A Guide to Selecting Personal Injury Lawyer
You were injured at the fault of another. You think or know it is time to get help in handling your claim. Where to start? What do you need to consider? Having the right Personal Injury Lawyer from the start can make a big difference in the outcome of your personal injury claim.
For some people, they type in attorney into the search bar on their computers and call the first number that appears. For others, they spend weeks reviewing website, asking friends and family, and calling around town before contacting a lawyer. Here are some considerations when conducting your search that will give you some options but not overburden you.
Location: Personal injury claims often require client involvement throughout the process. Many claims end up in litigation requiring discovery request, depositions, and possibly a trial that the client must attend. Therefore, it is important to find an attorney that is located in your area. If you hire an attorney on the other side of the state or country, you may regret having all your communication via phone/email or having to travel. Personal injury law varies widely from State to State. Further, civil procedure can vary dramatically from court to court. It is important to know whether your attorney is experienced with the court where your claim may end up.
Community Ties: An injury attorney that is connected with your local area likely will know the professional community and be able to provide valuable referrals to other professional such as medical providers, accountants, financial professionals, vehicle repair shops, etc. If your community is important to you, you probably would prefer a lawyer that is well connected and well respected within community. Personal injury attorneys create strong bonds with their clients that can last a lifetime. This is not a simple transaction. An attorney that has strong ties to the community has built up trust and influence among many people over many years. If the attorney/firm is involved with reputable local organization, charities, business associations, the more likely it is the firm has good standing and trust in the community.
Referrals: The old style of hiring an attorney revolved solely around asking friends and family for referrals. This remains a reliable way to find reputable lawyers. If you trust a friend, family member, medical provider, etc., then such person’s referral will and should carry great weight in your decision to hire a certain lawyer. You may consider obtaining a handful of referrals from community members and then go further research to vet the candidates. One of the best ways to evaluate whether to hire an attorney is speaking to a former client.
Credentials: Your personal injury lawyer should have a reputable academic background. In Washington State, it is possible to be an attorney without graduating from law school through a clerk program with the State Bar. This is a unique program not found in many other states. If it is important for you to know your attorney spend three years of post-graduate work studying law and graduated from a reputable law school, you should ensure you know his or her credentials before hiring them. Next, your lawyer should be licensed with the State Bar where the claim arose. In Washington State, you can look up licensed attorneys through the Washington State Bar Association webpage: https://www.mywsba.org/LegalDirectory.aspx. You can also see whether the Bar has taken disciplinary action against such attorney. Also, the attorney should be a member of the local bar association such as the Benton-Franklin Counties Bar Association (http://www.bentonfranklinbar.com/) or the Yakima County Bar Association. Here is the Washington State Bar Associations list of local bars: https://www.wsba.org/connect-serve/other-bars/county-minority-specialty-bars. Lastly, if the attorney claims to be a personal injury lawyer, he/she should be a member of the Washington State Association of Justice (https://www.washingtonjustice.org). Further, personal injury claims often end up in litigation. You should ensure the lawyer you hire has experience trying cases. It is okay to ask the attorney what experience they have in litigation claims.
Internet Reviews: Hiring an attorney is not like going to a restaurant or shopping at a retail store. For an injury claim, it involves month and years of ongoing work. It is a complex service. Reading internet reviews about a lawyer or law firm may be helpful; however, it should not be your only method to find an attorney. Keep in mind that, generally, people that review businesses online do so because they either had a very good experience or a very bad experience. Further, legal cases are very personal. Often times a personal injury claim involves sensitive medical and personal information. A vast majority of people do not wish to freely share they hired an attorney let alone the substance of that representation. Thus, it is likely you will not see very many reviews for lawyers. On the other hand, a few select firms will have a vastly higher amount of reviews. Be wary of such firms as the reviews may not be credible.
The Johnson & Johnson Law Firm: Our Firm was established in 1999. Since then, we have focused our practice on representing injured people with claims against insurance companies, large corporations, and the government. The Johnson and Johnson Law Firm receives a majority of our new client referrals from local medical providers and prior clients. There are multiple reputable attorneys/lawyers in Central and Eastern Washington State that can represent you. We know you have options. You do not have to hire our firm; however, we want you to make good decisions in the selection of your attorney to avoid bad outcomes and sore feeling in the end.Best of Luck! Jeff Johnson: Personal Injury Attorney – Yakima, Sunnyside, Tri-Cities (West Richland, Richland, Kennewick, Pasco).