Choosing the right personal injury lawyer to represent you may at first seem to be a daunting task. There are hundreds of personal injury lawyers in New York City vying for your attention and business via TV, radio and Google ads.
But choosing the right lawyer is more than a matter of simply clicking on the top ad in Google or calling the first phone number you see on a bus ad. To find the most qualified candidate to take on your case, it’s best to take the time to do, as lawyers like to say, your “due diligence.”
While most personal injury lawsuits have a 3-year statute of limitations in New York State, you still have time to make a wise and reasoned decision. If you know the right questions to ask, you’ll have a much better chance of finding a great legal advocate to win your case in court or through the settlement process. So here are some questions we hope will make your task less daunting and your results more satisfying:
What kind of trial experience do you have?
While personal injury lawsuits are often settled out of court, it’s vital to choose a personal injury lawyer with experience conducting effective trials in court.
Why? Two reasons: first, when you’re up against a big adversary (for example, a big corporation or a municipal agency), your lawyer’s ability to win cases at trial gives you real credibility in negotiations with the other side. Secondly, if your opponent is unwilling to settle and insists on a court battle, a lawyer with trial experience provides you the greatest chance of actually winning your case in court.
So make sure any lawyer you hire isn’t just “talking the talk” but can actually “walk the walk” in terms of persuading a jury that your case has merit and that the award you seek is just and fair.
Do you have experience in cases involving the specific type of injury that I’ve suffered?
Personal injury law is highly specialized; just because a lawyer has a great track record in winning, say, motor vehicle accident injury cases doesn’t mean that he or she will be the best advocate for you if you’ve suffered an injury because of a defective product or a botched medical procedure. Achieving mastery in these highly specialized areas often takes many years of study and practice.
Make sure you choose a lawyer with years of real-world experience in the area concerning your injury. Most personal injury lawyers list their successful case results on their websites, so explore these areas and look for case wins involving the specific type of injury you’ve suffered.
Who exactly will be handling my case?
Many law firms will attempt to impress you by the fact that they’ve got dozens of lawyers and paraprofessionals working in their offices. While there’s nothing wrong with having a big team, but size of a law firm isn’t what really matters when it comes to winning your case. What does matter is that your case gets the undivided attention of an expert lawyer who, over time, can build the strongest case possible for you.
The last thing you want is for your all-important personal injury case to be being passed around from lawyer to lawyer, as often done in big law firms. So make sure to ask of your candidate the question: “who will actually be handling my case?”
What does the world think of your firm?
Part of your “due diligence” is to check the reputation your prospective personal injury lawyer. Is he or she in good standing with the local bar association, or does he/she have any disciplinary actions filed against him/her? What do past clients say about the lawyer? Does he/she have top ratings from 3rd party evaluation web sites (such as SuperLawyers.com)? Is he/she considered an “authority” in the field (such can be ascertained by referring to membership in local law organizations, for example, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association)?
Learning as much as you can about the firm’s reputation will put you in a much better position to evaluate your prospective lawyer’s fitness to serve as a strong advocate in your personal injury case.
Are you easy to communicate with?
Personal injury law can be a highly complex topic riddled with Latin words and legal jargon, but a good lawyer will strive to communicate with you in clear language that you completely understand. This is also a very useful skill to use in convincing juries.
Like a doctor with a good “bedside manner,” a good personal lawyer will take the time to listen to you, answer your questions thoughtfully, and inform you of the next steps you must take. Even though successful personal injury lawyers are always busy, the best of them are deeply aware of the gravity of a personal injury on a human level. If the lawyer seems rushed, impatient, or unwilling to take sufficient time with you, consider that a red flag and move on to another candidate.
Whatever the substance of your conversation with your lawyer candidate, at the end of your encounter you should experience clarity, not confusion, and have a clearer indication of what your next step should be.
If you’ve been injured and wish to speak with one of Greenberg Law P.C.’s attorneys, we’d be glad to have a conversation with you about your experience.