Just because you were injured in an accident and have a valid personal injury claim doesn’t mean you will walk home with a fair compensation. Insurance companies put up a good fight and will do everything they can to minimize your payout.
Having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your team helps level the playing field and boosts your chances of success. However, you don’t want to hire just any lawyer. Read on to learn some tried-and-tested tips on choosing the right personal injury attorney for your case.
To start, make sure your attorney has experience in personal injury law. But, on its own, knowledge of personal injury law isn’t enough. This practice area is extremely broad and has many subcategories, including:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Construction accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Dog bite accidents
- Accidents caused by defective products or dangerous equipment
Look for attorneys that have a proven track record of successfully handling cases like yours. If the law firm’s website has a dedicated internal page for this practice area, that’s usually a good indicator.
Another thing to check from the outset is whether the attorney represents personal injury victims (“plaintiffs” or “claimants”) or the parties at fault and their insurance companies (“defendants”). Representing defendants is very different from acting for plaintiffs, so you want to ensure your attorney has relevant experience.
Finally, consider not just the personal experience of your prospective lawyer but also the combined experience of the whole legal team. If your case is relatively straightforward, you may be assigned a less experienced attorney, but that doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t tap into the knowledge of their more seasoned colleagues if needed.
Law Firm Size
Unless you are working with a solo practitioner, it’s rare that one lawyer works on your case from start to finish. Law firms usually divide casework between several attorneys and paralegals, with the less experienced doing the more routine legal tasks. That’s perfectly fine, but make sure to ask which attorney would have primary responsibility for your case and who would be your direct point of contact if you have any questions or concerns.
Another thing to keep in mind is the size of the legal practice. You might think that the larger the law firm, the more intimidated the insurance companies would be, but that’s not necessarily the case.
The reality of legal work is that mastodon law firms don’t always put as much time or effort into personal injury cases as smaller practices. The costs of running a big firm are enormous, which means spending a lot of resources on small cases simply isn’t economically viable.
Insurers know this and tend to make lower settlement offers when dealing with big law firms. A busy lawyer juggling five or ten cases at any given time is much more likely to recommend that you take the initial offer than fight for a better deal.
In contrast, smaller law offices actually do have the bandwidth to provide much more individual attention to each case and client. It’s also much more likely that your claim will be primarily handled by an experienced lawyer rather than a team of paralegals and junior attorneys.
The fee structure is another essential element to consider when choosing the right personal injury attorney.
Personal injury lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis. That means your attorney won’t charge you upfront but will take a percentage of your payout if your claim is successful.
This fee structure has its advantages — you don’t pay anything upfront and won’t lose money if you don’t win the case. However, this financial arrangement also means that some attorneys will turn down your case if the potential payout is on the smaller side. Again, accepting low-value cases just isn’t economically viable for many law firms.
That doesn’t mean you can’t access legal support if your claim is small. Many personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations. You may also be able to hire an attorney to provide advice on specific aspects of your claim on an hourly basis.
There are well over 266,000 lawyers licensed to practice in California. Even if you tried, you couldn’t possibly research each and every one of them.
A far better strategy is to first narrow your options down to a handful of practitioners in your area. Then, ask your family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors if they can recommend anyone and add them to your shortlist of prospective attorneys. Word-of-mouth recommendations can often provide more insight than weeks of online research.
If your network can’t provide any good recommendations — and even if it does — be sure to check out online lawyer directories such as:
- Super Lawyers
These websites are online hubs combining free, consumer-oriented articles on various legal topics with directories that you can use to find personal injury attorneys and law firms in your area.
When searching for lawyers online, be sure to check out the client reviews, but take them with a grain of salt — especially if they are posted on the law firm’s own website or social media channels.
While you want your law firm to have more positive than negative feedback, every business that’s been around for more than a couple of months will have at least one disgruntled client and negative review. This isn’t a bad sign at all. If anything, it’s realistic and shows that the law firm isn’t moderating its client reviews.
Contact an Experienced Orange County Personal Injury Attorney
Choosing the right personal injury attorney can be overwhelming. At Khalil Law Group, we make it easy to find an experienced lawyer you can trust. Our skilled personal injury attorneys can handle all aspects of your claim with confidence and compassion.
Call (714) 617-7870 or contact us online to book your free consultation with a personal injury attorney in Orange County, CA.