Don't Call the First Lawyer You See on TV
Our society is flooded with TV and radio advertisements from personal injury lawyers. Although many of the lawyers who advertise on TV or radio are competent and qualified to handle a case, they may not be your best choice. Many of the firms who advertise on TV have extremely large case loads and often times it is difficult for the attorneys to give each client the time and attention they deserve. Furthermore, the lawyer you see on TV will likely not be the attorney who directly handles your case. Certainly many attorneys who advertise on TV are excellent lawyers. However, you should not let a TV advertisement guide your decision making process.
Word of Mouth is Best
The best way to find a great personal injury lawyer is by word of mouth. Ask your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and church members if they have had a great experience with a personal injury attorney. Better yet, get a recommendation from an attorney in the community who does not practice in the field of the personal injury. Lawyers, even if they don't handle personal injury cases, often times know the best personal injury attorneys in the community.
Do Additional Research
Don't stop with word of mouth recommendations. Investigate the lawyer by reviewing his or her website. Try to determine if the lawyer focuses his or her practice on personal injury, as well as the lawyer's success rate through favorable verdicts and settlements. You can also visit the website for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (www.tbpr.org) to determine if the lawyer has been subjected to any disciplinary actions. There are many other websites that provide free information and reviews about attorneys.
Your Lawyer Should Have Trial Experience
Never hire a personal injury attorney who does not have experience trying lawsuits. One of the main factors that insurance companies look to in evaluating the defense of a case is the quality and competency of the plaintiff's attorney. Moreover, insurance companies know attorney's reputation for trying lawsuit. If the lawyer never goes to trial, this decreases the value of your case because the insurance company knows that it will never face the possibility of a big verdict.
Your Lawyer Should Give You the Time and Attention you Deserve
You should always insist upon a face to face meeting with the attorney before hiring them. Use this meeting to find out how many cases the lawyer is currently handling so that you can be sure he or she has enough time to devote to your case. Make sure you understand how the process will work and find out who will be your main source of communications. Often times you will work closely with a paralegal in the law firm but you need to make sure that the attorney will be available as well. Bring a list of written questions to help you remember what to ask. If the attorney cannot take the time to at least meet with you at the beginning of your case, answer questions, and explain the process, then the attorney is probably not going to be readily available if you have questions and concerns along the way. Never hire a lawyer unless you feel completely comfortable with the lawyer and his or her staff.
Your Lawyer Should Have Malpractice Insurance
Lawyers are human and they make mistakes. If your personal injury case is not filed before the statute of limitations or if your attorney misses other important deadlines, the case may be dismissed and forever barred. Therefore, before hiring a personal injury attorney, or any attorney for that matter, you should always confirm that the attorney carriers an appropriate amount of liability insurance to pay for any mistakes the attorney makes.