Attorneys are invaluable assets to accident victims seeking recovery. There are simply too many protocols and too much legal red tape for victims to effectively manage and maximize claims and lawsuits on their own. Having the right personal injury attorney representing you has the potential to make or break your case, which is why it is important to know how to choose a personal injury lawyer.
It is possible to switch lawyers in the middle of your case, but it may slow down your case and make things more complicated for you. As you are considering a prospective attorney, try going through the following seven questions. If you can answer affirmatively to each one, you have probably found a good match.
1) Does he meet basic qualifications?
Naturally, the first thing you want to confirm is that the attorney meets basic qualifications and is fully capable of handling the job at hand. Make sure that he is licensed to practice in the state in which you are filing, is a member of the Bar Association, and that his practice is primarily focused on personal injury law.
A lawyer that works in this specific area of the law will be best qualified to handle your case and will possess a unique understanding of the ins and outs of maximizing settlements. One-stop-shop firms that handle a wide variety of cases (bankruptcy, divorce, estate planning, etc.) often trade a deep, intricate knowledge of personal injury laws for a jack-of-all-trades mentality. Opt for a firm that boasts personal injury as its forte.
You may also want to see if he has licenses in other states. For example, some lawyers licensed in Pennsylvania obtain licenses in neighboring states like New Jersey to help clients injured in those states. Some states have “reciprocity agreements” which allow attorneys who passed the bar exam in one state to practice in others. For example, Pennsylvania has this agreement with New York, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio.
2) Does he have experience handling similar cases?
Claimants need personal injury lawyers for all types of accidents and injuries. Within this field of the law, there are numerous subtypes of claims. Brain injury claims after a car accident are distinctly different from medical malpractice claims, for instance. There are different laws, different protocols, and different potential compensable damages. You want to retain a lawyer that knows your specific subtype of case.
How do you find out whether or not a lawyer knows how to navigate cases like yours? Just ask. Question him about any past cases he has represented that are akin to yours and what the outcomes were. You are looking for clear, straight up answers.
3) Does he seem knowledgeable and sincere?
That leads us to qualification number three: aptitude. During your initial consultation, does the lawyer seem knowledgeable about your type of case? Can he clearly summarize the gist of what you can expect as your case progresses? His answers should be clear and informative; he needs to ensure your understanding of the concepts without being condescending.
Also, trust your gut during the conversation. Does he seem trustworthy and sincere? Do you think he sympathizes with what you are going through? A good attorney will take the time to fully understand your condition and its effect on your life – so that he can fight effectively on your behalf. Do not underestimate the value of how instinctively comfortable you feel around him and your rapport. You should feel like you are in competent hands.
4) Is he deeply devoted and recognized for his practice?
While all attorneys were once newbies, having an attorney with profound determination and considerable field experience can mean the difference between a meager and a substantial settlement. Attorneys that are deeply steeped in their work and passionate about helping injured victims will be very active in their field and the community. Do they participate in community events? Has their work appeared in journals? Do they have an online library and keep a blog?
You do not need to speak legalese to figure out if your attorney knows what he is doing and loves his work. By browsing a prospective attorney’s website, checking to see if he holds memberships in legal associations, watching his videos, and reading his articles, you should be able to get a good idea of his caliber and degree of passion.
5) Does he have positive reviews?
Always check prospective attorneys’ client and peer reviews before moving forward. There are a couple of starting points to find reviews. First, perform a Google search for the firm to see its Google rating. You should be able to see customer reviews and the firm’s rank on a five star system. Next, check the attorney’s website and see if he has any testimonials to look over.
Finally, check the attorney’s profile on Avvo, a lawyer directory and review site has ranked 97 percent of attorneys in the U.S. Avvo showcases ratings, client reviews, and disciplinary records for lawyers in every state.
6) Does he have a good track record?
So you have checked that the attorney is technically qualified for the job, he seems to know what he is talking about, and he has positive reviews. The next question to resolve is – is he actually good at his job? Does he have a history of positive outcomes for his personal injury clients and notable verdicts and settlements?
It is perfectly acceptable to ask the attorney point blank about the outcomes of some of his most recent cases, and specifically, how cases similar to yours have turned out.
7) Is he upfront about his policies?
Lastly, reputable, honest attorneys are completely transparent about their policies and fees. Be sure to ask questions during your first meeting.
- What is your fee schedule? Are there any additional fees I need to be aware of?
- How will you keep me informed about the status of my case?
- When I have a question, who should I contact: you, your paralegal, or your receptionist?
- How do you prefer correspondence: email or phone?
- Will you talk to me prior to making a decision about all settlement offers?
- Do you have any literature about your policies to share with me?
If you are in need of a personal injury attorney, you are welcomed to call us anytime to schedule a free consult. Feel free to bring a list of questions with you to the meeting. Contact us at 215-642-2335 to see if we are a good fit for you.