Perhaps the only thing worse than getting into a car accident is having to deal with a personal injury attorney. Many of these litigators are highly dedicated professionals, but the horror stories you’ve heard about ambulance chasing shysters have more basis in reality than you might like to know.
The worst thing about personal injury attorneys is some of the things that they will not tell you. Knowing what the lawyers will not tell you can help you find a highly ethical and effective litigator.
Some of the disturbing bits of information that personal injury attorneys might not reveal include the following:
- Your case won’t actually be handled by this firm. Many firms, especially the ones that advertise heavily, farm a lot of cases out to other lawyers. Some attorneys cherry pick cases and only take those that they think they can make money from.
- Your case won’t actually be handled by a lawyer. At some firms, the attorney only handles a few high dollar cases; instead, the work is done by paralegals or other staff members, sometimes euphemistically called “case managers.” A common tactic is for the lawyer to meet you at an initial consultation then turn the work over to the grunts.
- We don’t actually take cases to trial. Unfortunately, there are more than a few attorneys that never go to trial. Instead, they simply negotiate deals with insurance companies; this gives the lawyer a fee but may give the client a bad deal. Many clients could get better settlements if the attorney was willing to go to trial. Insurers are more likely to give out larger settlements to avoid costly trials.
- You might not need us. In a small claim or a case with clear liability, you might be better off settling yourself. Unfortunately, some lawyers won’t tell you this because they want to charge you a fee.
- We don’t want to take your case because the jury won’t like you. Jurors are often highly prejudiced against certain individuals, including racial minorities, the unemployed, the poor, fat people, and even unattractive individuals. Some lawyers will not take these people’s cases because they might be more likely to lose.
How to Find a Good Personal Injury Attorney
There are some ways to increase your chances of finding an honest attorney if you need one because of an accident or a claim. You will be far more likely to find an ethical and capable attorney if you take the following steps:
- Don’t hire an attorney because of advertisements on TV. Instead, check with the local bar association, which can recommend reputable litigators to you.
- Research attorneys by checking online and asking around. One good way to find a reputable personal injury attorney is to ask other lawyers you might know. Online reviews can also help you find a really good litigator.
- Hire a smaller firm. A smaller firm or a solo practitioner will be more likely to give your case personal attention and to take the case all the way if necessary.
- Make sure the attorney is experienced in insurance and personal injury cases and has a provable track record of taking such cases to court.
- Be willing to ask questions. Ask the lawyer for examples of cases he or she has won or settlements and for the names of past clients you can check with.
- Be willing to walk out. If you don’t like the attorney, get up and walk out. There are plenty of lawyers out there, and you don’t have to talk to the first one that answers your phone call. Definitely walk out if the lawyer won’t answer your questions or provide proof of past successes.
When you deal with an attorney, you are the customer, and you have the right to get good service from the lawyer. There is no reason to settle for poor service from an attorney, especially in a serious matter such as an auto accident.