As a reputable attorney with a license to practice in Missouri and Illinois, I’m often ask how individuals go about selecting a personal injury attorney. I advise them to look at the following criteria:
- Client reviews. There may be no better indication of how good an attorney is than what his past clients have to say about him. Find out what kind of an experience this attorney’s past clients have had. You can find so many reviews online and even ask a potential attorney for past client references.
- Experience. How much experience does the attorney you are considering have with your types of cases? Beware – not all cases are the same. A lawyer with 30 years of experience writing wills may not be the person you want handling a personal injury case. A lawyer may have lots of experience handling simple personal injury suits like auto accidents but no experience with complicated medical negligence or product liability cases. If you were having a complicated heart surgery you would want to know if your doctor had ever done this type of surgery before, same with lawyers, don’t be afraid to ask. Also, find out who will be handling your case – will it be the person whose name is on the door, or a junior associate with little experience?
- Success rate. Don’t be afraid to ask an attorney about their track record. Ask whether he or she has had similar cases, and if so, what kind of results have they gotten for their other clients.
- Credentials. You can often find out (or ask) which states an attorney is licensed in and what credentials they have received (such as Martindale Hubbell or Peer Group ratings, etc.). Do they have any advanced degrees beyond a J.D.?
- Fees. Have an open and early discussion of how any attorney will be compensated. It is standard practice for personal injury attorneys to work “on contingency” (instead of billing you by the hour). In other words, they only get paid if you are awarded money. Also, ask about how out of pocket expenses will be handled and whether or not you are responsible for any or all of those and if it matters if you win or lose the case.
- First meeting. In my opinion, your first meeting with any attorney should be free of charge. A good lawyer will be more than willing to discuss your case (to see if you truly have a case) for no charge. You can discover a lot about this person and his or her work style by an introductory meeting. It is key to find someone that you feel like is in sync with you.
- Gut Feel. Trust your instincts. For serious personal injury cases you will be putting your family’s future in the hands of this person that you have met for 30 minutes. Do they seem like the kind of person you can trust and who will do everything they can for you?
Our practice is focused on helping people who have suffered a loss, endured an accident or injury and are trying to rebuild their life after an unfortunate occurrence. We are in business to help people cover major expenses (medical, lost wages, etc.) as well as seek fair compensation to help them put their lives back together. When I am helping an out-of-state friend locate a personal injury attorney,