If you have been involved in an accident, discussing your case with a personal injury attorney is essential to determine whether you are entitled to compensation. These attorneys work with experts who can evaluate your injuries and address financial issues related to your accident.
Here is a look at how to find a qualified personal injury lawyer in California.
Word Of Mouth
If you know anyone who has recently been injured by another party, such as in a car accident, ask them which attorney they used and whether they were happy with their services. This can help guide you toward attorneys worth considering and those you should steer clear of. Even if your acquaintances have not personally been injured, they may have a friend or relative who can provide a recommendation.
Remember, however, that you should only focus on personal injury attorneys; divorce attorneys, for example, may need to gain experience in these cases to represent you successfully.
Conduct An Online Search
For many individuals, especially those who cannot obtain recommendations from acquaintances, the first step is searching on a search engine such as Google. You might consider entering terms such as “personal injury attorney” followed by the name of your city.
However, this will only give you a list of the attorneys in your area; it will provide little guidance on the quality of the names it produces. Nevertheless, it can serve as a good starting point. Any lawyers whose websites look professional and make a positive impression on you can be researched further to determine whether they are worth interviewing.
Search Reputable Legal Directories
There are several reputable legal directories that are akin to search engines but focus solely on finding attorneys. Here are some guides to consider:
FindLaw is a popular legal directory that offers searchers the biographies and contact information for attorneys in their area. Users can select the legal issue they are facing from a pull-down menu – in this case, select the “Personal Injury” category – and enter their zip code, and the site will show a list of attorneys in their area.
Users can follow a link to the different attorneys’ websites, and the site also allows users to leave a review. However, this is not a popular feature on the site, and you may not find any user reviews for most of the names on the list.
One of the most famous lawyer directories is Avvo, which offers extensive information about attorneys, including their contact information, ratings, and the law school they attended.
One handy feature of this site is that it notes whether each attorney has ever been disciplined by their state bar.
To find attorneys, type “personal injury” into the “Practice area or lawyer name” box and enter your city or zip code into the location box to see results. The attorneys on the first page of results for cities such as San Diego and Los Angeles all have multiple reviews posted by clients.
Be sure to take the time to read the individual reviews of the attorneys you are considering. Avvo also publishes its rating of the attorneys and lists how long they have been licensed. Some lawyers also list their hourly rates, contingency fees, and the length of free consultations they offer.
Interview Potential Attorneys
Once you have created a list of potential personal injury attorneys, find out whether they offer free consultations. This allows you to ask questions about their practice and your case. Prepare a list of questions beforehand. Some questions you may want to ask are how often they handle cases like yours, whether they have taken points to trial, how much they believe your case may be worth, and a list of previous victories, including settlements and verdicts.
Some other areas to consider during this meeting include the following:
Before signing a retainer, understand the attorney’s fee structure. Those who say they do not get paid unless they win your case are working on a contingency basis. California personal injury lawyers generally take between 25 and 40 percent of the money awarded in these cases, but some may require you to cover fees incurred during the process. Find out what they are and how much they may end up costing.
Finally, you will want to gauge whether you feel the attorney fits your personality. You will be working closely with them throughout your case and need to feel comfortable discussing what transpired in the accident with them. Choose someone easy to talk to and responsive to your questions and concerns. There are plenty of personal injury attorneys in California, so there is no need to work with someone who does not feel like a good fit.