It’s difficult for someone HURT in an accident to decide which personal injury attorney to hire but there are some factors you can look at.
Hire a lawyer who does only personal injury
Most important is to hire a lawyer who does only personal injury. Some law firms practice in different areas but the law firm should have a lawyer representing you who only does personal injury. Accident cases are too complicated for lawyers who practice in many different areas.
Does certification mean that you should hire the lawyer?
Generally lawyers are not allowed to say that they specialize in a field such as personal injury. However, some states are now allowing lawyers to become certified in a field of practice and can then say that they specialize. Does certification mean that you should hire that lawyer?
Unfortunately, certification does not really provide much useful information. Most personal injury lawyers with a lot of experience will not walk away from their practice for six months of school just to get certified. They simply don’t need it. Newer lawyers who get certified after law school may have gone through more school for certification but may lack the experience you want. We recommend looking at the experience of a lawyer. How many years has the personal injury been practicing? Does the lawyer only represent personal injury clients or does the lawyer handle other fields of law in addition to personal injury?
How do you know if your lawyer does only accident cases?
Of course, you can ask the lawyer what types of cases he or she works on. Another method is to look for law firms advertising for personal injury and accidents. Some lawyers claim that law firms which advertise don’t do trials and are just looking for a quick easy settlement. This is absolutely not true and said by lawyers upset because the don’t advertise. In fact, some of the best personal injury law firms in the US advertise on TV.
Usually, law firms with big advertising budgets handle only cases for which they are advertising. This is because advertising brings a lot of clients and it’s more efficient to handle only that type of case. Personal Injury law firms which advertise usually don’t have time for other types of cases. My Personal Injury law firm, New York Personal Injury Attorneys only represents people injured in accidents. We don’t have time for other types of cases or to learn other fields of law. Personal injury is complicated enough.
Look at the lawyer’s website. The website will show you what areas of law the law firm is practicing. The law firm’s website will provide good clues to their proficiency in personal injury and accidents.
Hiring a lawyer based on negotiating the legal fee
While most lawyers do not negotiate their fees, I don’t recommend hiring a lawyer just because you found one who is willing to reduce his or her fee. Just like with everything else, usually, you get what you pay for.
If personal service is important to you, you may want a smaller Law firm. However, the size of the law firm is not usually important to the outcome of your case.
Which lawyer will work on your case?
If you’re calling a law firm with several attorneys, ask if only one lawyer or several lawyers will be working on your case. If more than one lawyer will be working on your case, find out who that is and see if you can get to meet with that lawyer to see if you like the lawyer and can get along with the lawyer.
Verdicts & Settlements
Don’t look only at examples of verdicts and settlements. Large verdicts and settlements do not mean that the lawyers at that law firm are any better than any other attorney. It may just mean they were lucky enough to have retained a client with very serious injuries hurt by someone who was 100% negligent and had a lot of insurance. Lawyers who advertise or take cases referred from other attorneys will usually have large verdicts or accident settlements.
Additionally, what the public doesn’t know is that those clients never receive the money awarded in a large verdict. Most big jury verdicts in personal injury claims are reduced by judges after a jury verdict is rendered. The amount of the settlement is what’s important.
The law firm which represented police brutality victim Abner Louima won a $76 million jury verdict against the city. However, the verdict was reduced to $6 million. The same law firm obtained a trial verdict in another case in excess of $100 million but was settled for $3 million because of the threat of appeal. On appeal, the case is heard by judges, not a jury and awards are almost always drastically reduced down to legal “reality”.
Don’t let examples of large verdicts and settlements scare you off because you don’t think you have a serious injury the attorney would be interested in. Law firms advertising large verdicts and settlements are usually interested in much smaller cases and your injury may be worth much more than you think.
- Look for an attorney or law firm which does only personal injury/accident cases;
- Look at the attorney’s website for areas of law the law firm is practicing and their proficiency in personal injury; and
- Hire an attorney who you like and think you can get along with.