MISTAKE #1: Choosing a lawyer who doesn’t have enough experience. The most important factor in choosing a personal injury attorney is the depth of his knowledge, skill, judgment and experience handling injury claims. This includes both experience handling injury cases, and experience taking injury cases to trial. In most cases, the money you recover for your injuries will come from an insurance company – either the other person’s insurance company – or your own. And one of the reasons insurance companies have so much money is because they pay accident victims like you as little as possible – usually far less than you deserve. Ask the attorney you interview about cases he has tried in court and cases he has settled. This will help you decide whether you should select this lawyer to represent you.
MISTAKE #2: Choosing a lawyer only because you like its advertising. Don’t choose a lawyer based solely on a clever, eye-catching ad or brochure. Any lawyer can print a color brochure or run a flashy tv commercial. But bright, flamboyant advertising does not mean the lawyer is qualified to represent you. After all, advertising can make almost any lawyer look like an expert. It’s fine if you choose your laundry soap based on a TV commercial. But when you have thousands of dollars – or even millions of dollars – at stake, you must choose your lawyer carefully. Make sure you ask questions about the attorney’s experience in handling injury claims. I will be glad to talk with you about cases I have handled that are similar to your own.
MISTAKE #3: Choosing the lawyer who promises you the most money. The amount of money you’re entitled to recover, called “damages,” is based on many components: (1) the length of your recovery from injury, (2) the dollar amount of your medical bills, (3) the dollar amount of lost wages, (4) pain and suffering, and (5) the severity of your injuries. No one can tell you exactly what your case is worth until they gather all the facts. Any lawyer who promises you a certain amount of money before he has all the facts is making a promise he can’t keep.
MISTAKE #4: Choosing a lawyer because he expects to settle your case. Most injury cases are settled without going to trial. Even so, if you hope to get a fair settlement for your injuries, your lawyer must be willing to take the insurance company to court. Otherwise, the insurance carrier has no reason to offer you a fair amount of money for your injuries. Although you and I hope it won’t be necessary to go to trial, it is important to make the insurance company aware that you are ready to do so if their offer is not fair. If you hire a “settling attorney” – one who settles his cases and won’t go to court – you can expect to receive less money for your injuries than if you hire a skilled trial attorney. Remember: The most powerful weapon you can use against the insurance company is your willingness and ability to take your case to trial.
MISTAKE #5: Choosing a lawyer who practices in many different areas of the law. The most qualified, experienced injury lawyers work exclusively with patients who have been injured and families of patients who have died. They don’t merely dabble in injury cases and take other types of cases too. In nearly every case, you’ll get a better result when you hire a personal injury lawyer who limits his law practice to serious injuries and death.
MISTAKE #6: Choosing a lawyer because of a referral from a friend. When a friend refers you to a lawyer, be careful. Yes, your friend probably means well. But your friend may not be the best source for a referral. You see, people often select a lawyer because they like him. But you need a lawyer who is much more than just a nice person. You need an attorney who has the trial experience to go up against billion-dollar insurance companies. Insurance companies hire experienced investigators, adjusters, and lawyers to work against you. You need a skilled lawyer and investigators working for you. Your best choice is hiring an experienced personal injury attorney with a proven track record of success.
MISTAKE #7: Choosing a lawyer merely because he appears successful. A handsome office and an expensive car don’t tell you anything about the lawyer’s experience. Don’t judge a lawyer by appearance alone. Choose a lawyer by whether he has the knowledge, skill, experience, and willingness to (1) sue the other party, and (2) take your case to trial, if necessary. That’s the best way to make sure you recover the amount of money you deserve.
MISTAKE #8: Choosing a lawyer because of the location of his office. You may be inclined to select a lawyer who has an office near you. But this could be a big mistake because what you gain in convenience you may lose in knowledge and skill. Most of the work between a personal injury lawyer and his client can be done by mail and over the telephone. You should hire an experienced trial attorney, even if you must drive a little farther to his office. You may find that the extra minutes on the road will be worth thousands of extra dollars in your pocket. If travel is difficult for you, please let me know and I’ll do what I can to accommodate you.
MISTAKE #9: Choosing a lawyer who you don’t completely trust. Nothing is more important than working with a highly skilled injury lawyer you can depend on. After all, when you go to bed at night, you’ll sleep better knowing that your lawyer is looking out for your best interests and will not settle your case just to get your file off his desk. You want to be sure that your lawyer will represent you all the way through a trial if that’s what it takes to collect the money you deserve. And if you don’t trust your lawyer, both you and your lawyer are wasting precious time, when that time is needed to build a compelling case. You’re Invited to Call or E-mail!
“If you have been injured – or if a family member has died – as the result of any type of accidental injury, please don’t hesitate to call. I will gladly speak with you over the telephone or in-person, whichever you prefer. And your initial visit is always free. You’re welcome to call the meantime. I promise I’ll do everything I can to help you.” – Francisco G. Medina