November 13, 2013

Choosing the best personal injury attorney for your case can be an extremely challenging job.  Choosing the wrong attorney could mean choosing a DC injury lawyer who hasn’t kept up to date on the local law and recent court decisions, or perhaps an injury attorney who just wants to settle the case quickly.  No seriously injured person wants these types of outcomes.

The following is a list of five questions that are helpful to ask a personal injury attorney before making the decision to retain him or her for your injury case:

1. Do you primarily handle personal injury matters?

There are many lawyers who take whatever cases they can to pay the rent and practice in a variety of areas.  Many attorneys who take every case they can get do not have the experience and ability to handle a personal injury case from the beginning, through trial, and all the way to the end.  A seasoned injury attorney makes strategic decisions along the way based on prior experience to ensure full compensation for the victim.  An attorney who has taken only a handful of personal injury cases may lack the necessary experience to make prudent decisions about your personal injury case.  Remember, the American court system is adversarial and the defendants want to pay the personal injury victim as little as possible.

Asking an attorney how many personal injury cases they have tried will give you a quick picture about the attorney’s relevant experience level.  But just knowing how many cases they have taken doesn’t give you a full professional picture.  Our team of seasoned attorneys at The Cochran Firm, D.C. have each tried many personal injury cases. We only hire experienced attorneys and they have an average of more than 10 years of civil injury experience.

2. How many personal injury cases have you taken to trial?

Some attorneys do not understand or do not have the experience needed to bring a case before a jury.  Some attorneys can be overwhelmed by this often-daunting process and do not want to go through the hassle and expense of lining up witnesses, experts, and evidence.  Some simply do not have the necessary resources.  In order to maximize a recovery, the attorney must be willing to bring the case to trial if necessary.

This is why it is important to know whether the personal injury attorney you hire has the experience and knowledge to bring a case to trial.  Some law firms try to get settlements from defendants as fast as possible, no matter if the victim deserved much more than the amount offered for settlement.  These law firms may not serve the best interests of injury and accident victims.  These law firms impersonally try to settle as many cases as possible out of court, often because they do not know or do not care to know how to bring a case to trial.  The insurance companies know which law firms subscribe to this philosophy and their settlement tactics can reflect this knowledge.

3. Will my case get individual attention from a partner?

Some large personal injury law firms have low-level associates and paralegals handle cases in an assembly-line factory style.  Inexperienced attorneys and non-attorney staff members may make mistakes on your case that could result in a recovery that won’t cover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.  Therefore, it is very important to ask a personal injury law firm whether your case is going to get individualized personal attention from an experienced partner.  Personal attention from an experienced partner means your case is being overseen by someone who’s been through the battle trenches and knows what it takes to attain the best outcome for a personal injury victim.

Our firm only handles serious injury cases.  We do not handle a large volume of cases and therefore your case will get the individual attention it deserves.

4. Is your office in my area?

There are many personal injury law firms with an Internet presence that appear to be in cities where they do not actually have offices.  These outfits are sometimes referral companies that market your case to local firms and provide case leads to other attorneys.  What this means for you, the personal injury victim, is your case won’t be handled by the firm you think you’re hiring.  An easy way to find out if the firm has an active local presence is to schedule a consultation.

5. Has your firm received peer-reviewed awards?

Some law firms in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have been recognized by their peers and the local community for their excellent service to their clients and as exemplary examples of professionalism.  Some of these awards include “Super Lawyers,” “Best Lawyers in America,” and “The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers.”  These awards show that the attorneys care about their profession and the community at large.

Super Lawyers provides an annual rating service of outstanding lawyers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The independent selection process is a research-driven, peer nominated and evaluated rating service recognizing lawyers who have attained a high degree of professional achievement.  A small percentage of lawyers in each region are able to achieve this distinction.  Several of our attorneys have been granted Super Lawyers awards.

The lawyers listed in Best Lawyers in America are selected by their peers as “the best” in 57 specialties, including personal injury and medical malpractice law.  Our experienced attorneys have also achieved awards from Best Lawyers, and other publications, for their work in personal injury and medical malpractice matters.

These five questions are a good start when researching personal injury attorneys.  It pays to do your research and ask the right questions.  We look forward to the opportunity to speak with you about your case.