In Los Angeles alone, there are more than 5,000 searches a month for “personal injury attorney” (stats by Google.com). So with that kind of volume—and, of course, being a personal injury attorney myself—it makes the question of what to look for in a personal injury attorney a very important one.
Sure, there are a ton of us out there, and sure there are plenty of attorneys that have the necessary experience to help their clients. But what about the distinct approach an attorney might bring to a case? I can recall plenty of cases where I’ve seen attorneys who push for fast settlements because they want to close their cases and move on.
Ironically, these are the same attorneys who advertise “No Upfront Fees.” Well, sure they don’t charge any fees upfront—the only problem is that they will sell their clients out by trying to reach a quick settlement, collect their percentage interest, and move on to the next case.
So how do you choose the right attorney for you? Take these steps:
- Look for an attorney who has a long track record of successful results. There is no substitute for proof. It’s in the pudding, as they say.
- Ask the attorney how long he expects the case to take, and what some of the various stages of the process will look like. Cases are rarely simple, so if it sounds like a walk in the park, it’s probably something to worry about and you would be smart to steer clear.
- Ask the attorney to give you a “good scenario” and “bad scenario.” While your case may be pretty clear to you, a good personal injury attorney will be familiar with all types of defense tactics, especially from the attorneys who represent insurance companies.
- Use your intuition. What does your gut tell you about him/her? When you sit with your prospective attorney, does he or she give you the time you expect and need? Does the attorney bring certain things to your attention that you probably did not know or think of? Lastly, does the attorney ask you, “Do you have any other questions?” These are the signs of a patient, thoughtful attorney.
Ultimately, we’re all human, and going through a serious personal injury might mean you are suffering from a changed lifestyle and dealing with uncertainties you never had before. You want an attorney who understands that—not just knows it intellectually, but really understands the emotional trauma an injury may cause to someone and his or her family members.
After over 20 years of practice in this field, I have learned that the most important quality is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. When you do that, you develop a sense of importance for what you are fighting for. Yes, I like to win cases, but more importantly I like to see my clients’ lives restored. There’s no price you can put on taking a person’s fear away and replacing it with peace of mind.