Questions to ask before hiring an attorney
Host: Welcome back to INSight. We are joined now by attorney Dave Farnbaugh. Dave, I love when you’re here because you have such useful information. One of the things we’re going to talk about today is what you need to ask when you’re going to hire an injury attorney. Again, these are “bummer” situations but it happens so if you’ve been in an accident, does it make a difference what attorney you hire?
Dave: Well it really does. It is just like any other professional that people are going to hire. I think now-a-days intelligent consumers want to do some research on any profession that they’re going to hire and an attorney is no different. People are bombarded now-a-days with television commercials for law firms that say they specialize in personal injury. Now-a-days the people that are involved in accidents receive what we call solicitation letters in the mail. Right after an accident you’re apt to receive dozens of solicitation letters in the mail from different law firms that want to handle your personal injury case. It’s important for people to do a little bit of research before they make a decision. If you base your decision on information that you receive in a solicitation letter or lawyer ads, that’s a recipe for getting maybe not the right lawyer.
Host 2: I would think that it’s really the kind of thing that you probably ought to do a little research on or have a little knowledge on before you are in that situation, because when you are in that situation – you are overwhelmed, perhaps if you’ve been injured your not in a frame of mind where you’re really capable of making the best decision in the first place.
Dave: Right, well there are some suggestions and tips that I think can help people select the right lawyer. There are various peer review organizations that rate lawyers and lawyers rating other lawyers. There’s a publication out there called Martindale Hubbell that is a peer rating service with lawyers rating other lawyers. There’s a publication called Best Lawyers in America that rates the best lawyers in different specialties and sub specialties. That information is available on the internet if you want to do peer reviews search on a lawyer. Lawyers now, just like physicians, can go through a board certification process where a lawyer can go through and take an examination and meet the ethical criteria where they can become a board certified trial attorney. So there are things that are available so people can research online to check out an attorney. I think one of the best ways to find the right attorney is if you know a lawyer, to find out who the lawyer is in that community. Lawyer or lawyers that recognize him in that particular specialty. Usually the lawyers in a particular town know of who the good lawyers are in a certain specialty. So if you do know of a lawyer, even if that lawyer doesn’t handle personal injury or medical malpractice, that lawyer will usually know who the good lawyers are.
Host 1: If you’re given these recommendations and you know that you have a few good attorneys at your disposal, should you interview those attorneys?
Dave: Yes, that is something that is sort of a unique phenomenon. I think a lot of times people just set up an appointment with a lawyer. They go in and sign up with a lawyer and they do go through a selection process like they should. I would highly recommend that if you’re involved in a serious legal case, that you schedule an appointment with two or three different lawyers and go in and talk to those lawyers about their credentials and the types of cases that they’ve handled and whether other lawyers have referred cases to them including personal injury cases. Find out if your personality matches with this lawyer.
Host 2: I was going to say you need to be able to click with them. I mean if you’re going to trust them, it’s just like a physician or anyone. You need to have a relationship with them and be able to trust them.
Dave: Right. It is actually you interviewing them; it is not them interviewing you. You’re the one that has the authority and the power to make a decision. “Yes I’m going to go with this lawyer versus another law firm.” So it’s really the lawyer has to meet your criteria, what you’re looking for before you make that decision.
Host 1: That’s so smart and honestly something that I never considered. You’re right. Much like with a physician, you most likely should get a second opinion or see if your personalities match.
Host 2: Are there a couple specific questions that you should make sure you ask that attorney when you are interviewing them?
Dave: Ya, I would say the number one thing that I would want to ask if I were going in to hire an attorney to represent me in a significant injury case, is how much experience does that person have in a court room? There’s lots of personal injury attorneys, or people that hold themselves out to do malpractice case or serious injury cases, that if you looked at their track record; they never go in front of juries or try cases. They’re just out there advertising that they handle these cases, but if you look behind the scenes so to speak, you find out that they haven’t tried a lot of cases in front of a jury. It’s a critical thing. The opponents, the insurance companies, and the lawyers that defend these kinds of cases, they always know the lawyers that actually go in and try cases to juries and get results and the ones that don’t. So I think that’s the number one thing that you really want to research is the person’s track record in the court room.
Host 1: Now we’ve talked about how after you’ve been injured or if there’s been medical malpractice, your not necessarily in a great frame of mind, so does the Sweeney Law Firm offer information to consumers so they know upfront sort of where to go next?
Dave: We do. We offer what we call a free report on how to select the right attorney. It contains a lot of useful information and tips for consumers about the questions to ask, the things to look up online for different lawyers and law firms so you do make the right choice. We offer that as a free report if you just call our law firm or go online, we’ll send you a copy of that report.
Host 2: All right, well you want to make sure you do that today if you have any questions about an injury case or a medical malpractice case or any other legal questions. Visit the Sweeney Law Firm website today or give their office a call.