Best Tips for Hiring the Best Personal Injury Attorney in Mississippi
Lawyers have a bad reputation with the public, which is unfortunate. This reputation is not really deserved since lawyers are more closely regulated than almost any other profession.
Suffering an injury can be an upsetting event. Indeed, not only may an injury leave you with pain and suffering, but you may also be coping with things such as high medical bills, disability, an inability to return to work, lost wages, and feelings of frustration and depression about your situation.
However, there are definitely a few bad apples out there, so you want to carefully research potential personal injury lawyers before hiring one.
While there may be nothing that can return you to your original state prior to the accident, filing a personal injury claim can be the first step to protecting and improving your future. When you file a personal injury claim, you can seek compensation for the full value of damages you have lost, including both economic and noneconomic damages.
But simply filing a personal injury claim and hoping for the best won’t yield the full settlement that you deserve; instead, you’ll need to retain the counsel of a skilled personal injury lawyer. Here are some tips on hiring the best personal injury attorney in Mississippi–
To increase your chances of finding the best personal injury attorney, follow these tips.
Tip #1: Ask Questions at a Consultation
Most personal injury lawyers should offer free consultations or case evaluations where you can explain what happened.
You can also ask questions so that you can get a better idea of whether you want to hire a lawyer.
A free consultation is a great tool to interview attorneys, so you definitely want to take advantage of it.
The consultation probably won’t last long—lawyers are busy, after all—so write out questions ahead of time.
Focus on what you really want to know. For example, you might ask:
- What percent of the lawyer’s case-load is made up of personal injury cases? Some lawyers focus more on divorce, criminal law, or estate planning. You definitely want a lawyer who commits a large percentage of their practice to personal injury law.
- Has the lawyer ever handled a personal injury case like yours? For example, if you have been injured in a car accident, you want someone who has handled those types of case.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your case?
- How does the lawyer communicate? Do they prefer phone calls or emails? How long does it take for them to reply to clients?
- Has the lawyer ever been reported to the state bar association for unethical conduct? If so, what was the result of the investigation?
- Has the lawyer ever been sued for malpractice?
- Does the lawyer have references you can contact?
Take a notepad so that you can write down the lawyer’s answers. If possible, meet with more than one lawyer for a consultation so that you can pick and choose the one you like best.
Tip #2: Choose a Law Firm that Focuses on Personal Injury
One of the first things that you should consider when hiring a personal injury lawyer is finding a lawyer that focuses on personal injury, not other areas of the law.
For example, a business lawyer who is on the prowl for work may be interested in taking on your case, but this would be disadvantageous for you – you want a lawyer who has spent years focusing on personal injury claims, not something unrelated.
Tip #3: Make Sure Your Attorney Is Experienced in Cases Similar to Yours
The first thing that you want to do is make sure that any attorneys who you are considering for representation are experienced and well-versed in personal injury law; the second thing that you want to do so is to find out whether or not the attorney has a history handling cases like yours.
For example, consider that an attorney who primarily focuses on dog bite claims may not be as knowledgeable when it comes to winning a car accident claim, or that a lawyer who is a seasoned car accident attorney may be very unfamiliar with the process of navigating a medical malpractice claim.
Identify the type of accident and injury you have suffered (for example, you were a victim of a slip and fall accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury), and then hire an attorney who has experience dealing with both of these elements in a personal injury claim.
Tip #4: Consider a Lawyer’s Trial Experience
Most personal injury claims are settled out of court through negotiations between the plaintiff’s lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer.
An out-of-court settlement is typically ideal, as it minimizes the amount of time that must elapse before a plaintiff gets paid, and it mitigates the high costs of going to court.
But there are some situations in which reaching an out-of-court settlement is not possible, and filing a lawsuit and bringing a case to court is a must in order to improve one’s chances of getting the damages that they deserve.
When this is the case, a good injury lawyer who has a history of winning jury verdicts is critical.
For this reason, it is not enough to consider a potential lawyer’s history of successful settlements; you should find out whether or not a lawyer you’re considering for representation has trial experience, and if so, what the outcome of any trials has been.
Tip #5: Look at Online Reviews
Websites like Yelp and Google collect reviews on lawyers, which you can easily find online. Type in the lawyer’s name and read through the reviews. Of course, take all reviews with a grain of salt.
Usually, unhappy clients are more motivated to leave negative reviews than satisfied clients, so read critically. A critical review that is short on details might not much.
However, if you see patterns to the complaints—for example, many people complaining that they couldn’t understand the lawyer’s bills—then there might really be a problem.
Tip #6: Remember that Personal Injury Claims Require a Lot of Resources – Ensure the Law Firm Is Prepared
Even the smartest and savviest lawyers in the world may be unable to effectively represent their clients in a personal injury claim if they lack the financial resources, staff, and connections that are required to win a personal injury claim.
Indeed, winning a large settlement or a jury verdict typically requires many hours conducting an investigation and organizing claim documents, the opinions of various experts (who can be expensive to hire), and working with various parties in order to build a claim and negotiate a settlement.
Unless you want to front the costs of building your case yourself, you’ll need to choose an injury lawyer with enough resources to manage your claim.
Tip #7: Check if the Lawyer Has Been Disciplined
Good accident lawyers not only have the resources to manage your case, experience handling cases like yours, and a history of winning jury verdicts and securing large settlements, but will also be in good standing with the Mississippi Bar, and may potentially have been awarded various recognitions, awards, and accolades.
You might ask in the consultation whether the lawyer has been disciplined, but you should always double check on your own. You should contact the Mississippi Bar Association’s Office of General Counsel.
Look to see if the lawyer has ever been sanctioned for unethical conduct. Remember, unethical conduct is more than a client is unhappy with a lawyer. Instead, lawyers owe clients many duties, such as:
- Preserve client confidences.
- Not to represent the client if there is a conflict of interest.
- Not use client funds or property for their own purposes.
- Communicate effectively and meaningfully with clients.
If the lawyer has been sanctioned, then that means the state board investigated the complaint and found that it had merit.
Tip #8: Speak to the Lawyer’s References
As with online reviews, you can’t 100% trust the references a lawyer gives you. After all, would a lawyer give you a reference to someone who was unhappy with their representation? You can be sure the lawyer gave you the names of only those people who will give a positive reference.
If you’re searching for a good injury lawyer, one of the best ways to find someone is to heed the recommendations given by friends, family or even strangers who have left testimonials and reviews online. This is especially true if those who have worked with the attorney, and are providing a recommendation for the lawyer or speaking against the lawyer, have suffered injuries similar to yours.
Nevertheless, you can obtain useful information from the reference.
Ask them what they liked about the lawyer and what they would have changed. For example, the reference might have liked the lawyer but wished the lawyer called more often to give updates. Remember, a lawyer can be “reputable” but just not be the right pick for you.
Tip #9: Ask another Lawyer for their Opinion
The legal community in Mississippi is very small, so lawyers know each other. They should know the reputation of other lawyers practicing in the personal injury field. Contact any lawyer that you know.
You might have used a lawyer during a real estate transaction or during a divorce. Ask him or her if they know of any reputable personal injury lawyers you can talk to and write down the names.
If you’ve already met with a lawyer and want to hire him, then ask other lawyers if they think that is a good idea.
Tip #10: Read Your Engagement Letter or Fee Agreement
A reputable lawyer should give you a written agreement that lays out the work they will do for you and how much they will charge. The letter should also include other helpful information, such as:
- What happens to your file at the end of your attorney-client relationship.
- When their representation ends. For example, will they represent you on appeal? This should be spelled out clearly in the letter.
- What to do if you have a disagreement about your fee.
- A description of what information will be included on your bill. For example, will work be itemized?
Read this letter carefully. It should answer any questions that you have.
If you can’t understand the letter and the lawyer doesn’t want to explain it to you, then the lawyer might not be reputable. Proceed cautiously.
Tip #11: Hire a Lawyer who is a Good Fit
If you attend three or four consultations, chances are you will like more than one lawyer.
However, you can only hire one lawyer or law firm, so spend some time thinking about which lawyer you liked the best. Consider the following:
- Who did you feel most comfortable with?
- Did you feel more comfortable asking questions of one lawyer than another?
- Can you afford the lawyer’s fee?
- Did one lawyer sound more confident in how they answered questions?
- Is your gut telling you to go with one lawyer over the others?
Tip #12: Meet with the Attorney
Finally, if you have taken the steps above already, you’ve likely eliminated a variety of potential personal injury attorneys from your list and are left with just a name or two.
At this point, you should schedule a free consultation with each of the personal injury lawyers.
Meeting with the attorney to discuss your claim can be extremely valuable, and will not only provide you with a sense of who you like the best and who may be easiest to work with, but should also provide more information about what your role in the case will be, how your attorney will approach your case, and what fees you’ll be responsible for throughout the process.
Find the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in Mississippi Today
There are plenty of talented personal injury lawyers in Mississippi, but only one who’s the best for you.
At the law office of the Harris Law Firm, PLLC, our Mississippi personal injury lawyers are passionate about providing you with the highest quality service and representation possible and want to meet with you to discuss your accident and recovery options today.
For your free consultation with our personal injury lawyers, please call us directly or send us a message telling us more about your claim.