Contrary to popular belief following a injury accident the last thing you are thinking about is a lawsuit, or injury claim. Some people are completely confused following and accident, and if the injury is severe enough in a state of apathy. If the injury is moderate there are often no symptoms following the accident. If it is an auto accident the first symptom of an injury would be a headache. Following the truck or car accident the injury victim would be more concerned about inspecting the damage to her or his vehicle and the damage to the culprits vehicle, but still there is no sign of any thought about filing a lawsuit or hiring an attorney.
Once the victim has had an opportunity to reflect and the injuries materialize in the form of severe pain, bruises, inability to move without pain, or confirmation of the severity of the injury through X-rays or other diagnostic exams, then do some victims consider filing a lawsuit or making an claim for injuries. Once the victim decides to make a claim the daunting task of selecting an injury attorney comes before them.
Often they seek recommendations from friends and family, but more often than not none are recommended or they are not conveniently located.
About half the time the victim decides to resort to finding an injury lawyer by calling on advertisements on television, yellow pages, newspapers, or here an internet search. Once the decision to call an injury lawyer is made, then the victim is left wondering what to ask, how would the competency of an injury lawyer be determined.
There is no way to assure the competency of the attorney to insure the injury victim would be satisfied with the selection of the injury attorney, but there are few things that can improve the satisfaction of the relationship and increase the likelihood that the attorney will be competent. The following as some questions the injury victim should ask of the prospective injury lawyer:
1. How many years have you been in practice?
The number of years in practice is not a straightforward analyzes. It is not as easy as it seems to select an injury lawyer based on years of practice, because the number of years of practice has to be within a good range. One year is not good enough, but 40 years is probably too much. As attorneys get older they often get lazy or burned out and some are simply mentally incompetent. There have been a few cases where the attorney reached an age where his or her mental capacity was simply not up to par. Too many years of practice can actually be a handicap. Two or three years of experience may actually be enough depending on other factors.
2. Have you ever done a jury trial?
The best results are obtained not necessarily by going to trial, but by hiring an injury attorney that is willing to go to trial if necessary. If the attorney has not ever done a jury trial, the defendant's attorney will know this and it will not be in your best interest. It is true that about 90-98% of cases settle, but it does not mean that yours is necessarily one of those cases, and if the attorney is unwilling to go to trial the bargaining power is greatly diminished.
3. Have you ever done a bench trial?
A bench trial is considered to be substantially easier to do than a jury trial, but likewise, an attorney should be prepared to do either type of trial and should have done at least one of each.
4. Have you ever been disciplined by the State bar?
Attorneys that have been disciplined by the state bar are generally dangerous in the sense that they have lower standards of ethics and have done something extreme such as refusing to surrender money or property belonging to a client, or converting client funds to their own use, not paying their license fees, or the like. Whether someone can change or not is a matter of personal belief and you should be very cautious if the prospective injury attorney has been disciplined.
5. Can one of your past clients recommend you, and if so who is it?
This pertains more to customer service than actual results. Clients expect an awful lot of attorneys and are under the impression that attorneys have plenty of time to communicate with them. This is not true in the majority of instances, it is very difficult for attorneys to take phone calls and return calls, because they are engaged in litigation, but even so there should be at least some clients that were happy. If the attorney cannot name a single client that was happy, chances are you will be unhappy too.
There are many other factors that should be considered when selecting an injury attorney, but at the very least these five factors should be considered when hiring an injury lawyer.
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