A good attorney is crucial to maximizing compensation after a slip and fall. Here’s how to select the best attorney for your injury case.
There’s no shortage of personal injury attorneys. You’ve probably seen advertisements for them on TV, billboards, busses, and online.
With so many to choose from, it’s hard to determine the best one for your slip and fall claim.
Should you hire the first one in your online search results? What about the one your coworker recommends or the one with the closest office to your house?
The success of your injury claim will rely, in part, on the amount and quality of work that your attorney is willing to perform. Hiring the wrong one will likely reduce the compensation you receive for your injuries.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you want to hire a slip and fall lawyer. However, there are several steps you can take to ensure that you select a trustworthy attorney who will stand up for your rights. These steps require some time and effort, but it’s worth it to receive fair compensation for your slip and fall injuries.
Find a Reputable Injury Attorney
One of the most critical factors in choosing an attorney is trust. This trust includes knowing that a lawyer will do their job effectively.
Trust also includes knowing that they’ll treat you honestly and keep personal information confidential.
If you don’t feel like you can trust a potential slip and fall lawyer, move on. You could easily sabotage your case by hiring an untrustworthy advocate.
A good way to learn early on if you can trust an attorney is to check with your state and local bar association to make sure the lawyer is in good standing.
Are There Attorneys in Your Network?
It’s best to have a small pool of attorneys to choose from. You can use your own social network to add to your list of potential slip and fall lawyers.
If you’ve previously hired a lawyer for another civil matter, a divorce, a bankruptcy, or a contract dispute, they’re an excellent place to start.
If you had a positive experience with them, ask if they can refer you to a slip and fall attorney that they trust. They can likely refer you to at least one other lawyer who has similar philosophies and values about practicing law.
Ask your family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers if they’ve worked with a personal injury lawyer in the past. Maybe they used one they liked and had good results.
Even if the people in your life haven’t used an injury attorney, they may have needed legal help for other purposes. You could ask them to reach out to that attorney for a referral.
Review Attorney Ratings
After you find an injury attorney you want to learn more about, review their ratings.
Online rating directories provide information about the lawyer’s practice and standing. Typically, the ratings are objective and gauge an attorney’s reputation and skills.
Consider the following sources:
- Avvo Ratings. Avvo provides attorney ratings, law school attendance, and contact info. It also tells you if the state bar association has ever disciplined the lawyer.
- Super Lawyers. This site is part of Thomson Reuters and gives an attorney’s contact information, education, and biographical information.
Attorney Websites and Social Media
It’s okay to review attorney websites and social media accounts. You can find out their office location, what types of cases they handle, and get a general idea of how they approach injury claims.
You can also read reviews from former clients on both of these resources. However, don’t let these reviews determine who you hire. A lawyer might have paid for some reviews or fielded some from friends trying to help.
How to Compare Slip and Fall Attorneys
After receiving recommendations and checking ratings, limit your list of possible professionals to three or four lawyers. You can narrow the field by comparing the different professionals you found.
You’ll need to consider several aspects when comparing different attorneys. First, though, take note of the few aspects that shouldn’t have too much influence in your decision.
Of course, you want an attorney with a law degree who has passed the state bar. But, their standings in their law school class or what law school they attended doesn’t truly matter that much.
At the end of the day, you want an effective attorney who has excellent negotiation skills and a history of obtaining high settlements. These attributes are more important than if a lawyer graduated from an Ivy League school at the top of their class.
Some attorneys have offices in modern high-rise buildings. Others have basement offices in older buildings. However, it doesn’t matter how fancy a lawyer’s office is if they can’t get the case results you need.
Your goal for legal representation is to receive compensation, not to hire the lawyer with the most appealing office. Looks can be deceiving. An attorney with a luxurious office won’t necessarily be the best one for your claim.
Instead of focusing on a lawyer’s education and office, concentrate on their legal experience and financial stability.
The attorneys on your list may have only been in practice a couple of years, or maybe they have decades of personal injury experience. There are benefits to each.
A less experienced lawyer could welcome new cases and have the time and resources to give your claim the attention it deserves. Those that are just beginning their law career are eager to prove themselves and build a reputable practice. Their clients benefit from their enthusiasm.
A more experienced attorney, though, might have an intense caseload that makes them unavailable to handle your case. This is a bad thing. But experience can also mean a lawyer has a positive working relationship with insurance adjusters. This is a good thing.
Experienced lawyers might also have a favorable reputation for receiving high settlements or getting the job done in court.
Slip and fall cases can be incredibly complicated and expensive, such as those involving a catastrophic Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI).
Attorneys who take on these clients need significant financial resources. They’ll need to advance payments to expert witnesses, such as medical specialists and actuarial accountants.
Even though they’ll recoup these costs once they successfully negotiate a settlement, the attorney must pay upfront for these services.
If an attorney doesn’t have money to pay for the necessary expert witnesses, they’ll lack the resources to handle a severe injury claim successfully.
Schedule a Free Consultation
At this point, you should only have a couple of potential attorneys on your list. The next step is to meet with them. A consultation is the best way to learn more about a lawyer, how they practice, and how they’ll handle your case.
Most offer free initial consultations. Be sure to bring any claim-related documentation with you for the meeting.
Prepare for your consultation by making a list of your questions or concerns. Leave room on the list to jot down the answers. Below are a few good questions to get you started.
If there are any specific points about your slip and fall claim that you think are essential, jot them down so that you don’t forget to bring them up at the meeting.
Are you board-certified in personal injury law?
Board certification requires the attorney to have extensive courtroom experience and a passing grade on the state bar examination. Having a personal injury board certification means that the lawyer is an expert in personal injury trial law.
It’s okay to hire an attorney who isn’t board-certified, but hiring one who is will give you more confidence in the lawyer’s abilities.
How many slip and fall cases have you handled?
It’s beneficial to hire an attorney who specializes in personal injury law and who has substantial experience with slip and fall claims. These professionals have more specific skills and knowledge that they can apply to your claim.
Do you have time to work on my case now?
Attorneys who are short-staffed and take on too many cases at once won’t likely have the time to handle your claim effectively. Without the prompt attention of an experienced attorney, valuable evidence supporting your claim could become lost or destroyed. If this happens, you won’t receive the compensation you deserve.
Will you notify me of settlement offers?
Personal injury lawyers are responsible for informing their clients about any settlement offers from the insurance company. It’s your case, so you have a right to know when the insurance company makes an offer to settle and for how much.
Are you willing to take my case to trial?
You want a lawyer who isn’t afraid to go to court if you don’t receive a fair settlement offer. They must do all they can to protect your interests, including going to trial if the negotiations don’t work out with an adjuster.
How long will my case take?
No one can tell you when or if your case will settle or go to trial. However, the attorney should have a general idea of how long it might take to resolve.
More experienced lawyers will usually have a good sense of how long cases like yours take to settle or end at trial.
Evaluate Your Experiences
After meeting with several slip and fall lawyers, reflect on your experiences and observations. In doing so, consider the following questions to help determine whether a particular lawyer/law firm is the right fit for you and your case.
Did the receptionist answer your call promptly?
Firms flooded with cases might take some time to answer your call. If so, this delay might indicate that the firm will also delay in handling your claim.
Was the person who answered professional and respectful?
If the person on the phone seemed uncaring, rushed, or rude, it’s not a good sign.
As a client, you might call for frequent updates or have questions. You don’t want to feel like you are inconveniencing the staff with your needs.
How does the attorney handle client calls?
Reputable attorneys are typically busy meeting with their clients, attending depositions, or representing their clients in court. It’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll personally speak with your lawyer each time you call.
However, they should tell you how they’ll handle your calls. A receptionist could direct you to a paralegal who’ll answer your question. They might take a message and have the attorney return your call.
Some attorneys even provide clients with their direct phone number.
Did you meet with the lawyer?
Some lawyers will have a paralegal or other office staff meet with potential new clients. Reputable attorneys, though, will make it a point to ensure they meet with you face-to-face.
Does the lawyer charge for an initial consultation?
When you call to schedule your appointment, ask if it’s free. Trustworthy personal injury attorneys usually don’t charge for a case consultation.
Does the lawyer’s office appear clean and organized?
You want an attorney who is orderly and organized. Those who aren’t might have problems properly handling their cases, keeping track of important documents, and meeting deadlines.
How long did you wait to meet with the lawyer?
Understandably, there might be a wait to see an attorney.
However, keep in mind that if you were forced to wait, it’s good customer service for someone in the office to greet you and give an estimate of your wait time.
You’ll want to place a value on a firm’s customer service skills in evaluating your experiences.
Did you receive the attorney’s undivided attention?
Your slip and fall attorney must give your case the time and attention it deserves. If your potential lawyer couldn’t stay focused on you and your case during the meeting, it’s probably not a good sign.
Did the attorney answer all your questions?
You want to leave your consultation feeling confident that the attorney addressed all of your concerns.
During your consultation, the lawyer should typically discuss:
- The strengths and weaknesses of your case
- How long it might take to settle your claim
- If your case might go to trial
- A settlement estimate
Make sure the lawyer addresses all of these to understand if this is a professional you can trust and rely upon.
Do you feel comfortable and confident with the lawyer?
Once you consider the above questions, you might have a gut feeling about whether this is the right attorney or not. The right one will make you feel comfortable with them and confident in their abilities. Sometimes it’s important to trust your gut.
How does the attorney get paid?
During your meeting, the lawyer should discuss their costs and fees. You need to know how your attorney fees will get paid and what other costs you’ll need to pay, such as photocopy charges and court filing fees.
Most slip and fall injury lawyers receive payments on a contingency fee basis. With a contingency fee, you won’t need to pay them up-front from your own pocket. When your claim settles, they’ll receive a pre-arranged percentage of your settlement for legal fees. If your claim doesn’t settle or go to trial, you owe the attorney nothing.
The slip and fall attorney you select can make or break your claim. If you want to maximize your compensation, take the time to ensure you hire the right one.
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