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.
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.