If you have been injured or are suffering from a disability, you
may be wondering whether you need to speak to a lawyer about your
needs and entitlement. A good rule of thumb is to trust your
instincts. If you think you need to speak to a lawyer, you probably
do. The next question is how to choose the right lawyer.
Choosing the right lawyer for a specific type of injury or
disability claim is an important decision. The lawyer who assisted
you with your house purchase is likely not the best lawyer to take
on your injury or disability claim. An injury or disability claim
requires specific expertise. The tips outlined below should help
you make the right decision.
Ask People Who Have Had Injury Or Disability Claims For
If you know a friend who has had to hire a lawyer for an injury
or disability claim, ask whether he or she would recommend that
lawyer. If your friend recommends the lawyer, the lawyer should go
on your "short list".
Ask A Lawyer You Know For A Referral
If you know someone who is a lawyer but does not handle injury
or disability claims, ask for a referral to a lawyer who does. Most
lawyers will know the leading firms and practitioners in each area
of law, and they can point you in the right direction.
Ask People Who Are Familiar With Personal Injuries For A
Doctors, hospital social workers, psychologists, and related
health care practitioners can provide names of experienced,
reputable lawyers who handle personal injury claims. Ask them why
they feel comfortable making their recommendations.
Most law firms have websites. You can find out helpful
information about a lawyer by visiting a firm's website and
reading about his or her firm along with a biography of the lawyer.
Do not focus on how "flashy" or elaborate the website is.
Instead, focus on the substance of what the website contains.
Call The Lawyers On Your List
A lawyer rarely charges for an initial call. Have basic
information handy like the date of the accident (if there was one),
date of termination of benefits (if there is an insurance policy
involved), names of people involved, and severity of the injury or
Ask the lawyer what kinds of experience he or she has in
handling claims like yours. You should ask what resources the
lawyer has available, whether he or she has taken a case like yours
to trial and whether they have been successful.
If the lawyer is unable to answer all your questions during your
first call, and must call you back, expect a timely reply.
Remember, a good lawyer will speak with you openly and in clear,
Do not be greatly concerned about whether the lawyers on your
list practice in your community or elsewhere. These days, with
technology, it is less important for you to work with a lawyer
"down the street" than it is for you to work with a
lawyer with the necessary expertise. Many lawyers who act for
injured or disabled persons will handle cases covering a wide
Meet Prospective Lawyers
Meet prospective lawyers to help gather more information about
their practices. Most lawyers will not charge for an initial
At the initial meeting, the lawyer should demonstrate a clear
understanding of the physical, psychological, cognitive and social
implications of your injury or disability – not just how
to handle a lawsuit.
Your case should have the lawyer's personal attention from
the start. Much work in handling an injury or disability case,
however, is best done by other experienced staff members. You will
also want to find out about the people providing assistance to the
lawyer handling your case.
Lawyers usually cannot predict the exact cost of their services
at the outset of a case, when many details are unknown. A lawyer
should, however, be able to explain fee calculations and the
factors affecting the overall cost of your case.
Making The Best Choice
It is vital that the lawyer you choose is someone with whom you
have a good rapport and in whose skill and judgment you have
complete confidence. A solid relationship with your lawyer is
imperative to get the best results for you.
Neil Wheeler is a partner at the law firm of Lerners LLP. He is
also the Practice Group Leader of the Plaintiff Personal Injury
Practice Group at the Toronto office of Lerners LLP. He acts for
injured and disabled persons in litigation matters throughout
Ontario. He has conducted trials that have changed the law for the
better for injured and disabled persons.
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