How do you choose the best lawyer for your case?

You probably would not hire your family practice physician or PCP to perform brain surgery, and you probably should not hire a general practice lawyer, or a probate lawyer, tax lawyer or bankruptcy lawyer to handle a serious injury case. Every lawyer licensed in your state is technically qualified to represent you in court, but lawyers specialize, just like doctors. There are many lawyers who rarely ever go to court, and there are some who have never been to court at all, except to get sworn in! They may be excellent lawyers, but they only handle transactions, or draft contracts, wills or trusts.

Some lawyers have developed their specialties through experience and others may have earned credentials similar to Board certification for doctors. Personal injury lawyers have to be licensed to practice law, just like every other lawyer in your state. But good personal injury lawyers have to be prepared to take the client’s case to court, and need to have real trial experience and solid credentials. How do you know if the lawyer you are considering has the experience needed for your personal injury case, and is reputable, effective and honest?

Here are some guidelines to help you find the best lawyer for your personal injury or wrongful death case:

These guidelines can also help you find the best lawyer for your divorce or a criminal case, estate planning, or bankruptcy:

  • Start by learning about your legal problem. Search the internet, and read some articles, so you can begin to understand the issues in your case. For instance, if you are injured on the job, you can probably seek workers compensation benefits from your employer, but generally you cannot sue your employer for causing the injury, and your recovery may be limited to medical expenses and some disability benefits. If your injury was due to a wreck, you may be able sue the person or company who was at fault, and recover for your medical expenses, lost earnings, permanent disability, and pain and suffering.
  • Use a genuine peer reviewed and/or client reviewed directory or rating service to identify lawyers who have the necessary experience and credentials to handle your case. Here are some of the best online resources for obtaining unbiased ratings from other lawyers and from clients:
  • Warning: The internet is full of lawyer referral services which are nothing but paid advertising, with no assurance of experience or credentials. Be careful and check out the source.
  • Depending on the situation, ask family, friends or a trusted professional for the names of some attorneys who you might want to contact. Good attorneys will usually have a good reputation in the community.
At this point, you should have a “short list” of two or three names. Contact each attorney and schedule a consultation. Personal injury attorneys generally work on a contingency fee basis and generally do not charge anything for the initial consultation. Other kinds of lawyers will often provide a free or low cost initial consultation to discuss your situation, determine whether he or she can help and to give you an opportunity to ask some questions. If you have a serious injury case, make sure you are meeting with an attorney, and not just with a paralegal or case manager. Paralegals often assist attorneys with their cases, and provide invaluable service to clients, but the first meeting with a prospective client should be conducted by an attorney.

Ten Questions To Ask Your Potential Lawyer

  • How long has he or she practiced law?
  • What type of cases does the lawyer generally handle? What percentage of his or her practice is devoted to (the practice area in question)?
  • Who is the lawyer’s typical client?
  • How many cases has he or she handled that are similar to mine?
  • What kind of special training or knowledge does the lawyer have that might apply in my situation?
  • What are the attorney fees and costs? Can the case be handled on a contingency fee? If not, how will I be billed?
  • Who will I be working with? Will the lawyer I meet with actually be handling my case?
  • How will the lawyer let me know what’s happening with my case?
  • What is the likely outcome in my case?

Bisected by the Tennessee River, bordering Georgia and Alabama, at the junction of three interstate highways, including the heavily traveled I-75 corridor, Chattanooga, Tennessee is both a historic railroad town and a modern transportation hub.  I-24 begins in Chattanooga running northwest toward Nashville, TN.  I-59 also begins just outside Chattanooga and runs south toward Birmingham, AL.  To the south, toward Atlanta along I-75, lies Dalton, GA a world center for the carpet and flooring industry. Chattanooga’s diversified economy includes the Volkswagen North American assembly plant, as well as insurance giants Blue Cross Blue Shield and Unum.  Chattanooga is also a major tourist destination attracting millions of visitors each year.  As a result, The Hamilton Firm LLC focus much of its work on representation of persons injured in trucking and transportation related cases as well as serious workplace injury cases.

Chattanooga is the headquarters for two of the nation’s major trucking companies, U.S. Xpress and Covenant Transport. And as crossroads city, Chattanooga ranks first in the nation among all metropolitan cities for the volume of freight moving through the city by truck (according to a recent freight study by Cambridge Systematics and reported in the Chattanooga Times Free Press). Problem areas include the interchanges as well as the entire section of I-24 from I-59 to I-75, and I-75 north to Cleveland, TN. Tractor trailers, while essential to a thriving economy, also present great risks to the traveling public if not operated safely by well trained professional drivers with well maintained equipment.

Chattanooga is also a rail hub for Norfolk Southern and CSX railroads.  Travel, transport and commerce by water, rail and road are essential to our lives and economy, but all the economic activity also brings traffic and congestion, which can lead to more wrecks, accidents and injuries.  This can be a volatile mix when combined with the high freight volume on tractor trailers traveling through or originating in the area.