Things to Consider When Hiring a Dog Bite Accident Lawyer
If you've never before hired a lawyer, you may not know how to decide which dog bite accident lawyer is right for you. There are a few factors you should assess when selecting a lawyer:
- Background, experience, and legal skills
- Suggested strategy for handling your case
- Estimated award amount and projected legal fees and expenses for handling your case
- Sense of comfort and trust
Before You Hire a Dog Bite Accident Lawyer
It's important to meet with a lawyer before hiring him or her. This meeting, called an initial consultation, gives you a chance to learn more about the lawyer and decide whether he or she is right for your case.
Hiring a lawyer requires you to make both a subjective decision-do I feel comfortable entrusting this lawyer with my case?-and an objective decision-does the lawyer have the skills necessary to handle my case? You'll only be able to answer these questions after an initial consultation.
Background, Experience & Legal Skills
When meeting a dog bite accident lawyer, you want to decide whether he or she has the professional experience necessary to handle your case. Ask the lawyer questions about:
- How long he or she has been handling dog bite cases
- How many dog bite cases the lawyer handles annually
- Whether the lawyer handles any other types of legal work
- The specific dog bite laws and negligence laws in your town, county, and state
Even if you know nothing about dog bite law, the answers to these questions should help you to decide whether the attorney has sufficient experience handling dog bite cases.
Suggested Strategy for Handling Your Case
Give the lawyer a basic description of your case, and answer any questions he or she might have. Then ask the lawyer how he or she would propose handling your case. What strategy would the lawyer employ to resolve the case? Are you likely to go to trial, or does the lawyer think the case can be settled?
When discussing case strategy, you're evaluating two things:
- Does the lawyer seem to have a sensible strategy for handling your case?
- Do you agree with the lawyer's recommended strategy, and if you disagree, how did the lawyer respond?
Awards, Fees, and Expenses
An important area to discuss with each dog bite accident lawyer is money. Specifically, you want to get the lawyer's estimate of how much money you could win, and you want to get an estimate of legal fees and expenses.
You may have some idea of how much your injury has already cost, and, depending on the severity of the injury, you may know approximately how much it will cost in the future. Your lawyer should be familiar with the nature of dog bite injuries and able to provide a much firmer estimate of costs and potential award amounts. Ask questions about how the lawyer arrived at the award estimate and what costs are included in it. If the estimate differs substantially from other estimates you've received, ask for an explanation.
You should also get an estimate of the total legal fees for your case if it settles and if it goes to trial. How much does the lawyer estimate he or she will spend in expenses? Again, if these estimates are substantially different from other lawyers' estimates, you'll want to find out why.
Comfort & Trust
Even if you know nothing about dog bite laws, you should have a relatively easy time deciding whether an attorney is qualified to handle your case from an objective perspective. However, it's important to decide whether you're happy with the lawyer from a subjective perspective, too. This means you need to ask yourself some questions: "Am I comfortable with this dog bite accident lawyer?", "Do I feel as if I could trust the lawyer?", and "Can I rely on his or her advice and judgment?"
Hiring a Dog Bite Accident Lawyer
After you've finished meeting dog bite accident lawyers, it's time to decide which one to hire. Take the time to judge each attorney on the criteria described in this article. If there's still no clear-cut answer, ask the lawyers for the names of past clients who are willing to serve as references. Talk to these clients and ask them what they liked and disliked about the lawyer.
Once you've found a lawyer who meets all of your criteria, you're ready to move forward with your dog bite lawsuit.
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