Choosing An Attorney in Springfield, Illinois and Central Illinois
5 Tips provided by Wolter, Beeman, & Lynch
If you need an attorney, you may be overwhelmed and confused about how to choose a lawyer. It's important to select one who will best represent your interests. Read these 5 tips for for choosing a lawyer for a serious personal injury or wrongful death claim. Information provided by the personal injury attorneys at Wolter, Beeman, Lynch, & Londrigan.
- REQUEST A MEETING: Interview the lawyer and the law office. Ask to meet with the lawyer at his or her office for a brief meeting. The point of the meeting is to see if you are comfortable with that person and office. You're not necessarily asking for legal advice.
WHAT TO EXPECT: When you meet, is your meeting with one of the lawyers on the website? Or are you meeting a lawyer you never heard of and did not expect to meet with? At some firms, you might not even meet with a lawyer at all. You may meet with a paralegal or secretary on your first or second visits. Even if you meet with a lawyer who you like and he or she has a very efficient and impressive office, you still need to know much more. While at the office, ask to take a look around. Does the office appear neat and organized? Or are there files stacked haphazardly around?
- CHECK THEIR EXPERIENCE: For some cases, a jury trial may be necessary, so it is critical you choose a legal firm with experience in jury trials.
For example, almost all serious personal injury and wrongful death cases involve jury trials if a settlement is not reached. In personal injury cases, if the insurance company does not make a fair and reasonable settlement offer in connection with your personal injury claim, you have no choice but to present the case for trial. Even if you do not request a jury trial, it is likely the insurance company will.
WHAT TO ASK: Find out about the specific jury trial experience of the firm. Ask the lawyer: (a) the case number; (b) the county of filing; and (c) the dollar amount of the jury verdict of a few of the larger jury verdicts the firm has obtained in the past. This information is rarely private or privileged. In fact, all the above information is a matter of public record at the courthouse where the trial took place. If the lawyer does not give you direct answers to your questions, the lawyer may have little jury trial experience or little success in civil cases.
- KNOW WHO'S REPRESENTING YOU: Find out specifically which lawyer will be handling your file.
WHAT TO ASK: Ask the lawyer whether he or she will be personally handling your claim, or will it be handled by someone else in the firm? Remember, there is little benefit in meeting a principal attorney on the first visit if some other lawyer you have never met will ultimately be assigned your file. If you want a specific lawyer to handle your claim, insist on including that as a part of your written contract before you agree to sign.
- BEWARE OF "SETTLEMENT MILLS": Some lawyers and law firms who advertise that they concentrate in injury, death, and worker's compensation cases may actually have a surprising lack of successful trial experience. These assembly-line "Settlement Mills" often will sign you up in the hopes they will be able to settle your case without a trial. If they can receive fair and reasonable compensation for you by virtue of a settlement and without a trial, that's good. But, if the insurance company does not make a reasonable settlement offer, you may end up going to trial with a lawyer who has very little trial experience (or very little successful trial experience). Our office has received calls from folks who were dropped by these "Settlement Mills" after it became obvious the insurance company was not going to make a reasonable settlement offer.
WHAT TO ASK: After you have clear answers about their jury trial experience, ask about the chances that your case could go to trial. Make sure you feel comfortable with their answers.
- TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS: Illinois does not recognize legal specialties. The fact that a lawyer may be listed as concentrating his or her practice in personal injury or wrongful death claims may be of little, or no, significance. You should be knowledgeable and comfortable with the personality, background, experience and office policies of the lawyer and firm before selecting a lawyer to handle your claim.
ASK YOURSELF: Do you feel confident in his or her abilities? Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel valued as a potential client? Trust your instincts and follow these tips when it comes to choosing a lawyer for personal injury, medical malpractice, accidents, or any legal issue.
For a free no obligation consultation about your injury or wrongful death claim, Call Wolter, Beeman, & Lynch, LLP at 217-753-4220 or click the Free Consultation form at the bottom of the page. You will be meet with one of our personal injury lawyers, who will also be the principal attorney who will work on your case. We serve Springfield and central Illinois.