by: Jeff S. Gibson , Attorney
People hire attorneys for many different reasons. What if you were involved in a car accident and were seriously injured? What would you do if you had a medical emergency and discovered that the cause may have been a medication that you were taking? How would you react if you learned that a medical device that was used to help your body recover from an injury actually caused life-threatening side effects or worsened your injury?
The above examples are all instances of when it would make sense to speak to an attorney. As a trial attorney, I have chosen to focus my practice primarily on representing people who have been injured due to the negligence or wrongdoing of companies that manufacture drugs and medical devices. While I also litigate other personal injury issues such as automobile accidents and wrongful death claims, I have a deep passion for and understanding of claims resulting from defective or dangerous drugs and medical devices. In a previous article, I shared some tips for my peers about how to establish a strong attorney-client relationship. I believe that this relationship begins as soon as a client contacts me to discuss a potential case.
Injured people deserve justice. Litigation can be a scary process for clients. Making the decision to hire a lawyer is obvious when serious injury is involved. What might not be so obvious is how to hire a good lawyer who can best represent you and your case. Here are some tips for you to consider when choosing legal representation.
1. Choose an attorney with trial experience. You may think that all personal injury attorneys have trial experience, but this is not always the case. Some attorneys work to obtain settlements, which can close your case faster, but don't always get you the compensation that you deserve. You should make sure that your attorney has the skill to take your matter to court and argue for you. Don't be afraid to ask how many cases like yours they have tried in court. But, be careful not to focus on asking the dollar amounts of previous settlements. Each case is unique and just because a similar case won a large verdict does not mean that yours will. Or in lawyer-speak "past performance is not an indicator of future success."
2. Choose an attorney who communicates well with you. Do you understand what the attorney is saying when they explain to you whether or not you have a case? It's important to find someone who can break down the legal jargon of the litigation process and explain to you exactly what is going on and what the next steps are. The frequency of communication is also important. Be sure to ask your attorney in what format and how often they will provide you with updates. The litigation process can sometimes feel like it is dragging on, but regular updates from your attorney can keep you informed of the status of your case.
3. Read recommendations and also trust your gut. In today's 24/7 information society, you can find a recommendation about anything from restaurants and vacation destinations to electronics and professional services. Law is no exception. Websites like AVVO offer client recommendations and reviews of lawyers and doctors. Another website, Super Lawyers, offers peer recommendations and reviews of lawyers. These websites can serve as a guide to provide some general information about an attorney that you might consider hiring. Don't just go by the recommendation. Take some time to talk to the attorney and develop your own thoughts about their ability to handle your case. Ask them about any negative information you may have read in a review and consider their response.
The bottom line to hiring a good attorney is to do a little homework. Make sure that you find someone who is as passionate about your case as you are. Find someone who has the experience to argue your case and won't stop fighting for you. Finding a good attorney doesn't have to be a secret, just do your research and base your decision on the facts.