When selecting a personal injury lawyer to handle your case, it’s important to evaluate them based on four criteria.
Proven track record
There is no substitute for experience. You do not want your lawyer to be using your case as a learning tool. You want to know that he or she has done this type of case before and has a track record of success. This is not about the lawyer having gone to a good law school or looking the part of a successful lawyer or “talking a good game.” This is about a proven, documented record of success.
It is also about the lawyer having the ability to see the case from beginning to end. The end being a trial in front of a jury. A surprising number of personal injury lawyers have little or no experience trying cases. They settle everything. While your case may end up settling as well, you want to know that your lawyer has the ability and experience to see the case all the way through trial if that’s what it takes to get the defendant to pay you fair compensation.
Expertise with your type of case
Not all personal injury cases are the same. There is a vast difference between a medical malpractice case, for example, and a products liability case involving a defective machine. Although there are successful personal injury lawyers who handle a variety of different types of personal injury cases, you should not assume that the lawyer whom you are interviewing has the expertise to handle your type of case unless he can show you that he has done it before.
Financial resources to get the best result
Litigation is very expensive. It is not unusual, in complex cases involving catastrophic injuries, for the plaintiff’s lawyer to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money preparing the case. This money goes towards hiring the best experts, taking all of the necessary depositions and many other steps in the process. It is this kind of thorough preparation that leads to good results. No matter how skilled your lawyer might be, if he cannot afford to spend the money that is necessary to fully prepare your case, your case will suffer.
The lawyers who have the financial resources to handle serious personal injury cases are generally the same lawyers who have a proven track record of success. They have built up a “war chest” that they can use to your benefit.
Someone with whom you can feel comfortable
A personal injury case is oftentimes a difficult, emotionally-draining process. Your entire life and medical history are on display and subject to scrutiny and criticism by the other side’s lawyer. You may be relying upon your lawyer to provide for your financial future and that of your family.
You want to hire a lawyer who will not only be your warrior in the courtroom, but with whom you can feel comfortable discussing private details of your life and who will listen and understand how this accident has affected you. The best lawyers understand that their client is often the best source for information about their accident, and that, when it comes to understanding the client’s injury and how it has affected her, there is no substitute for spending time listening to the client tell her story.
You also want to know that your lawyer is committed and focused on your case and not overburdened with other cases that he may think are more important. The best personal injury lawyers focus on a select number of cases to which they can fully devote themselves. Avoid law firms that are “mills,” churning out hundreds of settlements a year and never taking the time to maximize the value of each case or understand the unique challenges that each plaintiff faces.
If you would like all of this information in one document, please download our free guide, How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer.
All posts in the series: Introduction | How do personal injury cases work? | How do you tell a good lawyer from a not-so-good one? | Where do I look for a good personal injury lawyer? | How do I interview a personal injury lawyer? | What are red flags when hiring a personal injury lawyer? | What if I hired the wrong personal injury lawyer? | More Information