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Choosing a personal injury attorney to effectively represent you after an accident can be a confusing process.  You want a personal injury lawyer who will fight for you.  A lawyer with your interests in mind. If you don’t already know someone, it can be hard to decide which lawyer to hire when first looking.   There are other things to look at as we discussed in an earlier post, but here are five quick tips on how to be sure you’re a choosing a trustworthy representative.

1. Decide What You Need

Complex, serious injury or death cases require the attention of experienced, specialized, attorneys with strong track records. The more significant your case the more important it is that you weed out inexperienced lawyers and those who do not specialize in injury law..  On the other hand, a straightforward car accident with modest injuries can be handled by many injury attorneys.  If you have a case with limited injuries your might even be better off witha younger attorney who will pay closer attention because she has less cases to work on.

It It is important to understand that while most cases settle, having a seasoned trial attorney will still enhance your case. The reality is insurance companies take into account your attorney’s, and his firm’s, track record and reputation when they decide how much to offer as a settlement. If you choose attorneys who are shy of the courtroom you will often find yourself with a lessor offer.  Lessor attorneys who do not try cases usually secure less for their clients than attorneys who will go to trial when needed

So be sure and ask all attorneys that you are considering about their trial record and take that into account.

2. Ask Questions Of People You Trust

Ask around of people in your life if they know anyone. Get opinions from friends and family.  Often your employer will have some knowledge too.  Or others in your church or community groups can be helpful sources of information.  All of us who do this work would agree that word of mouth and reputation are key indicators of quality. The people who care about you will likely be honest in their assessment of various attorneys.

3. Don’t Be Sidetracked by Simplistic Advertising Like Billboards and TV Spots.

Look behind the advertising.  Evaluate the attorney.  Look at their reviews.  Lots of advertising might mean they have lots of cases.  That can be good for them but bad for you.  You want an attorney who knows what they are doing to focus on your case.  Don’t hire someone who lets their secretary or assistant do all their work. They have to pay for all those ads somehow.  And that can unfortunately be by settling your case for less than a just amount.  As with other lawyers who care for their clients,  Don’t Trust a TV Lawyer”  is one of the things we have long held out as a truism. 

4. Trust Yourself and Your Instincts When Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney

If you are not comfortable with the lawyer, walk away.  It is an important relationship.  Making the right decision is part gut call.  It can make all the difference in whether you collect a fair recovery or not.  You can read a story about one of our clients as described by my partner John Janis in a post he did.

Does the attorney listen to you or does he interrupt you? Does he answer your direct questions? Do you feel like he has been honest with you? Does he give an indication of actually being concerned about you and your family?  Ask yourself these questions as you are going through your initial case evaluation with the potential lawyer.

5. Watch Out For Promises

Good attorneys, certainly the best injury attorneys, will let you know they can’t make specific promises about the outcome of your case at the start..  The insurance company has to agree to a settlement.  The judge or jury might see things differently than you do.  If you are getting big promises in an initial conversation or meeting you should beware.  The attorney you really want is the one who won’t tell you how much your claim is worth and promise to get it .  They have to learn about the case details before a fair evaluation can be made.  for you. Lawyers are held to high professional standards. Make no mistake about it, overly eager attorneys have been known to use puffery to sign clients.

One Extra Quick Tip – Do Your Research

The internet is a wealth of knowledge.  Take a look at the attorney or the firm’s page.  Check out the reviews available.  Read them.  Does it sound like real people were reviewing the attorney?  And remember even the best accident attorney might have gotten a bad review or two.