Seven Qualities to Look For in a Brain Injury Attorney
Traumatic brain injury has the potential to change every aspect of your life. Around 425,000 people suffer traumatic brain injuries each year, many of them as a result of an accident caused by someone else. When you suffer a traumatic brain injury, you may live with serious symptoms, including loss of concentration and focus, loss of mental capacity, or struggle to control your emotions. While a brain injury claim against the party responsible for your injuries cannot bring back everything you lost in the accident, it can provide you with the funds you need to seek treatment or to start rebuilding your life. Having the right brain injury lawyer can make a big difference in your claim. Make sure you know what to look for in a traumatic brain injury attorney.
Quality #1: Lawyer Experience
When it comes to brain injury lawsuits, especially after a traumatic brain injury, you do not want to play around. You want an experienced attorney who has worked with brain injury cases in your area before. Ideally, you want to work with an attorney who has gone after compensation for other victims of traumatic brain injury.
Experience can make all the difference in your brain injury claim. An experienced attorney brings many useful traits to the table, including:
- Knowledge of insurance companies. An experienced brain injury attorney knows how much compensation you should expect from the insurance company after your traumatic brain injury. An attorney with experience can advise you about when to accept a settlement offer and when to keep fighting for more. Not only that, an attorney often knows what language to use to press the issue with the insurance company, convincing them to offer you more money in compensation for your injuries.
- Knowledge of the law. Following a traumatic brain injury, can you return to work? How will that return impact the compensation you can receive, especially if you may suffer permanent impact from your injuries? By working with an attorney who knows the law, you will get a better idea of how you should proceed with your personal life following a traumatic brain injury.
- Knowledge of the local court system. An experienced attorney has been through the local court system before and has a good idea of how the judge will react to cases like yours. In some cases, this knowledge can prove an incredibly valuable asset when you must take your brain injury claim to court to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Quality #2: Good Reviews From a Lawyer’s Clients
Before choosing a brain injury attorney, take the time to carefully read reviews. Examining several categories of reviews can prove extremely helpful when determining whether a lawyer is good for you.
Reviews on the attorney’s website. When you look at the attorney’s website, you will see what the law firm prioritizes. For example, some law firms prioritize convenience for their clients. They may come to you, rather than demanding that you come into the office to seek their help. Other attorneys prioritize getting the compensation their clients deserve no matter how hard they have to fight for it. They will ruthlessly and aggressively pursue that compensation either in or out of court. When you read through the reviews on the attorney’s website, you will get a solid idea of what qualities the attorney considers important enough to publicize. You want an attorney whose priorities through the claims process will line up with yours. However, be careful not to buy into the hype a lawyer’s website may build around them.
Reviews on legal websites. Sites like Avvo offer legal directories filled with information about lawyers in your geographic area. They also have reviews about law firms. They may rate the lawyers they list on their sites, or they might allow customers to leave reviews. These reviews offer a clear picture of what other people think of the work the attorney has done for them in the past, which can help you better determine how the attorney will work for you.
Reviews on Google and social media. Unlike reviews on the lawyer’s website, the reviews on social media or on Google are not curated by the lawyer. You may find more honest, detailed reviews from these sources than you do from the lawyer’s website itself, and these reviews may go into more detail than reviews on Avvo and other legal database sites. As you read reviews from Google or social media, keep several key things in mind.
- Anyone can leave a review on Google or on social media. Take a look at what negative reviews have to say about the lawyer. If you see one-star reviews, keep in mind that they could come from competitors or disgruntled opponents.
- Read through both the best and the worst reviews left of the attorney. A compilation of both will give you a better idea of exactly what you can expect from your experience with this attorney.
- Think about and prioritize the details most important to you when reading through reviews. Do you want an attorney with a compassionate approach, or one with a cutthroat determination to see you get the compensation you deserve? Look for an attorney that fits your specific needs as well as one that has an overall reputation for winning cases.
Quality #3: A Great Legal Team
Some lawyers work by themselves. Others, however, work as part of a much larger firm. Before you settle on the lawyer you want to represent you, take the time to ask a few key questions: who will actually represent you to the insurance company? What if the case goes to court: will you get the lawyer whose name goes across the top of the stationery, or will someone else represent you? Ideally, you want to work with a law firm that has a solid legal team with plenty of experience. Together, these attorneys share a great deal of expertise, and they may work together to help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries. When you work with an effective legal team, you will also know that you will get great representation no matter who handles any details of your case.
Quality #4: Effective Communication Skills
When you file a brain injury claim after a traumatic brain injury like a concussion or brain contusion, the process may move very slowly. It can take a long time to negotiate with the insurance company, and it may take even longer to get the funds you need in your hands if your case must go to court. When you choose an attorney, make sure you select one great communication skills. Ask:
- Through what method does the attorney you want to use communicate with clients? Does this attorney prefer to communicate through text messages, phone calls, or emails? Carefully consider what method of communication you want the attorney to use. After traumatic brain injury, for example, you may prefer written communication to a phone call, since written communication will leave a record behind.
- Does the attorney communicate with you even if nothing happens with your case? Sometimes, it may take a long time for the insurance company to respond to a new communication. Other times, you may get stuck waiting on the courts to move. If nothing changes in your case, will your attorney still communicate with you? How often will the attorney contact you? You may find yourself waiting anxiously for any news about your claim. Many times, victims of traumatic brain injury cannot work while they recover from their injuries. Other victims may need to wait to pay medical bills or make other important financial decisions until they hear about the claim. You may need an attorney who keeps you in the loop even when they have little to tell—so make sure you ask about communication upfront.
- How long does it take the attorney to respond? If it takes an attorney a long time to respond to your initial email or communication requesting his services, you cannot count on that attorney to respond quickly throughout the claims process. When you seek an attorney, make sure the firm responds promptly to your communications. If it takes days to return a phone call or answer an email while you try to select an attorney, it may take even more time to answer your questions after the attorney starts your claim.
Quality #5: A Reasonable Caseload
Each attorney deals with many brain injury claims at the same time. You do not need an attorney who focuses a hundred percent of their attention on your claim, nor should you expect one. You do, however, want an attorney that has enough time to spend on your claim—one that is not so overloaded with other cases that he cannot provide the time and attention your claim needs. Ask:
- How many cases do you typically work on at a time? You want to get an idea of the lawyer’s general workload and how many cases the firm typically handles. A large firm with a great team in place may handle substantially more cases at once than a small legal firm with only a few members on staff.
- How many cases are you currently dealing with? Your attorney may not give you an exact number, but he can provide you with a general estimate of his current workload.
- Do you have adequate time to devote to my case? In your initial interview or free consultation, ask the attorney if the firm has adequate time to devote to your claim. In some cases, the attorney may turn down the chance to represent you due to excess work from other clients. In others, you may need to ask about his or her current workload.
Quality #6: Reasonable Payment Arrangements
You already know lawyers quickly become expensive, especially if you have to go to court to fight for compensation after a traumatic brain injury. While you have prepared to pay those bills as necessary, you may struggle to come up with payments throughout the claims process, or you may need to make financial arrangements that fit your needs. You might not have the ability to work following your brain injury. Limited hours at work or changed salary along with changed job responsibilities may also leave you struggling financially, especially as medical bills increase.
As you choose an attorney, cost matters. Luckily, many personal injuries understand the struggle to come up with the funds you need for an attorney and offer reasonable payment arrangements, including payment on a contingency fee basis. When an attorney takes you as a client on a contingency fee basis, he will provide you with all the legal services you need, whether you can reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company out of court or need to go to court to seek compensation. Then, the attorney will take payment out of the funds you recover. Often, that payment reflects a percentage of the compensation you receive.
Quality #7: A Good Personality Fit
Your attorney’s personality has little do with skills in the courtroom. In some cases, you may decide that personality matters far less than other attributes. Keep in mind, however, that you will be working closely with your attorney throughout the claims process. If your personalities do not mesh well together, you may quickly grow frustrated with your attorney, especially if things do not go your way with the claim. Take the time to interview attorneys personally. Look for an attorney with the patience to communicate carefully with you. You also want an attorney who will approach your claim the same way you will. If an attorney rubs you the wrong way or makes you feel uncomfortable, you may choose to seek legal services from someone else.
Finding an attorney after a traumatic brain injury will help you seek the compensation you deserve and provide key representation and advice as you make a brain injury claim. By doing your research and taking the time to contact an attorney that fits your specific needs, you can make the claims process easier on yourself.