Hiring a Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyer
When you pursue a wrongful death claim, it’s important to have the right lawyer at your side through the legal process. Your lawyer will play a critical role in making sure that you’re fairly compensated for your loss and your family’s financial future is preserved in the aftermath of your loved one’s death. You want someone who has significant experience handling your kind of case, but also someone who listens and is compassionate toward your family and its needs in this devastating time.
Wrongful death cases deal with personal and private information. If you’ve lost a spouse, you may have to share intimate information about your relationship and sex life if you’re pursuing what is known as a loss of consortium claim. You’ll also have to share details about your family’s finances and about the emotional toll the loss of your loved one has taken. When sharing that kind of information about your life, you want to know that the information is in good hands. That means knowing your wrongful death attorney has a strong reputation and is in good professional standing. It also means making sure your lawyer is someone you makes you feel comfortable and at ease, and who you know will work diligently to get you the best possible outcome for your case.
Important Qualities in a Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyer
Some general things to look for when deciding to hire a wrongful death lawyer include:
- Experience — “Experience” can have a lot of meanings. It can mean the amount of time a lawyer has been in practice, but in terms of finding the right lawyer for your wrongful death case, a better measure of experience may be how many wrongful death cases your lawyer has handled and how they were resolved. You may be in better hands with someone who’s been in practice for handful of years and has successfully settled numerous wrongful death cases than those of someone who has been in practice for 20 years, but has only handled a couple of wrongful death claims.
- Honesty — You want a lawyer who will be straightforward about your case, any challenges or obstacles that might arise, and your chances for success. Your lawyer can only estimate what you might expect to receive, and no lawyer can ever guarantee that you’ll win or settle your case. But you do want someone who talks to you realistically about what to expect as you proceed with your claim so that you can make informed decisions.
- Communication — Communication is the foundation of any relationship, and will important to your professional relationship with your lawyer. A good lawyer should be able to explain the legal process clearly and in a way that you understand. You’ll also want to know that your lawyer will be accessible when you have questions about your case.
- Compassion — When you’ve lost a close family member, you’re naturally going through a process of grieving. You’re likely feeling deep emotions, and you need a lawyer who will be sensitive to your grief and to how your loss has affected you and your family.
Your Lawyer’s Reputation
You may want to know when hiring a wrongful death lawyer what kind of professional reputation he or she has within the legal community and with previous clients. A couple of useful resources for evaluating an attorney’s qualifications are:
- Avvo.com — Avvo includes reviews from lawyers and clients, as well as details about how the lawyer focuses his or her practice, where the lawyer is licensed, and for how long he or she has been in practice. Avvo rates lawyers on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest rating. Sometimes Avvo doesn’t have enough information to assign a numerical rating, in which case the website will tag the lawyer with either a “No Concern” label or an “Attention” label. “No Concern” means no issues such as disciplinary actions turned up in the lawyer’s public records. “Attention” means something like a disciplinary action exists in the lawyer’s past.
- Lawyers.com — This website gives information about where a lawyer earned his or her law degree, where he or she is licensed to practice, and sometimes will tell you personal information such as the lawyer’s hobbies or interests. Lawyers.com applies a five-star scale to rate attorneys on the website. A lawyer’s star rating is based on the average ratings given in client reviews, with five stars being the highest rating a lawyer can get.
Questions to Ask a Potential Attorney
When you have your first consultation with the lawyer, you should be prepared to ask the lawyer some questions to find out if he or she is a good fit. Some possible questions include:
- How many wrongful death cases have you handled?
- How many wrongful death cases have you settled?
- How many wrongful death cases have you won at trial?
- Do you have any special training on issues in wrongful death cases?
- What kind of communication can I expect while you’re working on my case?
- Will I talk to you directly or to someone else in your office?
- How often will I hear from you?
- What’s kind of process can I expect for my wrongful death claim?
- What do you think my claim is worth?
- How do I pay your fees if I hire you?