If a dog attacked you, and the attack resulted in one or more dog bites, you might qualify to receive compensation for your injury or injuries. Although many dog bite cases end up getting settled with a dog owner’s insurance company, you might have enough compelling evidence to take the dog owner to court by filing a civil lawsuit.
With the burden of proof high for a civil court case concerning a dog bite, working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can make the difference between a judge awarding you monetary damages and you walking out of a courtroom with nothing more than lint in your pockets.
The question is not should you hire a personal injury attorney to litigate your dog bite case, but what is the process for finding the right dog bite lawyer.
Contact the California State Bar Association
A valuable source for referrals is your state bar association. Nearly every state bar association offers a lawyer referral service for potential plaintiffs involved in personal injury cases such as dog bite incidents. Virtually every state bar association that offers an attorney referral service ensures that personal injury law is an attorney’s specialty before listing the attorney in its referral database.
Contact the California state bar association by phone or online to ask for a personal injury lawyer recommendation.
Ask for Referrals
Long gone are the days when a victim of a dog bite opened the Yellow Pages to find a personal injury attorney who handled dog bite cases. Even the online version of the Yellow Pages can be an ineffective way to search for the right dog bite lawyer.
Word of mouth advertising is alive and well for finding the best personal injury attorney.
Ask for referrals by contacting friends, family members, and professional peers. You do not have to receive referrals for dog bite injury lawyers, but you should consider only attorneys that specialize in litigating personal injury cases.
After getting several referrals, you can then evaluate each lawyer on your short list by examining a handful of factors by starting with proven experience.
Record of Success
Many attorneys like to throw around the word “experience” when discussing their legal credentials. Although experience matters, you should work with a dog bite lawyer who has experience winning monetary awards for clients involved in a dog bite incident.
An experienced dog bite attorney with a proven record of success understands what it takes to convince a judge to decide in the favor of a client. Experience also is helpful because an experienced attorney has cultivated professional relationships with judges and defendant lawyers to gain leverage in hotly contested civil lawsuits.
A dog bite lawyer who knows about the medical consequences of a dog bite, as well as the emotional scarring that ensues, can be an effective partner in helping you receive just compensation for your injury or injuries.
Perform Research Online
You can find a lot about a dog bite attorney by conducting simple online research. Google reviews can give you a foundation of information that you build on by accessing legal sites that use objective criteria to rate attorneys. You should also access the websites of each dog bite lawyer that has made your short list. Attorney websites help describe how personal injury lawyers handle dog bite cases.
You can also read client testimonials to learn more about a prospective dog bite attorney.
Making the Decision
Deciding on which dog bite attorney to hire can come down to answering a couple of questions. First, will the lawyer you initially contact be the one working on your dog bite case? Some personal injury lawyers pass on cases to other attorneys that work for the same law firm. You want a focused attorney who handles your dog bite case from the free case evaluation to the day when a judge hands down a favorable decision.
The second question to answer concerns legal fees. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they take a cut of the compensation awarded in a civil lawsuit or agreed to in an insurance settlement. However, some personal injury lawyers also ask for upfront legal fees to tide them over until a settlement is reached or a civil case concludes.
Make sure the dog bite attorney that you choose operates on a contingency fee-only basis.