Have you been in an accident and now considering hiring a Baton Rouge personal injury attorney?
Hiring an experienced, quality lawyer is essential if you want to receive the compensation you deserve for your injury.
However, choosing a personal injury attorney is no easy feat.
Dealing with and recuperating from an injury is already a stressful situation. And unfortunately, sometimes people make the mistake of hiring inexperienced attorneys who only add more stress to the situation.
And it’s no wonder why this happens- there’s an overwhelming number of personal injury attorneys out there. It can be extremely difficult to figure out which ones will be your best advocates.
But luckily, if you follow the right steps, choosing a personal injury attorney doesn’t have to be a painful process.
Let’s take a look at the steps you need to take to hire the best attorney:
Understand Your Needs
Before you begin your search, you will first need to figure out why you’re hiring an attorney.
Are you hiring one because you’ve sustained an injury due to another person’s negligent behavior? Or, are you looking to hire a defense attorney because you’ve allegedly caused injury to another person?
Understanding why you’re looking to hire an attorney will help you select someone who knows how to handle your case.
Make a List of Priorities
Before you go looking for advice from friends, online reviews, or other sources, it’s important to make a list of criteria.
This list will help you understand what makes a good lawyer and it will help you narrow your search later on.
Here are some factors that you’ll want to consider:
The most important aspect of location is finding an attorney who is registered in the state in which you were injured. Keep in mind, this may be different from the state you reside in.
If the injury took place within your own state borders, then you’ll also want to consider the location of the attorney’s office. For people with busy lives, a convenient location is a huge plus. However, a lot of your discussions with your attorney can be conducted over the phone, so location shouldn’t be weighed in too heavily.
Lawyers typically specialize in certain types of law.
Picking a lawyer who specializes in personal injuries is essential to winning your case.
Think about it: You would never have a dermatologist deliver your baby, right?
Same goes for lawyers. Specialization matters a great deal when it comes to receiving the best service possible.
You may also want to consider selecting an attorney who specializes within the personal injury specialization. For example, if you were in a car accident, you’ll want to choose an attorney who specializes in accident cases. If you were injured by a defective product, you’ll want to choose a lawyer who specializes in negligence.
You also need to make sure the firm you choose has a depth experience with cases similar to yours.
The injury attorney you hire should have a good reputation. Usually, a quick Google search can tell you if their reputation is faulty.
Experience with handling personal injury cases isn’t enough, you also need to have a lawyer who has experience taking these cases to trial.
You’ll find that there are actually quite a few personal injury lawyers who have never seen the inside of a courtroom. Often times, inexperienced trial lawyers will try to coerce you into settling instead, even if it’s not in your best interest.
Insurance companies can usually tell if an attorney is inexperienced in a courtroom, and they’ll try to take full advantage to this.
Therefore, you need to make sure you hire an attorney who isn’t afraid to take your case to court.
You definitely want to hire a personal injury attorney who has a history of winning cases.
However, finding a win-loss record online is a nearly impossible task. You may be able to put something together using public records, however, the records are usually incomplete, as they do not include settlements.
Therefore, you shouldn’t take win-loss records too seriously.
All attorneys have disciplinary records that show whether they’ve ever been suspended, disbarred, or had a complaint filed against them.
These disciplinary records are available to the public for viewing. You just need to go to Louisiana’s state bar website and type in the bar number of the attorney. Any past transgressions will show up.
After you’ve considered all of the previous factors and made a checklist, you’ll want to start talking to others for advice.
Family, friends, and coworkers can all be great resources for finding referrals.
However, you shouldn’t take the first referral you get and immediately hire them. You still need to do the other research that comes with choosing an attorney for your particular case.
Plus, everyone has slightly different needs and preferences. What may be a great attorney for someone else may not be for you.
Once you have a list of referrals, it’s time to take your search to Google.
In order to conduct an accurate search, you need to make sure to type in the appropriate terms into Google.
For example, you could search “Baton Rouge personal injury attorney” or “car accident attorneys in Baton Rouge.”
Looking at an attorney’s website can give you a good feel of who they are and what they do. Plus, most websites list an attorney’s area of expertise, examples of successful cases, the size of the firm, and years of experience.
Make Some Calls
After doing a Google search, you should have a list of a few candidates who you’re interested in.
You’ll want to call these potential candidates so you can get a better idea of their demeanor and their capabilities. Plus, calling an attorney’s office directly is a great way to get any personalized questions answered.
You can also take the time to call your state’s bar association, as they will have numbers available for lawyer’s referral services.
Make a List of Top Choices
After you’ve made a checklist, asked for some referrals, done a Google search, and made some phone calls, it’s time to make a list of your top choices.
Try to have at least 10 different choices. Too few choices could leave you empty-handed, while too many choices could mean spending too much time digging around.
Prepare to Meet With Candidates
Before hiring a personal injury attorney, you’ll definitely want to meet with every candidate in person.
In order to better prepare for your meetings, you should devise a list of questions to ask each candidate.
Here are a few questions you’ll want to ask during each interview:
- What is the statute of limitations on my case?
- How long do you think my case will take before it’s resolved?
- Is your law firm insured?
- How confident do you feel about my case? Do you think I have a chance of winning?
- What areas of personal injury do you specialize in?
- Have you taken on cases similar to mine before? If so, what were the outcomes?
- How often have you gone to trial in cases similar to mine?
- How do you charge?
- How will you keep me informed on the progress of my case?
- Have disciplinary actions ever been taken against you? I.e. being disbarred or suspended?
Getting answers to these questions is important. However, it’s also important to take note of the demeanor of the attorney when they’re answering these questions.
A quality attorney will listen attentively to your questions and concerns. If they’re being dismissive and trying to rush the interview, they’ll probably behave the same way when you hire them.
Write Down the Facts
Before you meet with lawyers, you’ll want to take time to write down the facts of your case.
This will help lawyers gauge the likelihood of your case’s success. You don’t need to remember every fact about your case, but try to be as detailed as possible. Even the most minor facts that seem irrelevant may actually turn out to be very important, so don’t leave anything out.
To help support these facts, you’ll also want to make sure to bring in the appropriate documentation.
Here are the documents you might need:
- Medical bills
- Medical test results and diagnoses
- Citations and toxicology reports
- Arrest records
- Pictures from the scene of the accident
- Written statements from witnesses
- Professional expert opinions (for example, a crash site reconstruction expert in the case of a car accident)
Sitting Down for the Consultation
After you prepare your list of questions and gather your documents, it’s time to contact each attorney from your list to schedule an interview.
However, before sitting down with an attorney, make sure to ask if they charge a consultation fee. Most attorneys offer free consultations. However, it’s still always a good idea to ask first.
Check in with yourself after each interview session: Do you feel good about the way the interview went and how the attorney treated you? If you leave the session feeling more stressed out, that’s probably a sign you should look elsewhere.
Also, keep in mind that sitting down for a consultation with a lawyer does not mean you have to hire them. Hiring a Baton Rouge personal injury attorney is a big decision, so feel free to sit down with as many attorneys as you need to before making a decision.
After sitting down with each attorney, decide whether it’s necessary to follow-up with any of them.
For example, the third attorney may have brought up something interesting about your case that the first attorney didn’t. But, you really liked the first attorney’s personality and they had a lot of experience. This is the sort of situation in which you’d want to follow-up with the first attorney and bring up your concerns.
Understand the Fees
Before hiring a lawyer, it’s important to understand how their fee structure works.
Attorneys offer different types of fee structures, so it’s important to understand each one so you comfortable in your decision.
For example, contrary to popular belief, a lot of lawyers actually don’t charge hourly rates. Instead, most lawyers take fees on a contingency basis. This means that the lawyer will not collect any upfront fees but instead will collect their fees once the case is concluded.
The average rate for contingency fees is one-third of your winnings.
Also, be aware that you’ll also be charged for expenses in addition to the contingency fees. Expenses include anything the lawyer has to pay someone else to work on your case.
Most attorneys pay for the expenses themselves and then bill you at the end of the case. Ask attorneys about expenses during the interview process to get a clear picture of what you can afford.
Speak With Past Clients
Once you’ve got a top choice in mind, you should ask the attorney if you can speak with some of their previous clients.
This will give you a good idea about the quality of their work. It should also help resolve any doubts you still might have.
Hire Your Top Pick
Once you’ve taken care of all the above, it’s time to actually hire your top choice.
When you hire an attorney, they will send you a fee agreement that spells out everything the lawyer will be charging you for.
Before signing it, make sure to read over everything carefully.
You’ll also want to be sure to check up with your attorney to see how your case is progressing and to make sure they’re filing everything on time.
Here are some final tips to keep in mind when hiring your lawyer:
- Beware of lawyers who offer fast cash or quick settlements.
- Never hesitate to fire a lawyer who isn’t doing their job or who’s making you feel uncomfortable
- Never be afraid to ask lots of questions
- Beware of ambulance scams- also known as “ambulance chasers,” these are lawyers who give you a call or send you something in the mail right after an accident
Wrapping It Up
As you can see, a lot goes into hiring a Baton Rouge personal injury attorney.
However, the reward for all of your research is a qualified attorney who will be your best advocate and help you get the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve been injured, Stephen Babcock of Babcock Injury Lawyers is standing by to help you.
Your case — and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephen’s 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee.
Contact us today.
Get Even! Call Stephen!