What should I look for in choosing a wrongful death attorney to represent me?
A wrongful death incident is going to be an upsetting situation for all involved, and for a good reason. Losing a loved one is not easy at the best of times, and the last thing you want to have as part of this wrongful death case is to deal with frustrating legal issues. The best way to ensure that this goes as smoothly as possible is to be discerning about the kind of wrongful death attorney you pick. But what qualities should you look for?
The best qualities in a wrongful death attorney
One of the most important qualities to look for is experience. The more cases a wrongful death attorney has handled, and the longer they have worked, the more likely they are to be able to help. A newbie wrongful death attorney is not necessarily going to be bad, but it does mean that they are less likely to know how to win. Or, at the very least, how to compromise to avoid a loss, which is an incredibly important quality to have. Not every wrongful death claim is going to be successful, but it is not at all impossible to negotiate with the other side to get some form of compensation through a settlement.
Speaking of, you should also find a wrongful death attorney with impeccable negotiating skills. One of the biggest downfalls one can see from an attorney is an inability to negotiate with the other side. Either they are too inclined to gun for the best result possible and, as such, being unwilling to concede at any point, or they are too quick to concede to the other side's demands. Being able to read the room is an important quality, and thus, know whether to push them or back down.
Experience is important, but it is invaluable to pursue a lawyer whose experience tends to be relevant to your wrongful death case. A skilled wrongful death attorney will be able to fit into any wrongful death case like a glove, but there is no point in not trying to find the best fit possible. If your loved one passed away in a car accident, for instance, an attorney with relevant experience will be able to help better with that.
You should also look into an attorney who works on contingency. Working on contingency entails that unless you receive compensation, you do not have to pay any fees. The contingency agreement in your prospective contract considers both a favorable verdict in court or a settlement as that compensation. Of course, you should also make sure that the fees they are expecting you to pay are reasonable, or at the very least, within your budget. Anticipate that a portion of your winnings will ultimately go to your lawyer. It may not seem like it's worth it if you have to pay that extra cost, but a wrongful death attorney representing you will ensure that you are more likely to win your case.
Now, it is not impossible to win any trial while representing yourself. For example, the wrongful death case may be so compelling that the other side is willing to throw money at you in order to make it go away. Now, that kind of situation would be great for you, since by the end of the day, you have considerably less to pay after the fact. The unfortunate thing is, however, that you are not likely to get that golden goose of a case. Heck, even if you had a lawyer, there are going to be some hurdles that you have to clear at some point or another. It is simply not worth the gamble that you may get nothing, especially when you almost certainly have necessary expenses to cover.
A lawyer should also be cooperative with you. This may seem like a given, but unfortunately, so many attorneys out there simply do not do a good enough job helping keep their clients aware of what is going on, and why. A good attorney can also serve as a good teacher to their clients. Sensitivity to your situation is also obviously a very important trait. If a lawyer is unable to show empathy for the situation you are in — having lost a loved one — then it can make things fairly awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved in the incident.
How you can determine whether an attorney has these qualities
Honestly, it is pretty easy to say "well, just look for a good lawyer!" It can be a lot harder to actually detect quality lawyers. The first thing you should do on your quest for the perfect wrongful death attorney is talk to friends and family, who may have had experience with attorneys in the past. They can tell you who you should (or should not) approach. Granted, their opinion is not infallible, but it is at least a good lead. You can also look at directories of lawyers to get an idea of whom you should contact.
In any law firm worth their salt, you will be able to get a free consultation with them in order to determine whether they jive well with you. Chemistry between an attorney and a client is an important thing to consider. Even if an attorney has all the skills and experience in the world, it is important that you two get along well. Such a thing can instill trust as well. It is not exactly a fun part of the process to have to figure out all the fine details, but it is one of the most important parts of getting your wrongful death case going.
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