In Cody, Wyoming, you’ll need to exercise diligence in finding the best personal injury attorney for your case. To be more specific, you’ll have to ask questions that give way to critical details about the lawyer and their practice. Collecting this knowledge can take time but will offer the best chance possible of receiving the settlement you deserve.
How to Choose a Personal Injury Attorney in Cody, Wyoming
It’s first important you find a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases. The law surrounding these claims is complex and involves specialized rules and practices. Attorneys who also handle bankruptcies, trusts, and divorces may have knowledge of the law in general, but not the specific experience necessary to advocate for and win your case.
Experience in personal injury is necessary to determine the appropriate compensation for your injuries. An attorney who specializes in this field can determine the fair value of your claim after examining medical expenses, the extent of your injuries, and other pieces of evidence. They can then begin hardline negotiations with the insurance company.
Ensure You Receive the Best Representation
On the other hand, if your lawyer is inexperienced or only partly knows personal injury laws, the insurance adjuster will instantly recognize this and lowball or dismiss your claim. The point is that you risk quality representation when you choose an attorney without a personal injury specialization.
Look for a History of Taking Cases to Trial
Many attorneys who advertise personal injury services have never taken a case to trial. Instead, they settle outside of the courtroom for much less than clients should receive. But the only way to get top dollar for your case is by demonstrating to the insurance company you and your lawyer are ready, willing, and able to take the case to court.
Insurance companies are naturally very aggressive. If they sense reluctance in your attorney, they will take advantage by offering the lowest settlement possible. Any money can initially look better than none, especially when you’re in pain and fearful of what the future holds. But if you don’t receive at least the calculated value of your case, your lawyer is seriously underrepresenting you.
Don’t Be Afraid of Court
Just to reassure you, many cases in Cody, Wyoming can be resolved outside of court. Some, however, cannot be, and it is for this reason that you need an attorney who will steer your case all the way to court, if necessary. And demonstrating that you’re prepared to go to trial will motivate the insurance adjuster to offer a more favorable settlement.
Ask for Referrals from Previous Clients
You should never hesitate to ask a personal injury attorney for referrals from previous clients. In turn, those with a strong reputation in their area of practice should be able to provide a comprehensive references list. Contacting those clients will help you assess the attorney’s success rate and other factors like:
- Communication skills
- Commitment to client service
- Likelihood of negotiating a favorable outcome
- Approximate settlement timeline
Any attorney who is unwilling or unable to deliver a references list may have more than a handful of unhappy clients. This undermines their credibility. In contrast, the ability to speak with references can go a long way in assuring your case is in the right hands.
Look at Credentials
While many people are licensed to practice law, few take their practice seriously enough to join national and/or state organizations dedicated to helping injury victims. These organizations sponsor legal education programs and also lobby to protect consumers’ rights. The most prominent of these is the American Association of Justice (AAJ).
In the state of Wyoming, the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association further promotes client advocacy. It’s important to ask an attorney if they are members of these and/or other organizations. Also ask about additional credentials, such as earning recognition from the National Trial Lawyers Association or specific publications.
Ask Questions About the Practice
As the potential client of an attorney, you need to understand the significant difference between attorney fees and case “expenses.” Almost every case entails some expenses that must be paid to properly prepare for negotiation and trial. These include:
- Court filing fees
- Charges for physical reports
- Fees paid for medical records
- Court reporter fees
- Expert witness fees
As you might imagine, these expenses can quickly add up. It’s therefore a good idea to ask what happens to such fees if your case is lost. Some lawyers do not ask clients to reimburse out of pocket expenses – others do. Knowing this policy before your claim proceeds can help you plan accordingly. However, if a lawyer merely says something like, “I’ve never lost a case, so don’t worry about it,” you may want to take your case elsewhere.
Does the Office Have Sufficient Staffing and Financial Resources to Support Your Case?
A personal injury case can be very complex. To illustrate, a head injury claim against a trucking company may require testimony from trucking safety specialists, accident reconstruction experts, and healthcare professionals who can speak to the nature and extent of injuries – including physicians and vocational experts.
If a lawyer does not have the financial resources to properly fund a case, corners may be cut. This means the outcome can be seriously compromised. Alternatively, a client may be pressured to accept an inadequate settlement that jeopardizes their financial future. We mention this so you understand the need to ask an attorney if they have the funds and staff to see your case through to the end.
How Long Has the Office Handled Personal Injury Cases?
For the most part, personal injury attorneys charge clients the same fee regardless of how long they’ve been in practice. Let’s break this down for a moment. If a lawyer with two years of experience charges the same fee as a lawyer with 15 years of experience, the more seasoned attorney will generally manage your case with greater skill. Experience can make a great difference in the outcome of your settlement – especially if you go to trial.
Good to Know
Before you choose representation in Cody, Wyoming, you must discuss a few more items with your attorney. Namely, you need to understand how much your case is worth. At the very least, a lawyer should provide a value range and explain how different factors like liability and discovery may impact the verdict or settlement offer. Be wary, however, of lawyers who provide estimates that sound too fantastic to be true.
It’s equally important to know which lawyer from the firm will handle specific components of your case. You may or may not work directly with the firm’s owner or senior partners. Learning who your point of contact will be can provide peace of mind. You’ll know who you can expect to speak with when questions arise and what their level of experience is. If a junior associate will be on your case, ask who is responsible for supervising their work.
Choosing a personal injury attorney is not a decision to be taken lightly. You need to understand the lawyer’s previous success rate, policy for “expenses,” and experience with going to trial – among many other things. Our firm specializes in personal injury cases and is ready to help you put your life back together. We will stand by your side until justice is served. Call Ochs Law Firm today to request your initial consultation.