According to the American Bar Association (ABA), there are approximately 1.3 million licensed and practicing attorneys in the United States. Not all of these attorneys have the same background and experience, and not all are equally capable at the negotiating table or in the courtroom. When you are looking for legal representation, it can be frustrating to try to find a qualified personal injury lawyer.
Additionally, once you have found a personal injury lawyer, you may question whether they are the best to continue representing you. Fortunately, there are objective measures you can look at to know whether you made a good choice in hiring your personal injury lawyer.
5 Signs That Your Attorney Is Competent
While your injury lawsuit is pending, there may be various moments when you question your personal injury lawyer’s ability and competence. The following five factors, if present, can help put your mind at ease and reassure you that you are working with a good personal injury attorney:
1. Your Attorney Is Actively Communicating With You
The ABA identifies “lack of communication” as one of people’s most common complaints about their attorneys. But a personal injury lawyer who is making the effort to contact you regularly and keep you updated about what is going on with your case is an attorney who values your trust and confidence.
If your lawyer is not returning your phone calls in a reasonable time, it could be that your attorney is neglecting your case. Some attorneys overestimate the number of clients they can competently represent. When this happens, some clients’ cases may sit for weeks or months without any action.
An attorney in this position may be too embarrassed to admit this and may try to avoid you instead.
2. Your Attorney Does Not Make Big Decisions for You
Your personal injury lawyer is your advocate and legal adviser. When you hire an attorney and allow them to represent you, your case and recovery are still yours.
Your lawyer’s role is to provide you with advice and make strategic decisions designed to achieve the outcome you desire. However, as the client, you get to set the direction of the case and determine how to resolve your claims.
An attorney who does not involve you in the crucial decisions about your case is not just a poor attorney — they may be violating their professional ethical obligations to you. You want and deserve a personal injury lawyer who advises you and represents what you have decided to do. You should consider leaving an attorney who insists on making all the decisions.
3. You Are Prepared for Hearings and Court Appearances
Suppose that you appear at the courthouse one day because your personal injury lawyer told you to be there. If you know why you are present and what you can expect to happen at the hearing, it is likely because your attorney has taken the time to prepare you for what to expect. If so, this is the sign of a good attorney.
If you are not prepared for a hearing, it does not necessarily mean your attorney is unprepared as well. However, it can suggest that your attorney is too busy or does not prioritize your concerns and experience.
4. You Receive a Bill That You Understand
One of the other common disputes between attorneys and their clients is about the attorney’s fees. A good personal injury attorney will clearly explain their fee structure to you up front and stick to it. They will not “nickel and dime” you or get creative with how they charge their clients.
You will know you have a good personal injury attorney if you receive an invoice you were expecting, and the charges listed make sense. Good attorneys earn their fees and are not afraid to be transparent and clear with their clients about their work. They are confident and clear in asking for payment for that work.
5. You Get Bad News
You might think that you want to hear good news from your attorney. It is true that good news about your case is easier to hear than bad news. For instance, you are likely interested in hearing that your case settled for the amount you sought. The news that your settlement offer was rejected and a trial is imminent may not be as welcome.
Every lawsuit has its challenges, and you can often do little to stop bad news from surfacing. However, if your lawyer delivers bad news to you, you can breathe a sigh of relief — this is a sign of a quality attorney. It indicates your attorney’s willingness to be honest with you and respect you as their client.
Why Having a Good Personal Injury Lawyer Matters
Being represented by an attorney of quality is about more than just the ultimate outcome of your case. It is about your overall experience and satisfaction. When you are represented by a good lawyer, they make every effort to achieve the best outcome for you. You leave your attorney-client relationship feeling respected.
Conversely, when your attorney does not exhibit the qualities of a good lawyer, you may feel frustrated and unheard at the end of your case. You could leave the attorney-client relationship wondering if your lawyer really did all that was possible to obtain the most favorable outcome for you.
Finding a Good Personal Injury Lawyer
Whether you have been hurt in a car accident or you need help bringing a wrongful death claim, looking for certain qualities in an attorney can help you select the right personal injury lawyer for your case. Look for a lawyer who has:
- Considerable experience handling the type of case you need help with
- Resources and staff to handle your claim
- Reasonable communication policies and client expectations
- An easy-to-understand fee structure that you agree with
Remember that you are always free to switch your attorney, even in the midst of your case. If you are unsatisfied with your present lawyer, you can search for another lawyer to continue representing you.
The Difference Schiff & Associates Makes
Your Columbus personal injury lawyers at Schiff & Associates understand what it takes to be good attorneys and advocates for our clients. We are committed to not only using our exceptional legal knowledge and skills on your behalf but also earning your trust and confidence.
See the difference a good personal injury lawyer can make by contacting Schiff & Associates today.