Aside from choosing qualified medical specialists to care for you, one of the most important decisions on the road to recovery after you have suffered a traumatic brain injury is to retain a qualified attorney.

Finding a knowledgeable attorney who is experienced in handling traumatic brain injury matters

When you sought medical care after your injury, was it not imperative for you to be treated by qualified medical professionals or specialists trained in handling traumatic brain injury patients? To obtain optimum legal recovery, the same holds true when you hire your attorney. Here are some important characteristics that you should look for in the attorney that you retain:

1. The attorney that you want to represent your legal interests should understand the symptoms and medical effects resulting from a traumatic brain injury. When the attorney understands your injury and its effects, he/she will be better equipped to identify the issues that face you. When the attorney understands your situation, he/she will be better able to discuss your options and provide you with sound legal advice.

2. The attorney that you retain should be familiar with the work of prominent medical brain injury experts. When an attorney has traumatic brain injury experience, he/she will likely have an enhanced ability to identify the medical/legal issues in your case and will know the types of experts that must be retained in order to prepare your case and maximize your recovery.

3. Likewise, the attorney should have sufficient financial resources to retain numerous experts to evaluate your brain injury and testify with regard to your disability and impairments. The following types of experts are necessary for most traumatic brain injury cases: a neurologist, a neuropsychiatrist, a neuropsychologist, a vocational economist, a life care planner, and/or a bio-mechanical engineer. Since experts are expensive to retain, the attorney or law firm that you hire should be able to spend the necessary resources to retain these experts.

4. The attorney that you retain should be an experienced civil trial attorney. The State of New Jersey certifies a licensed attorney as a civil trial attorney only upon passing a written examination in that attorney’s field of practice, after that attorney has fulfilled certain minimum experience, reputation, and education requirements. While it is not necessary to be certified to practice law in New Jersey, a certification as a trial attorney assures that the attorney has sufficient minimal litigation and trial experience. Since traumatic brain injury cases require extensive knowledge of civil litigation and trial procedures, it may be best if you determine whether the attorney is a certified civil trial attorney.

5. Since the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries is motor vehicle collisions, the attorney that you retain should be knowledgeable of New Jersey’s Personal Injury Protection Insurance laws (otherwise known as “PIP” or “No Fault “). In New Jersey, an individual is required to seek reimbursement for medical expenses from his/her own automobile insurance company. Unfortunately, our Legislature has given control of the medical insurance reimbursement system to these automobile insurance companies! Consequently, the insurance companies have made it extremely difficult to obtain medical care and reimbursement of medical expenses. When dealing with a traumatic brain injury, which normally requires extensive medical treatment, it is imperative that the attorney have a working knowledge of New Jersey’s PIP or No Fault laws in order for her/him to fight against the insurance companies and make sure you obtain the necessary medical treatment and payment of medical bills.

6. The attorney that you retain must be in it for the long haul. It is unfortunate that most litigated cases take many years to resolve. It is even more unfortunate if your attorney will not or can not be with you for the entire litigation. Therefore, it is best if your attorney shows commitment to work with you for the entire litigation process, have the financial ability to prepare your case, and be prepared to take your matter to trial.

The research that you should perform before you retain an attorney

When you consult with an attorney, you should perform some basic investigation before you retain him/her to represent you.

1. Ask the attorney whether he/she has experience in handling these types of cases. If so, ask him/her how many cases he/she has handled and/or tried.

2. Ask the attorney if he/she is a certified civil trial attorney. Find out how long ago he/she received the certification.

3. Ask the attorney whether he/she has written articles, spoken at legal conferences, or holds board positions with organizations related to traumatic brain injuries.

4. Go to the attorney’s or law firm’s website.

Fortunately, in New Jersey, most attorneys will handle personal injury cases on a “contingent fee” basis. This means that an injured individual will not have to pay legal fees until after the case is satisfactorily concluded. Only when the case has concluded should the attorney be paid a percentage of the net recovery. What this means to you is that you will not be compelled to pay money up front to retain an attorney to handle your traumatic brain injury case and you will be able to retain the best attorney without making the cost an issue.