When you hire a personal injury lawyer, that attorney becomes your advocate and your representative throughout an injury claim. You need to trust that your lawyer will have your best interests at heart and will fight to get you full compensation under the law.
Not every attorney is equipped to handle personal injury cases, and lawyers have different styles of representing clients. In every case, however, you deserve to have a lawyer who is focused on helping you to make a successful case.
When to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
The American Bar Association has set forth Rules of Professional Conduct that attorneys need to follow or else they risk being disbarred and no longer allowed to practice law. You can expect your attorney to, at a minimum, follow the basic guidelines that the ABA has set forth including:
- Putting your interests first: Lawyers are fiduciaries, which means they have the highest duty of care for clients. Your attorney must act in your best interests at all times and cannot ever put his or her own interests ahead of yours.
- Confidentiality: With very limited exceptions for ongoing criminal behavior and serious threats to people’s lives, everything that you tell your lawyer is going to remain confidential. You should never hesitate to share the full truth with your attorney because your lawyer is not allowed to repeat anything you say.
- Competence: Lawyers are not supposed to take your case unless they have the legal knowledge and ability to provide competent and professional representation. If your lawyer fails to live up to his or her duty of competence, you could sue your lawyer for malpractice.
- Reasonable fees: Lawyers must charge appropriate, reasonable and customary fees and must disclose the fee structure up front. In the vast majority of personal injury cases, you should expect to pay no legal fees at all unless your lawyer obtains compensation for your injuries and losses. This is because most injury lawyers work on a contingent fee basis.
- Truthfulness: Your lawyer cannot lie to you. Your lawyer also cannot suborn perjury, which means a lawyer cannot ask a question on the stand that he or she knows will produce a dishonest answer.
These are some of the basic things that you should expect from every lawyer. When you are looking for a personal injury attorney, you also want to find a lawyer who goes beyond the minimum of complying with professional rules.
You want an attorney with experience, who is passionate about helping injured victims, who will treat your case as the most important case and who you are confident will do everything possible to help you.
You need to feel comfortable with your attorney and your lawyer should have a long track record of representing clients successfully on cases similar. Spend time talking to your attorney and pay attention to his or her willingness to answer questions as well as counsel’s background, awards, professional affiliations and client testimonials to ensure that you find the right lawyer.