If you sustained injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions, then you have rights under Georgia law to seek compensation for your injuries from the person or company that caused you harm. The first step in getting the money you deserve is to talk to a Duluth personal injury lawyer.
Personal injury attorneys represent people who suffer harm due to the careless or reckless acts of others. People can suffer injuries in a wide range of accidents and incidents, from motor vehicle accidents to slipping and falling on someone else’s property. Personal injury lawyers know how to investigate these accidents, identify all at fault parties, and hold them accountable for our clients’ losses. We work to obtain settlement payments in and out of court.
The question is, however, how do you find the personal injury attorney who is best for you? A quick Google search can come back with millions of law firms, and how do you know which one is right for you? The following are some tips for choosing the best personal injury lawyer for your situation.
Get Local Referrals
You should start by finding personal injury lawyers in your area. Several methods can generate a list as your starting point, including:
- Ask friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations. People you know and trust are a great resource because they care about you and want you to have the best representation possible.
- Ask other Duluth personal injury lawyers. If you know a lawyer—maybe someone you have consulted in the past for a legal issue that was not related to personal injury—ask for a referral. Lawyers are great resources, and it’s in their interest to send you to someone you can trust.
- Use a legal directory. Local bar associations often provide directories of local attorneys, organized by practice area. Finding a lawyer through a bar association directory helps to assure you identify someone local to you.
- Use an online directory or online search for “personal injury lawyers” and your location.
Once you have a general list of personal injury law firms in your area, you can then begin the process of narrowing down that list.
Research the Lawyers
You’ll want to conduct some research on the lawyers you identified as possibilities before choosing those you want to learn more about. Most lawyers have a website that provides information about them, their team, and the focus of their law practice.
First, look for whether the lawyer primarily represents injured people (plaintiffs) or the parties who caused the injuries (defendants), or a mix of both. Typically, an attorney who advertises as a personal injury lawyer represents plaintiffs exclusively, but that isn’t always the case. You want to make sure the lawyer you choose doesn’t have even the slightest potential for divided loyalties. Cross out anyone on your list who represents defendants or their insurance companies.
Next, look for anything that shows the lawyer has familiarity with claims that involve injuries like yours. The law behind personal injury cases is (mostly) the same for any kind of injury, but the facts of personal injury cases can differ widely. It makes a significant difference in your chances of success in a personal injury case to have a lawyer who understands the ins-and-outs of your type of accident and injury. This includes what to look for when determining fault, what to ask doctors to figure out your chances for a full recovery, what evidence and resources you need to support your claim, and so on.
Many attorney websites will also include examples of damages the attorney obtained for clients in past cases. Look for awards relating to injuries similar to yours. Past results in similar cases do not guarantee any outcome for your case, but they can give you comfort that the law firm has had success helping people recover compensation in cases with a similar profile.
Gather Your Documentation
To give you the best advice for your situation, lawyers need to have a clear sense of your injuries and how they occurred. Providing your lawyer with all of the documentation you have about your accident and injuries can help substantially.
As best you can, collect and organize all of the paper or electronic records you received relating to your accident and injury. These will vary depending on your situation, but in most cases, they will include medical bills, insurance bills and statements of benefits, credit card statements showing expenses you paid because of your accident and injury, pay stubs (to help calculate any lost wages), police reports and other documents relating to an accident, and any pictures and videos you have that help to visualize your accident and injuries.
In short, if a record relates to your accident and injuries, keep it to show to the lawyer you choose. The right personal injury lawyer will inform you if they need any additional documentation during the course of your case.
Ask Questions to Decide Whether the Lawyer Is Right for You
At your initial consultation, ask questions to decide whether you want to hire the lawyer to handle your claim. In addition to assessing the answers to your questions, pay attention to the personal element of the interview. Do you feel comfortable with this person? Are their explanations of the legal process clear and understandable to you? Do they seem patient and open to answering your questions, or are they trying to rush you out the door or off the phone?
Ask questions about their practice and work habits, such as:
- What is the lawyer’s specific experience representing clients in connection with accidents and injuries similar to yours?
- Will the lawyer work directly on your case, or will they have others in the office handle most of your claim?
- What does the lawyer think about your case? (Don’t expect a detailed analysis, but do expect the lawyer to give you an honest take based on the information you provided to them.)
Further, be prepared to discuss your goals with the attorney. Some people want to seek justice, no matter how long it takes. Some people find themselves in dire financial circumstances, and they just want a quick settlement. Some people have an amount of money in mind that they think would be fair compensation for their injuries. Speak to the attorney about your goals and ask for their reaction and opinion. Look for an attorney who shows a willingness to work toward achieving your goals, if they are realistic. This is your life, after all, not theirs.
Take your time considering the lawyers you met with, and your gut reaction to the meeting. However, you don’t want to take too much time to weigh your options, as you must meet strict deadlines for taking legal action for compensation, and that clock often starts ticking at the time of the injury. The more time that passes, the less likely you are to recover the maximum compensation you deserve. If you need information and assistance with a personal injury case in Georgia, contact a qualified attorney today.
How the Right Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You
The days and weeks immediately following a preventable accident can be confusing and stressful. If you suffered serious injuries, you are probably concerned about how you are going to pay your medical bills and make up for lost income from the inability to work. Fortunately, you do not have to deal with these difficult issues alone. A personal injury attorney can help protect your rights and handle the legal aspects of your claim while you recover.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Determine Whether You Have a Claim
Not every injury-causing accident entitles victims to compensation. To file a successful claim, your accident must have been the result of someone else’s legal negligence, which occurs when a person fails to use the degree of care that someone in the same or similar circumstances would ordinarily use. An attorney can analyze your accident and determine whether you have a viable claim to pursue.
Your Attorney Can Help Determine From Whom You Can Recover
In many cases, it can be difficult to determine exactly who is responsible for an accident. A lawyer familiar with personal injury law can review the facts of your case and determine from whom you may recover compensation. In some cases, there may be multiple responsible parties. When this occurs, you will want to file a claim against all liable parties, as it increases the chances that you will obtain compensation for all of your accident-related losses.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Attempt to Negotiate a Settlement Offer
The overwhelming majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court. As a victim, it’s important to understand that the insurance company is not on your side and will do everything it can to settle your case for as little as possible. In fact, insurance adjusters will almost certainly pressure unrepresented claimants to settle their cases for less than they are actually worth. Fortunately, when you have the representation of an experienced personal injury attorney, they can attempt to negotiate a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
Your Attorney Can Take Your Case to Trial
While most personal injury cases settle, in some instances, the insurance company simply isn’t willing to make a fair settlement offer. When this happens, your only option to get the compensation to which you are entitled is to take your case to trial. If this happens to you, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in the appropriate court and try your case in front of a jury.
How Much Will a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
Many people hesitate to even begin looking for a personal injury attorney because they assume they cannot afford legal representation. We’ve all heard about lawyers charging hundreds of dollars per hour they spend on a case, and this can seem like an insurmountable cost, especially when you are facing lost income, medical bills, and other losses.
The good news is that most personal injury lawyers do not charge an hourly fee. In fact, you should avoid any injury attorney who charges a retainer or has an hourly fee schedule. This is because the large majority of accident and injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis.
What is a Contingency Fee?
Simply put, contingency fees mean that what you pay will be contingent on the outcome of your case. For example:
- If your lawyer does not obtain a settlement or award for you, it means you will pay no attorney’s fees
- If your lawyer obtains a settlement from the insurance company, you will pay a predetermined fee
- If your lawyer has to go through the litigation process, which requires significantly more resources, you will likely pay a higher fee
Many people stop there and think they do not have the money to pay any amount in fees. However, contingency fees come from the compensation you receive from the insurance company, as does the money to cover the basic costs of your case, such as court fees, office supplies, support staff, and more.
This type of fee arrangement means that you will not need funds to pay fees or costs out of pocket, which means that almost anyone can afford to hire a personal injury lawyer. This arrangement also aligns your interests with your attorney’s, as they do not receive payment if they do not win your case. Every lawyer should clearly explain the fee structure and other terms of the representation before you sign the contract.
There are many benefits and few (or no) drawbacks to having the right personal injury lawyer. Never hesitate to begin your search for the right law firm today.
Brauns Law, P.C.
3175 Satellite Boulevard, Bldg 600
Duluth, GA 30096