Finding A Personal Injury Attorney in the Age of Information
May 30, 2019
In 2018, the Internet can answer any question we throw at it; sometimes doing its job too well. Typing a broad question into Google oftentimes loads an overwhelming amount of results, making it hard to distinguish the reliable information from the junk. Identifying the best resources is even more intimidating when you aren’t sure what to look for. Chances are, if you are running a search for a personal injury attorney, you or someone close to you is suffering, which can make the process much more stressful. While it can be tempting to just click the first name at the top of the search results, you are cautioned not to do this. Just because a firm has the largest television or internet presence does not mean they are the right fit for you. This article provides information to help ensure you are doing your due diligence when searching for a personal injury attorney.
1. Start with friends
If you know someone who has worked with a personal injury attorney, this is where you should begin. Bonus points if you have friends who are attorneys in the same area. Ask trusted friends about their experiences with their personal injury attorneys and if they were satisfied. However, you should not stop after receiving a good recommendation from a friend; research the attorney on your own, paying attention to the next few topics.
2. Peer Review Websites
Websites such as Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell Bar Registry, and Best Lawyers are all established peer review websites and can help direct you to a reputable attorney in any part of the United States. Five percent of the lawyers in each state are recognized by Super Lawyers based first and foremost on the opinion of their peers.
It should go without saying you want an attorney who is experienced in his or her field. When searching for a personal injury attorney check their website for how long they have been practicing in personal injury law.
4. Results & Honors
An attorney’s record of performance speaks for itself. Attorneys will sometimes list their case results on their webpage. However, this can arguably create unrealistic expectations in the mind of a potential client (thinking a case is worth much more than it realistically is) and some lawyers choose not to do so. Remember: just because an attorney’s website does not contain a laundry list of case results is not indicative of their success.
The Million Dollar and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum website lists member attorneys in all 50 states who have received at least a one-million-dollar verdict for a client. As mentioned previously, Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, and Best Lawyers are all based on peer review. It is an honor for an attorney to be recognized by her peers as one of “the best” in her area of practice. One last thing to consider is whether the attorney is recognized by any organizations for client service. After all, the practice of law is a service to you, the client, and you want an attorney who has a proven track record of client satisfaction.
5. Testimonials and Reviews
Many attorneys display client testimonials on their websites. Of course, take these with a grain of salt because no one is going to publish bad reviews on their own webpage. If an attorney appears on Google Reviews take the time to read both the good and bad paying attention to ones that repeat the same complaints or praises. Upon request, your attorney should also be able to provide you with at least one previous client who will give a good review.
6. What Questions to Ask
How long have you been practicing as a personal injury plaintiff attorney and what other types of law do you specialize in?
- This question is to help you find out how many different areas of law your attorney practices in and what percentage of the practice is devoted to personal injury cases. Keep in mind, the best personal injury attorneys usually have a large percentage of their practice devoted to personal injury.
Where do most of your referrals come from?
If the answer is other lawyers: Lawyers in a local community, whether they practice in the same area of law or not, likely know the best attorneys in other fields. If your attorney receives a high number of referrals from members of the legal community this indicates he or she is well-respected among her peers and is a good sign.
If the answer is past clients: Referrals from past clients indicate happy clients. You wouldn’t refer someone to a place where you had a poor experience.
If the answer is online: If you have already read reviews and looked on sites such as Super Lawyers and Martindale-Hubbell you will have an idea of whether this is a good sign or bad. A high amount of internet referrals could be good but could also indicate a large television and/or internet presence, and as already mentioned, this does not automatically mean they are the right choice for you.
Do I have to pay a retainer?
- The answer to this question should be no. Personal injury attorneys work on contingency fees, meaning you should not have to front any money to your lawyer.
What is your fee?
- Normally, contingency fees are 33.33%. A contingency fee means your lawyer will only make money if your case makes money. If you hire a younger less experienced personal injury attorney and he or she is charging you the same contingency fee as a lawyer with 25-plus years of experience, you should think about going with the latter.
If my case goes to trial and we lose, will I have to pay for costs?
- Expenses are not the same as the contingency fee. Expenses are the costs that your attorney pays out of pocket to keep your case going. Such as paying for medical records, court costs, and even making copies of your case materials. Different attorneys handle these expenses differently. Be sure to ask any attorney you meet with whether her or she will expect you to pay back the cost of litigation should your case be unsuccessful.
Who will I be dealing with when I call to check in on my case?
- It is important to know who your first point of contact will be.
- Most law firms have partners, associates, paralegals, law clerks, and secretaries. While you can only receive legal advice from an attorney, there are many individuals working behind-the-scenes on your case on every day. You should know who these individuals are and should be able to contact them if you wish to do so.
What is my role in the case?
- Your attorney should be interested in building a relationship with you. He or she should be in regular communication with you; updating you on the status of your case.
- You attorney should want regular updates from you as well. If you are still treating from an injury related to the case your attorney will need updates on this.
7. Last Things to Consider
It should not be impossible to get ahold of the attorney who is working on your case or someone in the office who can give you information when you call. If you are unable to get anyone to call you back this is a red flag. All attorneys are busy. But the best attorneys generally make time for their clients.
About Brian G, Miller: Brian G. Miller is a graduate of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and practices law in his Columbus, OH office, mostly focusing on civil litigation and concentrating in plaintiff personal injury cases arising from roadway accidents, construction accidents, workplace and premises accidents, and other civil litigation. For more information about the firm visit https://www.bgmillerlaw.com/