How Do You Choose a Personal Injury Attorney?
One of the unfortunate realities of being a personal injury attorney is the common stereotype that follows our chosen profession. We all know what I mean; the ambulance chaser who cares more about his or her own bottom line than they do the best interests of their clients. For that reason, most people hold an unfavorable view of personal injury attorneys – that is until they need one.
And when that day arrives (as it does for most people), I commonly get asked the question of “why you?” It has never been something that offended me, in fact it’s a perfectly legitimate question. Why should I hire you to handle my car accident, slip and fall or malpractice case? And implicit in that question, is another question which is what, if anything, distinguishes the good injury attorneys from the mediocre and bad ones?
First, let me be clear that there is absolutely a distinction between mediocre and good lawyers, both in and out of the personal injury world, and which can have a significant impact on the outcome of your motor vehicle accident, medical malpractice or personal injury claim.
Earlier in my career, I represented attorneys who had been sued in legal malpractice claims and I saw with my own eyes the habits and characteristics of poor lawyering and how that can be adverse to both the attorney and his or her client. I still carry those lessons with me to this day and try to ensure that I steer clear of those same pitfalls.
However, it is not only the avoidance of bad habits that determine whether an attorney is the right lawyer for you – it is also the consistent exercise of good habits which can help yield positive results.
So, in no particular order, here is a list of some good and bad habits of attorneys that prospective clients should be on the lookout for when deciding who to hire as an attorney.
- Communication, communication, communication. There is no substitute for making sure that clients are always fully informed about what is going with their case. I have seen far too many instances of an attorney achieving a good outcome, but still having an unhappy client because they failed to communicate effectively. Client who feel valued are happier and happy clients lead to more clients.
- Honesty. Too many lawyers tell clients what they want to hear instead of telling them what they need to hear. Telling your client they have a million dollar case or that you’ve never lost a trial is guaranteed to lead to unfulfilled expectations and disappointment. The overwhelming majority of people appreciate honesty and will perceive the lawyer as being more credible which is beneficial to both parties down the road when the client is relying on the attorney’s advice to make decisions.
- Experience. Not every experienced lawyer is a good lawyer and not every inexperienced lawyer is a bad one. But, in general, you want someone with a proven track record handling your case. All younger lawyers learn by making mistakes, but let them make those mistakes on someone else’s case.
- Trial Lawyers. There are too many personal injury lawyers out there who are hesitant or reluctant to actually try cases. In some instances they prefer the quick fee that comes with settling before trial. In other cases, they lack confidence in their own ability in a courtroom. You do not want those lawyers handling your case. That is not to say that your case will necessarily end up going to trial. But if you hire a personal injury attorney who is not a trial lawyer, the insurance companies will “lowball” you with a settlement offer because they know there is little to no chance of your lawyer filing suit. Simply by hiring an attorney who is willing to go all the way will result in better settlement offers because the threat of litigation is real. Ask questions about courtroom experience before choosing your personal injury lawyer. You will regret it if you don’t.
- Disorganized. Litigation generally, and personal injury litigation specifically, can be very fast paced and busy. Attorneys who are not organized tend to be more likely to make mistakes and when they make mistakes, it hurts your case.
- Too Much Delegating. Paralegals and legal asstisants are critical to the success of any law practice and attorneys are well served when they delegate certain tasks and responsibilities to their support staff. But, in my experience, there are lawyers out there who delegate too much and end not only overloading their support staff, but also have them handling tasks and issues that should really be handled by the attorney. As an example, I personally handle all settlement negotiations in my office and never delegate that function to a paralegal. However, there are some offices that have paralegals handling settlement. That “over delegation” can have an adverse affect on your case and you should be mindful of it.
- Pushy. I tell clients all the time that, when it comes to critical decisions related to their case, I will provide information, give opinions and occasionally make recommendations, but I do not make decisions. It will ultimately always be for the client to decide on the outcome of their own case and they need to arrive at that conclusion without undue pressure or influence. Sure, a good lawyer should be able to steer a client in the right direction by providing honest and candid advice. But a pushy lawyer who forces a resolution on the client can be counterproductive because those clients end up being unhappy with the outcome. And unhappy clients are never a good thing.
These are just some of the criteria you should be looking at – both good and bad – to decide who to hire as your personal injury attorney. In addition to all of these factors, you should also take advantage of all the research tools we have at our disposal, especially online.
Review the attorney’s website, make sure you know their qualifications and track record, check to see if they have any ethical wrongdoing, and use Maryland case search to see how frequently the attorney files lawsuits. And last but not least, read google reviews. There is no better way to evaluate whether an attorney is the right one for you than to read what others have said about the quality of the services they provide.
So if you were injured in a car accident or other personal injury case and looking for a top-rated personal injury lawyer in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, or anywhere else in the State of Maryland, look no further than Dubo Law. Make sure you maximize your chances of being compensated for your injuries, pain, and suffering, and other damages – call (443) 275-6345.