After you have suffered an injury or loss as a result of negligence on the part of someone else, the last thing you want to do is suffer through the bureaucracy of a court case. All the nuances that come with choosing an attorney are likely the least of your concerns: it is much easier to choose the first or second lawyer that answers your call and get on with it. A rudimentary google search for lawyers in your area will return hundreds to thousands of hits. Who has the time to sift through them all?
But the quality of your lawyer can greatly affect the outcome of any legal action you choose to pursue. Additionally, even if you have the best lawyer in the field, if you don’t feel as though they have a vested interest in your welfare, you are ultimately going to feel dissatisfied with your legal representation. We all want to find the best of the best in any field. However, you are going to yield better results if you have a good chemistry with the lawyer representing you.
Here are 5 things to consider when hiring a personal injury attorney.
Personal injury is a pretty broad term for very specific phenomena. A lawyer may have a history adjudicating one area of personal injury law and have no experience elsewhere. For instance, you will not want to hire a lawyer known for litigating cases related to commercial truck accidents if you have been injured on a construction site.
Just because a lawyer does well in one specific area does not mean they are well versed in all areas of personal injury law. Probe your prospective attorneys to find their area of expertise. You can usually narrow this down via a specifically worded internet search.
The internet offers—for better or for worse—a myriad of ways to learn about prospective service providers in any field. We all know about review sites specifically tailored towards restaurants or childcare services, but review sites cater to very niche fields as well. Lawyers are no exception.
As with any review site, take reviewers’ experiences with a grain of salt. After all, people who have had negative experiences with a product or service provider are more likely to leave reviews and tell others about their experience than those who have had positive experiences.
When you are considering shelling out the big bucks for a qualified attorney, feel free to search them using your state’s bar association’s website.
When you are first in contact with a prospective client, consider carefully how they interact with you. Are they professional? Are they too casual? Are they cold to you? Think about what sort of relationship you need to have with a prospective attorney to trust them in handling your case. Personal injury lawsuits are sensitive matters. They can demand a special (but still professional) intimacy between clients and their representation
Plus, the outcomes of personal injury lawsuits have the potential to greatly affect people’s futures. You need to feel comfortable opening up to an attorney if they are going to potentially steer the direction of your life. Likewise, keep away from attorneys who seem like they are just telling you what you want to hear. If anything a lawyer says to you sounds too good to be true, as the cliché goes, it probably is!
Aside from their reputation online or around town, the best way to tell if a lawyer is worth his or her salt is to look to their past: their history with clients will tell you everything you need to know about their efficacy and the type of service they provide. When you are looking at who and how an attorney has represented previously, however, it goes beyond just the dollar signs and lawsuit payouts.
For example: if you are looking for an attorney to handle your case involving a commercial trucking company, you will want to avoid working with any attorney who has worked on behalf of that same trucking company in the past. It’s a no brainer to avoid conflicts of interests, but sometimes it is not as clear cut as just working for the same company.
Look for victim focused law firms, like the Jurewitz Law Group, a law group in San Diego, which says “Unlike other law firms in San Diego, we ONLY handle personal injury cases for victims. We’ve never worked on the other side, and we don’t intend to.” When you are a victim looking for compensation, gravitate towards lawyers who have a proven track record supporting others like you.
Last but not least, you should consider the results yielded by a lawyer’s efforts on behalf of other victims like you. Keep your expectations tempered. Not every case is going to net a 25 million dollar settlement. That said, feel free to inquire about the success or pitfalls of other cases you know of.