first time ever having to hire a lawyer was involved in a accident requiring surgery which i already had and i have a attorney that people are saying is not good and i should find a new one because she first filed a lawsuit 6 months after the injury what should i be looking for in a attorney this is the first time dealing with a situation like this what should i be asking her at this point where should we be at in the case its very early to me but this is all new to me and i want to make sure she is good
Thats a good question. The first thing I would find out if whether your lawyer concentrates in injury cases or does lots of other things like real estate, criminal law, etc. The laws are so complicated today, its hard for an attorney to do to many things. He or she should be able available to answer your questions and also give advice / explain the legal process in simple terms that you can understand.
You also can search the interent for information about the lawyer and possilby cases that he or she has handled, as well as check his or her ratings on AVVO and Martindale Hubbel rating services.
Listening to 'other people' sometimes is good but only if those people have the knowledge or experience with your lawyer. I usually find however is that most people dont have that.
Almost as important, you have to be comfortable with the attorney. If that is not the case, you do have the right to change lawyers but it is best to do so early since decisions made early in litigation can seriously affect the outcome.
Best of luck to you.
We are all unique, the lawyer who is great for one client or case has the wrong personality or experience for others.
Ask you lawyer and search online for info on what he concentrates on. We cannot say we are specialists, but if this is not someone focused on injury law, for example, that's a red flag.
Stephen L. Hoffman
Law Office of Stephen L. Hoffman LLC
I would also note that whether it was proper for your attorney to file suit 6 months after the injury depends upon a variety of factors, i.e. when you completed treatment, when settlement negotiations were entered into and when it was determined that the case would not settle, etc. Some cases are ripe for suit immediately. For others, those factors can play an important role in determining when suit will be filed. If there is a 6 month period where nothing is being done on the case, I would say that is unreasonable.
Check avvo, yelp, the state bar assn for discipline history. Do they only handle injury cases? Have they been in practice long enough to gain experience. Are they members of state or national assns of trial attys or consumer attys. For example in calif, we have the CAOC, Consumer Attorneys of California. this is a plaintiff atty assn. It puts out a monthly magazine, runs cont ed programs and offers members ways to network and share info on important issues we all deal with in our cases, as well as info about specific defense attorneys, experts, judges etc. Members of these groups tend to be better informed, and have helpful resources available.
Experience in the legal area that a client is looking for is important. Find a personal injury attorney in your local area that is experienced in personal injury, and get a free consultation from that attorney. Do you feel comfortable with that attorney and do you trust that attorney to handle your case for you? Check out Avvo.com as this forum has many very good attorneys that you can choose from. You can check out reviews from prior clients, endorsements from other attorneys, the number of years that an attorney has been in practice, and whether or not that particular attorney is in good standing with the Bar Association when you use Avvo.com.
Ask questions and see if you get direct answers. Has the lawyer taken the time to know your story? Is the lawyer treating you like a list of facts on a yellow legal pad? Or is the lawyer taking the time to learn how your injury really affects you and your life? Then TRUST YOUR GUT. You can usually change lawyers without any financial penalty. The new lawyer can work a deal with the old lawyer. You are not married to your lawyer. If you have an uneasy feeling and it is not resolved, get out of Dodge and get another lawyer. Ask around. Be proactive. You are the consumer!
Experience is a great indicator. In Quincy, Illinois, The Law Office of Stephen P. Rapp is a LOCAL law firm. Hiring a firm with a lawyer who practices AND lives where the accident occurred can be beneficial. Oftentimes, a lawyer who lives in the community where the accident occurred has knowledge that others may not have based on experience and knowledge of the community. In my practice, I can often visualize a particular intersection and have had experience in representing injured people at that very intersection. One indicator in my opinion is whether or not the law firm or lawyer handles the property damage part of your claim at no cost. At our firm, a firm concentrating in personal injury law, we handle the property damage so the insurance company doesn't confuse our clients and to insure our clients recover all of what they are entitled to receive. Ask the lawyer if they concentrate in personal injury law and whether they handle the property damage at no cost.
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