Whether there’s been an injury in a car accident or it’s time to find someone to help with estate planning, it’s important to ensure the lawyer is right for the job.

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Hiring the right attorney to handle a legal case is a daunting task. Whether there’s been an injury in a car accident or it’s time to find someone to help with estate planning, it’s important to ensure the lawyer is right for the job. With today’s technology, anyone can make a professional-looking website, and recognizing the most qualified candidate can be difficult.

Jason Epstein, an expert in personal injury law and an attorney at Premier Law Group in Seattle, agrees that it is challenging for consumers. “The more serious the injury, the more is at stake,” says Epstein, “so it is very important to do your homework before hiring a lawyer to represent you.” Residents of Washington also face the challenge of having to choose from over 26,000 attorneys practicing in the state, with 3,000 claiming a specialization in personal injury law. So, where does a person start?

Many law firms offer a free initial consultation over the phone, but not all free consultations include the kinds of information needed to make an informed choice. “You should never feel pressured when you call for a consultation,” says Epstein. Ask if the free consultation will be with an attorney or will just be with intake personnel. It’s important for an attorney to help evaluate a victim’s case, listen to their concerns, and provide honest answers and information about how to move forward.

Know what to ask

During a free consultation, it is necessary to know what questions to ask to determine who to hire. Epstein suggests starting with the attorney’s experience. Some of his recommendations include asking when the lawyer passed the bar exam and how long they have been in practice. “No one wants to be a ‘guinea pig’ in any situation,” Epstein says, “So why would you agree to be one for your attorney when so much is on the line?” Also, personal injury cases are often complicated, so expertise in this area of the law is essential. A knowledgeable and skilled personal injury attorney knows how to navigate the complex legal and insurance claim processes to ensure that you receive optimal compensation. Before hiring, confirm an attorney’s expertise in personal injury law by checking their education, publications, media interviews, awards and case history.

Understand the fees

Anyone who has been seriously injured worries about paying all the medical bills and other related expenses. During the free consultation, ask how the attorney’s fee structure works before signing a representation agreement. Many attorneys charge by the hour or portion of an hour — this can add up quickly. “My firm uses a contingency fee arrangement,” says Epstein, “because we understand that most people can’t afford high hourly attorney fees. Basically, this means that our fee is a portion of whatever we recover for you, and if we don’t win, you don’t owe us any legal fees, ever.”

Although no one can guarantee a 100 percent success rate, another indicator that a personal injury attorney has the expertise, skill and dedication required to obtain the best settlement is the quality of the free information provided up front. For example, to help people with their legal battles against insurance companies, Premier Law Group attorneys have written numerous books and legal guides made available to Washington state residents free of charge. Epstein is passionate about providing free information to victims and has authored several books on a variety of personal injury topics including, The Truth About Washington Auto Accidents.  “I wanted to share some of the ‘insider secrets’ I’ve learned while practicing personal injury law for almost two decades.”

Evaluate community involvement

Often overlooked, a law firm’s community involvement and support of local causes reflects its core values and shows potential clients how hard it will advocate for others. Being a personal injury law firm, Epstein says that Premier Law Group knows that the world can sometimes be a tough place, so it tries to help make its community a safer, better, and more enjoyable place to live for everyone. One example is the organization “Teens Against Distracted Driving,”  founded by Epstein after his years of representing families devastated by car accidents caused by distracted driving. “I had to take action and help increase awareness to lower, and hopefully, eliminate deaths and injuries from something that is so easily preventable.”

Epstein’s final advice to those looking for the right personal injury attorney is “trust your gut.” As in any successful relationship, it is essential to find an attorney whose goals and work ethic are compatible with your own. Meeting with a lawyer in person allows a foundation of trust and open communication to develop.

Premier Law Group strives to be the most client-centered personal injury law firm in the country. Whether it’s a one-time phone inquiry or a long-term legal case, our philosophy is to offer help with compassion, respect, and understanding.