You’ve never been injured in an accident before but now someone has rear-ended you and you need to hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your claim. But you don’t know of any. You don’t know where to start. While there are many ways to hire the right personal injury lawyer, here are the five top ways to hire the wrong one.
1. You Saw a TV Commercial With a Catchy 800 Number
Hiring a lawyer because of a TV ad is generally a bad way to choose a lawyer. Most of the commercials you see are paid ads by referral services. They collect a large number of calls and then divide them among member lawyers. Even when the commercial is made by a single law firm, the cases are usually referred to other lawyers whose offices may not necessarily be close by. The fact is that some of the best personal injury lawyers do little to no advertising. They get their cases through referrals from other lawyers, due to their reputations and proven track records.
2. A Lawyer Contacts You After Your Accident
A lawyer who contacts an accident victim for the purpose of representing them is what is commonly called an “ambulance chaser.” While this kind of practice is unethical in all states and illegal in many, it is very common and often goes unpunished. As a general rule, lawyers who resort to ambulance chasing are not the most skilled or respected lawyers around. Since they can’t compete honestly in the legal marketplace, they reverse the normal order of business … instead of waiting for the potential client to seek them out, they seek out the client! The sad part is that these lawyers not only give all lawyers a bad reputation, they take business away from those lawyers who are skilled, qualified, experienced and play by the rules.
3. Your Uncle Harry Refers You His Real Estate Lawyer
Just like you wouldn’t go to a brain surgeon for foot surgery, you shouldn’t go to a real estate lawyer, or any other non-personal injury lawyer, for a personal injury case. While all lawyers may have a degree to practice law, you want to hire a lawyer who has experience in your type of case. An seasoned personal injury lawyer will know how to investigate your case, find all the available sources of insurance coverage and negotiate the best settlement. You do not want a lawyer with little experience in personal injury matters to learn personal injury law on your case. The interesting fact about personal injury lawyers is that since they all tend to charge the same percentage fees, hiring an experienced lawyer will cost you the same as one with less expertise.
4. Your Lawyer Asks For Money Upfront
While all personal injury lawyers tend to work on a “contingency fee” basis, not all lawyers will advance the money needed to prosecute your case. Sometimes these expenses (court filing fees, medical reports, expert witnesses) can run into the thousands of dollars. If your lawyer asks you to pay the expenses as your case proceeds, he is either not an experienced, financially secure personal injury lawyer or he thinks so little of your case that he is unwilling to take all the risk.
5. You Met With The Lawyer And Feel Obligated
Most personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation. But just because you had an office meeting with a lawyer doesn’t mean you have to hire him. You have every right to take your time in making such an important decision. If your gut tells you this is not the right lawyer, feel free to leave. Do not feel obligated just because the lawyer spent time with you.
If you’ve chosen the wrong lawyer to handle your personal injury claim, the mistake is not irreversible. You can fire your lawyer and hire another one without having to pay more in fees.