Dealing with a personal injury lawsuit becomes much easier with help from a skilled personal injury attorney in Bakersfield. A personal injury lawyer can take care of complex legal processes on your behalf, and help you fight for full and fair compensation for damages. With a number of advertisements for lawyers on local television and online, however, it can be difficult to find the best personal injury attorney for you. Finding the right one will take establishing your goals, meeting with one or two, and using recommendations.
Identify Your Criteria
Different things may be more important to different clients. One car accident victim may prioritize a law firm that is physically close by, for example, while another could be more open to hiring a national firm from farther away. List your top priorities you would like to find in an attorney. Then, add a few general things every personal injury victim should look for in a lawyer.
- Experience in the practice area
- Proven case results
- Positive client testimonials
- License in your state
- Affordable fees
Create a list that will help guide your search for the perfect lawyer. Identify your goals for your case, as this can help you choose. Do you want to achieve a settlement as quickly as possible, or would you be willing to take a case to trial for maximum recovery? If you believe a trial might be an option, you will want a lawyer with courtroom experience.
Get a Referral
Referrals can point you in the direction of a lawyer with an established, reputable history in the community who fits your criteria list. They can come from trusted sources of information, such as friends or family members who have used the attorney or an online lawyer database such as NOLO’s law firm directory. In a directory, you can find detailed information about each attorney suitable for your needs, including the lawyer’s education, philosophy, and experience.
You may also be able to get a referral to a firm from a different lawyer – perhaps one that you have worked with before, but who does not accept cases in the practice area you need. Check with your county bar association for a referral service that may make the names of local lawyers available to you by practice area. Find a referral source the state bar association has approved. Otherwise, you may not be able to trust the information you find, or it may have biases.
Pick Three to Five to Shortlist
Using referrals or an online search, select three to five law firms that fit your criteria. Do this using information on their websites, attorney bios, and firm reviews or testimonials. Then, call each law office and get a feel for the firm. If the person who answers the phone is friendly and agrees that your case is one the lawyer may be able to help with, schedule a consultation. Initial consultations should be free and come at no obligation to hire the firm.
Meet with Lawyers
A lawyer may look great on paper, but might not be the right fit for you or your case. Sometimes, it takes meeting the lawyer in person to ascertain whether he or she is the top choice. Use your free consultations to meet with lawyers and conduct interviews. Come to your meetings prepared, with documents and information about your case and several questions to ask.
Questions can include: “How much experience do you have in my practice area?” “How long do you think my case will take?” and “What is my case worth?” Also ask about fees and processes. Once you decide an attorney is a perfect fit, you will need to create a written fee agreement and sign a contract. You may also need to pay a retainer, or an upfront fee to retain the lawyer. No matter what attorney you choose, he or she should keep you updated as your case progresses.