When you’ve been injured in an accident, the last thing you need is extra stress.
Unfortunately, searching for a personal injury lawyer can seem like an overwhelming process to most people.
With so many law firms out there, it is hard to know which ones are actually good at what they do; harder still is knowing which lawyer or firm is the right fit for you.
To help simplify the process for you, and help you find very best attorney to suit your case, I’ve put together a list of the ten (10) most important qualities to look for before you hire a personal injury attorney.
- Specialization. Steer clear of lawyers that are general practitioners. Trying to be all things to all people serves no one, least of all the client. You may be familiar with the old adage “a jack of all trades, but a master of none”. This adage holds true with lawyers. I speak from experience when I say that it is a full-time job staying abreast of the current law and necessary soft skills in just one area of practice.
If you or a loved one have been injured in any type of accident, insist on an attorney or firm that handles only personal injury cases.
Your case is too important to rely on someone that is not “all-in”.
I can guarantee you that the attorney for the insurance company won’t be leaving your deposition and running off to a real estate closing.
Bottom Line: Avoid dabblers, it could cost you big time.
- Responsiveness. If your lawyer doesn’t have time to devote to you as an individual, they have no business representing you. Patience and the willingness to answer all of your questions is crucial. Remember what far too many lawyers have forgotten.
Your lawyer works for you. . .not the other way around.
At my firm, we never lose sight of the fact that without our clients we are out of business. I tell my clients that the only stupid question is the one they don’t ask. Your lawyer should not only answer your questions but should encourage them. Ego, pride and arrogance have no place in the attorney-client relationship.
To determine how responsive a lawyer is, see how he treats you throughout the process of scheduling an initial consultation, and during the consultation itself. Was it easy to schedule a consultation with his office? If not that may be a red flag that you’ll have trouble reaching his office for information regarding your case in the future.
Also make sure to ask direct questions about his communication policies during your consultation. If you have questions regarding your case would you be able to speak with him directly, or will you have to speak with a paralegal or young associate? Gauge his answers and see how he responds to your questions.
You want to hire a lawyer who addresses your concerns, values your opinion and welcomes your feedback. After all,it’s your case.
- Modesty.Avoid the hotshot who seems overly impressed with war stories of victories gone by. Likewise, be suspect of anyone that goes on about the boatloads of money they promise to get you for your case.
A meticulous, experienced lawyer knows that only after diligent investigation can the full value of your case be known. The best in the business manage their clients’ expectations by never over-promising.
If an attorney tells you an amount that your case is worth during your first conversation or initial consult, this should be a major red flag.Run, don’t walk.
- Honesty. No one wins when lawyers hide bad news from their client(s). False guarantees are extremely dangerous.
A seasoned, no-nonsense attorney always gives it to his clients straight. The better practice is always to share the good, the bad and the ugly with all clients.
I never sugar coat things for my clients. It only leads to disappointment and resentment in the end.
Every case has its shortcomings, so it is better to get it all out on the table.
Part of strategizing is anticipating how the other side will try to beat you. The reality here is that we cannot prepare for that which we refuse to acknowledge.
Now, I realize it’s difficult to determine how honest a person is based on one initial consultation. That’s why you want to make sure you read all of the attorney’s reviews from former clients. See what they say about this person and how he handled their cases. It’ll be a good indicator of how he would handle yours. Good places to find attorney reviews are on sites likeAVVO.com(a major lawyer directory), Google, and on the attorney’s social media pages, such asFacebook.
- Trial Experience. Roughly 96% of all lawsuits settle without the need for a trial. However, the firms that consistently get the best results for their clients are those that work up every case as if it will be in the minority that goes all the way to a jury verdict. When I am negotiating with my adversary (or the liability insurance carrier), I need them to know that I am willing to go to trial.
I never have to bluff, because insurance companies know that I have tried cases against their lawyers, and obtained jury verdicts many times the amount they were willing to settle for.
During your initial consultation make sure to ask the attorney about his trial experience. Ask him which courts he’s conducted trials in, how many he’s done, and how many years he’s been doing them.
Don’t settle for a paper pusher. Your needs will be much better served if you have an experienced, aggressive trial attorney in your corner.