In a world of billboards and commercials, how do you choose a good personal injury attorney? How do you separate truth from hype? How do you find an attorney who will prepare your case? Here, in north Alabama we have an attorney advertising on television who has probably never tried a significant injury case. A few years ago, a Florida reporter exposed an advertising law firm’s promises as “all for show.” When you or a family member is hurt, picking a good attorney is a very important decision. So, how do you make that choice? Here are a few tips:
- Consider Your Needs – What type of case do you have? A small car accident with a minor injury is very different from a case involving serious injuries. In either case, you need a lawyer who specializes in personal injury matters. But, in a minor injury case, you have a wider range of lawyers who can handle the matter. When your case involves serious injuries you really need an experienced lawyer with a proven track record. You need a lawyer who can go to trial. You need a lawyer who understands the medical issues. Keep in mind insurance companies know your attorney’s reputation. And, insurance companies often consider that reputation in serious cases before deciding what to offer.
- Don’t Buy Lawyer Promises – Some lawyers make promises in their advertising. And, some lawyers even make promises during initial client meetings. Beware of advertising claims. Beware of lawyers who promise results to new clients. Nobody can guarantee results.
- Research Attorney Options – If possible, take your time finding an attorney. Is the ambulance chaser who calls the hospital really the best attorney for you (or anyone else)? Is the guy yelling on television really the best attorney for you? In both cases, the answer is probably no. Ask people you respect and trust for recommendations. Use the internet to look up attorneys. And, when you do look up attorneys go beyond the promises on their website. Have they (1) held positions of leadership or trust in professional organizations or the community; (2) have they been honored by their peers; (3) do they have a good track record; (4) have they written papers or taught seminars on topics related to personal injury; and (5) do they handle all types of cases or focus on personal injury. You need a specialist. We focus our effort in one primary area of the law. These are all good issues to review when researching attorneys.
- Is The Attorney Both Caring And Knowledgeable – Ask questions. Listen closely. Does the attorney answer your questions? Or, does the attorney avoid giving answers? You need an attorney who knows personal injury law. And, you need an attorney who will do his or her best to provide real answers. Your case is important.
- Who Will Work On Your Case – This is a very common problem with law firms. You hired a specific attorney. Yet, you soon realize that attorney is not working your case. Another attorney is completely handling the matter. It’s OK for law firms to use a team approach. Many firms do. Yet, the attorney you specifically hired should be a real part of the team. Will the attorney you consult simply pass your case to another member of the firm? Or worse, will the attorney simply refer your case to another outside attorney? Some firms advertise for cases simply to refer them to another firm. Numerous law firms advertise for personal injury or product liability claims but really don’t handle them. If those firms cannot secure a quick settlement, they are likely to refer your case to another attorney. You should ask these important questions of the attorneys you consider hiring. When you hire an attorney, you expect them to take a leading role as your legal counsel.
- Can You Trust The Attorney – Trust is essential to a good relationship. You must trust your attorney to give you good advice, to be your advocate and to put your interest first. Deciding whether or not to trust someone can be difficult. You can and should ask questions? Does the attorney have a reputation for honesty? Ask around. When you meet with the attorney, does he or she try to provide honest information? Is the attorney’s paperwork in order? At the initial consultation, does the attorney seem more interested in you or more interested in just getting you to sign the paperwork? Does the attorney make overblown promises? While trust is often a gut decision, you should be comfortable before hiring a specific attorney.
- Investigate the Attorney’s Track Record – Does the attorney have a good track record of success? If your case involves significant damages, a death, medical issues, or other complex issues, it is essential you hire a skilled attorney. Many successful attorneys maintain lists of important cases they have handled. Successful attorneys often have track records well known within the larger legal community. Seek this information before making a decision.
These are some important issues to consider when hiring a personal injury attorney. I hope the advice helps.