When you’re looking for an attorney to represent you in a personal injury claim, there are many factors you should probably consider. Like choosing a doctor, dentist, or any other professional, credentials are a significant part of getting the most out of your legal representation. However, other, less-obvious, aspects affect whether an attorney is a good fit for you. This article discusses the most important criteria to judge a prospective lawyer when it comes to retaining them as your legal representative in a personal injury case.
PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE & SUCCESS RATE
A lawyer’s track record for success goes hand-in-hand with their practical experience. For example, if you find a lawyer who has been in practice for less than ten years and advertises as 90% or 100% success rate, this can mean a couple of different things. An attorney who passed the bar 5 years ago can have a 100% success rate if they only litigated one or two cases. An with a 90% success rate which has been in practice for less than ten years could mean they’re just comfortable with only a certain kind of case. Their definition of “success” could mean settling with the insurance company for only hospital bills.
Sometimes cases can only go that far. However, if your attorney has never taken a case passed insurance negotiations, or went to trial, how sure can you be that they know the full value of your case?
DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE
An attorney’s depth of knowledge is also intimately related to their experience. All lawyers went to law school. So attorneys who are fresh out of law school – while talented – most likely have a depth of knowledge that compares to other law school graduates.
Another good indicator of an attorney’s depth of knowledge is their “menu.” This is like going to a restaurant that lists every food item and meal ever made in culinary history. However, as a practical matter, those restaurants won’t use the freshest ingredients, or the most skilled technique when preparing a particular item on their menu.
The same principle applies to attorneys. Keep in mind that some practice areas have much overlap. For example, car accidents and motorcycle accidents deal with similar legal concepts, but different fact patterns. However, if an attorney’s website lists every practice area known to the law, how deep can their understanding of those areas be? Mastering a field takes time and focus. An attorney’s advertised scope of practice should be proportional to how long they’ve been in practice.
Given that some personal injury cases take six months to a year to turn around, a lawyer who has been in practice for 20 years but advertises five practice areas would have an average of 4 cases per practice under their belt
REPUTATION & CLIENT REVIEWS
With the advent of smartphone technology and the increasing prevalence of social media, we have entered the “Yelp” age. Almost any business has customer reviews – the practice of law is no exception. People can check sites like Avvo and Yelp for client and peer reviews of attorneys. SuperLawyers is a peer-reviewed database of lawyers and can give you an insight into an attorney’s reputation in the legal community. Last but not definitely not least, the official website of the state bar to which the attorney belongs may have important information as to any disciplinary actions against that attorney.
Communication is an essential part of being an attorney. The ability to convey a message in a way that’s easy to understand and persuasive is a fundamental aspect of a lawyer’s job. If you find your attorney difficult to understand, that is a potential problem. Furthermore, if your attorney takes a long time to respond to your calls or emails, that is another red flag. Granted, many attorneys are very busy and have other demanding clients. However, if an attorney takes more than a week to respond to a basic question, this can indicate that they’re overwhelmed or lack time management skills.
Contingency fees refer to cases where the attorney does not collect a fee until you – the client – receive a settlement or verdict for your case. This usually comes at the cost of a percentage of your settlement or verdict. This gives aligns the attorney’s interests with the clients – if you don’t get paid, neither does your attorney.
NEWPORT NEWS PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS YOU CAN COUNT ON
At Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, PLLC, we have the combination of skill, knowledge, and experience you can count on to represent you in your personal injury claim. With over 150years of combined experience, we are dedicated to advancing your interests in throughout your personal injury case. We are here to guide you through each step of the litigation process and are prepared to go to trial if necessary.
Call us at (757) 599-6050 for a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.
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