How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer: What to Look For in an Attorney
You might have stumbled out of the wreckage of your car last week with a traumatic brain injury. You might have been left bedbound as the hip insert your doctor put in several years ago slowly disintegrated into nothing. You might have taken a hard fall down the stairs at work - and now find yourself spending your PTO in a sterile room, waiting for the results of yet another pelvic MRI. You might be sitting next to your child's hospital bed after a severe dog attack, listening to their heart monitor and wondering if they will wake up.
In the aftermath of an accident, it's natural to feel helpless, angry, or afraid for the future. Whether you're dealing with your own pain or that of a loved one, the bills continue to pile up on your kitchen table, and your insurance agent becomes your sole lifeline. Unfortunately, the insurance company is concerned with their own interests, not yours. They listen for inconsistencies - not to understand. In moments like these, strong, compassionate legal representation can make all the difference. Amidst a sea of flashy slogans and advertisements that prioritize style over substance, it’s crucial to look below the surface. In this guide, we’ll break down the process of choosing a personal injury lawyer and define the qualities that mark an excellent legal advocate.
Why Shouldn't I Handle My Case Alone?
A comprehensive study conducted by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) and All-Industry Research Advisory Council (ARAC) revealed that personal injury plaintiffs with attorney representation received settlements more than 3.5 times higher than those without legal representation. Furthermore, hiring an attorney can help ensure that you receive compensation beyond merely covering your costs. There are cases where insurance companies may only cover medical expenses and vehicle repair costs, leaving the injured party with no compensation for their pain and suffering. A skilled attorney can negotiate with insurance companies to secure additional funds for their clients, accounting for the full extent of their injuries and the impact on their quality of life.
Another benefit not often discussed is an attorney's ability to negotiate medical costs. Lawyers have experience dealing with medical providers and can negotiate with them directly on your behalf to reduce the amount you owe through discounts, waivers, or payment plans. In some cases, they may be able to work with the medical provider and insurance firm to delay payment until your case is settled or a verdict is reached. When your lawyer successfully negotiates lower medical bills, the difference is added to your settlement, meaning you receive more money rather than paying the higher medical bill to the provider.
Perhaps most importantly, having an attorney on your side can make an enormous difference in the compensation you can receive from your personal injury case. If you pursue a case without legal representation, you’re forced to navigate the complexities of personal injury law by yourself. Doing so can severely affect the outcome of your claim - you may end up poorly compensated for your injuries, suffer emotionally under the strain of your lawsuit, and face ongoing financial struggles in the future. It's likely that you've never negotiated a settlement with a stubborn insurance agent before, or argued your own well-evidenced case to a judge and jury. An attorney's years of law school and decades of experience in the field have well-prepared them for all of the above - and more.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Lawyer for Your Injury Case
Choosing substandard legal representation - with flashy slogans and empty promises - can be similarly harmful. The wrong personal injury lawyer may treat you dismissively, communicate poorly, and fail to gather enough evidence to support your claim. To avoid going to trial, they might pressure you into an unsatisfactory settlement early in the process. In contrast, the right personal injury lawyer will treat you with compassion, understanding, and respect. They will listen carefully to your story, communicate throughout their case, and defend your rights all the way to the courtroom. Furthermore, an experienced attorney will know the ins and outs of personal injury law. They will be prepared to build a strong case on your behalf, help you avoid common legal pitfalls and gather essential evidence, and ensure that your claim is filed correctly and within the required time frame. It's not always easy to pick the right lawyer, but it's always rewarding.
With this in mind, how do you begin searching for the right one?
1. Start By Identifying Your Needs
Every personal injury case is unique, and understanding the nature of your situation will help you determine the qualifications and expertise required of your legal representative. Start by assessing the severity of your injuries. Document the details of your accident and your visits to your medical provider. Take pictures of your injuries, if possible.
In the same vein, consider the type of injury you have sustained and whether it involves specialized knowledge. Injuries involving medical malpractice, defective products, or workplace accidents may require the help of a lawyer with expertise in those specific areas. It's also vital to evaluate both the complexity of your case and the amount of compensation you’re seeking. If your case is complicated or involves multiple parties, ensure the attorney you choose has both the experience and resources to handle it.
Finally, consider your current financial situation and your ability to pay legal fees. Some lawyers are more affordable than others. At Wettermark Keith, we handle cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning any legal fees are collected out of your winnings at the conclusion of the case. If our lawyers don’t win your case, you owe us nothing.
2. Look for a Personal Injury Lawyer with Expertise in Your Type of Accident
You wouldn’t hire a plumber to fix your computer, so why choose a personal injury lawyer who doesn't specialize in your type of accident? Accidents can range from car crashes, trucking wrecks, and slip-and-falls to construction injuries and medical malpractice. Each scenario comes with its own set of unique challenges, legal nuances, and industry jargon. In the vast world of personal injury law, it's essential to find a legal expert with the right tools in their arsenal to unravel the tangled web of legalities surrounding your case.
3. Consider Location and Accessibility: The Benefits of Choosing a Local Personal Injury Attorney
Choosing a local personal injury attorney offers several advantages, starting with knowledge of the nearby legal scene. A lawyer who is well-acquainted with your area will have invaluable knowledge of local courts, judges, and opposing counsel. They may also have established relationships with various professionals in your area - such as industry insiders, medical experts, and investigators - who can bolster your case. A local attorney’s connections and deep understanding of area-specific laws and regulations can provide a strategic advantage in your case. Finally, accessibility is an important factor to consider when choosing a lawyer. Having your attorney close by makes it easier to schedule face-to-face meetings, attend court hearings, and visit their office for advice or support.
4. Evaluate Their Success Rate: Read Client Reviews and Testimonials
Client reviews and testimonials can give you important insight into the work style of your potential attorney. Most law firms have a section on their website dedicated to these testimonials, where you can learn more about your attorney's expertise, work ethic, and communication style from the perspective of their past clients. Google reviews are also an excellent source of genuine client feedback.
However, keep in mind that even the best lawyers may have several less-than-ideal testimonials. Look for patterns – if the majority of reviews are positive, but one or two are negative, it's likely that the attorney is still a strong candidate. On the flip side, if the negative reviews outweigh the positive, continue your search for attorneys.
5. Evaluate Their Experience: Why an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer is Crucial for Your Injury Claim
When evaluating a personal injury lawyer, experience is one of the most critical factors to look for. The likelihood of a favorable outcome in your case is far higher when your lawyer has successfully pursued hundreds of cases like yours to their conclusion. A seasoned personal injury lawyer brings a wealth of knowledge and skills acquired through years or decades of practice. This expertise ensures they will be prepared for anything and enables them to navigate challenging circumstances, anticipate potential obstacles or unexpected complications, and devise a successful strategy tailored to your specific case.
Secondly, attorney negotiation plays a key role in any personal injury case. Insurance companies are trying to save their employers from paying their fair share, and they will resort to any tactic that helps them deny or undervalue a claim. In the field of personal injury, negotiations can be complex and high-stakes - requiring a lawyer with a proven track record of successful settlements and extensive experience with the strategies employed by insurance companies.
6. Ask the Right Questions: How to Interview Potential Personal Injury Lawyers
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of personal injury lawyers, call to arrange consultations with each of them to discuss your injury case. Choosing the right lawyer requires thorough evaluation - asking the right questions in your first meeting with a potential attorney is an important part of this process. A consultation is the perfect opportunity to assess a lawyer’s approach to your case and determine if they're the right fit for your needs. You should begin the consultation by asking the attorney questions about their experience handling similar cases, including the number of cases they've taken on, the outcomes they've achieved, and their strategy for approaching your specific situation.
Next, ask your personal injury lawyer about their communication style and availability. Clear communication and transparency can greatly enhance your sense of security and confidence throughout the legal process - and can be critical at a time when your future is at stake. A good personal injury attorney should be readily available and maintain open communication throughout your injury claim process. Choose a lawyer who is responsive, easy to reach, and willing to answer any questions you may have.
Finally, inquire about their fee structure and the potential costs associated with your case. To avoid any unpleasant surprises down the road, make sure you have a clear understanding of their billing practices and any additional expenses you might incur. The right personal injury lawyer will be upfront about their fees, provide you with a breakdown of the costs involved, and explain any potential financial implications you might face. If you’re in a difficult financial situation, it’s worth considering an attorney who works on a contingency fee basis, without any upfront or out-of-pocket fees. At Wettermark Keith, each of our attorneys operates under this structure.
During this evaluation, take careful note of the mannerisms and attitude of your potential personal injury lawyer. The legal process can be emotionally draining, and having a lawyer who is not only skilled in the courtroom but also empathetic, kind, and responsive to your needs can greatly impact your overall experience.
7. Trust Your Instincts, But Make an Informed Decision.
Ultimately, selecting a personal injury lawyer comes down to trust. While research can guide you toward an attorney with the right set of skills, resources, and expertise, your instincts can help you decide whether your potential lawyer is as invested in your case as you are. Dive deep into your lawyer’s credentials, client testimonials, and experience, but pay even closer attention to their communication style, attentiveness, and genuine care for your well-being. Establishing an early emotional connection with your lawyer can instill confidence and lay a foundation for a successful attorney-client relationship.
Why Should You Choose a Wettermark Keith Personal Injury Lawyer?
With offices located throughout Alabama, Tennessee and now Florida, Wettermark Keith has an excellent reputation as one of the most accomplished personal injury firms in the country. Our reach is not only regional, but it also includes a diverse range of practice areas, including personal injury cases, auto wrecks, insurance dispute claims, nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, on-the-job injuries, social security disability, and veterans’ disability claims, to name just a few. We seek to uphold the dignity of the legal profession in our approach to clients, recognizing that our success stems from relationships, not flashy slogans or empty assurances. If necessary, we will not hesitate to take your case to trial.
Our attorneys recognize the human story behind each case, often filled with suffering and uncertainty, and are committed to practicing with care and compassion - to tell their clients’ stories and make their voices heard. Your case is more than just a number - it’s personal. If you or a loved one have been injured, don't hesitate - call Wettermark Keith at (877) 715-9300 or send us a message through our website for a free evaluation. Your attorney will listen to your story with compassion, answer any questions you might have, and work with you to understand and meet your needs. We won’t rest until you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
In most personal injury cases, court costs are paid by the party deemed responsible for the injury. If the injured party wins the case, the losing party typically reimburses the winning party for court costs and any other expenses. In some instances, both parties may agree to a settlement that includes the payment of court costs. However, payment arrangements vary depending on the specifics of the case and the agreement reached between the involved parties. For further clarification about court costs and other financial obligations, speak to one of our attorneys.
My experience with Mr. Abdullah was extremely pleasant. He was very prompt in updating my family & I with my case details and thorough with the personal injury process and the flow of insurance policies and protocols. In the end, I was extremely pleased with my personal injury settlement.
Highly suggest using lawyer Booth Samuels and his paralegal Kim Drain! They were absolutely fantastic! Booth made sure we got the settlement we wanted after our accident. They both called me regularly to give updates through everything. They were very good about explaining each step we were taking. I will refer everyone to them!
Law firm Wettermark Keith has exceeded my expectations! I recommend these lawyers to anyone and everyone I come across. Their commitment to their clients is outstanding. Communication is easy. And I got my settlement very fast. I definitely recommend working with Lee Hawker. He is very gracious and kind. He looked out for me and my family and went above and beyond for us. I’m very grateful!
I want to thank Cally and Mark for helping me get what I deserved for my accident injury claim. The insurance company was trying to lowball us and my lawyer Mark helped me get what I deserved in the end. Cally was very professional and stayed in touch every time I would touch base with her. Very thorough and hard-working individuals!
Brian Smith was my disability attorney. He did an excellent job! I will be recommending him to anyone I know that is thinking of applying. I want to personally thank Brian, I'm not sure I would have made it through this stressful personal injury lawsuit without him.
My personal embattlement with the Social Security Administration went downhill. From a personal recommendation, I reached out to Wettermark Keith law firm. Brian Smith and his team took my case and throughout the whole process, I felt more than just another number. Frequent updates were provided, and emphasis was placed on ensuring all needed documentation was in place. In the end, the accident case resulted in a favorable victory. A big thank you to my lawyer Brian Smith and the team at Wettermark Keith for the hard work throughout the entire personal injury process.
I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Mark English at Wettermark Keith law firm after my car accident in December 2021. He was very thorough in everything, did a wonderful job of explaining everything that was happening, and was super easy to get in touch with when I needed him. I never had a question that was left unanswered by this lawyer. He's very kind and patient, and he made the personal injury claims process so easy for me. I absolutely recommend him, it was a pleasure working with him!
I am so elated that I utilized Mr. Muhammad Abdullah’s services. In the beginning, he told me the compensation that I would receive for my personal injury claim and I actually received more than that! After my car wreck (in my brand-new vehicle), I was actually surprised that I was in the pain that I was in. Mr. Abdullah made sure I saw the necessary people for therapy and worked hard to get me back into my car after the accident. I felt that he was diligent, listened to my concerns, and quickly got me back in my car and compensated! I will be utilizing Mr. Abdullah again and again, anytime I ever have to hire a lawyer.
Wettermark Keith Birmingham did an amazing job on my case. John Stephens went out of his way to come to Macon, Georgia and contact every business on the road I was traveling during the accident. His hard work resulted in footage of the wreck that changed the outcome of the case. I appreciate everything this group of lawyers did for me and helped me receive the money and care I needed from my accident. If you’re ever in an accident, I highly recommend these personal injury lawyers.
After being in a car accident in September of 2021 I had no idea of the issues I would face with the other motorist insurance company. After being shocked that the other insurance company would not entertain a pain and suffering settlement I reached out for help. My neighbor, a retired police detective, recommended Wettermark Keith. I reached out and we got the ball rolling. Roper Elrod was assigned to my case and I was very pleased with his help and support. He always kept me updated on the progress and changes of my case as well as providing me with the best advice. I am very pleased with how everything was handled by Roper and the Wettermark Keith team!! Thank you for representing me in the most professional manner!!
Wettermark Keith represented me when I injured myself at work. Their lawyers got me a good, quick settlement and when I couldn't return to my job they handled my social security disability claim. Every lawyer who assisted in my case was always so professional and courteous. I will highly recommend them to anyone needing legal help.
HERE'S WHAT TO DO NEXT
If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.