What steps should you take in finding the right attorney for your case?
1. Ask an attorney you know to give you a referral to someone who handles personal injury cases. 2. Ask an acquaintance who has used a personal injury attorney and is happy with the results to give you a referral. 3. Contact your local bar association and see if they have a lawyer referral service. However, remember that lawyers listed in such a service have signed up and paid a fee to be listed, and their names come up on a rotating list. Being on that list does not guarantee that they are a good attorney for your case any more than does an advertisement in the Yellow Pages. However, this may be a good way to get several names to start the interview process. 4. You may look through the Yellow Pages for attorneys that advertise for personal injury cases, but be careful. Remember that not everyone advertises in the Yellow Pages. For example, we receive most of our cases as referrals from other attorneys and satisfied clients. Also, watch out for ads that list too many different specialties, since no one does everything well. Ask them why, if they are so good at personal injury work, they need all those other practice areas to survive. Beware of personal injury attorneys with full-page (or multiple page) ads. These ads are very expensive and attract many of the smaller personal injury cases that our firm does not accept. If the firm advertising with a full page accepts lots of cases, be sure that they will have time to do a good job on your case. Also ask them why, if they are good at what they do, they need such a huge ad in order to get clients. 5. Interview several attorneys. Ask each attorney for the names of other attorneys who handle these types of cases. The names that come up again and again when you ask this question should constitute a good list for you to begin your search for the right attorney for your case. If you ask this question and the attorney does not give you any other attorney names, get up and leave. Any attorney who handles personal injury work on a regular basis will know of many other good attorneys who do the same work. If the attorney will not give you any other attorney names, either he does not practice in the area enough to know who else handles the same type of cases, or they are desperate to sign you up and are afraid of having you speak to other attorneys. An attorney who is desperate for cases may pressure you to accept settlement that is less than the case is worth, or may sign up too many cases to be able to do a good job on any of them. Either way, you should not use that attorney for your case. 6. Before you talk to the attorney, ask if they have a booklet of information like this one or a web site that you can go to for more information about their methods for handling cases and their experience and qualifications. 7. You should be wary of any attorney that pressures you to sign a contract quickly. As mentioned before, not every case requires an attorney. Remember that attorneys that sign up too many cases may not have the time and resources to properly prepare your case. Also, you should be given time to review the contract at home in a relaxed setting (or even to interview several attorneys) before you make the decision to hire an attorney. 8. Beware any attorney who contacts you, trying to get you to hire him for your particular claim. At our firm, we only send this Texas Personal Injury Guide to those who first contact us and request it. Texas has strict rules regarding attorneys, or anyone working on behalf of an attorney, who solicit clients after an accident either by telephone, in person (on the street, in the hospital, etc.) or in writing. You should beware of attorneys who engage in such obnoxious practices. 9. Be wary of any attorney who wants to send you to a particular doctor or set of doctors. When it later comes out, as it always does, that you found your doctor through your attorney, it can severely damage your case. 10. Before hiring an attorney, make sure you understand how you will be kept informed of your case's progress. In our office, we usually send a copy of every piece of correspondence or pleading to the client. We also explain the estimated timeframe for the case and are happy to answer questions via telephone and e-mail. If appropriate, we can set up a telephone conference time that is convenient for both you and our office. You may also set an appointment to come in and discuss your case at a time that is convenient for you. Ask any attorney you are considering hiring how they will insure that you are kept informed regarding your case. 11. Be sure and find out who will actually work on your case. Some things can be handled by legal assistants. However, if you are hiring an attorney because you like and trust them and believe in their skills, you want to make sure that attorney is the one who is actually going to negotiate with the insurance company and, if necessary, try your case. 12. This may sound silly, but be sure that the attorney you hire is licensed to practice law in Texas. Believe it or not, some attorneys that advertise in Texas for personal injury cases are not licensed to practice law in Texas. This means that they cannot personally take the case to trial in Texas without hiring local counsel or getting special permission from the court. Insurance companies know this information and may take your out-of-state attorney less seriously as a result.