When your child is injured in an accident, it is only natural to be worried. But if the injuries are caused by the negligent actions of another, you may be able to seek compensation on your child’s behalf. But how do you know what attorney will be the best one to handle your child’s claim? Should you look for a particular skill set or accreditation? Here are a few things you should keep in mind when searching for a personal injury lawyer to handle your child’s case.
Get Recommendations from People You Trust
Hiring an attorney is a big decision. You want to have complete confidence that they will act in a manner that is best for your claims and your family. So reach out to people you trust for a recommendation. Good referral sources include family and friends and other lawyers you have worked with in the past.
If a family member or friend has dealt with a personal injury attorney before, ask how their experience was and if they would recommend the attorney for your situation. If you’ve previously worked with an attorney on another legal problem, they can also help. If you had a good experience with that attorney and trust their judgment, they can refer you to an attorney they trust.
Research Attorney Ratings, Reviews, and Certifications
While you can’t trust everything you see on the internet, it does provide some good resources to get a general idea of a personal injury lawyer’s reputation. Here are some of the most reliable places to check.
State and Local Bar Associations
All states have a website that allows you to search for an attorney by name. Check to see if their license is in good standing and if they’ve had any disciplinary issues in the past. Some states also have an attorney referral program that any potential client can access for free.You can also check to see if an attorney has any additional specialization or certifications in their practice field. For example, the Texas Board of Legal Specialization recognizes 25 different specialty areas of law that must be achieved by taking extra exams. These include tax law, consumer bankruptcy law, and personal injury trial law, among others.
Attorney Ratings Guides
If you are looking for even more information, try an online attorney ratings guide. These websites provide an indicator of a lawyer’s skill and reputation. There are a few companies with a solid reputation for providing fair and objective ratings on lawyers all over the country. They are:
All of these organizations give a detailed explanation of how they evaluate attorneys and what credentials they factor into their recommendations. Google, Yelp, and other social media websites may be helpful, but they don’t use objective criteria to research different attorneys and generally do a poor job of filtering out fake reviews from real ones.
Does Location Matter?
To file or try a case in a certain state, an attorney must be licensed there, have a temporary license to practice there, or be working with an attorney who is licensed there. That makes sense. But another thing to consider is locality. In smaller states this may not be a big deal, and a certain lawyer will be able to handle cases all over the state with no problems. But in big states that have several major cities, narrowing your search can be a good idea. For example, if you are injured in central Texas the Austin-based The Zimmerman Law Firm can be a great resource.
If you hire a locally based attorney, you can meet with them face to face instead of in a webcam or phone-based consultation. It will also be faster to deliver hard copies of necessary documents to them. Finally, a local attorney will know the etiquette and quirks specific to a particular court, and sometimes even to a specific judge. But in the end, remember that location should not be the only deciding factor. If you find an attorney who is based in another locality but trust their expertise, go with your gut. Bar licenses allow an attorney to practice in ANY court in the state.
What Is the Lawyer’s Fee Structure?
Advertisements from personal injury firms, whether TV, social media, radio, newspaper, online, magazine, or other form of media, often use phrases like “no fees for no recovery,” “in-home consultations,” “free initial consultation,” etc. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they collect a percentage of your settlement or jury award. This is incredibly common, so don’t be fooled into thinking one attorney is offering you an incredible deal. Free consultations and contingency fee structures are the standard in the industry, not the exception.
Beware of Contingency Fee Pitfalls
A lot of personal injury attorneys boast that if the client isn’t successful in their lawsuit, the attorney won’t be either. The “no fee for no recovery” policy is fairly common, but it doesn’t give the whole story. There is a big difference between an attorney’s fee and the expenses it takes to put together a successful personal injury claim. These expenses include expert witness fees, court and filing fees, charges for the release of medical records, and much more.
How these expenses are covered varies widely by the firm but also by the type of claim your child needs for recovery. Many car crash suits may accrue only a few thousand dollars in legal expenses, but the more complicated the case, the higher the expenses will be. Just how these are covered is an important thing to keep in mind when choosing an attorney. The Zimmerman Law Firm in Austin, Texas, reports that
At the end of the day, you just want your child to be healthy and happy. And after an accident, a personal injury lawsuit may be the best way to help them (and your family) recover.