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Uncertainty is a common emotion after a serious accident, and it won’t take long before questions begin to build inside your head. Perhaps the most important question you’ll ask yourself is “Which attorney should I choose to represent me?”
In addition to the importance of who you select to be your attorney, it can also be a very difficult decision to make due to the vast number of choices.
After your accident, you will quickly notice that lawyer advertisements seemingly exist everywhere: billboards, phone books, television commercials, radio, direct mail, websites, social media, etc. In fact, the number of personal injury attorneys who have offices in your local area may exist by the dozens, and there are likely thousands more throughout your state.
Put simply, there’s nary an advertising space where attorneys don’t exist, BUT do you know how to spot the personal injury attorney that’s right for you and your case?
We created this infographic to help illustrate some of the traits, accomplishments, and knowledge we believe a competent, experienced personal injury lawyer should possess.
Ultimately, “spotting” a personal injury lawyer can be easy, but finding the RIGHT one for your case can be the difference between fair compensation and no compensation.
The character traits you see on our infographic-attorney are virtues that past and present clients have told us were important to them. And because this list comes to us by people who were once, or are now in your position, we believe these traits to be extremely important.
Why should you care?
Rare is the accident claim that settles quickly and without problems. For this reason, the possibility exists that you’ll speak, meet, and strategize with your attorney over several months throughout the duration of your case.
Working with someone you like and admire can make for a much better experience, so while traits like a sense of humor and community involvement may not be something you initially think about, they can reveal important clues about the character of the attorney who will handle your case. Remember, you and your attorney are ultimately teammates working toward the same goal, so be sure you get to know a little about them as a person.
In addition to personality, we always advise clients to inquire about the attorney's familiarity with technology. Having an attorney that is familiar with and implements emerging technology into their law practice accounts for two important factors:
1) They re-invest in their law practice, meaning they continually try to improve their office and the capabilities of their employees.
2) Being knowledgeable of how to take advantage of technology can ultimately strengthen your case!
We won't list the remainder of the character traits we listed on our infographic-attorney, but it's important that you look at this list in addition to developing your own.
(Of course, no matter what virtues are on your list, you’ll also want to inquire about more traditional topics, such as their success in recovering compensation for past clients.)
Good Attorneys Can Answer Questions About Their Accomplishments
Always ask the personal injury attorney you’re interviewing about their past accomplishments, current memberships, and any questions you have about their review ratings.
An attorney that is experienced and well-respected by past clients as well as his peers, will likely be a member of several distinguished professional organizations as well as have a wide array of reviews from various sources.
A few recognizable groups to which an experienced personal injury attorney may belong include:
Million and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
According to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum website, less than 1% of trial lawyers in the U.S. are members. Membership is reserved for personal injury lawyers who have received a settlement or verdict in the million or multi-million dollar range.
- Super Lawyers
Super Lawyers is a title given to attorneys that have earned a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Additionally, the site allows you to search up to 70 different practice area types.
- Best Lawyers in America
Started in 1983, is the oldest peer-review service in the legal industry. Lawyers cannot pay a fee for the title Best Lawyers in America. The only way a personal injury lawyer can be recognized by Best Lawyers is by way of a confidential peer survey that allows for the lawyer's nomination by their peers and eventual inclusion by an independent committee.
Some of the more popular review services for attorneys include:
- The Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Founded over one hundred years ago in 1912, the BBB is a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase trust among consumers when looking to make a market-based decision. They attempt to accomplish their mission through the implementation of 5 key objectives.
- Martindale Hubbell
Anyone searching for a personal injury lawyer will likely wonder about the attorney's ethical standards in addition tot heir professional achievements. Fortunately, Martindale Hubbell offers a peer-review rating service that measures both. If the attorney you are considering has a Martindale Hubbell rating, it will be on a scale of 1-5 as follows:
AV Preeminent: (4.5 - 5.0) Means that the attorney's peers rank him/her at the highest level of professional excellence.
BV Distinguished: (3.0 - 4.4) A widely respected mark of achievement designed to differentiate the lawyer from their competition.
Rated: (1.0 - 2.9) Lawyer has met the very high criteria of General Ethical Standing.
Avvo's claims of an unbiased ratings model are implemented by way of a mathematical formula that uses factors such as 'years in practice,' 'disciplinary history,' 'professional achievements,' and 'industry recognition.'
Google's online reviews are unique in that the vast majority of people in the United States know about and use Google to search for everyday needs, including injury lawyers.
In addition to providing valuable information, Google also allows anyone to rate their overall experience with a personal injury lawyer. Always check to see if the attorney you are interviewing has been reviewed by former clients on Google.
To see examples of attorney reviews on Google, click the following image:
A relatively new (2004), yet popular service where you can find attorneys listed and reviewed by local people. Yelp's primary focus is providing reviews of local businesses by people in your neighborhood.
Did You Know...
The attorney you choose for your case should focus exclusively on personal injury matters and not divide their practice between several legal practice area types, such as family law, DUI defense, etc.
Your case deserves maximum knowledge. Your case deserves laser-precision focus.
When talking to an injury lawyer, make sure to inquire about their depth of knowledge in your particular case type as well as other accident types. The answers they give can be a good indication as to whether or not their interests are split between multiple types of legal matters.
An experienced, focused injury lawyer should be able to speak in great detail about personal injury practice areas. Don’t be afraid to test their knowledge on a wide array of topics, even if it doesn’t specifically relate to your case:
In addition to the law firm handling standard car accident claims, ask the attorney if they’ve also investigated air bag failures; mechanical defects; cases that involve disputed liability; and/or instances of incorrect accident report information.
If you were struck by a semi-truck, ask the attorney about retrieving black box data, and the potential of filing a defective products claim against the manufacturer of the truck or parts-maker. Inquire about their thoughts regarding federal reform as it relates to semi-trucks. Ask them how the value of semi-truck claims differ from other accident types.
An attorney that has handled several semi-truck accidents should have plenty to say about all of these topics.
Motorcyclists should ask their attorney a wide range of questions and test their knowledge about specific bike laws in your state. Ask them if they have experience with design defects like the Harley Wobble. Test their knowledge about motorcycle mechanics. Ask if they support charity rides.
- Bicycle Accidents
Ask the attorney if they are a cyclist. Inquire about their knowledge of your state’s bicycle laws and city’s "bike-only" lanes.
Most cyclists are passionate about their sport AND their rights, so having an attorney represent you that is part of the cycling community can help to ensure aggressive representation as well as his/her making your case a personal mission.
- Pedestrian Accidents
Ask the attorney about crosswalk laws and information about groups that support walking as an activity.
Test the attorney’s knowledge about the most reported injuries in nursing homes. Ask if they are aware of any “special focus facilities” in your state. Ensure they have a good working knowledge of the responsibilities of the Centers for Medicare and Medical Services. (CMS).
Confirm that the attorney has relationships with experts in the medical field. Ask them about the expense and timetables associated with med-mal cases.
The Lawyer Knows Your State’s Deadlines
Finally, ALWAYS have an experienced personal injury lawyer confirm the statute of limitations in the state where your accident occurred. As our infographic-map indicates, timelines can change depending on the laws of that particular state.
If you fail to consult with an attorney about the particular circumstances of your accident, including factors such as the type of accident/injury, where the accident happened, how it happened, how old you were at the time of the accident/incident, etc., you risk the possibility of not knowing your proper statute date.
About this Infographic and Keller & Keller
This infographic is designed for informational purposes only, and it should never be used as, or considered, a substitute for legal advice. No matter the type of personal injury case you have, or its circumstances, you should ALWAYS consult with a licensed attorney that can offer specific advice for your potential claim.
If you have any questions about your potential injury claim, you can contact a Keller & Keller injury lawyer at no cost. In fact, we offer everyone throughout the country a Zero Fee Guarantee, meaning consultations are absolutely FREE and the only way our firm is paid for its legal services is if a recovery is made on your behalf.
Keller & Keller is a multi-state personal injury law firm with offices throughout Indiana, Michigan, and New Mexico. In addition, we have attorneys who are also licensed to practice law and help injury clients in the states of Illinois, Kentucky, and Florida.