Finding the right lawyer to help you is more than picking a random law firm. You need a personal injury lawyer who can relate to you. We asked the experts and here are 11 opinions of how to find an attorney that is right for you.
Hannah Beth Salter
Hannah Beth Salter has been ranked in the top 4% of personal injury Lawyers in Louisiana for the past 2 years by Super Lawyers. She has also received that National Top 10 under 40 Award by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys.
I have spent my entire legal career in one of the most competitive legal markets in the country for personal injury attorneys, New Orleans, LA.
Although I am currently a plaintiff personal injury attorney, I spent the beginning of my career defending insurance companies against personal injury claims.
The sole reason I went to work on the plaintiff’s side is because I realized most plaintiff personal injury attorneys had no real grasp of the facts in their cases. More importantly, most of the plaintiff personal injury attorneys did not know the true nature of their clients’ injuries and because of this, their clients often walked away with hundreds of thousands less than they deserved. Why? Because the insurance defense attorneys ran circles around the plaintiff attorneys who did not know the facts of their cases.
It is absolutely critical to hire a personal injury attorney who can understand your case because lack of intelligence is seen by your opposition as your biggest weakness. I’ve seen many plaintiffs robbed because their attorneys did not understand their case. When your attorney does not understand your case fully, your attorney cannot effectively advocate on your behalf.
Being an attorney is like being a surgeon, the only difference is, there’s another surgeon across the table from you working to undo everything you seek to accomplish. Your lawyer must understand your case to effectively remain one step ahead of the competition. You wouldn’t want your podiatrist handling your brain surgery, and you wouldn’t want an attorney who doesn’t regularly specialize in your type of injury claim bamboozling your fate.
First, there are many different types of personal injury lawyers. Some only handle car accident cases that are likely to be settled without a lawsuit. Others may file suit, but they would prefer to stay away from highly regulated areas of the law, such as trucking accidents. On the flip side, some lawyers will not consider lower value cases, because they spend so much time and energy with each client.
Beyond issues related to value and likelihood to require a lawsuit, some lawyers prefer only to handle auto accidents, and none of the more complicated personal injury cases, like negligent security, slip and fall, or premises liability cases. In Florida, where I practice, the law governing these non-auto personal injury cases, like premises liability, or slip and fall, is so limited in scope, that not handling these cases is a smart business decision for many lawyers. Only a narrow class of slip and fall cases is likely to be successful. So many lawyers rightly stay away from them altogether, or refer them to other lawyers who specialize in those areas.
Whatever the type of case, any potential client definitely needs to make sure that their lawyer understands their case. Understanding their case includes taking the time needed to listen to the facts, and also having the experience with that particular type of case, to know what steps are needed. The best personal injury lawyers have long-standing referral relationships with other law firms that specialize in areas outside their comfort zone, and will be honest when they aren’t the best person to handle the case. That way, you can trust that they either will take care of you, or will refer you to someone else who will.
The bad news is that making sure your personal injury lawyer is being honest may not be easy. But the best approach is to do your research, ask questions about what is likely to happen in your particular case, then listen to your gut. If you feel that your chosen personal injury lawyer has answered your questions in a meaningful way, and you feel good about those answers, then that is one of the best tests for who you should consider hiring. After all, your lawyer will need to tell your story to either insurance adjusters, or the jury. If they convinced you, there is a good chance they will have persuasive skills in the courtroom, too.
Ms. Willis handles serious injury, accident & death cases in Orlando, Florida. She is a former law professor and big firm defense lawyer, who spends a lot of time educating her clients about how to get the most money possible from their cases, then fighting hard to help them recover every penny they deserve.
My name is Brad Biren and I am a personal injury attorney in Des Moines, Iowa. People ask me this question all the time–and my response is reinforced daily!
Call a personal injury attorney as soon as you are physically able to once the authorities have already been called.
Why so immediately after an accident? The reason is because a victim’s claim is has to be protected as soon as possible. What has to be protected? The information from the scene of the accident, statements from witnesses, statements from doctors and emergency medical personnel, police officer reports–these are all things that if not properly orchestrated, can have a damaging effect on a personal injury claim.
We always recommend people to call us ASAP because we can help them to not torpedo their own claims. For example, insurance companies will try and take recorded statements from potential victims immediately after an accident. Those statements are oftentimes damaging and are ALWAYS used against a plaintiff. Plaintiffs don’t realize that what they are saying can be construed to harm their claims.
If you call us immediately after you call the authorities, we can give you important counsel, such as, never give a recorded statement!
Finding a personal injury attorney with experience that’s relevant to your case is important for many reasons, but mainly because it ensures that you abide by the statute of limitations. Different areas of law require distinct and in-depth knowledge about certain statutes that pertain to each case.
For instance, a workers’ compensation case has a much different time table for filing a lawsuit than a car accident or wrongful death case. If you miss the statute of limitations deadline, you could miss out on any chance of recovering compensation for good, which is why it’s important to hire a personal injury attorney with specific experience to your case and who is fully aware of the statute of limitations.
You should also make sure the attorney practices law in the area where your accident occurred, since states have different statute of limitations laws.
As the Executive Editor of Enjuris.com, a platform dedicated to helping people who are dealing with life-altering accidents and injuries, Lance works tirelessly behind-the-scenes making sure all the information on the site is relevant, accurate, comprehensive, engaging and helpful to site visitors, as well as coordinating Enjuris’ contributors, editors, guest authors and staff. He has years of experience as a content marketer and strongly believes in the power of words—and the responsibility that entails.
Jared Richards is a personal injury attorney practicing in Nevada. He is one of the founders of Clear Counsel Law Group, a law firm serving southern Nevada.
There is a vast difference between personal injury lawyers and law firms. Many of the “big” firms are built on churning through injury cases as quickly as possible, which means they sometimes don’t bother learning all the details, they’re just interested in getting a settlement as quickly as possible.
On the other hand, an attorney who takes the time to learn the details of your case will be more likely to discover data which makes your case stronger. For example, I knew one person who had been injured when his motorcycle slipped right out from under him. Attorney after attorney turned him away.
Finally, one of our attorneys took the time to investigate the scene of the crash. That attorney discovered a nearby business was creating a road hazard by dumping waste water into a gutter. That waste water contained oils and chemicals which made the road extremely slippery. With this data, the insurance company was forced to make a generous offer and pay for the client’s medical treatment.
It is important to hire a personal injury lawyer that understands the details of a case because only a lawyer that is familiar with the circumstances of a claim can do an effective job representing the client. The job of a lawyer is to apply the facts of a potential claim to the applicable state or federal rules of law in order to prove the case to a judge or jury.
An attorney that understands the specific details of a case will be able to gather the evidence and take effective depositions in order to prove the claim has merit and worthy of compensation. Hiring a lawyer that doesn’t understand the details of your claim will result in a failed claim. It takes a lot of work to secure a verdict for an injured party and if the attorney doesn’t understand the tiniest of details of a claim then the case may be thrown out as a preliminary matter or potentially fail to persuade a judge or jury after a full blown trial.
A lawyer that has familiarity with past car accident claims, construction law claims or wrongful death claims should know the legal arguments that need to be made to secure a verdict but if the lawyer doesn’t understand the specific facts of a clients claim then all the legal knowledge of the lawyer is worthless. Thus, it is critical to hire a personal injury lawyer that is a good listener and becomes familiar with and understands all the granular details of a specific personal injury incident in order to successfully be able to prove the case.
David Reischer, Esq. Attorney & CEO of LegalAdvice.com
Hank Stout, Attorney
Hank Stout co-founder of Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm based in Houston, Texas.
Each injury accident is unique. If you were involved in an accident where you are having a difficult time working with an auto insurance company, injured, disabled or lost a loved one, or struck by an 18-wheeler/commercial vehicle hiring a lawyer is imperative. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and the different options you have for securing compensation. Insurance companies or trucking companies have numerous resources that makes it difficult for an ordinary individual to fight against them and win the case.
An experienced lawyer will have the knowledge and the resources to fight a client’s case. A lawyer will be your advocate and representative throughout the process of securing compensation for your injuries and other losses. Injury cases can become a long process, make sure your lawyer is someone you can effectively communicate with and trust. Many personal injury lawyers accept cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that the lawyer only gets paid if he or she secures a settlement or damages award for you.
In nearly 20 years of practice, I can’t tell you the number of cases that essentially fell apart because the injured person was going to, “take care of it myself”. As I tell my mother: Don’t give the recorded statement, the insurance company is not your friend, call a personal injury attorney first!
Christopher A. Johnston
Chris Johnston owns the personal injury firm Johnston Martineau with offices in Minneapolis and Des Moines.
Peter T. Anderson
Peter T. Anderson is a personal injury attorney in the Washington, D.C. area. He has been practicing for 9 years. He handles medical malpractice claims, civil rights litigation, and auto accident claims. He is licensed in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
In my opinion it is important for someone who has been injured to seek the advice of an attorney because defendants and insurance companies can easily take advantage of those who lack knowledge of our legal system.
For example, someone injured in an auto accident may not know what the defendant’s insurance policy allows them to recover. The policy may carry only $30,000 in insurance, or it may carry $1,000,000. Further, injured people may not realize that their own underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) could provide protection if the defendant’s insurance is insufficient.
Attorneys also know how to properly evaluate claims for their success and damages. I frequently hear from potential clients who either under or overvalue their claims based on their inexperience in the legal system.
Lastly, a lawyer understands all of the pitfalls of attempting to file a legal claim. There are numerous requirements for potential claimants to fulfill. Statutes of limitation, expert witness requirements, and evidentiary hurdles that must be met. Failure to know the law can result in claims being dismissed. Many insurance companies low ball claimants because they know a lawyer is not representing them. Getting a lawyer involved tells the insurance company you are serious and will file a lawsuit when push comes to shove.
All lawyers, like doctors and other professionals, have a focus. Even lawyers who focus on personal injury often have a type of case they are most familiar with. They may take car and truck accidents most often or focus on slip and fall cases. These cases are all actually very different. Thus, it’s important to hire a personal injury lawyer who can understand your case. That means they have experience with specific type of case and know relevant laws. Otherwise, they may spend more time and money learning about your case and fall into common traps set by insurance companies and other third parties.
Jared Staver is a Chicago car accident and personal injury attorney at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C.
Sherwin Arzani, graduate of the University of Michigan School of Law, is a personal injury attorney with Citywide Law Group in Los Angeles, CA. He has more than 15 years of experience and has been recognized as one of the Top Attorneys in Southern California.
Hiring an attorney who cares about your case will increase its value
There are thousands of personal attorneys out there. However, it’s important to choose someone who legitimately cares about the outcome of your case. When you hire an attorney who cares, they’re more likely to invest the time, resources, and energy that are necessary to make your case a success. This will ultimately help you make the most of your case and maximize your financial recovery.
You need an attorney who understands the law
Personal injury law is quite broad. Some attorneys will attempt to tackle any case that comes their way. Others prefer to narrow their focus to a few specific practice areas. It can be very beneficial to choose an attorney who regularly handles cases that are similar to yours. The laws that apply to a car accident lawsuit be very different from the laws that apply to a case involving toxic exposure. Hiring an attorney who specializes in your specific type of case will put you in the best position to walk away with a fair settlement. An attorney who is focused on one specific area of the law may have a better grasp of the strategies that are most likely to make your case a success.
It can help to choose an attorney who can relate
My decision to become an attorney was motivated, in part, by a tragic car accident that affected my family when I was younger. An insurance company made it nearly impossible for my sister to recover the money she rightfully deserved after she suffered a life-threatening neck injury in a crash. My family struggled with the uncertainty of my sister’s health and often came close to buckling under the financial costs of her accident. I realized that it shouldn’t be difficult for victims like my sister to get the money they need after an accident. I became dedicated to becoming an advocate for accident victims. Today, I feel that I’m in a better position to help my clients because I can relate to their pain and struggles.
This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors' statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.