If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you’ll be dealing with terrible consequences. You’ll need a way out from under the unfair burdens that have been placed on you, and one way forward will be to work with an attorney to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you win in court, you’ll get a court award that will help you cover medical expenses, make up for lost wages, and compensate you for the pain and suffering that you have endured. You may also elect to settle out of court.
But to file things properly with the courts, present a strong case, and either negotiate a settlement or win an award, you’ll need a great lawyer. A talented and experienced local lawyer can make all the difference in the world. He or she can get you more money and help you through the entire process.
A bad lawyer, on the other hand, can be a nightmare to deal with. A bad lawyer will communicate poorly, leaving you confused and stressed. He or she won’t give you and your case the personal attention that you deserve, and the results will be worse, too. You may lose the case or settle for less than you need, and there will be no second chances.
You need to avoid a bad lawyer from the start — and get a good one instead. Here are some tips for doing so.
A key part of a lawyer’s job is communicating with his or her client. As a client, you’re trusting your lawyer to represent you in legal matters — but you expect to be kept in the loop, and you should still be making all of the important decisions. You need an attorney who will take the time to speak with you and understand you. You need an attorney who will clearly explain complex legal issues, so that you can make an informed decision.
Start evaluating lawyers from the moment you call one. Unreturned phone calls, long periods on hold, and poor manners are all bad signs. At your consultation, evaluate how personable the attorney is and how well he or she explains legal options to you. If you’re not happy, walk away and try a new attorney!
Eye that office
While you’re in an attorney’s office for your consultation, take a look around. Keeping neat spaces is about more than just making an office or home look good — it’s a sign of respect between humans. Does this lawyer care enough to impress you?
Legal situations are complex, and the paperwork is notoriously over-the-top. Do things look organized? Or are you afraid that important documents related to your case could get lost in the shuffle in a messy, disorganized office? You can see warning signs related to organization and even work habits through the way an office is kept.
Don’t just call the lawyers whose ads you see on TV. Check them out! Ask friends and family members if they have had any experience with the lawyers you’re considering. Read online reviews on sites such as Yelp. Check for news coverage of the attorneys that you’re considering, too. You might find that they were featured in the news after winning a big case, or you might find that they have had scandals and run-ins with angry clients.
Reputations matter, explains “Super Woman Super Lawyer” Maryam Parnam — who, as her nickname suggests, has no issue with her own reputation. Lawyers who have worked in your area for years will be known for their quality (or lack thereof), so it pays to do research and ask around.
Try, try again
So what happens if you call a lawyer and are treated poorly, or if you go to an initial consultation and feel uncomfortable with the choice you’ve made? Simple: walk away. Until you actually sign on to be represented by an attorney, you can easily try another (once you’ve made an agreement with one, things get tougher — so don’t do that until you’re sure you’ve made the right choice). You should work quickly to get a lawyer, but don’t rush into a relationship with the wrong one. You want quality representation, because that will mean a better experience and superior results.