Blogs and websites are full of articles telling you the qualities to look for in a spouse or job, but have you ever considered the qualities you should expect for the personal injury attorney you hire to represent your claim? This is a professional relationship that can last months or years, and it’s one that can significantly impact the outcome of your case.
Before signing any papers, consider the 5 characteristics you should be looking for in your lawyer or law firm:
1. Experience: Every attorney has to start somewhere, and there are many excellent attorneys with only a few years of experience under their belts. However, often with experience comes skill. While every client’s case is unique, over the years an attorney will see many similar situations unfold. That prior experience allows a personal injury lawyer to anticipate problems before they arise, identify key aspects of your case, and negotiate skillfully with adjusters. If an attorney is new to the field, it’s important that an experienced colleague is serving to advise and mentor him or her.
2. Focus: “Personal injury” is a term that covers a variety of injury types including car accidents, slip-and-falls, defective products, workplace injuries, and nursing home abuse. Before signing papers, ask your potential attorney which areas of personal injury law are the focus of his or her practice. Most attorneys will be forthcoming if your case falls outside of their area of expertise, and will be glad to recommend other firms or lawyers who might be serve your needs.
3. Reputation: Today, law firms have a wide variety of advertising methods available to them, being well known is not the same as being highly regarded. Any attorney may become well-known through marketing campaigns, but that does not mean every attorney is reputable and worthy of your trust. An attorney with a good reputation is not necessarily the one with the best online reviews, but someone who has a good relationship with insurance companies, other attorneys in the area, and the court systems in which they practice. Past behavior does influence the goodwill of people with whom you’ll be collaborating or negotiating. An impeccable reputation is an intangible added value for your case.
4. Objectivity: When it comes to getting the compensation you deserve for your injuries, the importance of your attorney’s objectivity cannot be overstated. Though it might be nice to hear someone promise to produce a very high settlement for your case, an objective attorney will not make empty promises regarding what your case is worth. Instead, an objective lawyer will have reasonable expectations for your case and be willing to negotiate, while also not accepting unfair or lowball offers in an effort to quickly settle the case.
5. Personality: When hiring a lawyer, one factor that is often overlooked is personality. While it’s not necessary (and probably unlikely) to become best friends or golf buddies with your attorney, it is important that he or she is approachable. After all, you’ll be looking to your attorney and case manager to answer your questions, return phone calls, and give reasonably frequent updates on your case. While every personality is different, and it is important to remember that attorneys have multiple clients and cannot focus solely on one person, you should be able to feel at ease with your lawyer. After all, you’re trusting him or her to represent you during what is a stressful and difficult situation in your life.
It’s important to know the statute of limitations for your state and to act swiftly to retain a personal injury attorney if you hope to file a claim, but it’s important not to haphazardly select a lawyer to represent you. There are excellent attorneys in Arkansas in every legal field you could imagine. At Taylor King Law, we offer free consultations every day. Call 1-800-227-9732 to speak with an attorney.