After an accident, it's important to choose a personal injury attorney that's right for you. At first glance, one personal injury law firm may look as good as the next — but firms are very different. Here are a few tips to make sure you choose the right firm for your specific case.
What Is a Personal Injury Law Firm?
Different types of lawyers specialize in different types of cases. A personal injury law firm is a law firm that specializes in personal injury cases. A top-notch firm will have a strong track record of success in cases similar to yours.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Personal Injury Law Firm Attorneys
You want to find a firm that is successful, experienced, and recommended by others.
Success Rate: What Does This Mean?
It can be very hard to find clear success rate data for attorneys. Trial wins are countable, but most cases settle out of court. Whether a settlement is a "win" or not depends on a lot of factors. For instance, plaintiffs may receive compensation for their claims in a settlement, but find the amount they received to be less than what they'd hoped for or needed. Try to look for law firms that give detailed information about their client outcomes — law firms that share their data openly are often more confident and competent than those that do not. Look for trial wins, settlement rates and, if possible, what percentage of the sought sum clients actually receive.
Trial Experience: How Much is Enough?
You need an attorney or firm who can and will take your case to court if necessary. An attorney with experience with cases similar to yours is even better. Ask about their case history when you interview them. An attorney who always settles may be taking sub-par settlements. While settling is often preferable to going to trial, you need to know your legal team is prepared to do what it takes to meet your needs. When it comes to trial experience in a personal injury attorney, the more the better.
Client Reviews: What Are People Saying?
For background on a personal injury attorney, your state’s bar association website is the first place to go. They will keep a list of all licensed attorneys and important information about each one. You can also see if the attorney has had any sanctions or disciplinary action taken against them.
Next turn to review websites. Yes, look at Yelp and Google, but also look at specialized attorney review websites. Avvo has 97% of attorneys listed on its site. Martindale-Hubbell is the oldest attorney review website and has both peer ratings and client ratings. Also, check out the Better Business Bureau.
Referrals: What Do Others Recommend?
Talk to your friends, family, and neighbors, about attorneys they have worked with in the past. Questions to ask include: Did your attorney listen to you? How helpful was the attorney? Are you satisfied with the outcome? What did you think about the negotiation experience? How was the trial? Having guidance from someone you trust can ease the attorney selection process significantly. Of course, weigh any recommendation against the above factors, but nothing means more than a recommendation from a trusted friend.
Attorney vs Lawyers: What's the Difference?
People use the words "attorney" and "lawyer" interchangeably. Most lawyers are attorneys, but the slight differences between them can matter. A lawyer is a person who has studied the law in law school and can give advice and information about it to others.
An attorney represents another person, often in court. An attorney has passed the requirements to serve at the bar (by state rules) and has taken an oath. An attorney-at-law represents people in court.
An attorney-in-fact, however, is seldom a lawyer. If you have a time when you cannot make choices for yourself, either you or a court will name someone to represent you (mainly in financial or health matters).
Experienced Personal Injury Law Firm Lawyers and Attorneys
Experience counts. In a law firm, different skills can be split and practiced by different people. Sometimes a firm will have trial specialists who are excellent in court and different attorneys who are great at negotiations and settlements.
Types of Cases a Firm Should Take
Each personal injury case is unique. Injury cases are grouped by the way the law treats them. Here are the types of cases handled by most personal injury attorneys.
Personal injury cases, also called torts, include a wide range of bodily and psychological harms that can occur through negligence or malice.
Motor or Aviation Accidents
Automobile accidents make up a large number of personal injury cases. Within this specialty, some lawyers focus on motorcycle, truck, plane, or boat accidents. You want an attorney who has won cases that are similar to yours.
Slip and Fall
If you’ve had a fall, proving that the property owner is at fault can be tough. Often in these cases, fault can be shared.
Assault is intentional harm. The police and prosecuting attorney may bring a criminal case. You can also bring a civil case to reclaim costs for your injuries, and to get payment for additional damages, like pain and suffering. In this type of case, having a lawyer who specializes in assault cases is vital to your case's success.
Product liability cases are a bit different. These cases often are governed by statute and you must meet the statutory requirements in order to proceed - generally that you were harmed by a defective product. Attorneys who specialize in product liability cases are familiar with manufacturing and safety regulation.
If the injuries result in death, the claim moves to another specialty — wrongful death. This is a broad category that includes automobile and truck crashes, medical malpractice, product liability, and deaths caused by other events.
Tips for Choosing a Personal Injury Law Firm: What Else to Look for?
You want a professional law firm. Awards and certifications along with peer respect are good ways to measure that.
Degree of Peer Recognition: What Do Peers Say?
What other attorneys say can give you a different picture than what clients say. If peers at the local bar association give your attorney an award for skill or service, you can know that your attorney is something special.
Board Certification: What Does This Mean?
The state bar association must certify all attorneys who practice in the state. Areas of the law have associations that grant certifications. The National Board of Trial Lawyers offers certification in different areas to trial specialists. Look for specialty programs that are certified by the American Bar Association.
Individual Record of Success
Look over the record of the particular attorney as well as the firm. An attorney also must stay current with Continuing Legal Education credits in the areas where they practice
Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Law Firm
A good personal injury law firm will have experience in the type of personal injury you have experienced. Their clients and peers will speak well of them, and their successes will create a notable track record. Check out The Moore Law Firm, who has both experience and awards in personal injury law.