If you’ve been injured by another person—or another person’s property—you deserve to be compensated, but most people won’t part with their money without a fight. A car accident lawyer can help you win that fight.
Follow these steps to find the right one:
1. Know what type of case you have
Many different types of cases call under the umbrella of personal injury claims. Take a look at the following list to figure out what type of case you have:
- Car accident cases
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice lawsuits
- Slip and fall cases
- Defamation: libel and slander
- Assault, battery and other intentional torts (attacks)
Some of these case types—like car accident cases—are so common that some lawyers specialize in them specifically, but most personal injury lawyers deal with multiple types of cases.
Knowing what type of case you have will also help things move faster at the lawyer’s office, saving you time and money.
2. Know what you want in a lawyer
You want a lawyer who can help you win the money, but what does that actually look like? If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for you’ll waste a lot of time—and potentially money—looking up the wrong people.
Here are some important criteria to consider
- Location: Your lawyer needs to be licensed in the province where you live.
- Focus: They should specialize in your specific type of case or at least in personal injury cases.
- Years of Practice: A young lawyer isn’t always a bad thing, but you’re more likely to get your money if your lawyer’s spent a lot of time on cases like yours.
- Reputation: Your lawyer should have a good reputation both in the legal community and with previous clients. Try to speak to some of these people personally to get an idea of what it’s like to work with the lawyers you’re considering. You should also check their disciplinary record for any complaints filed against them—and if you see any, run the other way.
- Trial Experience: Most personal injury cases are settled out of court, but you need a lawyer who can defend you as confidently in a trial as they can outside of it.
- Winning Record: This should go without saying, but you want a lawyer who wins more than they lose.
With this list of criteria—along with anything else that matters to you—you’re ready to start looking for a lawyer.
3. Get personal referrals
The very best business relationships often begin with a personal referral. After all, the person referring you wants to make sure they keep both contacts happy.
You may not know anyone who won a personal injury case, but you never know until you ask. Somebody in your network might also be related to or friends with a personal injury lawyer who can help you.
The worst thing that can happen here is that nobody you know will have a lawyer for you to contact. Either way, once you’ve asked around a bit you’re ready to move on to the next step:
4. Google all lawyer candidates
You need to do some research on your own, whether you got no referrals at all or the most glowing referral of all time. If you’ve got some referrals, start with those lawyers. If not, start with a simple Google search for “personal injury lawyers in (my town)”.
Once you’ve taken a quick look at their website to confirm their credentials, it’s time to dig deeper. Look into their disciplinary record and their win record. Look for recommendations on third party websites and forums. Speak with previous clients yourself if possible. You want to learn everything you can before you step into a lawyer’s office.
You may need to make some phone calls to confirm some of this information, but most of it can be found online. And once you’ve got it, you can make a list of your top choices.
5. Interview your top choices
The outcome of your case could change the course of your entire life, so make sure you meet with each of your top choices in person (or at least the ones who have time; some may not be available).
Here are some example questions you should ask:
- How many cases like mine have you taken before? What were their outcomes and why?
- How long do you think this case will take?
- Are you confident pursuing my case in trial if it becomes necessary?
- Will you be the only attorney on my case?
Spend 20-30 minutes brainstorming questions and narrow it down to the top 10 questions, then interview your top choices. By the end of this process you should know exactly who you want to work with.