One of the most important decisions a traumatic brain injury survivor must make following an accident is choosing the right attorney. Finding the best attorney for your case can be a daunting task, especially for someone with a brain injury.
Choosing an attorney should not be taken lightly in Wisconsin, because the law here makes it extremely difficult to fire your personal injury attorney and find a new attorney to take over your case. The following 5 simple steps will help you find the right Brain Injury Attorney for your case.
1. Identify the Type of Case You Have
Start by identifying your particular accident. If you were injured in an automobile crash, then you need an attorney handling auto accident claims. If, on the other hand, you were injured in a semi-truck crash, then you need an attorney that has successfully handled tractor-trailer accidents in the past. The Internet is a great resource to gather general information about your particular accident and finding an attorney with experience handling such a case. For example, conduct a web search for “(your state) Car Accident Attorney,” “(your state) Truck Accident Attorney,” etc.
2. Research Your Specific Type of Injury and Your Symptoms
You should also conduct research on your specific type of injury and symptoms. For example, you could conduct a web search for “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury,” “Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury,” “Severe Traumatic Brain Injury,” “Post-Traumatic Headache,” “Dizziness,” etc.
3. Search for Names of Potential Attorneys
Once you have identified what type of case and the type of injury you have, and have done some preliminary internet research, you can begin searching for attorneys that have experience in accident cases that result in injuries to the brain. Again you should turn to the Internet. The Yellow Pages may also be of benefit, however, because there is a limited amount of information that can fit on one page it is usually an inadequate resource. Television is even less helpful, because of the time limit on the ads and the insistence of some personal injury attorneys to run generic catch-all commercials promising a big settlement on all types of case and injuries. Search the web for an attorney with experience handling your particular type of accident and your particular type of injury, including your symptoms.
Once you have your list of possible attorneys, you should read their particular websites closely. Check out the organizations to which they belong. They should belong to organizations that advocate for victims that have survived traumatic brain injuries. Also, look for past settlements and jury verdicts concerning traumatic brain injury.
4. Call and Request Written Material From the Attorney
It is critical that you choose the right attorney from the outset. You can simply call the first attorney you see on TV and set up an appointment. However, this is not recommended as it is hard for you to determine whether this attorney is truly experienced with traumatic brain injury based simply upon a TV advertisement. Instead, call and ask the potential attorney to send you information this attorney uses to develop and document his client’s traumatic brain injury symptoms. If you request written material before meeting with the attorney, then you cannot be pressured into signing something you may later regret. You will be able to first read the attorney’s educational materials and then decide on your own time whether this attorney is right for your case.
If you do call an attorney for written materials and instead of politely sending you some free educational information, they attempt to get you into their office or offer to send someone out to your house or hospital room, then beware. Brain injury victims are usually quite vulnerable following an accident and they should never feel pressured into signing anything, including an attorney’s fee agreement.
If the attorney or law firm does not offer informative, written materials, or if they are pressuring you to come in and sign a retainer, then they may not be reputable.
Keep in mind that the ethics rules prevent attorneys from directly contacting you in person, by telephone, or by email, unless you contact them first. If an attorney solicits you without your request, then you should immediately report them to the Office of Lawyer Regulation (877) 315-6941.
5. Schedule an In-Person Appointment with the Attorney and Ask Questions
Once you have done the necessary background research, it’s time to set up a face-to-face meeting with the attorney. Make a list of questions and bring the list with you to the appointment. If the attorney is competent and experienced with traumatic brain injury, he/she will likely appreciate your persistence and answer your question much more directly.
Here are some suggested questions to ask:
Will you be the one handling my case from start to finish? (If the answer is “no,” immediately request to meet with the attorney that will be handling your case from beginning to end).
What is the process for handling my case? What steps will you go through?
When will my case be ready to be resolved? (If the attorney promises a quick settlement, they may be telling you what they think you want to hear as opposed to the actual truth).
How many active cases are you personally handling at the present time?
Have you ever represented people with traumatic brain injuries before? What were some of the results?
How do you obtain most of your brain injury cases? (Referrals from attorneys, other professionals and former clients is the right answer).
Have you attended or presented at any brain injury conferences or seminars?
Do you belong to any trial lawyer brain injury organizations?
Are you a member of any national brain injury associations?
Are you a member of your state’s Brain Injury Association?
What is your AVVO ranking? (A rank of 9+ is excellent).
Attorneys that devote a majority of their practice to the representation of traumatic brain injury survivors will not be learning on the job during your case. They will not have to learn new medicine for your case.
Instead, you can be comfortable with an attorney experienced in the representation of brain injury victims knowing they have worked with some of the best experts in the fields of medicine for brain injuries and an experienced brain injury attorney will not be intimidated when faced with brain injury medical experts that have been retained by the insurance companies to say that you did not sustain a life-changing injury. As a result, experienced traumatic brain injury attorneys are usually in a much better position to obtain the appropriate amount of damages for their clients with traumatic brain injuries because they have a better idea as to the amount a jury may award for this specific kind of injury.
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