Finding the Best Personal Injury Attorney for You
After a serious accident, you want the best personal injury lawyer you can find to help you, right? But how do you locate a top personal injury lawyer? This article will give you some suggestions on how to select the best injury lawyer for your accident.
Some of the Best Referral Sources Are Not Online
Do you believe everything you read on the internet? Of course not. So why would you believe everything you read about a personal injury attorney online? If you want to find the top personal injury lawyer for your case, the best place to start is with people you know whom you also trust.
Ask Your Pastor
Have you considered asking your church pastor? Think about it. People turn to their pastors in times of great need. When someone in the family is injured or killed, often the family church pastor is who they turn to in their time of need. Pastors know many people. They see situations where people have to seek the help of lawyers in order to put their lives back together after a catastrophic injury. Pastors see which injury attorneys help the members of their flock and which personal injury lawyers wind up taking advantage of them. Who better to ask in your time of need than someone you know really cares about you?
Ask Friends and Family You Trust
Not everyone you know has needed to hire a local personal injury lawyer, but you might be surprised when you ask around how many know of someone who had an experience with one—good or bad. If someone you trust can tell you a personal injury lawyer who helped them in a similar situation, that’s a pretty good resource to use.
How to Find a Top-Rated Attorney Online
If you do not have anyone close to you who can recommend a good personal injury lawyer near you, you may have no choice but to look for the best attorney for you online. Here are some tips on how to do that.
There are a number of places you can look for reviews about personal injury attorneys, but can you trust them? What do they really mean? Before you rely on reviews, there are some things you need to know.
Reviews on Lawyer Websites
Would you post a review on your website about you that is bad? Neither would a lawyer. It’s great that they have a good review, but a cherry-picked good review on the lawyer’s own website does not mean much.
Reviews on Other Websites
We live in the consumer age. There are many websites that allow people to review personal injury attorneys and other businesses. Google and Facebook are two of the biggest. But how do you know which ones to trust? Obviously, the more reviews, the more likely the lawyer has been around long enough to have some experience. But there are some other things you should think about:
- Have you ever known any business to be loved by all? Anyone with a perfect score after a lot of reviews may be paying those that leave bad reviews to take them down. It happens.
- Not all bad reviews are legit. Some people cannot be made happy no matter what you do. Other’s will post bad reviews on a lawyer’s rating site simply because the lawyer turned down their case.
- Anyone can post a review anytime, anonymously. Some underhanded businesses will post bad reviews just to damage a competitor’s reputation.
In short, not all good reviews nor all bad reviews should be trusted. But all bad reviews and all good reviews may say a lot. Read as many as you can and make an educated decision.
Credible Legal Websites
There are many websites out there claiming to tell you which attorney is the “expert” or “best lawyer.” But, how do you know which of those you can trust?
State Bar Websites
The local state bar is the organization that regulates the licensing of attorneys in your state. Your local state bar website is a great place to find out trustworthy information about a personal injury lawyer. State bar websites typically contain basic information about attorneys, including:
- The year the attorney was first licensed.
- Law school attended.
- Whether her license has ever been suspended or revoked.
- Whether he has ever been sanctioned by the state bar of any state.
- Whether her license is in good standing.
- Whether he has been sued for legal malpractice.
Board of Legal Specialization
Any lawyer can call himself a personal injury lawyer, but not all can call themselves a specialist. Most if not all states have a procedure by which an attorney can separate himself from the pack by becoming Board Certified in a particular area of specialization. In Texas, it is the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. A personal injury attorney may become Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by completing a certain number of jury trials and taking a two-day exam to demonstrate his/her level of expertise in all areas of personal injury trial law. Going to the board certification website for your state can help you determine whether your attorney has done this.
Other Legal Websites as Research Tools
There are many other websites that you can look to in order to find out more information on the experience level of a personal injury lawyer. Some of these include:
- Martindale-Hubbell – this website assigns an AV rating to attorneys on a 1-10 scale based upon feedback that they receive from information obtained from other lawyers in the same field of law and client reviews. They actually send out questionnaires and require that a minimum number be returned before giving the lawyer a score so that they get a grouping, not just one person’s opinion.
- AVVO – this website scores attorneys on a 1-10 scale based upon reputation, reviews from clients, reviews from other attorneys, publications, organizations the attorney is a member of, length of time in practice, focus of practice, lectures, and publications.
- National Trial Lawyers Association– this organization actually puts on continuing legal education programs and trial lawyer meetings/events in addition to recognizing established attorneys and rising stars. It is not just an online organization giving out awards to make money.
- Thompson-Reuters Super Lawyers – In order to be a Super Lawyer, you must be nominated, pass a rigorous vetting, and then be invited. Their Super Lawyers website is another resource that can be used to find a local personal injury attorney with competence.
Other Award Sites
There are many other “organizations” that claim to rate and select the best personal injury lawyers. Sadly, some of these websites are merely online sites aimed at selling awards to lawyers. Before, you put too much stock in an award website, review the website and read how they actually select the recipients of their prestigious awards. Also, look at what else the organization purports to do. If there is a legitimate vetting process and the organization that is giving the award puts on continuing legal education programs for personal injury attorneys and/or is actively involved in improving the legal community, it should be given much more weight than a site that simply hands out awards.
Interview the Law Firm Yourself
The best personal injury lawyer for you may not be someone else’s top pick. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you pick a lawyer to whom you are comfortable entrusting your welfare. The best thing you can do is sit down and talk to the lawyer. Request a face-to-face meeting. Ask some questions and decide for yourself if that lawyer is someone you can trust. Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- How much experience handling this type of case do you have?
- Do you do personal injury exclusively or is it just one of the many things you do?
- Do you work on a contingency fee?
- Can you help me get medical care if I need it?
- Are your trial lawyers in-house or do you typically refer cases out for litigation?
- Are your trial lawyers Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law?
If you are not comfortable with the lawyer’s answers, you need to interview another personal injury lawyer. We would love a chance to interview with you. Call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. for a free consultation at (713) 932-0777.