Finding a good personal injury attorney is critical to ensuring that your case is properly handled, but it can be a daunting task trying to choose a personal injury lawyer you can trust – especially if it’s the first time you’ve been involved in an accident. We have compiled a list of tips and advice below for finding the right attorney to take on your case and get you the compensation you deserve.
Don’t Choose an Attorney Because You Like Their Commercial
You should never choose an attorney solely because you recognize their name from television commercials or other advertisements. Some attorneys could be using expansive advertising tactics to get clients in the door, but prefer quantity to quality when it comes to handling personal injury cases. This type of lawyer is known to favor an impersonal approach to client relationships, and focus instead on the likelihood of potentially profitable cases.
Instead of immediately signing with a recognizable name, ask for references to substantiate your attorney’s track record. Checking with outside sources provides third-party validation for litigation claims made by the firm. A reputable law office should have no problem providing case examples that can be confirmed by potential clients.
An Attorney’s Experience Says More Than What School They Graduated From
Graduating from a top-notch law school doesn’t automatically translate into a history of winning personal injury cases. Many attorneys pick up invaluable experience on the job regardless of where they received their degree, so while a recent law school graduate may have a ton of potential, they might not have the real-world experience you need. Let these attorneys refine their skills working on someone else’s case. A successful track record can be a better predictor of winning future personal injury cases than a degree from an Ivy League school.
In addition to a proven track record, verify that these attorneys have stayed up to date in their knowledge of the law. Ask if they have completed any recent Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses or if they have taught any classes. CLE is the professional education of lawyers that takes place after their initial admission to the bar, and in many states (including Virginia) attorneys are required to take CLEs to maintain their license to practice law. Even if you aren’t in one of these states, a good lawyer should be constantly brushing up on their education to ensure that they are aware of any changes in the field.
Lastly, contact your state bar association to confirm that the attorney is in good standing with the ethics review board – a history of disciplinarian action would be a major red flag (in Virginia, contact the Virginia State Bar or the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association). Qualified attorneys also traditionally belong to personal injury lawyer associations like the American Association for Justice (AAJ) or a state or local law group. Accolades from respected sources and participation in professional associations like these are a few more signs that you have found a capable attorney who is active in the industry and learning from peers.
Choose a Lawyer Who Has Experience With Your Specific Type of Injury
Some lawyers specialize in car accidents, others in medical malpractice or bicycle injuries. Finding an attorney that has experience representing clients in similar cases will give you confidence that your case is being handled properly.
Discuss a Settlement Goal Before You Hire an Attorney
Understanding your attorney’s fee schedule before going to trial prevents you from accepting a settlement that may leave you without any extra compensation. Between medical bills, attorney costs, and other expenses, personal injury victims can find themselves coming out of lawsuits exhausted and penniless. Ask your attorney what their usual practices are for settlement decisions. Will they defer to you before accepting a final offer? Get information about their typical fee schedule to make sure you do not get left without proper compensation for your injuries.
Make Sure the Attorney You Choose Is the One Who Shows up in Court
Some lawyers delegate cases to more junior partners if their caseload is too full. It can be easy for clients to feel as if they have been “lost in the shuffle” or are not a priority when working with large law firms where client passing is more common.
Check with your attorney to ensure that they will be directly representing you in court and if they expect to have additional attorneys work on your case. Know whom to contact if you have questions, and find out how long it usually takes for the attorney to get back to you. Understanding the communication process at the law firm prevents misunderstandings and keeps you involved in the progress of your case.
Follow these steps to find a good personal injury lawyer to handle your lawsuit – then draw up provisions in a legal document to safeguard your rights. Protecting yourself after a personal injury accident can help keep you from losing the monetary compensation you deserve.