Shopping For A Personal Injury Attorney

Shopping for a personal injury attorney. In this video, attorney Ben Schwartz shares his thoughts on what questions you should be asking before hiring a personal injury lawyer.

Shopping For A Personal Injury Attorney

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,

Today we are going to do a video about shopping for a personal injury attorney. In a prior video, we talked about what to do if you have an attorney already, and you are dissatisfied with the service that you are getting.

I wanted to do a video for people who might not have an attorney already, and talk about shopping for a personal injury lawyer. If you have had a slip-and-fall case, or car accident case, dog bite case, or something of that sort; you are looking for a personal injury attorney who is competent. You should look for a personal injury lawyer who is going to do a good job, give you good client service, and return your phone calls. Look for an attorney who is going to keep you informed about what is going on in the case.

If you are looking for an attorney, when you sit down at the free initial consultation with the lawyer, I have questions that I think you should be asking. The first question is, who is going to be managing my case? In a lot of law firms you do not actually deal with an attorney. In a lot of law firms, people report to me that they go in for the free initial consultation and they are not meeting a lawyer. They are meeting with an assistant, a secretary to the attorney, or a paralegal to the attorney. So one question that I would have if I were injured in an accident, and if I were going to meet with the attorneys; who am I going to be dealing with? Am I only going to see the attorney if we go to trial? Will I meet him for the first time on the day of trial and we are getting ready to pick a jury? Am I going to be meeting in the attorney once a month, in order to talk about the case as it is progressing? Am I going to be dealing with a case manager? Am I going to be dealing with a  secretary only? When I have a question about my case, what is the protocol for getting an answer? Should I be emailing the attorney? Should I save my questions and make an appointment for a face to face sit down meeting? Should I call in and speak to the case manager assigned to the case? What is the protocol for getting my questions answered?

That is the first general topic that I think you ought to ask about. The second question is, how many cases like mine are you currently handling? If you go to an attorney’s office and you have a complicated personal injury matter, I believe that the attorney you select can make all the difference in the outcome of the case. Whether you win, lose, or get a settlement, the amount of the settlement I believe that the attorney makes a big difference.

If you go to an attorney’s office, you may be going to the office of someone who is doing a real estate settlement in the morning, who is talking on the phone with an adjuster on a car accident case at noon time, and who is going to family court in the afternoon for a family law hearing. In other words, you might be going to someone who is truly a general practitioner not a specialist. If you have a complicated case, you may need a specialist for that case. I think that you should ask the attorney, before you sign on the dotted line to hire him, ask him how many case is like mine are you currently handling. If the attorney says this is going to be the only personal injury case that I am going to have. That tells you something, that tells you that they are not a specialist in this area. If something complicated comes up and they need the foresight to deal with it they may not have the foresight to deal with it if they are not a specialist.

If on the other hand, they tell you they have 700 pending cases just like yours, you have to wonder 700 pending cases, that sounds like an awful lot. How would you competently handle all those cases? That sounds like a very high case load.

If they tell you something that sounds reasonable, then take them at their word. Ask them follow up questions to find out what kind of results they think they tend to get in other similar cases. The third question is, if you are hiring a personal injury lawyer, you should ask them when was the last time you tried a case to a verdict in front of a jury? Ask them what the result was. Although, I have to tell you that I do not think the result matters as much as when the last time they tried the case.

The reason I say to ask them when was the last time, is because all personal injury lawyers at some point have tried a case, and like to tell war stories about the cases that they have tried. The problem is, that if the last case they tried was in 1983, and they have not been trying cases since, the insurance companies know that and the insurance companies will put a lower value on the settlement of your claim. They know that your attorney is not swinging for the fences. If the attorney tells you well I have tried 5 cases this year before a jury, that is great. You know you have someone who is going to swing for the fences.

The way insurance companies value personal injury claims is based upon a projection of what they think a jury is going to award. If you have a lawyer who is not equipped to go before a jury and get you a verdict, that is going to decrease the value of your claim. If you do have an attorney who is swinging for the fences, and is looking for opportunities to try cases, that is going to increase the settlement value of your claim. Now, maybe you do not have any interest in settling your claim, and you want to go to trial, you should make sure that your personal injury lawyer is an actual trial lawyer who is willing and able to go to trial.

Maybe you are the type of client that has no interest in ever seeing inside of a courtroom, that is fine too. You should still hire the lawyer who is ready willing and able to try the case. If you are looking for a settlement, that will increase the likelihood that you will receive a fair settlement offer prior to trial. As they say, the best way to prepare for peace is to prepare for war. If the insurance companies and the defense lawyers know that your attorney is ready to go to war for you, they are going to be more inclined to settle the case and settle for a fair amount. The last question that you should be asking the attorney before you hire him or her is, have you ever been reprimanded or disciplined by the board that is in charge of attorney discipline?

In every state there is a board, it is usually a board that is an administrative board, run by the state supreme court. That board is in charge of dealing with complaints relating to attorneys ethics violations. Every state has a list of rules, and it is the attorneys ethics rules. The ethics rules cover everything under the sun from dealing with client money, to maintaining client confidentiality. It covers so many different areas, so many different topics, and attorneys have to adhere to these ethics rules and standards.

One question you should ask is, have you ever been reprimanded or sanctioned by the body that enforces those ethics rules? See what the attorney says, hopefully the answer is no. Sometimes the answer will be yes, and they can explain to you what they were sanctioned for; what they were reprimanded for, and how they learned from it. If they start making excuses, you can see that too, and you can gauge their quality based off of what they tell you. You can also contact the ethics board and find out if this is public information, and can you research it on your own. These are the four questions that you should be asking before you sign on the dotted line to hire an attorney for your personal injury case.

I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz, hopefully you found this video informative and entertaining. If you have questions for me send me an email below. You can also contact me on our Facebook page. If you have a question that you would like me to answer, on the air, on the internet, in this format, send it to me and let me know that I can do it in this format and I will answer your questions.

Thanks for watching.

Shopping For A Personal Injury Attorney

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