Unfortunately you have been injured as a result of someone else’s bad, negligent, lazy, stupid (take your pick) behavior. Whether you were hit by a texting driver, a sleepy tractor trailer operator, or a drunk driver, you need a lawyer. Whether you had a slip and fall because someone didn’t keep their premises safe, you need a lawyer. Whether you were injured by a defective product, you need a lawyer. So how do you go about choosing one?
You have already done all of the things I have told you to do right after you got hurt. You have determined you are injured, now you need to proceed with seeking recovery for your injuries.
So you go about the task of picking a lawyer. You know what to look for. You have met someone you think might be good. But that is when the real challenge begins.
Choosing a lawyer is the most important decision you can make for your case. Choose the right lawyer at the start and everything will likely go smooth and things will work out. Choose the wrong lawyer and you can plan to travel a very unpleasant road to a very unsuccessful destination. So how do you know if you have the right person for the job? There are four tough questions that will make the wrong lawyer squirm. These are the questions your lawyer doesn’t want to hear- but you have to ask.
1. WHO WILL HANDLE MY CASE?
More likely than not, you chose a particular lawyer because he or she was recommended to you or you are aware of his or her reputation. That is the man or woman for the job you think. However, here is the problem. The most well- known lawyers are often rainmakers. Their job is to bring in business. They then hand the case off to a colleague. If you are fortunate enough to see them on the first appointment, you will probably never see them again.
If you are hiring a lawyer for his or her track record, that is who you want. You do not want your calls taken by a legal assistant or an associate, let alone have your case handled by one. Expect your attorney to answer this question with things like- “Well I have so many cases, obviously I cant handle them all.” Or “I have a very well trained staff and I supervise everything they do.” These are the answers of trained lawyers designed to convince you to represent them. They are also not good answers. It means you will not be seeing the person you came for.
By contrast, please ask me that question. I handle every case in my office personally, no matter the size. I take all of my phone calls personally and return all of my emails personally, just like I am typing this blog myself right now. If you hire Dave Weissman, you get Dave Weissman.
2. HOW OFTEN WILL WE COMMUNICATE?
This is another one that makes lawyers uncomfortable. You will typically get an insincere answer like “as often as you want.” This is not true, in the experience of many clients who come to me from other lawyers. You can call as much as you want, but that doesn’t mean you will get a return call. You ere made to feel like the most important person in the world during the interview process, but once you are signed up, you might feel like an inconvenience.
I have an actual plan that I commit to. If you are my client, you will have an ongoing appointment to speak with me every four weeks, whether in person or by phone- your choice. I schedule those appointments the day you first come in to my office. It is extremely important you know what is happening with your case and I know what is happening with your life, so we need to talk regularly. That is how I get great results on your case.
Additionally, if you call or email my office, you have my promise you will get a return call or email from me within 48 hours. I am not always in the office, but I will never leave you hanging. Test me- call my office. You will speak with me.
3. WHAT IS MY CASE WORTH?
This is the one lawyers actually like up front, because they can sell you by promising the moon. Unfortunately, oftentimes, they then don’t deliver. If a lawyer tells you at your first visit what your case is worth, RUN, DON’T WALK in the opposite direction.
I have addressed this in detail in other posts. There are parameters and guidelines, categories of damages that only experienced skilled attorneys can discuss in detail in a way you can understand. It is impossible to address with any certainty these factors until you have been treating with a doctor and records and bills have been reviewed. A very common answer you will get is “three times the medical bills and lost wages.” THIS IS A GARBAGE ANSWER. DO NOT TRUST IT.
If you have ever sold a house and interviewed a real estate agent, you may have had someone promise you a great price to get you to sign up, only to tell you the market tanked and you need to drop the price two weeks later. Lawyers do this with case values. BE AFRAID of the lawyer who tells you what you want to hear without knowing the facts.
4. SHOULD I GET A SECOND OPINION?
This is the question you must ask when interviewing a lawyer. It is the single most important question you can ask. You meet the lawyer, you spend time with him or her and feel a connection, then you ask- do you think I should interview other lawyers? If the answer is anything but yes, you are talking to the wrong lawyer.
No skilled professional, whether a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant, should ever fear getting a second opinion. In fact, they should welcome it. I always encourage my clients to get one before they hire me. With all the stress involved with the legal process, you don’t want any doubts about your selection of lawyer. If you have met with several you can be confident with your choice.
Choosing a lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. The result of your case can literally impact the rest of your life. To ensure a successful result, you have to make sure you are with the person right for you. Ask the questions above, listen to the responses, and watch the body language. By doing so, you can make certain you have hired the right person for the job. I would be honored to have a chance to answer these questions for you.
For more questions answered check our Personal Injury FAQ page.
The most important case is your case.