Personal injury attorneys are everywhere...on tv, on billboards, even on city buses. And of course they all claim to be the most honest, aggressive, competent, and generally the best and smartest human being that you'll ever have the honor of meeting. But obviously this can't be true about everyone. So how can you, the injured victim, really know who to trust with your serious personal injury case?

Here's what you need to know before you hire a personal injury attorney:

Always talk with more than one attorney

You should always talk with more than one attorney before you decide who to hire. You wouldn’t just buy the first car that you test drive, right? Same concept. You’ll be working with this attorney for several months, potentially years, so you should pick someone that feels like a good fit. Someone that:

  • appears trustworthy and honest;

  • takes the time to listen (not someone who cuts you off or appears distracted);

  • has good answers to all your questions;

  • doesn’t promise you something they can’t possibly know or guarantee (like “I’ll get you $50,000 dollars!”); and

  • doesn’t pressure you to sign a contract before you’re ready.  

Know who will handle your case

In my opinion, the less hands that work on your case the less chance that a mistake will be made. Before signing any attorney contract, know exactly who will be handling your case, and ask to meet with all of them (if it’s more than one person).

With most larger sized law firms, chances are your case will not be handled by the attorney whose name is on the door.

Chances are your case will be assigned to a lower-level less experienced attorney who you’ve never heard of, and who uses support staff (e.g. paralegals, legal assistants, interns, etc) to do most of the actual work. If all of these people are trustworthy, well-qualified, and great at their job, then it shouldn’t be a huge problem, but that’s a big “if.”

Also, because turnover is often higher in bigger firms, your case might be passed around to several different attorneys and staff before it's all over.

There are always potential problems with having too many ‘chefs in the kitchen,’ such as:

  • things slipping through the cracks because of miscommunication or because one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing; and

  • problems taking longer to resolve and the direction of your case being inconsistent because everyone on your team isn't always on the same page at the same time.

Communication / Case Load

Does the lawyer cut you off or rush you through the initial consultation? That's usually a pretty good indicator on how future communications will go. The process of a personal injury claim can be confusing and scary for people who have not been through it before, and being kept in the dark about your case only makes this worse. You want a lawyer who will always make the time to talk with you and explain how your case is progressing. Frequent client communication is also an opportunity for the lawyer to learn more about the client and the case, which is never a waste of time.  

The responsiveness of a personal injury lawyer usually corresponds directly with the amount of cases they are handling at any given time.

An attorney trying to handle too many cases might have very little time to properly communicate with his/her clients.

If an attorney doesn't have time to really get to know a client and their injuries (like how it's affecting their lives and personal or work relations), the attorney is not going to be an effective advocate for that client. The outcome of the case will suffer as a result.

The Right Kind of Experience

It’s not all about the number of years they’ve been in business. After all, someone who has been doing things the wrong way for 30 years isn't much better than someone who has been doing them the right way for only a few years.

It’s about quality, not quantity.

An attorney with lots of experience in different areas of law might not be as familiar with the best current personal injury practices as someone who focuses entirely on personal injury cases.

Developing an 'expertise' with personal injury cases is a full-time job, so you should be skeptical of anyone who claims to be skilled in personal injury cases as well as another type of law (e.g. landlord/tenant disputes, DUIs, divorces, contract negotiations, etc.).

Keep in mind that personal injury law covers a diverse number of cases, including car and truck accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, dangerous prescription drugs and medical devices, etc.

Similar Objectives

Do you mind waiting for as long as necessary to obtain the best results on your case or do you need it settled quickly for personal reasons? Do you want to take your case to trial because you don't believe a fair settlement is possible? Or do you want to avoid trial at all costs? These are questions you should ask yourself and then discuss them at your initial consultation with an attorney.

You want an attorney who understands and accepts your objectives, not their own. 

Colorado personal injury attorney Richard Gama offers free consultations and will not pressure you into hiring him after the consultation. So call him today and see if he's the right fit for your serious personal injury case.