How do I find a personal injury lawyer?Request Free Consultation
There are many reasons why a person might be looking for a personal injury lawyer, they might be frustrated with the insurance company, they might want simple advice on how to handle a claim, they might have been seriously injured before, or someone has recommended they retain an injury lawyer to fight for them. If you do your homework, you can hire the right personal injury lawyer who has the right expertise and knowledge to help you with your problem.
Once the decision is made to contact a personal injury attorney, the question remains, which attorney should I choose? While there is no crystal ball that will guarantee that a particular attorney will be the best for you; the tips below should help you significantly narrow your selection process.
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First and foremost, when you have been involved in an accident, or injured at work, or are the victim of another’s negligence, you need answers. What you don’t need is an attorney who loves the sound of his or her own voice. Your first interaction with an injury attorney should be a comfortable setting in which you feel confident in telling your attorney everything that has occurred, both honestly and completely, so that the attorney has all necessary facts to resolve your problem.
Remember that sometimes accident cases can last years if the case goes to trial and if you are uncomfortable with the attorney from the start, or don’t feel like he listens to you in the initial consultation, why is that going to change as the case progresses. The reality is it won’t. While simply having an attorney that will listen to you does not guarantee success, you should judge for yourself if the attorney is someone you’re going to be able to work well with throughout your case.
Next, you should understand that attorneys specialize. Just like your primary care physician might be able to help you with a simple problem, you wouldn’t see your primary care physician for open-heart surgery. Instead, you would seek a cardiovascular specialist and surgeon. In fact, you would want a team of specialists to care for you.
The law is the same way, and especially when it comes to injury attorneys. While there is currently no specialization like doctors in the field of law, lawyers do specialize. Personal injury lawyers typically will belong to some certification programs, like the National Association of Trial Lawyers. While many lawyers are not certified in their field, that does not necessarily mean that a particular attorney is not an expert in their particular field. Again, even if they say they specialize, it does not guarantee that they will be an expert injury lawyer, but it is a consideration to inquire about before retaining a personal injury lawyer.
To avoid a lawyer who doesn’t specialize in personal injury, research your attorney, and ask around for referrals. For example, who does your injury chiropractor recommend? Look at an attorney’s website, social media, and blog posts. If you find a lot of information about estate planning, or business law, it’s a good sign they don’t specialize in personal injury, and you should avoid them.
Attorneys, like any business, frequently use advertisements to let the public know both of them and what the firm specializes in. Advertisement’s come in all shapes and sizes, whether they are on the radio, television, billboards, newspapers or even the phone book. While some of these advertisements can make it easier to identify potential attorneys who can help you with your case, you should be cautious to base your selection solely on an advertisement. This is especially true in the area of personal injury.
The Problem with Personal Injury
This high risk/reward leads many attorneys to claim they handle personal injury cases because they think a big case will be easy money. While this couldn’t be further from the truth, it creates an incentive for attorneys to claim they handle personal injury cases.
Now that you understand the problem, look below for who to avoid.
Avoid the Jack-of-all-trades Lawyer
An easy way to determine whether an attorney has specialized as a personal injury attorney is to ask which type of cases they handle. I attended a networking meeting a few years ago where an attorney told the entire room of people that he was a “country lawyer” and that he could handle every single type of case. His logic was that he could do any type of case like that of a small-town rural lawyer who was forced to do multiple areas of law because there simply wasn’t enough lawyers to specialize. The reality was there were more than sufficient attorneys in the county, with many specializing in specific practice areas, especially personal injury.
For context, a recent survey conducted by the Utah Bar, the regulatory agency for lawyers in Utah, asked “What area of practice represents 50% or more of you practice area in the last year?” For the category of personal injury only 4% of attorneys in Utah responded that over 50 percent of their practice was personal injury. That number is telling that while a lot of attorneys might say they do personal injury, it is not their firm’s primary expertise.
A perfect example of this was a few years ago I was attending the Southern Utah Bar Convention and one of the premier solo criminal defense attorneys, who had over thirty years of being a public defender, told an entire room of attorneys that he devoted 50 percent of his practice to criminal defense and 50 percent of his practice to personal injury. I almost laughed out loud that this attorney was claiming that half his practice was devoted to personal injury. I knew it was untrue for a few reasons, but especially because a recent lawsuit filed against the county showed that criminal public defenders had caseloads of over 350 cases per year. It was inconceivable that this solo practice criminal defense attorney could devote fifty percent of his practice to personal injury and handle his overwhelming criminal defense contract.
To avoid these types of attorneys, first find out what is the breakdown of that lawyer’s particular practice? For example, do they do fifty percent divorce, twenty-five percent criminal law and handle the occasional injury case. Or is their practice devoted entirely to personal injury? Next, try and find out exactly how many personal injury cases per year they handle, and for how many years they’ve been doing it. For example, We Win Injury Law devotes 100 percent of its practice to personal injury cases and handles over a hundred personal injury cases per year.
Look at the Team.
Just like the saying it takes an army to raise a child, Personal Injury cases require a team. While there is perhaps a way that a solo attorney could conceivable handle three or four personal injury cases per year, it takes a team of professionals to adequately handle a reasonable amount of personal injury cases.
For example, at We Win Injury Law we employ an office manager to be a go between with the attorneys and staff, a bills and record specialist to make sure every bill and record is requested and part of the case file, and a case coordinator to follow the case as it progresses. Additional staff members are required when cases go to trial with ligation specialists and paralegals to handle the sheer volume of documents required to prepare a case for trial. Lastly, a team of attorneys is often needed to divide up case management with depositions, trial prep, negotiations, motion practice and the like.
As you can see, it’s not easy finding the correct personal injury attorney is not easy. Remember, ask about specialization, inquire about the types of cases they handle and what the firm’s primary focus is, and ask to be introduced to the team. Following these three steps will help you make the correct decision on finding the right personal injury attorney near you.