For those with lacking legal experience, finding the right personal injury lawyer can seem like a daunting task. Those seeking legal representation might first identify a few established firms that limit their practice to personal injury. When possible, it is helpful to do some background research on the attorneys and the firms you are consider. Once you have narrowed down your decision, meet with each firm to see who you feel most comfortable with.
7 Factors to Consider when Selecting a Personal Injury Attorney
Once a few attorneys have been identified, looking at the following factors can help to evaluate a competent, qualified match:
- Staffing rates – This term is associated with each lawyer’s case load, or how many cases are assigned to each attorney. As a personal injury client, you want to know if your case will be handled by your attorney and how many cases that attorney is handling concurrently. Ask about the firm’s case load; if there are more than 20 active cases assigned to each lawyer, consider other options for legal representation.
- Stability – Consider the amount of time each firm has been practicing. Newer, inexperienced firms may have limited resources while struggling to meet payroll and take on new cases and may not have the resources available to handle complex and expensive litigation.
- Education and Academics – Find out if the firm selects at least a few of its candidates from renowned, accredited institutions. Be wary of newer lawyers with degrees from schools less than 15 years old or with degrees earned online.
- Credentials – Several independent, accredited agencies evaluate law firms all over the US and award prestigious credentials for attorneys who demonstrate outstanding service and ethics. Give special consideration to law firms recognized through any of the following:
- Florida State Bar Certification
- Martindale-Hubbell – Peer & Client Review Ratings
- A.M. Best – Creditworthiness Ratings
- Best Lawyers (US News & World Reports)
- Super Lawyers – Recognition for Achievement and Peer Recognition
- AVVO – Comprehensive, Independent Ratings of All Firm Functions
- Professional Recognition / Distinctions – Community-based awards and volunteer recognition can also be a sign of a lawyer’s work ethic and commitment to helping others. This can indicate a passion for his/her legal career and a willingness to far exceed basic “job” requirements.
- Experience – Seek to evaluate relevant case experience. Starting with experienced personal injury attorneys is a good bet. Inquire about successful personal injury cases and trial experience.
- Results – However, you may wish to inquire about the firm’s win to loss ratio before asking about large settlement figures. Also, find out if the firm follows up with clients after they’ve won a large settlement. Some attorneys will offer comprehensive post-case planning to ensure a client’s settlement funds are properly protected.