If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, retaining a personal injury lawyer may help you pursue compensation for any damages incurred as a result. However, it can be incredibly difficult to find a lawyer for your needs, especially if you are recovering from your injuries. With thousands of personal injury lawyers online, how do you find the right one?
We asked that question to some notable legal professionals; here’s what they had to say.
San Diego, CA – Personal Injury Attorney
- An ideal law firm has a track record of success that can be easily found. Many law firms spend large sums of money on billboard or TV advertising but do not obtain good results for their clients. Insurance companies and large corporations know the track record of the attorneys they deal with and generally offer more money in settlement to those with a higher percentage of success because they know that law firm is willing and capable to go to trial. Additionally, trial lawyer of the year awards or outstanding trial lawyer of the year awards are a great indicator of this as well. These awards are only given to the top trial attorneys who have exceptional experience and track record.
- Look at the experience of the attorneys. Many larger personal injury law firms have younger associates that handle personal injury cases, but these associates do not have the experience or expertise of an attorney with 20+ years of experiencing practicing personal injury cases. Likewise, firms that have many younger associates don’t need to pay those associates as much as an experienced personal injury trial lawyer – and in personal injury law, you typically get what you pay for. Having an experienced attorney will assist in getting you a larger settlement and better result on your case.
- Ask your prospective attorneys and firms how many cases they handle at one time. Some firms or attorneys handle anywhere from 40 to 200 cases at any one time. Firms that handle a smaller volume of cases are able to devote more time to your case which is invariably a better result for you. Try to hire a firm that is more selective with the types of cases that they take.
- Only hire an AV-rated law firm to handle your case. The Martindale Hubbell rating system is the oldest and best peer-reviewed system available to evaluate attorney expertise and experience. This rating insures that the attorneys or law firm you’re seeking to hire have the knowhow to handle your personal injury case.
Tampa, FL – Personal Injury Attorney
- Make sure the personal injury attorneys have the capability to represent you in a trial if necessary. Although not all personal injury cases go to trial, an attorney who has courtroom experience can more effectively represent your case needs.
- Ask about the experience and number of the support staff. Experience is crucial in determining the quality of representation you are seeking.
- A qualified lawyer will recommend that you don’t speak to an insurance company until you find proper representation. Insurance companies will often contact you quickly in order to offer a low-ball settlement in order to resolve the case without incident. A qualified personal injury lawyer can help you claim a settlement that meets your needs.
Las Vegas, NV – Personal Injury Attorney
- Research. There are tons of lawyers out there and it can be overwhelming to pick the right one. A good place to start is to ask friends and family for referrals and then research online. Then call a few different lawyers and see who you’re comfortable with.
- Look for a trial lawyer. Many lawyers are hesitant to take cases to trial but going to trial is what forces insurance companies to pay the full and fair value of your case. Insurance companies keep track of this and know which lawyers will take a case to trial and which lawyers they can settle for a discount.
- Make sure you hire an attorney who you can reach and connect with via the phone, text, email, or other communication platforms. If you have questions, you want to make sure you can talk to your lawyer to get the answers.
Irvine, CA – Personal Injury Attorney
- Don’t be fooled by representatives from law offices coming to you. Go to the attorney’s office directly to see what kind of practice that attorney has and if the office looks professional.
- Search the attorney for more details, and check the sources on the attorney’s website to verify their expertise.
- Anyone can claim they try cases. Always ask the attorney how many cases have they tried. This way you know if the attorney has experience and is willing to fight for their clients.
Austin, TX – Personal Injury Lawyer
Do your homework:
Not all personal injury lawyers or law firms are equal. Beyond having the right experience for your type of case, you want a lawyer who will listen to your concerns and help prepare a strategy that will best suit your individual case. A good way to find out whether you can trust your lawyer to handle your case and the issues that come along with it is to read the online reviews through sites like Google and Yelp.
Do not delay calling a lawyer:
A good personal injury lawyer will not pressure you into doing anything. Rather, a free consultation should be an opportunity to hear about your circumstances and learn about what your rights and options are for things like medical treatment and getting compensated for your losses. The sooner you are armed with this information, the better position you’ll be in when it comes time to resolve your case.
Milford, CT – Personal Injury Attorney
If you are seeking a personal injury lawyer, first do a bit of research. You want to look for lawyers that regularly represent clients in a courtroom setting. Insurance companies tend to pay greater attention to lawyers with courtroom experiences, and are more willing to settle for a greater value. Beware of the lawyers that do extensive marketing, whether on TV, radio, buses or billboards. It is likely that you will never meet the lawyer that is doing the actual marketing, and your case may be handled by a committee of paralegals and junior associates.
Charleston, WV – Personal Injury Attorney
It is best to meet the lawyer who is going to handle your case face-to-face. You must trust that person implicitly as they are protecting your right to recover against a person or entity who has violated safety rules which protect the community.
Charleston, WV – Personal Injury Attorney
People need lawyers that hold wrongdoers fully accountable so that our community is safer and the person who was hurt gets every penny he/she is entitled to. To do that, people looking for lawyers need lawyers that have proven track records in the courtroom actually holding wrongdoers fully accountable and protecting our community.
Birmingham, AL – Personal Injury Lawyer
- Research a lawyer’s online reviews and their history of case results.
- Make sure the lawyer only handles personal injury and car accident claims. Attorneys who practice law on a more general level may not have the same breadth of understanding or knowledge in personal injury law – and therefore may offer less-than-acceptable counsel and representation.
- Contact the local Bar association to see if the attorney has had any disciplinary action taken against him/her.
Raleigh, NC – Personal Injury Attorney
- Costs. First and foremost, most attorneys that handle injury cases handle them on a contingency fee basis. There are no costs upfront, and you don’t pay attorney’s fees at all until you have offers or a settlement. Usually the contingency fee is between 1/3 and 40% of your final settlement for injury cases and 25% in Workers Compensation cases.
- Experience and Knowledge. The legal industry is very broad so you want to select a lawyer that routinely handles the type of case you have. You want one who handles the type of accident you had whether it be a truck accident, auto accident, bike accident, dog bite, slip/fall, construction accident or injury on the job. If you have a case involving a death then you want to hire an attorney that has handled wrongful death claims in the past and is familiar with the North Carolina Wrongful Death Statute.
- Track Record. It is also vital to select an attorney who has a successful record of resolving the type of case you have. Does that attorney have successful settlements or verdicts that you can read about? If you are in a truck accident, you should consider selecting an attorney who has settled or won verdicts in accidents involving tractor trailers in the past. However, please know that no attorney should promise you a result. Past successes are no guarantees of future results. Be wary of anyone making guarantees or promises of specific amounts.
- Accessible. You should select an attorney that is available to talk to you by phone and meet with you for appointments at convenient times. The attorney’s staff should be available too. If you can’t reach your lawyer’s office when hiring them, then what makes you think you count on them to help you later?
- Fight for you. Not only should you select an attorney who has experience and a track record but you should also hire one that will fight hard for your rights and justice. In injury cases you want an attorney that will fight for your medical bills, permanent injuries, lost wages and pain and suffering. You will want one who will fight hard to make you whole again.
- Listen to you. Another important factor to consider when hiring an attorney is to pick one that will listen to your version of what happened and the impact that the accident and injuries or losses have had upon your life. Your attorney must be able to tell your story and that can only be done if the attorney listens to your story.
- Honest. In addition to listening to you, your attorney must have the strength to be honest with you about your case and your claim for justice or compensation. Your lawyer must tell you the bad along with the good. Your attorney must fully disclose all important factors and laws that determine the merits of your case and possible outcomes so you can make an informed decision. This must be done even if you don’t like the news or conclusion. Your attorney must have the confidence to tell you what you need to hear and not just what you want to hear.
Selecting an attorney does not have to be a frightening experience for you but it should be one that you take seriously because the attorney you hire may make a difference in the outcome of your case. Most importantly, you want the right fit for you and the right fit for you specific situation and legal need. Choose wisely based on your common sense and the tips we offer.
Hollywood, FL – Personal Injury Attorney
- Every client should first determine what’s important to them in an ideal car accident or personal injury attorney. Some clients want a quick resolution, others want a “small firm” feel to develop a personal connection throughout the case, or they may want to make sure they get full and fair justice, even if that means proceeding to trial.
- Take advantage of free consultation to meet your lawyer, face-to-face, and make sure they will fit your needs. This is not only an opportunity for a lawyer to interview you, but also for you to properly screen the lawyer.
- Get an answer, up front, whether the lawyer is willing to file suit and represent your needs in a trial – especially if the insurance company refuses to negotiate a fair settlement.
San Jose, CA – Personal Injury Lawyer
- Find an attorney that actually takes the time to speak with the insurance company, instead of simply handing the matter to a case manager.
- If your attorney does not return your call or respond to an email prior to taking on your case, he or she will likely not communicate well with you as your representative.
- Discuss results of trials and experience presenting evidence at court.
Pittsburgh, PA – Personal Injury Attorney
Hire an attorney that communicates well with you and has the resources to get you the best result possible.
Las Vegas, NV – Personal Injury Lawyer
- Do the attorneys actually go to trial? If your attorney does not go to trial regularly, then insurance companies will not pay what you deserve.
- How many cases does each attorney handle? If they handle a ton of cases, then you don’t get the attention you need
Louisville, KY – Personal Injury Lawyer
Make sure that your potential attorney does nothing but personal injury work. This way you know you are getting someone with experience who knows the ins and outs of the applicable law and how to handle a claim from beginning to end.
Norcross, GA – Personal Injury Lawyers
- “When looking for an attorney to handle your case, ask if he or she has worked on the defense side representing insurance companies. An attorney who has previously represented both sides will have the better insight into how to handle your case and how insurance companies think and work.” -Stephen Dermer | Partner
- “Not all cases settle. It is important to hire an attorney who is willing to take your case to trial should it be necessary. Many attorneys will not take case to trial and this often results in lower pre-trial settlements that do not represent the full value of your case. Attorneys who are willing to take cases to trial have a better ability to maximize your recovery during pre-trial settlement negotiations.” – Kim Ruder | Partner
- “Ask your prospective attorney how involved he will be in handling your case. If I have a question about the status of your case, can you call or text your attorney directly? How promptly will your attorney return your call? Many attorneys have staff members who work on your case. Find an attorney who will remain actively involved in your representation and will advise you of your chances of successfully pursuing your case.” – Adam Appel | Partner
Long Island, NY – Personal Injury Lawyer
- It is important to choose an attorney who focuses their practice solely on assisting people who are injured. Many attorneys claim to be able to handle personal injury cases, but do not have the experience or focus to do so. Experience is the most important factor when selecting a car accident attorney. An attorney’s experience will give you confidence that your case is going to be handled right and help ensure you recover for your injuries.
- A firm’s reputation is also critical in choosing a car accident attorney. It is important to select a firm with a proven track record of success and with ties to the community. A firm with a reputation for case success helps resolve cases faster and more favorably.
- Also important is the firm’s ability and resources to investigate and prosecute your case. This includes an experienced legal and support staff, as well as investigators and experts who can work together to ensure a successful outcome.
Tulsa, OK – Personal Injury Lawyer
- An attorney with both a state and federal court practice will ensure that jurisdictional issues don’t impact your case.
- Ask whether the attorney has ever represented an insurance company. Experience on both sides may give you an advantage during negotiations.
- Ask whether the attorney will personally handle the case or refer it out to someone else.
- Ask whether the attorney fee will increase depending on the time spent on the case, or whether it’s a flat fee.
- If the insurance company has already extended an offer, ask whether the attorney intends to take a fee on that amount.
- If there is a no-fault med-pay policy at issue, ask whether the attorney intends to take a fee on those proceeds.
- If there are claims for both property damage and bodily injury, ask whether the attorney will handle both.
Milford, CT – Legal Assistant to Joseph A. Kubic
Look for Experience: When interviewing the prospective attorney to handle your accident case, you want to make sure that that attorney is experienced in personal injury law. Here are some questions you may wish to ask your prospective attorney:
- The number of years that the attorney has practiced personal injury law.
- The percentage of the attorney’s practice dedicated to personal injury law.
- The experience that the attorney has with litigation.
- The experience the attorney has with trials, mediations and arbitrations.
- The support staff that the attorney has including legal secretaries and paralegals.
- The number of attorneys in the attorney’s firm that practice in the area of personal injury law.
You can expect that an attorney just out of law school will not have the experience of a veteran of many years in the legal profession. It is important to know that the attorney has gone to trial in the past and will be willing to go to trial in the future if need be. Additionally, an attorney’s support staff can often be as important as the attorney himself. Experienced paralegals and legal secretaries can greatly assist with the process of case resolution. You would expect your accident attorney to have at least 50% of his caseload dedicated to personal injury cases. This will provide the experienced attorney with exposure to many of the issues that a personal injury attorney can expect to see during the personal injury attorney’s career. Lastly, sometimes the attorney that is hired may not be available for any number of reasons, sickness, travel, or family matters. It is important to know that that attorney has back-up support of other attorneys in the attorney’s firm.
Kansas City, MO – Personal Injury Lawyer
- An attorney should be able to explain to you the various types of insurance that could be applicable to your claim (liability coverage, umbrella coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, medical payments coverage, and personal injury protection coverage).
- Ask the attorney if they intend to take a fee on any medical payment coverage payout (hint, they should not).
- Your attorney needs to be able to explain hospital liens to you and how they are dealt with in your state.
- Your attorney needs to be able to explain health insurance reimbursement rights and whether they might apply to your claim (and, if so, how they will be dealt with).
Raleigh, NC – Personal Injury Attorney
Resources: Does the attorney have the resources to hire the necessary experts to build your case to get you maximum compensation? Sometimes it costs thousands of dollars. Therefore, it is important to select an attorney that has the economic resources to hire the experts to properly investigate and build your case to fight for maximum compensation.
Springfield, MO – Personal Injury Attorney
Look for an attorney who actually tries cases. There are many car accident attorneys who never try cases— they simply settle cases as quickly as they can. Insurance companies know which attorneys are willing to go the distance for their clients and will pay higher settlements to those attorneys.
Pittsburgh, PA – Personal Injury Lawyers
- When choosing an attorney to handle your collision case, it may sound obvious but choose an attorney who practices personal injury law. You may already have a relationship with an attorney who represented you in a divorce or a contract dispute, but a specialist will be needed to navigate your personal injury case. You want someone who knows the process like the back of their hand – someone who knows how to fight for you to get the highest settlement or verdict possible.
- When choosing an attorney to handle your collision case, select an attorney who has a history of settlement/verdict amounts for your type of case. Ask your potential attorney about other cases they have handled that are similar to yours in fact pattern and injury. If your case involves a negligent tractor-trailer driver, you were on a motorcycle or your case involves a drunk driver – you want an attorney who has litigated that fact pattern before. All cases are different, but you will be able to get a feel for how similar cases were resolved.
Charleston, SC – Personal Injury Lawyer
- Take advantage of a free consultation: When meeting with a personal injury attorney for a free consultation, be sure to ask lots of questions. This is the time in which you will determine if this attorney is right for you. Be sure to use this time wisely and really get to know the attorney and the practice to determine if he/she is the right fit for you.
- An important factor to consider when hiring a lawyer is whether he/she outsources legal matters not within the scope of his/her practice. Although many cases are rather straight forward, and within the Attorney’s regular course of business, some cases involve complex legal issues outside of the scope of the Attorney’s regular practice. If the attorney is attempting to handle matters not within the scope of his/her expertise, then you, the client, may not be receiving effective representation with respect to that legal matter.
- One of the most important factors to consider when choosing to continue an Attorney/client relationship is whether the Attorney effectively communicates with you, the client, regarding you case. Although Attorney’s are often busy, and human, it is important that s/he respond to you within a reasonable time. If the Attorney does not return your phone calls or E-mails within a reasonable time after you have made multiple attempts to reach the Attorney, then this may be a sign that you should find another Attorney to handle your matter.
Seattle, WA – Personal Injury Lawyer
- Consumers should avoid the car accident attorney who guarantees an outcome. No one has a crystal ball. No one can tell you the future. When a car accident has just happened, injured victims are thrown into a world of uncertainty and crave answers that reduce their feelings of insecurity and anxiety. A trustworthy accident attorney will provide a new client a strategy for obtaining the client’s goals.
- Check the attorney’s “awards”. Many accident attorneys succumb to marketing gimmicks, such as the “vanity award”. If a consumer sees an accident attorney website filled with badges or an office full of plaques, the consumer should research the organization issuing the so-called award. Most of the time, the attorney simply paid a marketing company for a plaque and an “award” to be the “top attorney” or “national lawyer” when, in reality, no voting occurred.
- Consumers should feel empowered to ask a potential accident attorney, “How many cases do you have?” If the attorney can’t tell you the exact number of cases, or hymns-and-haws about maintaining caseload, the attorney is avoiding answering the question because he knows he has too many cases. The consumer should demand that the accident attorney that the consumer hires actually works on the case and that a paralegal, legal assistant, or so-called “case manager” is not responsible for the client’s case. Clients hire attorneys and should receive representation from the attorney.
BONUS TIPS: What to Do If You Are In An Accident
San Antonio, TX – Personal Injury Attorney
- If you think you are hurt, do not delay in seeking treatment and then follow all of your doctor’s advice
- Take pictures of the scene, the vehicles, and your injuries as soon as you can—including at the scene if possible
- Write down witness names and telephone numbers.
Houston, TX – Personal Injury Attorney
- Pick someone who is board certified in personal injury trial law. All practicing lawyers have a license to practice law, but only about 5% of lawyer obtain a board certificate. Board certification requires years of experience, extensive trial experience, extensive additional education and recommendations from judges and lawyers.
- Do not give insurance adjusters recorded statements. If the adjuster wanted to only get information from you, they could just talk to you. They record it so that they can use it against you later. Remember, adjusters are trained to pay out as little as possible and they have lots of experience in developing evidence that will hurt your claim.
- Get medical treatment as soon as possible. Not only is seeing a doctor early a wise move for your health, but it also helps document your condition which serves as evidence to support your claim. Moreover, if you wait too long to see a doctor, the insurance company will invariably argue that you must not have been hurt or you would have seen a doctor sooner.
Milford, CT – Personal Injury Attorney
Tips If You Are In an accident
Take photographs of the damage to all vehicles at the accident scene. Make sure to responding officer gets your version of the facts. Do not leave the accident scene until you have been provided with the at fault party’s insurance information. You do not want to put in a claim to your own insurance company unless the accident was your fault. Repairs to your vehicle processed through your own insurance will be subject to the deductible on your policy. Making a claim under your own policy might be necessary, however, if fault cannot be readily determined.
Getting Medical Treatment For Accident Related Injuries
Get evaluation and treatment for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident as soon as possible. Sometimes the pain won’t be apparent until hours later, but it is important to see your doctor if you have any concerns.
Processing payment for medical treatment for accident related injuries can be confusing. Keep these basic rules in mind:
- The Medical Payments Coverage under the automobile insurance policy of the car in which you were a passenger/driver is the primary coverage for payment of accident related treatment up to the limits of that policy.
- However, not everybody purchases Medical Payments Coverage. You need to look at the Policy Declarations (the papers the come with your automobile insurance policy renewal every year).
- If there is no Medical Payments Coverage, your health insurance (subject to any co-pays or deductibles) becomes the primary payer for accident related treatment. Health insurance also steps in once any Medical Payments coverage is exhausted.
- If you have neither Medical Payments Coverage nor health insurance, you need to contact an experienced attorney who can assist you in finding a medical provider who provide treatment in exchange for a promise to be paid at a later date out of the proceeds of any personal injury recovery.
- The other party’s automobile insurance company will not pay your medical bills directly.
- Jesús “Chuy” Muñoz – Tu Centro Legal
San Diego, CA – Personal Injury Lawyer
Make sure the attorney you are hiring is an experienced litigation attorney. There are many attorneys to choose from but there a few who have actually tried cases to a successful verdict.