Considerations When Looking for a Personal Injury Attorney
Hiring a lawyer is a major decision that requires careful thought
on March 26, 2018
Updated on March 2, 2022
There are many circumstances which may lead you to hire a Texas personal injury lawyer. Indeed, “personal injury law” covers a broad category of types of cases and legal issues, including motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, nursing home abuse and wrongful death. Given the wide scope of personal injury, how can you identify the right attorney to help you with your case?
“I think people should do a little bit of research before deciding,” says Randall O. Sorrels, a personal injury attorney with Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz in Houston. “If someone is approaching you, that’s a pretty big red flag.”
Here’s what to look for in your research.
Obviously, the first thing you should look for is experience. You want a lawyer whose practice focuses on personal injury cases, particularly the type of claim you intend to bring. For example, if you have been injured in a car accident, you want to find an attorney who has experience in dealing with motor vehicle cases.
Experience matters for many reasons. First and foremost, you need help from an attorney who actually understands the law, since you probably do not. Second, an experienced lawyer is in the best position to advise you on the likelihood of success. Most personal injury cases settle without going to trial. This means you need an attorney who is a capable negotiator, not just a litigator.
“You should probably consider a board-certified lawyer, meaning someone with an adequate amount of experience, passed the bar, and continues to be in the courthouse as a trial lawyer,” Sorrels adds.
Even a seemingly routine accident can raise a number of complex legal questions. This is why it is important to have a personal injury lawyer with the resources to handle your case. Many personal injury claims require expert testimony to help a judge or jury understand some of the facts of your case. This requires extensive preparation on the part of your attorney, who must not only identify and deal with such experts, but also prepare additional exhibits, reports, and other evidence that needs to be presented at trial.
While some clients feel more comfortable dealing with a small law office, such as a sole practitioner, a complicated personal injury case may require a larger firm with additional attorneys and staff. “I would meet them in their office to size everything up,” Sorrels says, from what they’re front doorstep looks like to how they conduct business in their firm.
Conversely, if you are dealing with a large firm, you will want reassurance that an experienced attorney is handling your case. Meet with them in person and ask if they will personally handle your case or if they plan to pass you off to others.
Reputation & Personal Assessment
Many times, the best way to find a personal injury lawyer is through word of mouth. Talk to a friend who has had a positive experience with their own attorney. You can also contact the local bar association to get a referral.
“I would probably read the ratings and reviews people write about law firms,” Sorrels adds. “I haven’t seen a perfect score yet, but the best ones should be pretty close to the top.”
The legitimacy of some things, such as organizational affiliations, can be tough to decipher. If you’re worried, Sorrels recommends looking them up on the state bar website to see if there have been any disciplinary complaints. “And if you’re really assertive, you can check if they’ve been sued a bunch.”
There is, of course, no substitute for meeting with a potential attorney in person to assess his or her credentials. Hiring a personal injury attorney is a major decision and you should not hesitate to ask questions about the lawyer’s experience and resources. Asking these questions upfront can help ensure that you will have a smooth working relationship with your Texas personal injury lawyer for your personal injury lawsuit going forward.