After getting into an accident, you will need a personal injury lawyer to help you recover the compensation you deserve. However, finding a personal injury attorney that is right for you is like finding a needle in a haystack. There are many qualified and experienced attorneys out there, but you need to find one that will fit your needs best.
You only get one chance at resolving your case, and settling with an average attorney can jeopardize your chances of making a recovery. At C.O.L.T, we help match potential clients with attorneys that are right for them. There are some factors that lawyers and law firms share with each other, and here we’re going to discuss how to find the right personal injury lawyer for you.
How to Find the Best Personal Injury Lawyer
Here are a few ways you can search for personal injury attorneys near you.
Ask Friends and Family
Personal injury cases are not uncommon, and someone you know, your friends, relatives, or family members, may have had experience with some attorneys. Perhaps they’re lucky enough not to have experienced a personal injury, but they might have had other types of attorneys they can introduce you to for recommendations.
Ask Lawyers You Already Know
There are more than 1.3 million attorneys in the United States. Although you may not have needed an attorney before, you may know some attorneys in your social circle. That attorney might be your best friend or another child’s parent from your kid’s school. They might not even be personal injury attorneys.
However, they do have an extensive network and can refer you to an experienced personal injury attorney to help you with your case. Lawyers will always recommend attorneys they trust, and asking lawyers you know is a fantastic way to get a couple of names.
Using a search engine like Google is a great place to start your search for the best personal injury lawyer. You can use search terms like “personal injury attorney near me” or type in the city and state you’re living in. If you’re living in San Diego, your search should be something like this: “personal injury attorney in San Diego, California”.
The search will provide you with a list of personal injury lawyers near you or bring up a couple of legal directory websites that you can explore.
Legal directories are just like Google but for finding lawyers. Some of the most popular legal directories include:
Avvo is one of the most popular legal directories out there, connecting potential clients with top-rated lawyers. It has 97% of all lawyers in the United States. Users can browse attorneys based on their practice areas, their city, or according to the state. The website also has tons of free legal content that users can browse to get answers to some of their questions.
Users can browse through an attorney’s profile and check out their ratings, reviews, the law school they attended, their contact information, and whether or not they have professional misconduct.
Another popular legal directory that may show up in your search results is FindLaw. The website has a lot of resources available on legal topics ranging from bankruptcy to elder law, product liability, personal injury law, traffic law, immigration law, and much more.
You start your search by inputting the type of issue you’re facing and your location, and your search results will bring up all the available lawyers for you to choose from. If you click on an attorney or law firm, you’ll be able to view all the necessary details, such as a lawyer’s bio and contact information for further correspondence.
The search system and reviews are not as robust as what you would find in Avvo.
Owned by Martindale-Hubble, Lawyers.com draws in more than 25 million visitors each month to its website, and the directory has lawyers from all across the United States covering more than 150 practice areas of law.
You can skim through an attorney or law firm’s bio, check out their reviews, and note down the contact details if you’re interested.
Things to Consider Before Hiring an Attorney
Now that you know where you can find personal injury attorneys, it is time to consider a few things before you select one.
Check Online Reviews
When looking at online reviews, you’re not simply viewing the number of stars or positive ratings the attorney has, but also going through the longer reviews.
Remember, you need an attorney who will understand you and work with you. You don’t want an attorney to clash with your personality while on your case or an attorney who is too busy to show some compassion when needed.
The longer reviews left by clients can give you an insight into the attorney, their personality, and how they operate. You can also check for more reviews using Google Maps by searching for “personal injury attorneys.”
Check the California State Bar Website
If the profile is incomplete or you would like to get some extra information before making your decision, simply visit the California State Bar website, where you’ll find information on every attorney working in California. You can check their educational background, their contact details, and even see if they have any disciplinary history.
Check the Law Firm’s Website
You may think that external reviews are more than enough to decide on an attorney, but we highly recommend checking their law firm’s website too. You need a compassionate attorney, and just by going through the website, you’ll be able to tell.
If the website seems more commercial and lacks a human touch, it’s best to stay away as that law firm may not be the right fit for you. Websites that tell stories about their clients and their successes and how the law firm and their attorneys care for their clients are probably the best choice to go for.
A law firm that focuses on high-quality content for its readers suggests that they’re taking that extra step and are most likely going to take care of their clients.
Scan for Awards
Scan the website for any awards they have won over the years, such as Superlawyers, Best Lawyers, US News awards, and other trusted sources. These awards have a proper nomination process, letting you know that the awards were not paid for.
Some legal directories, like Avvo’s ranking system, might look great on the surface, but if attorneys know what they’re doing, they can easily score high. Hence, we recommend searching the law firm’s website for any awards and achievements.
Check their Recoveries
A law firm’s website will also have its success rate and successful verdicts mentioned as a sign of achievement. Many potential clients, after going through the successful verdict, think that the law firm only chooses cases that’ll make money. However, that is not the case, as higher recoveries are a clear sign of how good the attorneys are.
Recovering a huge amount for a client is an achievement and implies that the attorneys at the law firm know how to present a case and negotiate with the insurers. Insurance companies will always try to implement tactics to reduce payouts or make the settlement phase challenging for attorneys, but a law firm with experienced attorneys will understand the worth of a case and will put up a serious fight to recover maximum compensation.
A law firm’s website that doesn’t publish their case results is a sign for you to stay away from them. Perhaps they don’t have success stories, or they simply don’t have time to update that information on their website. Neither of these is a good sign.
Ask the Right Questions During Consultation
Most personal injury lawyers and personal injury law firms offer a free initial consultation, which is useful for both attorneys and clients as well. The consultation session is a great way for you to learn a bit more about the attorney, their practice area, and also your case.
Personal injury cases differ from each other, and there is no one answer that fits all. So, during the consultation, go over the facts of the case with the attorney and ask them what they think and how much the case is worth. You should also ask them about their education, experience, whether they’ve gone to trial before, and the list of their previous victories.
Try to ask questions that are bothering you about the case and see how the attorney responds. You need an attorney who is calm when talking to you and aggressive in court, an attorney who will guide you through the legal process, and an attorney who will stand by your side.
Prepare Yourself Prior to the Consultation
When you’re having an initial consultation with an attorney, it’s important that you’re prepared beforehand. Read about your state’s personal injury laws and tort laws, and familiarize yourself with the legal jargon, such as negligence.
Many attorneys will not take a case if it simply involves property damage in a car accident, as there is no need for an attorney. You can simply file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company, and in some cases, your own insurer as well.
Know the Fee Structure
We’ve all heard the phrase “I don’t get paid unless we win,” which means that most personal injury attorneys work on personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This may be true, but it is crucial that you ask them before signing any retainer agreement how much they will receive in the event that you do win.
Access to the Attorney
When you’re injured and recovering, you need an attorney to keep you updated on the progress of the case and the next steps. Unfortunately, today, many large law firms simply pass the case over to their paralegals after the initial consultation. This can make it very difficult to reach out to the attorney and can make you feel like you’re just another number.
During the consultation, it is important to ask the attorney about their time commitments and whether or not you’ll be able to reach out to them whenever required. Access to an attorney is important during the legal process, and you want an attorney to be available to you as a professional rather than treat you as another customer.
Did You Get Along?
During the initial consultation, try to understand the attorney’s personality. Were you getting along with the attorney? How did the attorney respond to your questions? Was it easy to speak to an attorney?
The entire legal process, from filing personal injury claims to reaching a settlement, can take a long time. You need an attorney who you can easily work with over the span of a few months. Some attorneys dictate instructions while others guide you through the entire legal process.
If you find that the consultation went quite well and the attorney’s personality is a good fit for you, you can proceed with them. If not, it is important that you continue your search until you find someone with a personality that is a good fit for you.
Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
There is a misconception that you need an attorney to file a personal injury claim, but in reality, that is not the case. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer can increase your chances of recovering maximum compensation for your loss.
Here are some of the benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer after getting into an accident.
Assess Your Injuries
Without medical experts, it can be challenging to assess the extent of your injuries. A resourceful personal injury law firm often has contact with medical experts to help assess their client’s injuries and determine the extent of the damage.
If you’re on your own, the negligent party’s insurance company will do everything to reduce your damages and minimize their payout. But with an attorney by your side and a medical team to confirm the extent of the damage, you stand a pretty solid chance of making a maximum recovery.
Help You Financially
After an accident, you may not have the financial resources to pay for your medical bills, which can further add to the stress. Fortunately, an attorney can write a letter of protection on your behalf to the medical provider, stating that litigation is pending and that they will receive their payment from the proceeds of the settlement.
Recover Higher Settlements
If you’re going in on your own, the negligent party’s insurance firm will pressure you into accepting a lower settlement. Insurance companies do not like going to trial as it is bad publicity for them. An attorney with trial experience will know the worth of your case, and if insurance companies are offering less, they’re not afraid to take them to trial.
Avoid Hiring “Bad” Attorneys
Some lawyers dive into the field of personal injury law in the hopes of making money, as they believe the practice area is highly lucrative. That’s not exactly bad, but with more than 9,000 California personal injury lawyers, with the majority of them in and around Los Angeles and San Francisco, personal injury law is a very competitive practice area.
With so many attorneys looking to build their business, some of them will employ strategies to lure potential clients. Not all of these strategies are ethical or look out for the client’s best interests.
Here are some of the ways to identify a “bad” attorney.
Billboards and TV commercials
There are marketing tools that allow lawyers to target ads based on their location. Think about it. If you’re at a hospital after a serious accident, you may come across targeted ads for a personal injury law firm.
Or after you’re released from the hospital and on your way home, you come across a huge billboard asking you whether you’re injured and to call this number for help.
You may also come across a cheesy commercial on television with someone injured saying they recovered millions of dollars and so can you.
These are all passive ways of finding a personal injury lawyer, and chances are you’re going to end up hiring an attorney that is not right for you.
Attorneys using billboards as forms of advertisement cast a wide net to catch any person that comes their way, and these types of law firms don’t really care who they serve. TV commercials are also one way a law firm can reach out to thousands of viewers at the same time. These law firms only focus on high volumes and provide low-quality services.
Lawyers or law firms that employ these tools only care about getting as many cases as they can, settling them as soon as possible, taking their cut, and moving on to the next one. They don’t care whether your case is worth more than the settled amount; they just take their cut and move on.
If you’re willing to settle for less, then it is better to file claims yourself and take the first offer the insurance company sends your way. At least by doing this yourself, you don’t have to fork over a portion of your settlement to the law firm.
A Desperate Attorney
You definitely want an attorney who is eager and enthusiastic about your case, but be careful of those attorneys who urge you to retain them before even getting into your case details.
Pay close attention to the attorney’s attitude and how he handles your queries during the initial consultation. If during the consultation you feel that the attorney is desperate, then they either might be struggling, have a bad reputation, be in a hurry, or have some other red flag, and neither of these is a good sign.
Do your research on the attorney’s reputation and find out from the reviews whether the clients felt the attorney cared about them and gave them enough time. Avoid attorneys with client reviews stating that the attorney made the client feel unimportant.
Goals Not Aligning
Just like you, personal injury attorneys have goals too, and if they don’t align with your interests, you could be in trouble.
Think about why you’re pursuing a personal injury case. Are you looking for some compensation for the injuries you sustained? Is your goal to take the negligent party for everything they have? Or are you simply looking to take the case to trial to have your day in court?
When you’re having a discussion with an attorney during the initial consultation, make sure that your goals align with theirs. They should know exactly why you’re pursuing legal action so that they can provide you with a legal opinion.
Your goals will dictate the type of attorney you should hire. If you’re out to teach the negligent party a lesson, you should consider hiring an aggressive lawyer. However, if you just want to collect reasonable compensation, then you would need more of a diplomatic lawyer. Perhaps you want an attorney who focuses on the attorney-client relationship and guides you every step of the way. Whatever your goals are, you can always rummage through client reviews in detail to see whether they match with the attorney you’re looking for.
Good personal injury attorneys can make the entire legal process smooth sailing for a client. At C.O.L.T, we help match potential clients with a good personal injury lawyer that suits their needs. If you’re looking for the best personal injury attorney in California, contact us at + (888) 494-5015 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.