The Top 10 Things to Look for When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
Seek Out These Characteristics on Your Hunt for Legal Help
If you have been injured in an accident, the last thing you want to do is deal with the insurance company, or sort through a mountain of medical bills. That's where a personal injury attorney comes in. They can handle that stress and paperwork for you, so that you can focus on getting better. An attorney can fight to make sure that the insurance company doesn't try to give you a smaller settlement than you need to fully recover from your injuries.
Statistics show that hiring a personal injury attorney increases your chances of receiving a fair settlement from an insurance company, but the specific attorney you hire can also significantly impact your case. With all of the attorneys out there, how do you know where to start your search for legal help?
Here are the top characteristics to look for to ensure that you hire the most skilled and professional attorney for your personal injury case:
- Great Client Reviews
- A Successful Track Record
- Will They Have the Resources to Invest in Your Case?
- How Easy are They to Contact?
- Do They Charge for an Initial Legal Consultation?
- How Do They Charge?
- Do You Feel a Rapport?
- Which Awards or Honors Have They Earned?
The more years spent representing clients, the more knowledge of the legal system an attorney is likely to have. Attorneys who repeatedly deal with insurance companies are better able to predict their next moves in a legal case. Not only should your attorney have a significant amount of experience representing clients, but the majority of this experience should have been in personal injury litigation. Some attorneys may practice multiple types of law, but an attorney who has extensively practiced personal injury law will be the most equipped to assist you with your case.
Any attorney can say that they do great work for their clients, but what do their clients have to say? Ask friends or relatives if they know someone who has had experience with specific personal injury attorneys or law firms. You can also search the web and seek out online reviews from past clients. These may be available on independent websites, like Google+ Reviews, or they may be accessible right on the attorney's or law firm's website.
How has the attorney fared in specific cases? Are they a member of the Multi-Million and Million Dollar Advocates Forum? Membership to this group is an honor awarded only to lawyers who have achieved multi-million dollar settlements for their clients. While legal research websites like lexisnexis.com can help you find verdicts and settlements, this will likely cost a fee. Check law firm websites to see if verdicts and settlements are listed.
The process of fully investigating a personal injury case requires time and resources. A top-quality law firm or attorney usually must invest up-front in every client's case. They must have the resources to hire investigators, experts, and anyone else who can help shed light on a client's specific legal situation.
If an attorney is hard to contact initially, this might not be a good sign of how you'll be treated as a client. Once again, check the law firm's or attorney's website—is it straightforward and easy to navigate? Can you contact the office 24/7 and on the weekends? Can you talk to a real person and submit your case details online to quickly find out if you have a legal case? If you're injured and unable to travel, is an attorney willing to travel to you? Law firms that practice great customer service will typically offer many, if not all of these services.
Whether your initial interaction with an attorney or law firm is online, via phone, or in an-person meeting, find out if you will be charged. Look for a law firm or attorney who promises free legal consultations, so you have nothing to lose by asking them if you have a case.
Find out what the fee structure is up front—do you need to pay at the beginning of a case? Do you need to pay hourly attorney fees and if so, how much does the attorney estimate that it will cost? If you are looking for an attorney experienced in personal injury law, you can find one who works on a contingency fee. That means you don't pay anything unless they win your case.
After speaking with the attorney, you can usually tell if you're going to get along. Does the attorney use lots of confusing legal jargon when discussing your case, or did they explain your legal rights in everyday terms? A client is a key player and decision maker on a legal team, and an attorney should make sure that their client is well-informed.
You want to have the most qualified attorney representing you, but how can you be certain that you've selected wisely? Learning about their awards or honors can help you know for sure that you've chosen a respected and highly-rated attorney. There are multiple legal organizations that recognize and award outstanding talent in the legal field.
Here are some credentials to look for:
- Trial attorneys who are certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Like board-certified medical professionals, NBTA-certified attorneys have a proven track record of skill, experience, and knowledge in their practice area(s). Certification is a stamp of approval that gives clients confidence they're hiring a truly qualified attorney.
- An attorney who has received a Martindale-Hubbell Rating on their own professional merit. Individual attorneys' ratings are determined through a rigorous Peer Review Ratings system.
- An attorney who has been included in The Best Lawyers in America. Corporate Counsel Magazine has called Best Lawyers "the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice."
- An attorney who has been selected to the list of Super Lawyers in their region or state.
- For law firms, look for one named to the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" list.
Before your case even begins, it's important to be sure that you and your attorney have the same expectations for how things will proceed. An attorney who already has a Client Bill of Rights prepared ensures that your rights as a client will be upheld throughout the entire legal process.