When in need of an attorney, most people ask friends and family for referrals. Some ask their doctor or local repair shop. These are not the best ways to find the most experienced attorney.
The key is to find an attorney that has numerous million dollar or multi-million dollar results. Why? Because those attorneys obviously know what they’re doing – they didn’t get those results by chance. Also, big insurance companies know who those attorneys are and are scared of those attorneys. The will settle with those attorneys while often taking their chances with the lesser attorneys.
Since you are going to pay the same 1/3 attorney fee whether the attorney is a young, inexperienced lawyer or the best litigator in the country, obviously you want to pay the 1/3 to the attorney who has experience recovering millions of dollars for individual clients.
But no matter how you find the attorney, it’s critical that you perform an evaluation of the attorney before hiring him. Your evaluation should consider the following factors.
- Ask the attorney how long they have been practicing law, specifically personal injury law. The attorney may have experience with cases against the insurance carrier you’re up against. The attorney may also have a working relationship with the carrier’s adjusters or defense attorneys that might result in more favorable negotiations.
- You should also try to determine the attorney’s approach to personal injury cases. How many of their cases actually go to trial. While it’s true most personal injury cases settle before trial, an attorney that has never been to trial should probably be avoided. Ask the attorney how many times he has been to trial in the past 2 years.
- It’s also acceptable to ask the attorney about recent results obtained for other clients. While each case is different, an attorney that has obtained several large results can probably be trusted to competently handle your case. Unless you see it on his website, ask the attorney for his 5 largest settlements by dollar amount. Ask the attorney to separately list his 5 largest jury verdicts. An attorney that refuses to disclose that information raises red flags.
- Ask the attorney if they have handled cases with similar injuries to your own.
- Ask to see an example of their work. A good attorney will offer samples of their work for your review – for example, exhibits prepared for trial or a demand letter.
- The attorney should be able to tell you the steps he will take to settle your case and give you a good understanding of the litigation process should a lawsuit be required.
- A CNN article which describes how insurance companies like State Farm and Allstate are saving billions of dollars by underpaying accident victims;
- An Insurance Journal article which covers consumer group and whistle-blower allegations that insurance companies are manipulating computer claims programs they use to underpay injury claims; and
- An internal (and formerly confidential) Allstate memo which describes their tactics to keep your settlement value as low as possible.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is provided as a free service to consumers and does not constitute legal advice. Nothing contained herein should be relied upon as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.