There are so many personal injury lawyers out there that it can be overwhelming for the person who needs to find one. Some attorneys limit their caseloads to serious injuries from wrongful death for medical malpractice. Many are injury-specific, like those who work on asbestos cases or specialize in animal bites. Still others focus solely on worker’s compensation or car accidents.
With all of this information to sort through, choosing the best personal injury lawyer can be a daunting challenge, especially in light of all the other tasks that need to be handled at the same time. So here are a few tips to help with the decision without compromising the needs of the client.
Customers need to be confident that their attorney will do what is in the best interest of their client. No one wants to find himself second-guessing his lawyer. Often the best way to locate a trustworthy attorney is to ask the people within your social network. Some of your friends or family may have worked with a certain one in the past and can vouch for their credibility (or lack thereof). Advertisements are a great way to determine what types of cases are handled by a specific law firm, but it is not a good idea to base your decision to hire lawyer on that alone. Also check the attorney’s rating regardless of where or how you found him. If he is not in good standing with his state and local bar association, then you should consider looking elsewhere.
You may feel like it is a better idea to retain an experienced and established attorney, but it is possible that his caseload will be too heavy and he will be unable to efficiently focus his efforts on your case. Of course, his experience virtually guarantees that he will know the best ways to navigate personal injury laws and that he has probably developed a good relationship with claim adjusters. On the other hand, attorneys with relatively little experience are looking actively for clients and more willing to accept new cases. They have more time to properly devote themselves, and they are less likely to make mistakes or overlook aspects of the case because they are not so spread out. They might even fight harder than an experienced attorney since their livelihood depends on their success.
Not all top-notch lawyers attended Ivy League schools and graduated at the top of their class. In fact, where they earned their degree is little indication of how they represent clients. None of that matters if they lack the negotiating skills needed to reach an agreeable settlement. So rather than focusing on where they attended classes, look more at their track record and testimonials from past clients.
An attorney only shows you what he wants you to see on his websites and television spots. The whole idea of advertising is to showcase the law firm’s best work, so it is unlikely to include information about the number of cases lost or how many times an attorney has been fired. It is never recommended for potential clients to take advertisements as they are or use them as the sole factor in your decision.
Remember the old adage, “Appearances can be deceiving?” Much like credentials, a fancy office building and an office decorated by a top designer are not representative of how well an attorney will perform in the courtroom. How he decides to present himself to prospective clients is strictly personal preference. It is dangerous to automatically assume that a lawyer whose office is located in an expensive high-rise will produce better results than a low-key attorney working out of a strip mall.
This is where you will get the best idea of whether a particular attorney is the right fit for your particular needs. There is simply no replacement for personal experience. Remember that reputable attorneys will not charge for the initial consultation, so do not be afraid to schedule an appointment to get a feel of how the lawyer will handle your case. Pay attention to the little things. Is the receptionist polite and friendly, or is she rude and ill-tempered? How long did it take the lawyer answer your initial call? Is his office clean and organized, or is the desk a cluttered mess? Were you even able to speak with that attorney before he decided to accept your case? All of this information can be obtained during a quick visit, and it is a good indicator of how things are likely to go when it comes time to argue your case in court.
The best time to do this is during that initial consultation when you are able to discuss your concerns face to face. Your final decision should be based in the answers he gives and how he handles it when asked for clarification. Ask him how often he goes to trial, about his track record, the weight of his caseload, how long he expects your case to take, and anything else you want to know in regards to his work. Do not worry about offending him. As a potential client, you are entitled to satisfactory answers to your questions. If he is not willing to provide them, then it is time to look elsewhere.
If you live in Minnesota and find yourself in need of a personal injury lawyer, please consider contacting us to set up an appointment so we can review your case.