tack. You may get tired of the whole process and want the lawyer to wrap things up as soon as possible. Or, the cost of taking your case through the lawsuit process may begin to eat up too much of your potential compensation. On the other hand, as the case goes along it may seem to you and your lawyer that the odds have improved of obtaining a higher settlement than you originally anticipated, and so you are willing to have the lawyer fight longer and harder than you were initially.

This article was adapted from the book, How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim, by Attorney Joseph Matthews (Nolo). We highly recommend it, whether you handle your own claim or hire a lawyer.

WHAT TYPES OF CASES DO PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS HANDLE?

MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

car accident

Motor vehicle accident cases include car accidentsbus accidentsbicycle accidentsmotorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents.

Call a personal injury attorney as soon as you can after the incident.

It is important to capture evidence at the crash site, including any security camera footage, eyewitness statements, vehicle examination, photos of the crash scene, and road conditions. All of these can be lost to time if you do not act quickly to secure and preserve the evidence.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will begin investigating and building your case immediately. Both insurance and personal injury claims are required to be filed within the strict deadlines. An attorney who knows the law and the court system can help you deal with any difficulties that may arise.

Insurance companies try to come up with any reason not to pay out, but a personal injury lawyer who understands the business and how to handle insurance companies can negotiate effectively to get you the compensation to which you are entitled.

PREMISES LIABILITY

Under Texas premises liability law, property owners have a duty to protect the safety of those on their premises. Owners have to ensure that those who enter their business, home, or land are safe and do not get hurt due to hazards or dangerous conditions. The level of liability for injuries may vary based on whether the individual is a business guest, social guest, or even a trespasser.

There are several types of cases that fall under premises liability law, including:

If you have suffered an injury due to negligence on the property of another individual, a personal injury lawyer with experience in premises liability can help you hold the property owner accountable for your injury.

PRODUCT LIABILITY

Consumer protection laws are in place to protect the public by ensuring that businesses market products that are safe. However, despite government standards and regulations, defective products can still find their way to consumers.

If you have been injured due to a defective product, you have legal options. Companies that design, manufacture, or sell dangerous products can be held liable if the products cause harm. A personal injury lawyer with experience in dealing with product liability cases can bring negligent manufacturers to justice and seek full and fair compensation on your behalf.

Make sure that the personal injury lawyer you hire is experienced in product liability cases. If the experience relates to the product in your case, that’s even better.

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

Medical malpractice is when a patient is injured as a result of negligent medical care by healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses, or organizations such as hospitals and clinics. By failing to provide an acceptable standard of care, they may be forced to compensate the patient for the injury. Medical negligence covers a number of possible actions that could be related to mistakes in surgery, misdiagnosis, errors in anesthesia, and prescribing the wrong drugs.

These cases can be extremely complex and technical, and typically require extensive resources to build the evidence needed. They can also be difficult to prove because the patient must show that the injury was caused by medical staff error.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

When workers are injured in the course of doing their jobs, they are entitled to what is called workers’ compensation. This system is essentially insurance held by employers to cover medical costs, as well as lost wages and disability benefits if the worker is either permanently or temporarily disabled. These cases can require a great deal of negotiation and with the insurance companies who pay out the compensation on behalf of the employer.

ASSAULT/SEXUAL ASSAULT

Assault of any kind is a crime, but a victim may also choose to bring a civil action against the perpetrator.

The purpose of a civil action is generally for the purpose of receiving compensation for the personal injuries incurred as a result of the assault. This can include costs for medical bills, physical injuries, lost wages, property damage and long-term emotional trauma that will require rehabilitation and therapy.

These kinds of cases can bring on a great deal of shame and anxiety and are tough to navigate. An experienced personal injury attorney can hold the offending parties accountable.

HIRING A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER

Any accident can be traumatic. Fortunately, you may have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and suffering. If you do, you need an established, well-respected personal injury law firm behind you. Be sure you take the time to do your research and speak with a number of lawyers before you make your decision.

Take into account their reviews and success rates in your type of case. Hiring a strong, experienced personal injury lawyer can make all the difference. Call Stephens Law Firm, PLLC, to arrange a free consultation.

8 Steps to Be the Rockstar Personal Injury Paralegal

The backbone of all good personal injury law firms is its paralegals.  Paralegals are essential to a personal injury law firm, whether for a solo practitioner or a large firm with many lawyers.  The tricky part of being a personal injury paralegal is understanding the law and understanding the medical terminology, along with the many other paralegal skills required to succeed.

Besides taking our carefully tailored personal injury course, some of the most important steps to becoming a rockstar personal injury paralegal are the following:

1. Learn the Basics of Anatomy and Medicine

A valuable personal injury paralegal is a paralegal who knows not only the law but also the medicine.  It may be more critical for the paralegal to know the medicine than the law.  Among other important paralegal skills, knowing the medicine allows the lawyers more time to practice law and bring in more clients.

The lawyer(s) at the firm can help guide you on the law while you guide them on the medicine.  Knowing the medicine, you can direct the lawyer in the right direction by finding relevant medical chronologies related to that injury. It can also save a lawyer time, which makes you invaluable to the lawyer.

Some ways that you can learn anatomy and medicine include the following:

  • Grab a medical school study guide or an anatomy or physiology guidebook, some being the renowned “for dummies” series, but also the Demystified series has very helpful anatomy and drawings.  Read these books and tab important parts or buy them online and keep them in your desk or at home to research at night.
  • Watch videos online of basic anatomy and physiology, which are free through YouTube.  You can even watch surgeries like the kinds of your clients are getting to better understand what happens, recovery time, and after-effects/permanent disability.
  • Learn about broken bones and their surgeries (closed reduction versus an open reduction) and soft tissue injuries to the neck and back.
  • Find and keep a chart or diagram of the bones and largest muscle systems.
  • Google is your friend, and make sure to search online whenever you have a question before you ask a lawyer (but make sure the information is from a reliable source!).
  • Ask other paralegals at your firm how they became more familiar with the medicine and anatomy.  Many firms have resources in-house to help the lawyers and support staff which can be particularly helpful.

2. Know the Statute of Limitations Period

The statute of limitations is a time limit on a particular cause of action.  The failure to commence a lawsuit within this time period will likely result in the lawsuit being dismissed by a court.  If the law firm accepted the case before the statute of limitations period expired, it could result in a finding of legal malpractice.

While this is an issue that concerns the lawyers, it affects the entire firm—including you.  As a personal injury paralegal, you need to know every type of statute of limitations period, the exceptions and memorize them for every one of your cases that have not been commenced yet (i.e., initial intake).

You should then remind your lawyer(s) of the statute of limitations period as the cases get closer to those time limits – and not just one reminder.  Most personal injury firms have docketing or calendaring software that automates this process.  If your firm doesn’t, then set a reminder on your calendar for 60 days out from the statute date, 30 days out, 15 days out, five days out, and the day of expiration.  When each of these reminders comes up on your calendar, send the attorney a reminder email.

rockstar personal injury paralegal

3. Learn Medication Abbreviations

Medical professionals use a lot of shorthand in their notes and medical charts.  Some of these medical abbreviations are obvious, while others are not.  All personal injury paralegals need to learn these abbreviations and lingo to avoid making mistakes in transcribing records or missing essential points in the records.

Unfortunately, many of these abbreviations will not be known ahead of time.  As you come upon these abbreviations, you should write them down in a chart and research them online.  Some basic abbreviations like a “circle R or L” mean left and right, and a C with a line above it is “with.”  Other abbreviations such as fx (fracture), dx (diagnosis), rx (prescription), and hx (history) are frequently used in medical records that you will be reviewing.

But other abbreviations may be less intuitive yet still need to be researched and recorded in your chart when you come across them.

4. Understand Medical Terminology

Depending on whether or not your personal injury law firm has specific injury claims that they specialize in, knowing those medical terms will be vital to your paralegal job duties.  For example, knowing the difference between a distal fracture and a proximal fracture could be very important because it changes the entire location—and sometimes the entire value—of a case.

Other terminologies such as radiculopathy or neuropathy are also important to understand what they are and how they can be caused in an accident.  There will be common terminology that you come across repeatedly, which you should research and write down on your cheat sheet.  Continue to go back over your sheet to evaluate all critical terms to keep it fresh in your head.

5. Know How to Obtain Medical Records Quickly and Efficiently

Obtaining medical records is one of the most common things a paralegal will do in a personal injury law firm.  This includes records from hospitals, primary care physicians, surgical groups, and doctor’s offices.  Knowing how to request these medical records and obtain them quickly is essential, especially when a statute of limitations is coming up.

It is also important to ask the lawyer or lawyers you are working with whether they prefer paper medical records or digital copies.  More and more healthcare providers can provide digital records that can save your law firm both time and money to make these types of record requests.

6. Develop Templates and Keep Improving Them

Having form letters is very important to make your work quicker and more efficient.  However, developing these form letters by improving them with the advice of the lawyers you are working with will help elevate your work product.  This does not have to be formally either.  If your lawyer is making certain edits to your letters, begin by incorporating those edits into your form letters.  From there, once the edits stop, you know you have a solid form letter.

personal injury training for paralegals

Personal Injury Paralegal

Are you a personal injury paralegal struggling to keep up with all of those active case files? Our Personal Injury Paralegal Boot Camp gives you all of the tools to manage your personal injury cases from case intake through the demand letter, and everything in between.

7. Keep a Database of Outside Experts

You will work with a lot of experts and providers in this paralegal role.  Some will be the same primary care or orthopedists from case after case.  Others will be the experts that you hire for a case.  Keeping track of their contact information is important, but how they perform on your motion or at trial is even more critical.  You do not want to work with weak experts and should know when a treating doctor will not give a strong position (for settlement purposes).

To become a rockstar personal injury paralegal, keeping track of the experts that the other side use will also set you apart.  This includes the cases they were in, their opinions, and some highlights from cross-examination that could be used to impeach the expert in future cases.  In addition, having scanned copies of affidavits in other cases or motions can be used in the future to show a jury that the expert is just a “hired gun” or says the same thing for the defense each time. Thus, keeping track of the information is an integral part of litigation support that personal injury paralegals should do, and the indispensable paralegals always do.

8. Know the Litigation Process

In many personal injury firms, paralegal roles are segmented into the typical phases of a personal injury claim.  For example, in some firms, the claim file moves from the Case Intake/Case Manager to the Litigation Paralegal when the claim does not settle after the demand letter is sent to the insurance company.  Please read this article we wrote about different roles in a personal injury law firm.

Even if your paralegal job description or job title focuses on the case intake or pre-litigation phase of the personal injury claim, you should still familiarize yourself with what happens after your claim files become litigation cases. This will make you a more valuable employee, even if you currently only handle the case intake or medical records phases.

Fast-Track Your Personal Injury Paralegal Career

These are just some of the important tips on how to become an indispensable personal injury paralegal.  They will really help set you apart from other paralegals in the firm, earning you both rapport with the lawyers and bonuses or raises.  But notwithstanding these important tips, you need to know the foundations of being a personal injury paralegal.  You can do that and more through our Personal Injury Paralegal Boot Camp available online, specifically focused on a paralegal’s role in plaintiff personal injury law firms.

The Importance of Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

Accident Lawyer Representing Victims in Springfield and Surrounding Communities

At Ackerman Law Office, our team has been fighting for victims in court and at the negotiating table for decades. Led by founding partner James W. Ackerman, we fully understand the pain and stress that an accident can cause for both an injured person and their family. This is why we work tirelessly to advocate for the full compensation that they deserve. Springfield personal injury lawyer James W. Ackerman has secured tens of millions of dollars in damages for victims who have been hurt in a broad range of situations, ranging from car accidents and medical malpractice to slip and falls, nursing home negligence, and defective products.7 Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer | Rossman Law

Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

An attorney plays a vital role in any personal injury case. Although many accidents may be covered by an insurance policy, insurers are often hesitant to pay out claims, and they regularly try to limit the amount of the payout in any way possible. An insurer may even try to pressure you to agree to a small fraction of what you are owed by approaching you shortly after the accident when stress and uncertainty are at their peak. However, Illinois law requires insurers to act in good faith and bans them from engaging in fraudulent or deceptive practices. A seasoned attorney can help make sure an insurer is acting fairly.

Retaining a personal injury attorney in the Springfield area is also vital in your efforts to maximize your damages. A lawyer can not only identify the parties responsible for an accident but also put together a clear and convincing record of evidence to prove that responsibility. When driving, for instance, people are generally expected to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner. A driver who does not do so is likely to be found negligent and liable for any injuries that result. The driver’s employer may also be liable if the driver was on the clock at the time of the collision. Additionally, auto manufacturers and parts makers may be liable if design and construction defects contributed to the crash. An experienced lawyer knows how to investigate an accident and build a case that will vigorously assert a victim’s rights.

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in Springfield to Advocate for You

Our law firm takes the time to understand each victim’s personal situation and make sure that they are fully aware of their rights and options at every step of the process. Our firm also limits the number of cases that we handle so that we can give personalized attention to each and every client. Springfield personal injury attorney James W. Ackerman works on a contingent fee basis in most cases. This means that you do not pay us unless you get paid. Ackerman Law Office represents victims throughout Central Illinois, including in Virginia, Champaign, Urbana, Taylorville, Decatur, Mount Zion, Hillsboro, and other communities in Champaign, Christian, Logan, Macon, Montgomery, and Peoria Counties. Call us at 888-889-1977 or 217-789-1977, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer or seek assistance with another type of personal injury claim.