What to consider when hiring a personal injury attorney in Missouri
When choosing a personal injury lawyer, it is important to look at the attorney’s practice areas, client reviews, fee arrangements and law firm size.
Accidental injuries disrupt the lives of thousands of people in Kansas City each year. In 2014 alone, 2,936 people in the city suffered injuries in motor vehicle accidents, as did 15,101 people throughout Missouri, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation. With accidents involving defective products, animal attacks, unsafe premises and other dangers taken into account, even more of these injuries occur annually.
The victims of personal injuries often find themselves facing substantial medical costs, time missed from work and other setbacks. As a result, many turn to a personal injury attorney for assistance seeking any compensation that may be available. Unfortunately, victims may not secure effective representation if they do not first take time to consider the following factors when selecting a lawyer.
Injury victims should focus on finding an attorney who focuses primarily on personal injury law and has experience practicing in Missouri. Whether a person has suffered a traumatic brain injury or nursing home abuse, it is important to confirm that the attorney has experience with the particular type of injury and area of law. Other lawyers may not be able to adequately advise a person on the strength of his or her case, the damages that may be available and the most suitable legal strategy.
It is also important to use information from other sources to evaluate whether a given attorney would be an effective representative. Victims may want to consider reviews and testimonials from former clients, recommendations from trusted sources and case outcomes. Additionally, victims should check whether an attorney is in good standing with the Missouri Bar Association. Loss of standing may indicate ethical violations or other lapses.
Law firm qualities
If an attorney seems like a strong choice, victims still need to assess whether the law firm as a whole offers the right fit. There may be distinct benefits and drawbacks to working with different firms. For example, a larger law firm may have greater resources, whereas a smaller firm may provide more personal attention. People who are looking for representation should identify and focus on qualities that they value most in a law firm, such as responsiveness or cost-effectiveness.
Costs and fee arrangements can also be important factors to consider when choosing an attorney. Clients should always understand in advance which of the following fee arrangements an attorney uses:
- Flat rates, in which the total amount to be paid is determined at the start of the working relationship
- Hourly rates, in which a client pays a fixed rate for each billable hour
- Contingency fees, which are only collected after a client receives a settlement
When considering costs, injury victims should not simply look for the most affordable legal services available. However, they should take time to review the anticipated costs and make sure these expenses will be manageable.
Finding the right fit
In the face of medical costs and other complications, victims of wrongful injuries may feel rushed to find an attorney. However, taking time to meet with multiple potential representatives is essential. Considering the above issues and less tangible factors, such as how comfortable speaking with a given attorney is, can help a person choose a more qualified, effective advocate, which may improve the likelihood of a favorable resolution to the case.