How do you pick a good personal injury lawyer?

Choosing a personal injury attorney can be a daunting process. Most of us have never hired an attorney before, and it can be hard to know where to start.

Using the Yellow Pages or finding a lawyer online will help you narrow down your search to those attorneys who handle personal injury and death cases. Sometimes you will also receive recommendations from family or friends.

Further narrow your list to those attorneys who exclusively handle injury and death claims. You do not want a jack-of-all-trades approach. These are complex cases, and require extensive experience to handle them well. The attorney you pick needs to have a unique combination of medical knowledge, legal training, and experience with many similar cases. This will help him or her properly analyze your injury claim, build an effective case with the necessary evidence and experts, and negotiate an appropriate settlement or present a compelling case at trial.

Avoid hiring attorneys who market their practice in several different areas, such as “Family Law, Criminal law, and Personal Injury.” They may handle some personal injury cases, but they do not specialize in these cases. You want to hire an attorney who specializes in injury and death cases.

Check with the State Bar of California to see if the attorney is in “good standing.” The State Bar website contains a record of all attorneys currently licensed to practice law, and a record of any disciplinary action taken against them in the past. Here is a link:

http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/MemberSearch/QuickSearch

You can also look for client reviews and endorsements on websites such as www.Yelp.com; www.Avvo.com; and www.FindLaw.com. These sites must be taken with a grain of salt, however, since some attorneys will stuff their profiles with phony reviews and endorsements.

Once you have narrowed your list, you need to have an in-person meeting with the attorney. There are intangible qualities you cannot pick-up from an advertisement or website. Is the attorney knowledgeable about your type of case? How do they and their staff treat you? After meeting with them, do you trust that they will spend the time to carefully understand your unique claim? Remember, if the attorney cannot take the time to truly get to know you and the specifics of your injury or death case, they will not be able to effectively represent you to the insurance company or jury.

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