How to Choose an Accident Attorney
It’s difficult for someone injured 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
The most important is that you 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 general practice lawyers who practice in many different areas.
While the vast majority of personal injury law firms do not have the Verified Personal Injury Lawyer™ Seal, the seal displayed on a law firm webiste means that at least 90% of the law firm’s practice is in the field of personal injury.
How do you know if your lawyer does only accident cases?
Ask the lawyer what types of cases he or she works on and how many years of experience with personal injury?
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.
Another method is to look for law firms advertising for personal injury and accidents. Some lawyers claim that law firms that advertise don’t do trials and are just looking for a quick easy settlement. This is absolutely not true. In fact, some of the best personal injury law firms in the US advertise on TV.
Usually, law firms handle only the type of 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. Law firms with a practice in only one field are usually the only ones interested in advertising.
My law firm doesn’t advertise on TV but we advertise in a magazine and do marketing for accident cases by setting up a tent at events. It takes time to do marketing and even more time to handle the accident cases it brings. We also need time to stay on top of the continuous changes in the law. This requires us to represent only accident victims and to run an efficient law practice using personal injury case management software. We couldn’t possibly have the time to handle any type of case other than accidents.
We issue The Verified Personal Injury Lawyer™ verification which indicates that the lawyer’s practice is at least 90% personal injury.
Does certification mean that you should hire a 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 such as a certified civil trial lawyer and can then advertise that they specialize in the field.
Unfortunately, certification does not really provide much useful information about the attorney’s training, experience, and most importantly, talent. Certification just means that the lawyer went to school for, usually, another six months.
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 need.
We recommend looking at the experience of a lawyer. How many years has the lawyer been practicing in the field of personal injury? Does the lawyer only represent personal injury clients or does the lawyer handle other fields of law in addition to personal injury such as criminal, divorce, bankruptcy, etc?
Hiring a lawyer based on negotiating a lower legal fee
While most personal injury lawyers do not negotiate personal injury legal fees, I don’t recommend hiring a lawyer just because you found one who is willing to reduce his or her fee. If I offered a reduced fee, I would have to spend less time working on the case and/or communicating with my clients. 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. What’s important is that you can speak with someone when you have a question and that your calls are returned. Most attorneys and law firms are good at responding to new clients but how good are they responding to questions after you hired them? Check online reviews to find out what previous clients have to say.
You may find reviews on the law firm’s website and you can search on Google to find reviews at Google, Yelp, and other places. Just search for “Jane Doe law firm”, “Jane Doe law firm reviews” and “Jane Doe law firm complaint”. Speak to your friends who may have used the lawyer to see if they’re happy.
Verdicts & Settlements
Most law firm websites post their largest verdicts and settlements but don’t bother with smaller ones. Don’t let examples of large verdicts and settlements on a law firm website scare you off because you don’t think you have a serious injury. 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;
- Read online reviews; and
- Hire an attorney who you like and think you can get along with.