Looking for a personal injury lawyer that is the right fit for you can be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s not that there aren’t great personal injury lawyers around; it’s that you need to make sure you find one that’s exactly right for you.
You will end up choosing your attorney after considering many factors, both in their resume and their personality. The firm’s resume and reputation will play a big part, as well.
However, there should be common factors in all the different lawyers and law firms you are interviewing. For example, you should always start with lawyers and law firms who are objectively experienced and recognized in their field. From there, you can start thinking about particular qualities that are the most important to you in your representation.
Your choice of lawyer could make the difference between getting the recovery you deserve or not receiving any compensation at all.
Here, we’ll discuss exactly how to find the right personal injury lawyer for you.
How You Can Find The Best Personal Injury Lawyer
1. Ask lawyers you already know.
Although you may have never needed an attorney before, you might know some attorneys socially. In this case, it doesn’t matter if the attorneys that you know are your best friends or the parents of another child at your child’s school. In most cases, caring and compassionate attorneys will be happy to help you with a referral.
Even if they don’t work in personal injury, most lawyers have extensive networks of other lawyers that they know. Many lawyers are also a part of specialty organizations, like female attorney groups or legal alumni associations.
An excellent way to start your research on finding a personal injury lawyer is to ask lawyers you already know who they trust. If the attorneys you know don’t know any personal injury lawyers, it’s still likely they’ve heard good things about some through reputation. Asking lawyers you know is a great way to get a few names.
2. Ask friends and family.
If you happen not to know any attorneys, you may wish to ask friends or family if they do. Unfortunately, personal injury cases aren’t so uncommon. You may know someone who has needed a personal injury lawyer themselves.
If your friends and family have been lucky enough never to need a personal injury lawyer, they may know other types of lawyers that they can introduce you to so that you can start your search with recommendations.
3. Call your state (or city) bar.
All state bar organizations, and sometimes city bar organizations, have an attorney referral service. In most cases, this is a number that consumers can call to describe what type of lawyer they need. Either an automated system or an actual person will be able to direct you to licensed personal injury lawyers in your state.
Most bigger cities, like New York and San Diego, also have city bars that can help you find a licensed personal injury attorney.
4. Use an online lawyer directory.
Everything has been on the internet for several years, and lawyers are no exception. There are several online legal directories for consumers to find attorneys.
Not all of these are going to be helpful, or quite frankly, honest. Certain services, with the backing of time-tested, experienced companies can be great for consumer research on lawyers. An example of this type of website is Lawyers.com, by Martindale-Hubbell. Others may not be as helpful (especially if attorneys can pay for higher rankings).
The key is to examine several different websites to get a broad view of your options for personal injury lawyers.
Once you’ve gotten a few names for personal injury attorneys, you’ve only just begun to find the right attorney for you.
Know that on these directories, lawyers can advertise themselves. Just because they can afford advertising doesn’t mean that they are good lawyers, necessarily–so keep an open mind when looking at directories.
That’s why it’s vital that you do some research about the lawyer or law firm that you found. Below we’ll discuss essential factors to consider when deciding on your personal injury attorney.
Things to Consider When Deciding on a Personal Injury Lawyer
1. How the firm represents itself.
Although you may tend to skip over the law firm’s website in favor of external reviews and accolades, resist the urge to do this. Most of the time, the way a law firm presents itself will tell you a lot about how they work and how much they care about their clients.
If the law firm website reads like a commercial, and it seems like there’s no human touch at all, it’s probably a safe bet that it won’t be the best fit for you. If instead, the law firm website emphasizes how much they genuinely care about their clients and how much they treat their clients as individuals instead of numbers, it’s probably a much better firm.
Also note the polish of the site and the quality of its content. A law firm that pays attention to its online presence is far more likely to take the extra steps to truly care about you.
At GJEL, we constantly update our blog with content that helps Californians better understand personal injury law. Being informed helps you make the best decision when hiring a lawyer, so we encourage you to browse through our posts.
2. Trusted awards they’ve won.
Check out what awards the firm you are researching has won. When doing so, however, make sure they are awards from trusted sources.
Some ranking websites are not trustworthy. These are the types of sites where any lawyer can “game the system” to receive the highest ranking. Avvo, though great for client reviews, has this type of system. If a lawyer knows what they’re doing, they can get Avvo’s highest ranking on their own.
GJEL attorneys have won multiple awards, such as Superlawyers, Best Lawyers, and US News Best Law Firms. GJEL also has an attorney in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, representing the top trial lawyers in America.
3. Their reputation through client reviews online.
Most lawyers have listings on review websites, just like other businesses. A simple online search should turn up sites where your potential lawyer or law firm has listings. Most utilize Google or Yelp.
Take a bit of time to scroll through the client reviews on these websites. Here, you can see what real clients have to say about the lawyer or law firm you’ve found. There’s no better way to see what kind of professional you’re about to work with besides hearing what their previous clients have to say.
4. Their success rate.
A lawyer or law firm’s success rate may be one of the most important metrics by which you should judge them.
At the end of the day, how many cases your lawyer and law firm have won will tell you so much. After all, you can’t expect to win your case when you’re working with lawyers who haven’t won that many of their cases before.
Your standard should be high. At GJEL, we have won financial recovery for our clients in over 99% of our cases. Look for similar success rates when hiring a personal injury lawyer.
5. Amounts they’ve recovered.
Just like the law firm’s success rate, you’ll want to pay close attention to the amounts they’ve recovered in the past. Many people think large recovery amounts mean that the lawyers pick and choose their cases so that they’ll make more money. This is not the case.
Most large recovery amounts for personal injury attorneys mean that the attorneys are experts. Recovering a substantial amount for their client implies that the law firm knows how to frame the case so that their client gets what they deserve.
Personal injury suits are often battles against not only the actual defendant but also the insurance company. Especially during settlement negotiations, the insurance company can make it extremely difficult to try to obtain a fair amount for the victim.
If the law firm you are looking at has recovered significant amounts for their clients, it’s a good sign that they know what they are doing when it comes to negotiating. It also means they’ll know how to help you get the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries.
If a law firm doesn’t list case results on their websites, it means they either don’t have results that they are proud of, or they haven’t taken the time to share them on their website. Neither of these are good signs.
GJEL has obtained a total of $950 million to date for our clients. You can view our results here.
6. Lack of disciplinary actions.
If the lawyer you are thinking about has any disciplinary actions with their state bar, this should be an immediate red flag. Disciplinary action means that the lawyer has strayed so far out of standard professional conduct that the state bar had to get involved. This is why it’s an absolute necessity to check the lawyer’s state bar record before you hire them.
Even if everything else seems great about the attorney you were researching, steer clear if they’ve had disciplinary actions.
7. Access and care.
Will you get to speak to your attorney regularly? Will you get to speak to your attorney at all?
Today, especially at larger law firms, it is common for lawyers to disappear entirely once you hire them. As their client, you may find yourself interacting more with their paralegals and assistants than with them. No one wants to be made to feel like they are just a number, and this is something you should pay close attention to as you’re doing your research on personal injury lawyers.
Make sure you ask about how much contact you’ll have with your attorney. You should also ask about how quickly they’ll be available for any questions you might have.
Access to your lawyer during this challenging time is critical. You want to work with a lawyer and law firm that understands this and will be available to you as professionals, rather than making you feel like just another customer.
8. The feeling you get at your initial interview.
Even after you’ve done all your research, one thing can’t be ignored: your gut feeling. Experiencing a personal injury is extremely difficult in anyone’s life. You want an attorney who cares about you and is committed to helping you through the process. You don’t want an attorney who looks at you like a dollar sign.
Pay attention to how you feel the first time you meet your potential new lawyer. You’ll know right away whether they’re the one for you. By this point, you’ll have done your research on the firm and the attorney, so all that will be left is how you two connect.
Your personal injury lawyer should make you feel supported and like they have the experience to help you. You should never feel like you are being shuffled out of their office or as though they aren’t truly listening to what you have to say.
Trust your gut. You’ll know if your attorney is the right fit.
Discuss Your Case with a California Personal Injury Lawyer
Finding a personal injury attorney doesn’t need to feel like a job. In fact, the tips in this article will ensure that you find a lawyer that is the perfect fit for you.
If you have more questions about finding a personal injury attorney or want to meet with GJEL, schedule a free consultation today. We’ll discuss these tips in depth and discuss your potential personal injury lawsuit.