There are many lawyers offering a variety of services out there, so what should you keep in mind about hiring a lawyer following a car accident? This simple list of Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, will help you find a lawyer who meets your needs and will give you a sense of what to expect from the first meeting. Do not be afraid to ask questions!
- A Personal Injury Lawyer – Lawyers are a bit like doctors in that they tend to specialize in just one or a few areas of law. It stands to reason that expertise comes with experience. When it comes to a precise and delicate task, it is better to hire the specialist than the generalist.
- A regional lawyer – The law can vary from province to province so it is important that your lawyer have a current knowledge of the applicable legislation and case law, which is the law of the province in which the accident occurred. However, it is quite common in the Maritimes for law firms who specialise in car accidents and injury law to take cases in New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia. One indication that a lawyer has the required experience in your province is whether they are members of the provincial Law Society. In general, a lawyer who works with the laws on a daily basis is in the best position to navigate them.
- A strong support team – A lawyer cannot keep all the balls in the air alone, as hard as they might try! A good lawyer will have a strong support team who knows the ins and outs of daily operations. These people will be invaluable to both you and the lawyer throughout the litigation process.
- The initial consultation – A lawyer will need certain information to get started on your case right away. Some things include insurance information for all the parties involved, medical documents, and witness and police contact information. If you are in doubt, bring it. It is much more efficient to have too much information than to go searching for it later.
- As soon as you are able – It cannot be stressed enough that your legal rights need to be protected and the person best-suited to do so is a lawyer. In fact, once you have hired him or her, they are under a professional obligation to do everything in their power to protect your legal rights. Once lost however, legal rights are very difficult to recover, so don’t delay.
- Wherever works for you – Initial consultations are normally held at the lawyer’s offices. However, if you are admitted to the hospital or are confined to your home because of your injuries, a lawyer should meet you wherever and whenever is most convenient for you.
- The whole process is complicated and unfamiliar. You are already injured and dealing with treatments, doctors, and forms. Add to that the fact that insurance companies are wolves in sheep’s clothing and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. An experienced personal injury lawyer can take many of those stressors off your hands completely and work toward a fair settlement of your case. You will have the peace of mind that everything is dealt with properly.
- The free consultation – One important consideration is how you will pay. Many personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation. This is usually a somewhat in-depth interview in which you can ask pressing questions regarding your rights, as well as the lawyer’s qualifications and experience. There is no obligation to hire the lawyer following this initial meeting.
- The contingency fee agreement – If you decide to hire the lawyer, this is the most common method of payment for personal injury cases. This standard contract is approved by the Bar Association of the province in which the lawyer is licenced. It dictates that the lawyer will be paid a proportion of the settlement amount obtained in your case, usually 25%. If you go this route, you will not be expected to pay a cent until the settlement is obtained.
As you have read, there is a lot to know about hiring a lawyer. The bottom line is that you should have confidence that the person you hire is well qualified to get you the best settlement.