If you've never been involved in a lawsuit, finding a personal injury attorney to handle your accident case can seem like a daunting task. Almost everyone will tell you, "Make sure you get a good one," but they never say exactly how you can tell. If you're unsure about the questions you should be asking when you meet your attorney for the first time, here are some places to start.
"Do you handle this type of case often?"
Some personal injury attorneys handle just about any type of accident claim, but many start to specialize after they've been in practice a while. That may be an advantage if you have a case involving something like a motorcycle accident or a dog bite. An attorney who handles a lot of those cases is going to be familiar with how the laws surrounding those claims work in your state, know what evidence the court will be looking for in order to rule on your side, and probably have some idea of how successful your case will be (given the circumstances).
"How many active cases do you have?"
This is important because lawsuits take time. An attorney who has too many active cases is going to be spread pretty thin, and that means that your case might not get the attention it deserves. Look for an attorney who has less than 100 active cases, if possible. (It's important to note that not all cases actually take as much time as a personal injury case. If your attorney handles other cases, like Social Security claims, a lot of those may be active for a long time, simply waiting on a hearing date. So if an attorney has a larger case load but a lot of them are simply on hold for the time being, that's no cause for concern.)
"What do you think the biggest problems with my case might be?"
There's seldom a "perfect" personal injury case—one where the victim clearly could have done nothing to prevent the accident, the defendant was clearly negligent in some way and could have totally prevented the accident from happening, and everyone agrees on exactly how much the victim's damages are worth. There are going to be weak points in your case, whether it's because you should have noticed the "Beware of Dog" sign that was posted on your neighbor's fence before you tried to pet the dog that bit you or there were no witnesses around when you slipped and fell on your grocer's floor. Look for an attorney who levels with you about potential problems and discusses how he or she thinks they can be overcome.
In the end, a "good" attorney is the one that makes you comfortable. If you feel that he or she is interested in your case, is open to your questions, and relates well to you, then you've probably made the right choice.