How to Choose Your Attorney?

After An Accident Or Injury, Who Do You Want Representing You?

Most people never need a personal injury attorney until they do.  Choosing a good personal injury attorney in today’s environment, with non-stop advertising, is not an easy task.  As a consumer, you need to know that personal injury is a very competitive practice area for attorneys.  Your case has the potential to be worth a significant amount of money depending on a number of factors.

This is why attorneys spend a lot of time and effort on advertising for personal injury and medical malpractice cases.  Many attorneys will tell you just about anything just to get you to sign up with them.

You should always remember that you need to find an attorney who is going to listen to you and someone who wants to help you.  Below is how we think you can do that.

How Do You Choose An Attorney From All The Advertisements?

The short answer for this is that you should not solely rely on advertising to choose your attorney after your injury or accident.  Instead, you should think about what qualities you would like to find in an attorney and choose your attorney based on those qualities.

In today’s world, there are TV, radio, and billboard ads for personal injury attorneys all over the place.  It makes it hard to know whether you are going to have a good experience or a bad experience.  Having an injury in the first place is a bad experience.  While that bad experience is never going to turn into a good one, what you hope for is a personal injury attorney who is going to be honest about the situation and someone who is actually available to help you when you need it.

When you meet with a personal injury attorney for the first time, you won’t have the information that you need to get all the answers that you are going to want.  If you have ever head the expression “you know know what you don’t know,” then nothing could be more true when it comes to finding a lawyer for an accident if you have never had to do it before.

Representing someone for an injury is an ongoing process and every case is different.  What has worked for one person in one case will not necessarily be the best thing to do on another.  This is why you need someone who is actually available to listen and help.  There are many “successful” attorneys with more clients and business than they know what to do with.  There are also many “successful” attorneys who have practiced for many years who no longer want to dedicate the time and effort into your case.

Just because an attorney appears to be “successful” (fancy car, fancy clothes, fancy technology, etc.) does not mean that they are going to do the best job for you.

So What Should You Be Looking For?

Below are our suggestions on finding an attorney with the right qualifications who is right for your case.

Honesty Is Key

Our first suggestion to you is that you should find an attorney who is truly honest about their qualifications.  Once you come across an attorney who seems like a good fit for the job, you should Google them right away.  If that person has a history of trouble in the community, even if the trouble was not necessarily illegal, then you may want to think twice about hiring that attorney for your case.

You don’t want someone who is controversial for a personal injury case because your attorney’s credibility is one of the keys to a successful case.  A Google search will sometimes be a view into that person’s character as some say that the “Internet never forgets.”  You should also read your attorney’s bio page to see if what you found matches what they say about themselves.  In doing your research, you should ask yourself questions such as:

  • Why does this attorney practice in this community?
  • How long has this attorney lived in this community?
  • How long has this attorney done personal injury or medical malpractice cases?
  • Is this attorney going to be here tomorrow?  (about to retire or a fly by night operation)
  • Does this attorney really have the ability to do my case?

Regardless of how you research them, you want your attorney to be honest with you about who they are because it is a good indicator that they will also be honest with you about your case.  Likewise, an attorney who exaggerates who they are is more likely to tell you anything just to get you to sign up with them.

The Difference Between Being Helpful and Selling You Something

Our second suggestion to finding a good attorney is to find someone who you believe is sincere about actually helping you and is not just about making the attorney fee on the case.  I personally find it hard to believe that any volume law firm with tons of TV and radio ads can be sincere about actually helping you.  Those firms have a “churn and burn” business model that requires quick settlements to pay for their advertising.

There are also firms out there that advertise that they don’t settle cases or that every case that they accept is a case that they are willing to take all the way through trial.  I also find this hard to believe.  In over 10 years of practicing personal injury law, I have never met an attorney who actually lives up to that standard.  An attorney who is “real” will take on cases for the purpose of helping helping the client achieve something and is not afraid to recommend that a client settle when appropriate.

I once took a case where a family claimed that the paramedics failed to clear a piece of meat from a choking victim.  The man died and the death certificate indicated cardiac arrest rather than choking.  I took the case, despite what the death certificate said, and was able to get what was most important to the family-that was the truth.

This particular case made our local newspaper and it caught the interest of the medical examiner who was suspicious of the cause of death as reported in the newspaper.  Thereafter, the medical examiner reviewed his own files and realized that this death was suspicious but yet his office had never been contacted.  He conducted his own investigation into the matter and changed the death certificate from cardiac arrest to asphyxia by food to reflect what had really happened.

At this point, the case was no longer about what actually caused the man’s death but instead became a question of whether he could have survived or not after going so long without oxygen (out of hospital cardiac arrest).  I was able to settle the case because the paramedic wasn’t telling the truth about whether he cleared the patient’s throat, but the money isn’t what really mattered.  What mattered more is that we found the truth-he died because he choked and not because he had a heart attack.  That never would have happened if a lawsuit had never been filed.

Instead of being “aggressive,” “tenacious,” or any of those other self-aggrandizing descriptive terms, you should want an attorney who is going to do what is best for you.  Sometimes this means taking a case to trial and sometimes it means telling you that you need to settle, even if that means taking less than you want.

Another line that attorneys will give clients is that they actually take cases to trial unlike a lot of other lawyers.  When you are represented by an attorney, you should understand what your attorney is doing and why they are doing it.  In this particular case, the attorney took the case to trial and got a $17 million verdict, but the case was actually settled before trial for $120,000 against the only collectible source of money.

While there is something to getting a multi-million dollar verdict, there is a difference between getting a verdict and actually collecting it.  You should know before you go that far whether you are likely to collect on your verdict or not.

Regardless of what choice is made, your attorney should be helping you make the right decision on your case rather than “selling” you on something or convincing you one way or another.  While we have to make money to survive, the practice of law is supposed to be about helping others rather than just about making the money.

An Attorney Is Part Of The Third Branch Of Government

Many people don’t realize that attorneys are officers of the court.  Private attorneys make up the major component of the third branch of government, the judiciary.  The judiciary is made up of not only judges and their staff (on the public payroll) but also of all of the licensed attorneys who funded their own way through law school and many of them fund their own law practices.  Being the private arm of the third branch of government, it is the responsibility of attorneys to do their part to ensure the integrity of the judicial system.

As personal injury attorneys, we do that by holding people accountable in the civil justice system.  While there are police officers to ensure that people who commit crimes are brought to justice and that traffic laws are upheld, the only check and balance on business is the civil justice system.

Our efforts cause business owners to clean up their floors and fix dangerous conditions on their properties.  Our efforts also hold the medical profession responsible for substandard medical care.  Further, we ensure that insurance companies, for which we are all required by law to pay for if we drive a car, pay their fair share when an accident happens.

No other branch of government holds them accountable the way the civil justice system does.

You may not have realized it before reading this, but a properly functioning civil justice system makes a difference in your community and makes it a place that we all want to live in.  Without us, businesses don’t have an incentive to clean up their floors, fill holes in the parking lots, and fix dangerous conditions on their property.  It’s okay if you hadn’t made that connection before-there are some attorneys who still haven’t made that connection about themselves.

The attorney that you choose should see the bigger picture about their role in the system.

An Attorney Tells The Story Of Your Life

Most attorneys have a “story” about why the do what they do and why they do it.  In choosing who is going to represent you and your family after an injury, accident, or incident of medical malpractice, you should want to hear that attorney’s “story” and judge it for yourself.  You can gauge a lot about a person by the way that they explain what they do.  I must admit that I am no different than most in that I have a story too, although there is really nothing special to mine.

My story is not a tear jerking anecdote about a personal mission to change their world.  I wasn’t the victim of something tragic and I don’t have a family member who is paralyzed.  All I ever really wanted was to live a good life and to help people along the way.  I know that is simple, but that’s my story. There are others who claim that justice is their “passion” or that they just “love” helping people who are injured.  I don’t know how a person can claim that.  When you hear that from an attorney, you should question what their true “passion” is or what it is that they really “love.”

The “story” of your attorney is important because your attorney is the one who is going to be telling your story to an insurance company or in a court of law, but it really doesn’t have to be anything special or extravagant.  You should want to see if your attorney can explain why they do what they do.  If your attorney can’t present you with a believable story about their own life, then they can’t convince a jury with your case.

Other Things To Look For

When choosing who is going to stand for you and your family in a courtroom, you can use anything you want to make the decision.  You can rely on the advice of a friend or someone who has been to the attorney before.  You can rely on online reviews or 5-star ratings on Google if you would like.  Those might be helpful or they might not.  I suggest that there are some deeper things you may want to consider that no testimonial, statistic, or rating system can ever deliver.  You should consider things such as:

  • Are they personally invested in the business of being an attorney?
  • Are they in business for the long haul?
  • Do you think that the attorney can effectively connect with you?
  • Are they the right age to understand what it’s really like to be you?
  • Do they know what it’s like to struggle?
  • Can your attorney understand what it is that you really want to achieve from a lawsuit?
  • Does the attorney actually have time available for you?

There is a lot to consider when hiring an attorney after an injury or an accident and there is a lot at stake.   The attorney who is going to most successful on your case is not necessarily the one who has the most TV ads or who has a seeming eternity of experience.  The right fit you is the one who can convey your story-that is what translates into success.

Thank You For Reading

I hope that you found this information useful on how to find an attorney who will listen to you and someone who wants to help you reach a resolution to your legal issue.  If you have read my bio page and feel that I have the right qualifications to represent you and your family for an accident or malpractice incident, then I will be honored to do so and have you as a client.

December 24, 2016