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Guide to Selecting Legal Representation

Categories: Living with Brain Injury, Being a Caregiver, Professionals

People who sustain brain injuries often find it helpful and necessary to speak with an attorney. Medical treatment, such as rehabilitation, and long-term care services can be expensive and span many years. In cases where the brain injury is a result of another party's carelessness or negligence, a lawsuit can provide financial resources to aid with the rehabilitation and long-term care necessary. Attorneys are also helpful in if the injury causes a permanent disability. Sometimes a lawsuit will encourage the responsible party to take steps to prevent injuries to others in the future.

Consider an Attorney Soon After the Brain Injury Occurs

It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after a person is injured. An attorney can determine whether or not the plaintiff has a case. The plaintiff is the person bringing the suit. This can be the injured person or the family (or estate) of the injured person. The defendant is the party or parties that caused the brain injury. One of the most important reasons to get legal help is the difficulty of determining who is legally responsible for the injury. In a motor vehicle crash, the driver of an automobile, his employer, the automobile manufacturer, the local government or its employees, or the bartender at a local bar could all be liable.

An attorney can investigate the case, determine what kind of case to bring against which defendant, and begin preparing the case while the injured person and his or her family focus on rehabilitation and recovery. A good lawyer will work to make sure someone with a brain injury receives full compensation for his or her injuries.

Choose Your Attorney Carefully

Choosing an attorney can have significant long-term implications. The attorney will seek to obtain full compensation for medical bills, lost income, and future care costs. The attorney may also seek damages for pain and suffering. Importantly, an experienced attorney can help to preserve any entitlements to federal and state benefits. Without careful planning, valuable benefits may be lost. Choosing an attorney requires consideration of many factors, including education and training, knowledge of the consequences and treatment of brain injury, knowledge of how to structure and manage awards, and experience with similar cases. An attorney must have the financial resources to try the case as well as access to the best experts.

Attorneys Also Choose Their Cases Carefully

Most personal injury attorneys work under a contingent fee arrangement. This means the attorney receives no fee if the plaintiff is not compensated. Attorneys will often invest substantial time and money during the investigation, preparation, and resolution of the case. Because of the financial risk involved, attorneys may decline cases if they do not believe there is a reasonable likelihood of success

Getting Started

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) provides a list of Brain Injury Preferred Attorneys with experience handling brain injury cases. The database is available by clicking here. Scroll through the list of attorneys, or choose your state from the menu to be referred to a preferred attorney in your area. Brain injury attorneys offer a free consultation, and if they take your case, there is no attorney’s fee if there is no compensation. Once you have an appointment with an attorney, be prepared to answer the attorney’s questions about the injury. You may also find it useful to have a written list of questions to ask the attorney. During the consultation, you will want to ask about the attorney’s legal background and experience with cases involving brain injury. Be observant during the time you spend with your attorney. Pay attention to how the attorney and his or her office staff interact with you and your family and determine if it is comfortable for you. Trust your instincts. Many personal injury cases take years to resolve, so the relationship between you and the attorney can be very important.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • How much of your practice is devoted to personal injury?
  • Of your personal injury cases, how many are devoted to brain injury?
  • How did you first become involved in brain injury cases?
  • Based on the information you have, what are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
  • What additional information about my case do you need?
  • Who else in your practice would you involve in my case? What role(s) would these people have? Describe their background and expertise.
  • Who will be my primary contact with your practice?
  • Are you or your law firm able and willing to advance as much as $50,000 in the investigation, preparation, and presentation of my case?
  • Have you been successful handling cases similar to mine in the past?
  • What is your involvement with legal associations, local, state, or national brain injury associations, or other organizations? 

About BIAA's Preferred Attorneys

The BIAA Preferred Attorneys Program was established to help people with brain injuries and their families in identifying qualified legal representation. The lawyers who participate in the program are actively involved in the brain injury and legal communities. BIAA does not guarantee success or warranty the lawyers in its program. The ultimate decision of who you choose to represent you is yours to make after carefully considering all the options.