We admit it. There are so many great injury lawyers out there. We may not be the right one for your particular case. BUT, we guarantee something no other law firm will:
At no cost to you, we will review your injury case and find you the right injury lawyer or law firm-even if it is not us.
Our only rule is that we will only help people whose cases have merit.
Once we have given you the "right" lawyer, interview that lawyer. I have laid out the steps how to do that in this article. I've summarized the steps, but I encourage you to read the details as I explain specific steps that will save you hours of stress and potentially thousands of dollars.
Summary of Article:
1. Find Lawyers with Legitimate Online Reviews (Avoid “Billboard Lawyers")
2. Ensure their website is predominately injury law
3. Search for any discipline actions
4. Face to Face Interview Several
5. Discuss Fees and Out of Pocket Costs
6. Use that information and your gut to make an selection
There are many reasons you may need an injury lawyer. Car wrecks, negligent doctors, falls down dangerous steps, dangerous drugs are all examples of cases personal injury lawyers accept. Regardless of how you were injured, you're asking yourself how do I go about selecting the right injury lawyer for my case. For most people this is going to be the biggest decision that you make in your entire life. Choosing the right lawyer for the particular case you have can be the difference in recovering substantial compensation for your injury or receiving nothing. I created this guide to help you make that decision.
Should I interview or talk to several lawyers?
Yes, talk to several lawyers and law firms
There's nothing wrong with speaking to two, three, or four Lawyers in law firms about your potential injury case. In fact if you were not interviewing for the position, you were asking for a sub-par result. In which follows I'm gonna give you specific guidance on questions to ask your potential lawyer and responses that you should receive. But, it means nothing if you except the first lawyer.
How do I find a good personal injury lawyer to talk with?
Instead of looking at a number on a billboard, look at online reviews.
First and foremost and I really can't stress this enough, ignore every “Billboard Lawyer”. A Billboard Lawyer or Law Firm is one that you see advertising all over town and on television. There is a reason they have to spend all that money on advertising-their past clients hate them. Need more convincing- allow me to elaborate.
Those billboards cost several thousand dollars apiece. A television advertisements costs several thousand dollars just to make. The Billboard Lawyer spend millions of dollars each year in advertising. To be able to pay for that advertising the billboard law firms need a flood of cases coming in the door, but more importantly those billboard law firms need just as many cases settling each year. What does that mean for your case? That Law Firm is going to be financially incentivized and more to the point financially forced to sell your case for less than full and fair compensation. In addition, think logically about the amount of money the law firm is spending on advertising and compare that to the amount of money and resources that Law Firm will have to put towards your case. The math doesn't add up.
Take that premise and think about the insurance companies perspective. Why offer full and fair compensation when you know the Billboard Law Firm will take less and not put the money into the case? Insurance companies and the defense law firms they hire, love the Billboard Law Firms because of how cheap they settle cases. Once you've ruled out the “Billboard Lawyer,” where do you find an injury lawyer?
Reviews on the internet are a great place to start.
The Internet is an amazing place. The information on the Internet is endless, and a simple search will result in hundreds of listings for law firms claiming to be personal injury lawyers. What I want you to do is select a law firm with at least a few dozen reviews. I want you to actually read the reviews for the law firm. Why? For two reasons, really. First, see what past clients are saying about the law firm. Are they receiving positive reviews from past clients. That is a good start. But drill down further. What specifically are past clients talking about? If it is not personal injury or a related area, keep looking.
You want to make sure that the reviews are about personal injury as opposed to family law or criminal law or some other type of law. If the majority of the reviews are about some other practice area, that lawyer or law firm probably doesn't handle your type of case. Likely, that lawyer is claiming to be an injury lawyer to get injury cases and refer them out for a buck.
Why do I need to look at the injury lawyers reviews?
It really comes down to money. There are a plethora of lawyers claiming to be personal injury attorneys just to sign up unknowing and unsuspecting clients. Then, the non-personal injury lawyer will refer your case to an actual personal injury lawyer for money. By looking at the reviews, you'll get a sense of what that lawyer excels at, and if it isn't personal injury law, keep looking. While there isn't anything unethical or illegal about this practice, you don't want to waste your time being shuffled from one law office to another just so a traffic lawyer can make some money on your injury. Unless you know, like, and trust that traffic lawyer, I suggest finding the right lawyer from the start.
What type of rating should I look for?
Find 10 law firms or lawyers who have at least several dozen reviews. I would say 20 reviews is a safe number (more is preferable). As I mentioned, these reviews should reference personal injury or your type of case. These initial 10 law firms will then be narrowed down as you look into them more. You will see what I mean.
The more specific the reviews the better. Pay particular attention to the themes of the reviews. Are past clients saying this person is quick to answer a question, great in the court room, a good negotiator? With the legitimate personal injury law firms, compare these reviews to the attributes you want in your lawyer. While it would be great to base your decision entirely off Internet reviews, I have to warn you I have some dangers.
Lawyers with several hundred perfect reviews should be held in suspicion. There are services on the Internet that will get you many reviews and let's say they aren't exactly legit. You can tell these aren't legit because the reviews will come within a few days of one another. If you are looking at reviews on Google, the people leaving reviews will not have a photographs next to their review. On the flipside, you should expect legitimate reviews to include a couple of negative reviews. Think about an irrational person whose case is not accepted. As I'm writing this, I have at lease one negative review on a case I did not take. The client would not have been a good fit, and I let that person know that. That person turned around and left a bad rating of me. Such is life. The point is if the reviews make the law firm seem to good to be true- well, you know the rest of the saying.
I've found a couple of law firms with good reviews, now what?
Go the lawyer's website. Make sure that lawyer holds herself out as a personal injury lawyer-not a general lawyer doing it all.
It is not enough to look at the reviews online and make a decision. Likely you have weeded out some of the 10 you initially picked. From there, go the law firm or lawyers website. Does it predominately talk about personal injury? Or does the lawyer offer every service and legal representation under the sun. If it is the later, cross that lawyer off the list.
Thirty years ago lawyers could be generalists and do it all. Today, the law, especially personal injury, is so complex and convoluted that the lawyer must specialize or risk hurting the client. So take a look at the lawyers website see what topics the lawyer covers the most. If that lawyers website predominately discuss his personal injury, keep him or her on the list. If not, strike that lawyer or law firm.
I've narrowed down my list of 10 to about 3, now what?
You were almost ready to contact the lawyers and set up an initial consultation, but you have one more step. Do an Internet search to make sure that the lawyer has never been disciplined by his or her state bar. If the lawyer that you're considering has a track record of being dishonest with his clients strike him from the list. Assuming Your potential lawyers check out, time to call their offices.
The First Phone Call to the Lawyer Says A lot
While you were setting up these appointments to speak to several law firms and lawyers, take note of how organized the process is to get you and the lawyer together. Law Firms work off systems- much like any other business. Some systems are better than others. Should the law firm or lawyer's office have a difficult time scheduling an appointment for you to meet with an actual lawyer, RUN THE OTHER WAY. This isn't a good start to the potential relationship. In addition, the law office should be offering steamlined intake process. What do I mean by a streamlined intake process?
A streamlined intake process is one where you know what the Law Firm needs from you in the present moment and it has been explained what is going to happen next. Does the receptionist tell you what lawyer you will be meeting with for a consult? Does the law firm even offer to have you speak to a lawyer? (Run the other way if it doesn't- this a Billboard Law Firm).
Just because your initial phone call will likely be with the receptionist or an intake specialist, don't write off this interaction. Does this person sound happy? Law offices with unhappy employees are unproductive and that costs you time and perhaps your recovery. The person answering the phone should be able to explain to you that Law Firm's process in interviewing you and determining whether the law firm will except your case. While you are on the phone with that receptionist or intake specialist, ask that person this question: HAS THIS LAW FIRM HANDLED THIS TYPE OF CASE BEFORE? If you hear crickets on the other end of the line, you have your answer. Either the law firm is so disjointed that the frontline staff don't know what types of cases the firm excepts or that Firm has never done that type of case before.
Lastly, should a lawyer pick up the phone- RUN. All that tells you is the lawyer doesn't have sufficient staff (or staff at all), and he or she has to answer his or her own phone. It goes back to money. Personal injury cases require the lawyer to spend money upfront to get you full and fair compensation. If the lawyer can't afford to hire a reception or at least a receptionist service, do you think the lawyer is going to take the time and spend the money on your case? Might as well go with the Billboard Law Firm-at least those law firms will give you free stuff, like coffee cups and t-shirts (with the Billboard Law Firm's logo on it).
Before you get through the reception/ in-take phase, you should now whether the law firm has handled your type of case before, when you will meet with your potential lawyer, and what you need to bring (if anything). In my law practice, I chose to ask nothing of the client other than to meet me in the office. I want to have a face-to-face meeting to determine if we are a good fit. If I believe the case is a good fit for my office, I will ask the client to allow me to investigate and secure documents. There is never pressure for the client to sign anything. Other lawyers or law firms use pressure tactics to get ink on paper. These are Billboard Law Firms and you should avoid them.
What should I expect when meeting the lawyer?
Simple, the lawyer's undivided attention.
The first meeting with your lawyer or potential lawyer as the case maybe should be one that last at least 30 minutes. During this time, you should have your lawyers undivided attention. Does the lawyer sound empathetic or caring? That is a good sign. Is the lawyer checking his or her cell phone every few minutes? That is a really bad sign. If the lawyer can't give you his or her undivided attention during the first 30 minutes when you are considering hiring him or her, why would you think that lawyer will give you anymore time after the lawyer is hired.
Let's face it. There are some people who's personalities just don't mix. If you were getting that vibe, I would suggest you politely end the meeting right then and there. It is probably not your fault and it might not even be the fault of the lawyer, but many personal injury cases take years to resolve. You don't wanna be stuck working with someone you can't stand.
What questions should I be asking my potential lawyer?
After exchanging some pleasantries, it is perfectly acceptable to go right into while you are there. The follow is a list of questions you should ask the personal injury lawyer and why you should ask them.
1. Have you handled the case like mine in the past?
Obviously you want a lawyer who is familiar with your type of injury case. Most injury lawyers handle car wrecks, but very few injury lawyers can take on medical malpractice claims. Car wreck cases are fairly straightforward. Medical malpractice cases involve hiring experts pouring over medical records and litigating with some of the best defense lawyers. The same holds true for products liability cases and nursing home neglect and abuse cases.
2. How many cases like mine have you handled?
Naturally you want a lawyer who is not just familiar with your type of case but someone who can expertly handle it. There are so many kinds of personal injury matters it is impossible for one lawyer or even one Law Firm made up of lawyers to handle all of them.
If the lawyer is honest, he or she will be able to give you examples of cases that the lawyer has filed and you will be able to independently verify that case. If the lawyer tells you that he or she handles your type of case all the time, here she better have a bunch of examples. Unfortunately, too many lawyers are willing to skimp on the truth to pick up an injury case.
Keep in mind, you may have a very novel injury case. A competent personal injury lawyer will be able to tell you why your case is new. Alternatively, the potential lawyer might explain why your case is new to him, but he believes he can handle it because of other similar cases. A good example of this would be a medical malpractice lawyer who takes on a nursing home abuse and neglect cases- my situation. Well the bulk of my practice is not nursing home abuse neglect cases, I do take these cases on because they fall closely in line with medical malpractice cases. Both types of cases involve medical providers although nursing home tend to involve more regulation.
3. How many other lawyers and staff are around to help you?
And a typical personal injury case where the victim is seriously hurt, the insurance company will have at least two lawyers working on the matter. Those two lawyers will have staff working for them. If your potential lawyer is without any assistance, He or she will get railroaded. And by that I mean you will get railroaded.
I am a firm believer that small law firms provide the best representation but a firm can be too small to handle a serious injury case. While you should expect The lawyer you hired to do the bulk of the work, you need to know that others are working on your case with that lawyer is not in the office. Preferably, do you want to know that that lawyer has another lawyer to bounce ideas around. In addition, you want to know that if something happens to your lawyer, your case moves forward.
4. When is the last time you went to trial on a personal injury case?
This question is likely the most important. If your personal injury lawyer cannot tell you the last time he or she went to trial on a personal injury case, that lawyer has never went to trial. You should immediately leave. There is no lawyer that is so good at negotiating that he or she can avoid trial. If your personal injury lawyer is one of the good ones, that lawyer will be fighting tooth and nail for his clients recovery. That flight will usually culminate in a jury trial. Make sure your lawyer is a trial lawyer. Otherwise, your lawyer is a “Billboard Lawyer” masquerading as a trial lawyer.
My rule of thumb has always been at least one trial per year. It is no secret that the majority of cases settled before trial. In fact the overwhelming majority of cases settled before trial. That is the way our system of justice is set up. That being said if your lawyer never goes to trial that is the same as saying he never fights for his clients.
5. What was the result of your last personal injury trial?
The whole purpose of this question is to see how honest your lawyer is going to be with you. Those of us who try cases because we fight for our clients are going to lose at some point in time. Maybe the facts aren't in our favor or a juror doesn't like our client. But one thing is for sure when you try cases and that is you are bound to get a bad result at some point in time.
Why am I telling you this? It doesn't matter if your lawyer won or lost his last trial. What matters is how he explains what happened at that trial. If the lawyer won His last trial, but all he talks about is how great he did, he was, he, he, he- walk out. This is someone you do not want to be working with.
The best trial lawyers know trial are won because of great teams. At the time of writing this, I just finished a weeklong trial. The result was fantastic but the credit belongs to my client who bravely took the stand and calmly explain to the jury why compensation was deserved. While I did the majority of the talking, my client won the case.
If the lawyer tells you that he lost his last trial, you should expect the lawyer to take 100% of the responsibility. That lawyer chose to take the case, and maybe it was a hard case to win, but a lawyer who is going to blame anyone but himself is not someone you want to do business with. At the time I write this, I have never lost a jury trial. I cringe telling you this because I am likely jinxing my next trial. That being said, I have had cases where the clients result was not what I wanted, and I blame myself 100%. You should expect your lawyer to be like a great coach. The kudos go to you the player and the blame falls on her.
What should I look out for with my injury lawyer's retainer (agreement)?
The one piece of advice I would give you is do not sign any agreement with any injury lawyer that does not expressly state: “If the lawyer/law firm does not recover, you owe the lawyer/law firm nothing”. Here's what a lot of sneaky lawyers do. They sign you up with promises of millions of dollars. They fail miserably at litigating your case, and then send you a bill after they lose for all their expenses. These expenses might include their own internal costs, like copying and postage.
Make sure that your lawyers injury contract expressly states you are responsible for no out-of-pocket costs unless there is a recovery. In addition, some lawyers will try to explain to you that you cannot fire them once you've hired them. These lawyers might even be so bold to put it in their contract. Don't even sign the contract-walk out. If you fell victim to this contract, don't worry. It is not enforceable, and you can still fire your lawyer.
Go with your gut!
If you follow the steps outlined here, all that is left is going with your gut. It is not as crazy as it may seem. Assuming all of these criteria leads you to believe that this lawyer is an honest and capable lawyer- hire the lawyer. The best part is If you are wrong you can fire that lawyer.
Let's face it some people interview really well. In reality, they just don't live up to the words coming out of their mouth. The good news for you if you find yourself in a situation where you hired a lawyer it was not living up to the promises he has made, you can fire him. As I stated, he or she can't force you to continue the representation that you no longer want. After you fire the lawyer, that lawyer may try to claim a right to a portion of your recovery. That lawyer must submit to you in writing his expenses and the amount of time that lawyer has in the case. Failure to do that, that lawyer is out of luck.
So I understand hiring a personal injury lawyer is a huge decision. Unfortunately too many people take the first billboard lawyer they come across. Don't be one of those people. If you've read this article you now have the information to make an informed decision about the Law Firm or lawyer you should Higher for your injury case.