Photo by Melinda Gimpel
Lawyers get a bad rap pretty often, but in truth, they are often a godsend. Take personal injury attorneys, for example. If you have suffered because of someone’s careless and negligence, you will need good lawyers on your side as you take action against that party.
And despite the stereotype of money-grubbing, ambulance-chasing attorneys who are more focused on funding a yacht than on helping the little people, there are plenty of good ones out there. How can they be found? Read on for some helpful hints.
1. Determine What Kind of Lawyer You Need
Personal injury law is a huge category with many different specializations under its umbrella. Since these types of cases tend to be extremely complicated, it’s imperative that you find a lawyer who has experience litigating cases like yours.
Some of the categories within personal injury law include:
- Automobile accidents
- Semi-truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bike accidents
- Boat accidents
- Premises liability
- Nursing home negligence
- Defective products
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful death
Just as you wouldn’t ask a podiatrist to remove your appendix or help you deliver a baby, you should not ask a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice to try a pedestrian accident case.
2. Ask Around
You would probably already know about it if a close friend or a family member had been in a similar situation and gotten a big settlement thanks to a personal injury attorney. But ask anyway; maybe they know someone who could recommend a firm to you.
Another good source of recommendations is your coworkers and professional contacts. If you need to be discreet, you can say that you’re searching for an attorney on behalf of an older relative or a neighbor.
3. Look Online
As soon as you have a couple of names, take a look at their websites and their profiles on popular review sites, like Yelp and Angie’s List. The website should look modern and fresh, and it should also be easy to navigate. Check the attorney’s blog to ensure that it’s being regularly updated.
While it might not seem at first glance that being a good attorney has anything to do with posting an article a few times a month, the overall appearance and professionalism of the website and blog will help you learn about the firm you’re researching. If you see the outdated design, errors like typos or misspellings, or broken links, check that attorney off your list and move on to the next one.
4. What About Reviews?
Can you trust online reviews, particularly when there are such high stakes attached to your decision? It’s one thing to read what others have to say about a gluten-free bakery, farm to table restaurant, or local boutique. It’s a different matter altogether when you’re talking about a potential payout of hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of dollars.
So to answer the question, well, it’s a yes and a no. Take them into consideration, but also take them with a grain of salt. If you don’t use online reviews very often, educate yourself on how to recognize fakes or shady accounts. And remember that some people are always going to find something to complain about, so a few negative reviews are probably par for the course.
While you should not base your entire decision on what reviewers have to say, it can help to tip the scales if a law firm has an overall positive online reputation.
5. Next, It’s Time for a Consultation
When you hire a plumber or mechanic, all you really care about is that they do quality work for a fair fee. It’s not the same when you are looking to partner with a personal injury attorney. You will be working very closely with them and their team over the course of the next several years.
It’s important, therefore, to find one whose personality meshes well with yours. In some ways, you can treat meetings with potential attorneys the same way you would go about dating. Your feelings must be mutual, or the match won’t be a good one.
All personal injury attorneys will meet with you to discuss your case before you agree to hire them or pay them any money. Complimentary, no-obligation consultations are industry standard.
Schedule several consultations, and don’t feel as though you have to sign anything in a hurry. Take your time, meet with all the attorneys on your shortlist, and then weigh the pros and cons of each carefully before you finalize your decision.
6. Meet Other Staffers
That said, if you opt to give a large law firm your business, you might not be meeting with the lawyers whose names are on the letterhead. There will probably be a number of staffers assigned to your case. So you will be dealing with legal secretaries, paralegals, junior attorneys, and other professionals. If possible, understand who exactly will be working with you, and meet with all of them.
If you get a bad vibe or a funny feeling from any of them, or from the firm in general, listen to that instinct. You really need to be comfortable with and confident in your choice of a legal team.
Good Lawyers Will Fight For You to the End
The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court, so chances are your case won’t go to a jury trial. Instead, it will likely be settled after some negotiation between your attorney and the other party’s legal representation. However, there is always the possibility that you may end up in court.
Be sure that your lawyer is committed to resolving your case, no matter how that ends up happening. You don’t want to invest all that time, energy, and money in working with a law firm, only to have an inexperienced trial attorney flame out in front of a judge.
To find good lawyers and the best possible personal injury and medical malpractice representation in the greater Honolulu area, contact Cummings Law. We’ll use all of our expertise and experience to go the distance and make sure you get the justice you deserve.