A hundred years ago, every doctor was the same. The same guy (and they were pretty much all guys) would see if you had a broken arm or a brain aneurysm. Today, doctors specialize in one area of medicine. Training is specialized and technology has advanced to the point where you wouldn’t want a brain surgeon to perform open heart surgery, or even set a broken arm. They might be able to muddle through, but I would much rather have a doctor that knows what he or she is doing care for me.
The legal world is similar. You shouldn’t expect the same attorney who helped you close on a home or handled your divorce to know what to do if you have suffered an injury and want to seek compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. So how do you find an attorney that can help meet your individual needs?
The first thing you can do is talk to attorneys you know or people you know who may know an attorney. Attorneys frequently refer cases to one another, so talking to any attorney you trust is a good first step, even if that attorney is not a personal injury attorney.
Ask Jeeves, Or Google
Maybe you don’t know anyone who can give you a referral, or you have gotten a few names and you want to start checking them out — head online! Most attorneys have a website like this one where they advertise what sort of law they practice.
The State Bar of Texas also has an online lawyer referral service that you may find useful.
Free Consultations Really Are Free, So Take Advantage Of Them
Once you have a few firms to check out, call them and make an appointment for a free consultation. Free consultations really are free. In fact, most personal injury cases are litigated on a contingency fee basis, which means the lawyer will take a portion of whatever amount they are able to win for you as payment. If you don’t win your case, you will not owe your attorney a dime.
Make the most of your free consultations by treating them like what they are — a job interview where you are the boss.
Ask questions about what it will be like to work with the attorney you are considering hiring.
- Are you the attorney that will be handling my case? Or will someone I never actually meet be working on my case?
- How can I get in touch with you if I have a question?
- Will we need to meet often? Or can I hand you the information I have and wait to hear back?
Ask questions about your case.
- Have you handled a case like this before?
- What would your strategy be?
- Do you think it is win-able?
- How much do you think my claim is worth?
- How long do you estimate it will take to resolve my case?
There are no questions you should be afraid or ashamed to ask.
Trust Your Gut
Think about how you feel about the answers you receive, and about the questions that the attorney asks you. Are you feeling more at ease the longer you talk? If so, that’s a good sign. The attorney you choose to work with is going to end up knowing some very intimate details about your life. You must feel comfortable with them and be able to trust them completely.
If something feels off, trust your gut and walk away. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and plenty of attorneys in Houston.