If you have been injured, one of the most important decisions you will face is who to hire as a lawyer. Your future may depend on the decision you make, and certainly thousands of dollars are at stake. Spending some time researching and choosing an injury lawyer at the outset is time well spent.
There is a big difference between lawyers, just like any other profession. Yet it seems like too many consumers will choose a lawyer who is on the back of the phone book or on television. The reasoning is that the lawyer must be good if they can afford that kind of advertising. The lawyer may be good, but she may just be good at marketing.
Most lawyers can settle your case. The good attorneys maximize the value of the case and your recovery. The problem is, you will likely never know if you got a bad deal, and if you do find out it will be too late to do much about it. There are a series of strategic decisions a lawyer makes in the case, and each of them impacts the outcome. The lawyer has to decide if an expert is necessary, and whether to file suit. The lawyer has to advise you on whether a settlement is fair, or whether you should push on to trial. An experienced injury attorney has the judgment to help you navigate each of these issues.
A long time ago a friend of mine told me a story of a young man who was badly hurt in a motorcycle accident. There was only $50,000 available to pay for the injuries. The lawyer accepted the $50,000 settlement offer, took his fee, and left the young man with over a hundred thousand in medical expenses. This young man chose badly.
You want a lawyer who is a Board Certified Trial Specialist. Lawyers with this distinction have significant experience in the court room, and have passed a test designed to demonstrate their competence. You want a lawyer who understands how to deal with outstanding medical bills and insurance companies. You want a lawyer who is not afraid to try your case to a jury. In this day and age, there are many injury attorneys who don’t go to court. They settle almost all of their cases. Insurance companies are sophisticated, and they learn which lawyers just want to settle. As a result, the insurance companies offer these lawyers less money.
There are several steps you should take before you choose a lawyer. First, find out if they are a certified trial specialist. Second, look them up on CCAP. You can search an attorney’s state bar number and find out how many cases they have filed throughout the state. With a little time, you can also find out how many of these cases went to trial. Third, you should ask for references. Talk to people who have worked with this lawyer before. Finally, see if the lawyer has any disciplinary action against them. These steps will help you find a lawyer who is qualified to take your case and who can be trusted with it.