What Red Flags Should You Watch Out For Before Choosing A Lawyer To Handle Your Case?

October 20, 2021 | 6:00 am


There are countless personal injury law firms out there, but not all of them are reputable. Some of them advertise themselves to be “local,” but they are not. Some of them never actually work on your case once hired, or speak to clients about their cases. And some of them have no real expertise in your type of case.

Here, attorney Matt Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles answers the question: What red flags you should know when choosing a lawyer to handle your case? There are four red flags you need to know when choosing an accident or injury lawyer:

 

1) You’re not meeting with a lawyer from the first meeting.

If you’re not meeting with your attorney from day one, the likelihood of you actually talking to your lawyer throughout your case is essentially zero.

During your first meeting, your attorney should listen to the details of your case and provide you with some important information, and after your initial consultation, you should be able to determine the following:

  • Whether you have a valid claim: The initial consultation should include a discussion of the facts and potential legal claims surrounding your issue. The lawyer should be able to tell you, based on the law and the information you provide, whether you have a legitimate case from a legal standpoint.
  • Whether you need a lawyer: The attorney should be able to tell you whether you need the services of an attorney or whether you’re better off resolving the case on your own. This decision often involves weighing the potential damages you can recover against the financial cost of hiring an attorney.
  • Whether the attorney can help you: The attorney should be able to tell you whether they handle your type of case or whether you need to seek out a different type of attorney. In some cases, the attorney may provide you with a specific reference to another attorney who can better meet your needs.
  • What their services will cost: An initial consultation should include a discussion of the fees that the attorney may charge. In addition to providing some idea of overall cost, the attorney should explain the fee arrangement, such as contingency fee, flat fee, or hourly fee.

If, at the end of your initial consultation, both you and the attorney want to form an attorney-client relationship, the attorney will provide you with an agreement to sign, or take your contact information and send you an engagement agreement to sign later. Once the agreement is signed by you and the attorney, an attorney-client relationship is formed.

 

2) You only speak to the lawyer on the phone.

Same as the first red flag: It’s not likely you’ll ever meet your lawyer in person, and it may be possible the attorney isn’t actually licensed. Be sure you are able to meet your attorney in person if you deem necessary. Additionally, if a lawyer doesn’t have time to meet with you in person about your case, how will the attorney have time to actually fight your case?

 

3) They’re an out-of-town law firm, but advertise themselves to be local.

In these cases, the odds of you ever meeting your attorney face-to-face are very, very low. When searching for a lawyer, take note of the actual address for the lawyer. Many times, lawyers from big cities and surrounding areas will purchase “virtual” offices in other areas, which will show Google and other online map systems they have offices in other areas. In fact, the attorneys almost never show their faces in these offices. Such is the case with several law firms who advertise heavily in the Bakersfield area, and hold virtual offices at 4900 California Avenue and 1430 Truxtun Avenue. If you can’t trust them to be honest about where their offices actually are, or if they’ll be available to meet with you in your city, how could you trust them to do a good job on your case?

 

4) They say they “do it all.”

If you want a lawyer who is an expert in your type of case, you want an attorney who only handles your type of case. That is, if you want a lawyer to handle your accident and injury cases, you don’t want a lawyer who also handles family law or bankruptcy law. Accident and injury cases are extremely complicated cases that require years of focus and experience to develop expertise, and be able to really serve clients appropriately.

 

In summary, make sure you hire a lawyer who is an expert in your case, has vast experience, meets with you in person during your first consultation and throughout your case, and has an actual office in your area.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

Free Consultation? Keep These Points In Mind When Meeting With A Lawyer On Your Injury Case

June 16, 2021 | 6:00 am


You always hear about “free consultations” by lawyers, but what does that really mean, and what should a great consultation look like for someone who needs legal help?

Accident and injury attorney Matt Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles answers this frequently asked legal question in a new video below, and we share everything you need to know below about consultations from an accident and injury lawyer.

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Accident and personal injury claims can be complicated, which is why it’s most important to hire an experienced and reputable attorney. There are three main points to keep in mind when beginning the hiring process and meeting with a lawyer for a free consultation:

1) Make sure it’s a reputable law firm or lawyer giving you a consultation. Do your research. Look at reviews and comments from past clients. Negative reviews and lack of client feedback is a big red flag. Remember, personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers should be helping clients move forward with their lives. Don’t hesitate to ask a potential lawyer for references.

2) Make sure you’re meeting with an actual attorney. You’d be surprised how often injured clients never get to meet with an attorney either before their case is signed up, or during a case. That is unacceptable. A lawyer should always be available to meet with you and answer any questions you may have about your case from the first meeting on.

3) A consultation should be free, confidential, and with no obligation to commit. Anything other than free, confidential, and no-pressure meetings is never OK.

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Once you decide which attorneys you’ll meet with about your case, you’ll want to be aware of several things in preparation for the initial consultation. Most injury lawyers offer an initial consultation at no charge. Here are 5 points to keep in mind before you sit down with an attorney to discuss your case:

1) You Can Ask Questions: You want to make sure you hire someone you feel comfortable with, who you can trust, and who has your best interest at heart. Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • What is your experience with my type of case?
  • What is your success record?
  • Who will actually be working on my case? Make sure your case isn’t handed off to a paralegal or legal assistant. You want to make sure an actual lawyer is taking care of your case.
  • Who can I talk to if I have questions during my case? An attorney should always be available to answer any of your questions.
  • How long does it take to resolve a case like mine? Potential lawyers should be able to give you a rough estimate.
  • What is my case worth? A good, experienced lawyer should also have a good idea of what your case is worth. Be wary of attorneys who make estimates that seem unrealistic.

2) Fees: A consultation should always be free and confidential, and the injury lawyers should always work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing out of pocket until the legal team recovers money damages in your case through a settlement or verdict. At that point, the lawyer is given a percentage of that award, typically between 33% and 40% if the case is taken to trial. Review the contract and agree on the structure before signing it. In this format, the attorney is responsible for any legal costs if a case is unsuccessful, not the client.

3) Gather Evidence: The lawyer, too, can decide whether or not he or she wants to take your case. Be sure to come to your free consultation with any evidence of you incident and subsequent injuries. This could include photographs of the scene or injuries, a police report, and medical records. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the records; if a lawyer is interested in your case, the legal team will be able to gather all of that information for you. The attorney will also have some questions, including detail about any accident.

4) Legal Team: You need to feel comfortable working with and trusting the attorney and legal team you ultimately choose. Some law firms send non-attorneys to sign up your case, or even pretend to be local when their offices are actually in another city. Still others shift work to non-lawyers. Many lawyers, also, will take on too many cases, causing unnecessary delays. Lawyers should also focus on taking each to a jury trial, even this likely won’t be necessary. This guarantees each case reaches its fullest value, and your case isn’t settled for less.

5) No Agreement: While you have a choice on who to hire, the attorney too might not accept your case due to a number of factors: conflict of interest, statute of limitations expired, minor injuries and small recovery, you caused the accident, or the attorney doesn’t have expertise in your case. If a lawyer can’t help you with your case, he or she should be able to refer you to someone who could help.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

‘Law Day at the Mall’ provides free legal advice to people of Kern County

May 10, 2017 | 10:15 am


Once a year, lawyers throughout Kern County come together for one day to offer free legal advice to anyone who may have a legal question.

It’s called “Law Day at the Mall,” and it took place on May 4 at Valley Plaza Mall in Bakersfield.

“What we try to do is give the public the opportunity to come out for a few hours talk to lawyer in a variety of fields and ask whatever questions they may have, and get some free information,” said James Yoro, Chain | Cohn | Stiles workers’ compensation lawyer on KGET-17’s Sunrise Show. Yoro also serves as the president of the Kern County Bar Association.

Yoro continued: “What we try to do is give people the opportunity to have a one-on-one, face-to-face meeting with lawyers that they normally may not go to, but here’s their opportunity to ask whatever legal questions they may have and hopefully get some answers to help them in whatever their situation might be … All of their attorneys are volunteering their time on a pro-bono basis, so that members of the public will get this opportunity.”

“Law Day” is presented by the Kern County Bar Association in collaboration with the Kern County Law Library, which is a self-help center that provides legal resources to assist those representing themselves in court. First celebrated in 1958, Law Day is a day to honor the rule of law, and an opportunity to educate the public. It’s officially celebrated on May 1 each year in the United States.

“Law Day” is celebrated in other places throughout Kern County as well. At Bakersfield College each year, the campus hosts a conference focused on law, including panels and information sessions for prospective law school students.

It’s also a chance for individuals to discuss these issues with the confidential nature of an attorney-client relationship without actually forming such a relationship. Dozens of attorneys are available during “Law Day at the Mall,” and have expertise on family law, criminal defense, real estate, personal injury, workers’ compensation, immigration, and much more.

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If you or someone you know is injured at work or at the fault of someone else, please call the personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com. Chain | Cohn | Stiles always provide free consultations on your potential injury case.