If you were injured or otherwise harmed in an accident or event attributed to negligent behavior, it is time to find the right attorney to help you obtain justice. In many cases, justice comes in the form of monetary compensation. The amount of compensation you receive and what constitutes fairness can vary greatly, due to several variables.
Your first and most important task is to select the right personal injury attorney to handle your case. This should be done immediately, as time limits for filing your complaint generally apply to these types of legal cases. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for general personal injury is two years.
Selecting Your Personal Injury Attorney
Finding the right Personal Injury Attorney to handle your case is essential. You want an advocate who has had previous success with similar cases and is a caring professional that you feel comfortable working with for the duration of your case. Gathering referral information should be the beginning of your selection process:
- Experience – If you have worked with an attorney before for another issue, he or she may be able to refer you to another respected colleague who is qualified to help you with a personal injury case.
- Personal referrals – ask friends, family, or associates for their personal recommendations.
- Bar Association – contact the local Bar Association and ask for referral information.
Once you have identified potential advocates, narrow it down to a short list of the top candidates. Take time to interview several, but beware of any statute of limitations for filing your complaint that may apply. If you miss this deadline, you may not be allowed to pursue your case. Create a list of important questions that you need to ask each attorney you interview. Use this information and your own personal reaction to each person to make the best choice possible.
Important Questions to Ask
Most questions relate to the prospect of ultimately winning your case and the level of compensation you can expect to receive. You have been harmed due to someone else’s negligence; in most cases, you deserve fair compensation. In Illinois, there is modified comparative responsibility. If it is determined that you were more than 51% at fault, you may not be able to receive any compensation. Questions for your personal injury attorney include:
- Fees – Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation and fees set on a contingency basis. This means there is no fee if they do not win your case. However, you may still be responsible for some minor office fees, like copying documents.
- Timelines – Ask how the attorney expects the case to flow, and if you will receive any follow-up consultations.
- Success Rates/History – Ask about their reputation and if there is any disciplinary record. How much trial experience do they have, what percentage of cases were won, and how long they have practiced personal injury law? What is their trial experience? Do they work mostly with plaintiffs or defendants? Are they associated with any insurance companies?
- Road Travel – Will you or they need to do any travel; what charges may apply?
- Communication – Are questions answered promptly and will you be working only with this attorney or others at the law firm?
- Settlement Goal – Get an estimate of a reasonable goal for settlement. If that is not achieved, will this attorney take your case to trial?
- Location – Where will you need to go to meet with the attorney? Which courts or meeting places will be used?
- Credentials – What awards, etc., have they received?
- Board Certified – An attorney who is Board Certified has passed a strict state bar exam, qualifying as an expert.
- Settlements – If there is no settlement, will your case then go to trial?
- Online Rating Guides: Avvo, Martindale Peer Reviews, Super Lawyers, etc. – ask about any rating websites and reviews you may have questions concerning your attorney.
About Harvey L. Walner & Associates
Our attorneys have over 75 years of combined legal experience in personal injury specializations, including personal injury accidents, worker’s compensation, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases. If you or a loved one should have the misfortune of being in a personal injury accident, and you need a personal injury lawyer, the experienced attorneys at Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd. are here for you. Call us today for a free consultation.