When someone has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another person, they may decide to seek legal action. One of the first steps in this process is finding a personal injury attorney. This can be done in a myriad of ways such as internet research and personal references. Some doctors and body shops will even have good references because of how often they help people who have been in accidents. It is important to hire a lawyer who is experienced, reputable, and the right fit for your situation. Studies have shown that people who have an attorney generally receive higher settlements than people in similar situations who represent themselves.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
There are some occasions where it may not be necessary to have a personal injury lawyer. Such as when there was only property damage, or the injuries did not require medical treatment, or if you were responsible for the accident. However, much of the time it is wise to have a personal injury attorney who will guide you through the process and make sure that everything is done correctly and in your best interest. A personal injury lawyer can help with:
- Help you find medical treatment
- Communicate with insurance companies
- Help with property damage
- Gather evidence
- Calculate expenses and pain and suffering
- File any paperwork
- Settle liability disputes
- Negotiate a fair settlement
Where to Find Personal Injury Lawyers
Ways to get a personal reference for a lawyer include:
- Friends and family
- Other attorneys
Other ways to find a lawyer include:
- Google searches
- State Bar searches 
- Social media
Referrals from Friends and Acquaintances
One of the best places to start looking for a lawyer is by asking the people around you. The chances are that someone you know has either been in an accident or knows someone who has. A personal reference from a former client can give you a good idea of exactly what to expect from that attorney.
Services That Get Business Referred by Lawyers
Many doctors, body shops, and other professionals who work with accident victims will often have a good professional insight into the best personal injury attorneys. They most likely have several lawyers that they have built relationships with due to having work referred to them and being the service providers that assist in recovering damages.
Referrals from Other Lawyers
Even if you do not know any personal injury lawyers, it is possible you know a lawyer in another field. They may know someone who can help, or at least point you in the right direction. Personal injury is also a very broad category and not every personal injury lawyer is going to handle every type of situation. However, if they cannot assist you, they often have information for someone who can.
The state bar is one of the main ways that someone can narrow down their search for a lawyer. Different states have their own referral service system, whether it’s a phone number or a search engine. There are also various businesses and services that will help match people with the right attorney for them. Even if the fit isn’t quite right, it can still be one of the best ways to get pointed in the right direction.
Things to Look for When Trying to Find a Good Personal Injury Lawyer
There are many things to consider when trying to find the right personal injury lawyer for you. Personal injury is a broad spectrum and there is a large number of attorneys who count it under their areas of practice. The first step is finding someone reputable and trustworthy. Then, you want to narrow it down even further by doing due diligence when looking for the right personal injury lawyer.
Length of Experience
One of the big advantages of having an attorney is that they have experience handling situations like yours. They know what to expect and how to resolve any issue that come up. They know what works and what doesn’t. The longer an attorney has been practicing, the easier it is for them to move the process along and reach the best possible outcome.
Type of Experience
The laws are often specific to each type of personal injury case and most personal injury attorneys have their own specific areas of practice. A car accident attorney might not be able to take your medical malpractice case and vice versa. There are also layers and variables within each of the specialties as well. For example, that same car accident lawyer might not be able to take your case if you were hit by a police vehicle or if the accident was due to a defect in the car. It is important to find an accident attorney who has experience with your exact type of situation.
Most of the time, attorneys and insurance companies are able to settle personal injury cases out of court because it is generally in everyone’s best interest. However, this isn’t always the outcome and sometimes personal injury claims need to go to trial. Not all personal injury lawyers have experience with litigation and going to trial, so it is important to have an attorney with that experience, so they are ready and willing to go to court if need be.
Another important factor in choosing an attorney is knowing how their cases usually end. Knowing how often they are able to achieve a favorable outcome for their clients gives a good idea of how likely they are to do so for you. Most attorneys will have information on past cases listed somewhere on their website. While no two cases are completely alike and there are no guarantees, this information can create a clearer picture of the attorney’s qualifications.
One of the most important aspects of the attorney client relationship is trust. You need to know that your attorney is worthy of that trust and has your best interests at heart. The state bar will have a record of any complaints or disciplinary actions taken against any particular attorney.
Client Reviews & Referrals
Most attorneys will likely have Yelp and Google listings with reviews from previous clients. This personal testimony from various people can give a wider range of information on how the attorney and their firm handle their cases and interact with their clients. Individual perspective added to professional information can give a more complete idea of who you would be working with.
Industry Reviews & Ratings
There are many ways in which the legal industry recognizes attorneys for their professional excellence. While there are no official lists that make these decisions, there are several organizations that recognize legal excellence. Professional ratings and rankings within the industry can also be determined by other attorneys on a peer-review basis. Some well-known organizations and systems include:
- Martindale-Hubbell Bar Registry  – Information and peer reviews including a rating system to identify those attorneys that demonstrate the highest level of experience, knowledge, skill, and integrity. The bar registry has been in use for more than 130 years and remains the primary trusted resource on members of the legal industry in America.
- Super lawyers – Each year, a list is compiled of attorneys ranging across more than 70 different specialties who exemplify the highest standard of their profession. The selection is made based on nominations from their colleagues as well as research and consideration from Law & Politics. The list is narrowed down to only about 5% of attorneys.
- Best Lawyers in America  – Another list of attorneys recognized for their excellence in the field. This list is comprised of attorneys from 57 different specialties all selected by their colleagues.
Contingency Fee Basis
Many people are hesitant to seek legal action after an accident because they think they can’t afford an attorney. However, the majority of personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that the attorney does not get paid until the client gets paid, and they only get a percentage of whatever they recover for their client. The average base percentage is 33-40% and increases the closer the case comes to litigation. There is often also additional expenses involved in a personal injury claim that will come out of the settlement as well.
It is also important to choose a personal injury attorney who you can have a good rapport with. Personal injury claims can sometimes be a long process with unforeseen difficulties. It is always better when you can feel comfortable and interact easily with your attorney and their staff.
One indication about what kind of attorney you’re dealing with is how they keep their office. You can tell if your attorney is organized, professional, efficient, and cares about attention to detail. A messy office in a dilapidated building does not represent the same image and standards.
Stands Out Amongst Other Personal Injury Lawyers
Doing research and looking at personal and professional references can also help you compare and contrast different attorneys with each other. This allows you to narrow down your selection and see how they stack up against each other. Everyone has their own strengths and specialties, and you want to be sure that you pick the one that is right for you.
Tips for Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer
Finding a personal injury lawyer is an important decision so be sure to keep the following tips in mind when seeking out legal representation for your personal injury claim.
Research a Personal Injury Lawyer Online
Internet research can help you uncover all sorts of information. Your respective state bar will have a record of every lawyer in that state. Their website should have a way to look up individual attorneys and find out if they have any disciplinary action on their record. You can also look up their credentials and the quality of their education and training to see if a personal injury lawyer is worth hiring.
Check Their Website
The website for a law firm can also tell you a lot about them. They will generally have information about past successes as well as personal reviews from past clients and any recognition they’ve received within the industry. They will also have information about different types of accidents they handle and biographies of their individual attorneys.
Call in and Schedule a Consultation
While you may have many questions for a prospective attorney, they have their own questions for prospective clients. There are many websites that allow you to fill out the basics of your information and short description of the details online and submit it for potential lawyers to see and contact you if they think they might be able to help. This can do a lot of the leg work for you and give the law office an idea of your situation before they even get you on the phone. Another option is to call the law offices individually on your own.
In both of these instances, you would generally talk on the phone with someone who would go through the details of your potential case, asking questions and taking down any questions you may have. If the attorney believes that they will be able to help you, they may speak to you personally to answer your questions, provide advice, and if you both agree they are the best fit, begin the process to represent you.
Come Prepared with Questions
When consulting with an attorney, you may have many questions about your case. It is also important to ask the attorney questions about themselves and the work they do in order to ensure that they are right for you and your situation.
Questions to Ask Potential Personal Injury Lawyers
Once you identify a potential personal injury lawyer, the real vetting starts. The following questions cover different aspects of your claim that should be clarified prior to entering into an agreement with them.
Should I Settle or Go to Trial?
While there is no guarantee of any particular outcome for a personal injury case, many lawyers can get a general sense of the possibilities from the beginning. After going over the factors and details of your specific situation, they may be able to generally advise you on things such as:
- The maximum amount you could reasonably aim for
- The minimum amount you should not accept less than
- How much room the other side has to argue liability
- How straightforward or complicated your case may be
- The best way to recover the most without litigation
- The initial likelihood that the case will go to litigation
Will You Handle My Case Personally?
It is good to get an idea of who you will be interacting with and how things will be done. The same way that doctors have nursing staff, attorneys generally have a team who help take care of clients and handle the routine or time consuming aspects of the case. Many firms will assign you a case manager who will be your point of contact and work on your case under the direction of the attorney. Firms will often utilize case managers and intake specialists so that the lawyers can devote their time and focus on the areas where their skill and expertise is most needed.
Do You Have the Resources to Take on My Case?
The more complicated or time consuming a case is, the more expensive it becomes to work on. Many firms are very selective about taking certain types of cases because they know that the end result may not be worth it for both them and the client. There are also firms that specifically handle complex cases and are set up to be able to do so in a way that is beneficial to everyone. Some lawyers may even outsource to other firms for things like litigation.
Are You an Authority in Your Space?
Professional reputation can be a useful factor in understanding the quality of an attorney. Knowing the value of their knowledge and the level of respect they have among their peers might give more of an insight into where they stand. Lawyers often have information on their contributions to the field available on their website.
Are You a Member of Any Important Legal Organizations?
There are many different types of organizations, both national and statewide, that are comprised of attorneys who are focused on helping their communities from within various legal fields. They involve themselves in the furthering of education, lobbying for better rights for their clients, and other legal activism. Many attorneys will be members of one or more of these groups and their involvement can give you more information about them.
Are You Board Certified?
Another similarity between the medical and legal fields is board certifications. The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification has many specialized boards focused on various categories. The National Board of Trial Advocacy oversees the certifying of civil trial lawyers. The requirements for achieving this board certification include personal experience with trial preparation as well as in court and a lengthy intensive examination process.
How Are Case Expenses Covered?
In addition to the base contingency fee, there will be costs and expenses involved in a personal injury case. This includes record requests, filing fees, and other third party involvement. It is common for these fees and expenses to be taken out of the final amount recovered at the end of the case. If nothing is recovered, the attorney may accept those costs as their own expense. However, if the client fires the attorney or causes the attorney to drop their case, the client may be held responsible for any money spent on the case up to that point.
What Percentage of Your Cases are Referrals from Other Lawyers
Another way to get an idea of where an attorney stands among their peers is to find out how often they receive referrals from their colleagues. Professional references and recommendations carry more weight because the one making the referral is putting their own reputation and image on the line as well.
Important Considerations When Selecting a Personal Injury Lawyer
Before deciding on a personal injury lawyer, it’s always good to assess the situation and review the information that has been provided. When doing so, it’s important to remember:
Don’t Always Settle on the First Personal Injury Lawyer You Meet
Because personal injury cases are so time sensitive, some people feel pressured to hire the first attorney they find on the internet or see on a billboard. It may be wiser in some situations to do a bit of research first and speak to a few different firms to get an idea of your situation and exactly what you need. Then you can pick the attorney that is best for you.
Interview Your Possible Personal Injury Lawyer Candidates
It can be good to ask questions before signing with a new lawyer. You can get direct information about their credentials and professional history as well as how their firm operates. You can ask for information you cannot find through your independent research, as well as any clarifying questions you may have about what you found.
Identify and Discuss Your Settlement Goals
Once you’ve gone over the details of your situation, the attorney will likely be able to have some kind of idea of the type of settlement that could be expected. They may also be able to discuss options for moving forward, and the pros and cons of each one. They will also have an idea of how to go about building a case to get the best outcome possible for your situation.
How Does the Personal Injury Lawyer Communicate?
In order to build a rapport and working relationship with an attorney and their firm, you need to get an idea of how they communicate. Each client and each case have different needs and each firm has their own ways of going about taking care of them. You can also establish your own needs from the beginning, requesting regular updates or a preferred method of contact. Many firms will be happy to accommodate reasonable requests like sending a short email update every two weeks.
Small Firms vs Big Firms
Smaller firms and bigger firms each have their own benefits and drawbacks. However, there are many different variables involved such as:
- Number of attorneys
- Availability of support staff
- Amount of cases
- Professional resources
- Organizational structure
It often comes down to the people themselves. Some larger firms may seem more powerful but in reality, have so many clients that a single personal injury claim does not receive the care it deserves. Whereas smaller firms may not be large enough to take down a big case but will be personally dedicated to each and every client.
What Other Resources They Are Able to Provide
There are many different aspects involved in a personal injury case. It is important to know exactly what your attorney can help with and to what extent. Some additional services a personal injury firm might offer can include:
- Medical treatment referrals
- Property damage assistance
- Gathering additional information
- Filing SR-1 forms with DMV
- Lien negotiations
Search for Discipline History
Knowing how to find a personal injury lawyer means weeding out the ones you don’t want. No one wants an attorney who has committed legal or ethical violations. The state bar will have a record of any disciplinary action taken against an attorney in that state. You should visit the state bar website to research any prospective lawyer.
Be Careful with Personal Injury Lawyers Who Send Solicitation Letters
In many states, including California, the practice known as ‘ambulance chasing’ is illegal. Even in the states where it is not, it is still considered extremely unethical and predatory. Ambulance chasing is when an attorney or someone working for them finds people who have just been in an accident and then sends them a solicitation letter offering to represent them. Some will even pass out business cards at accident scenes or personally solicit victims while they are in the hospital.
Contact Mesriani Law If You Need to Discuss a Personal Injury Claim
Being injured in an accident is an awful experience with an aftermath that can be overwhelming to deal with. You are going to want the right person to help guide you through the process and handle as much of the heavy lifting as possible. Our firm is dedicated to our clients, and our attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to ensure the best possible outcome for each situation. Our office is located in Santa Monica and we provide legal representation to all of Los Angeles and Southern California If you are in need of a personal injury attorney, call Mesriani Law Group today for a free consultation.
Sources https://apps.calbar.ca.gov/attorney/LicenseeSearch/QuickSearch  https://www.martindale.com/  https://www.superlawyers.com/  https://www.bestlawyers.com/america
Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer FAQs
What percentage do most personal injury lawyers take?
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. The average minimum percentage is around 33-35% and then increases if the case progresses towards litigation. Even if the case is settled before going to trial, the litigation process may have been started already resulting in a higher percentage to cover the increased labor and expenses. Depending on the situation, a contingency fee can be as high as 55%.
What are four things that you should find out about in looking for an attorney?
There are many things to consider when searching for a personal injury attorney. Some of the general important things to consider are:
• Their education and credentials
• The extent of their experience
• Their success rate and average recovery amounts
• How they communicate with their clients
How do I prepare for a personal injury claim?
When you go through the intake and consultation processes with a law firm, they are going to ask a lot of questions about the accident and your injuries. It is good to have everything on hand when you call so you can provide them with as much information as possible. This information can include:
• The date and time of the accident
• The exact location of the accident
• Information on any passengers
• The other driver’s car insurance provider
• Your car insurance provider
• Your health insurance provider
• Photos of the scene and property damage
• The extent of your injuries
• The extent of any treatment you’ve received