MISTAKE #1: Choosing a lawyer who doesn't have enough experience.
The most important factor in choosing a personal injury lawyer is the amount of his/her knowledge, skill and experience handling injury claims. This includes experience handling injury cases and experience taking injury cases to trial. In most cases, the money you recover for your injuries will come from an insurance company — either the other person's insurance company — or your own. One of the reasons insurance companies have so much money is because they pay accident victims like you as little as possible — often less than you deserve. Make sure the lawyer you select has EXPERIENCE handling personal injury cases. Look for an Arizona Certified Specialist in Injury/Death Law.
MISTAKE #2: Choosing a lawyer only because you like his/her advertising.
A flashy TV commercial or Yellow Page ad doesn't mean anything except that the lawyer paid big $$ for the ad. Advertising can make almost any lawyer look like an expert. Don't choose a lawyer solely because you like his/her ad. Make sure you ask questions about the attorney's experience in handling injury claims. At Zachar Law Firm, we will be more than happy to discuss with you cases we have handled that are similar to your own.
MISTAKE #3: Choosing the lawyer who promises you the most money.
The amount of money you're entitled to recover, called "damages," is based on many components, including (1) the length of your recovery from injury, (2) the dollar amount of your medical bills, (3) the dollar amount of lost wages, (4) pain and suffering and (5) the severity of your injuries. No one can tell you exactly what your case is worth until they gather all the facts. Any lawyer who promises you money before all of this information is known is making a promise he has no way of knowing he/she can keep (i.e. “In a wreck….”).
MISTAKE #4: Choosing a lawyer because he expects to settle your case.
Most injury cases are settled without going to trial. Even so, if you hope to get a fair settlement for your injuries, your lawyer must be willing to take the insurance company to court, otherwise, the insurance company has no reason to offer you a fair amount of money for your injuries. Although it may not be your intent to go to trial, it is often important to make the insurance company aware that you are ready to do so if their offer is not fair. If you hire a "settling attorney" — one who usually settles his cases and won't go to court — you can expect to receive less money for your injuries than if you hire a skilled trial attorney. Remember: The most powerful weapon you can use against the insurance company is your willingness and ability to fight. If the insurance company knows that, your settlement will likely be much higher.
MISTAKE #5: Choosing a lawyer because of a referral from a friend.
When a friend refers you to a lawyer, be careful. Yes, your friend probably means well, but your friend may not be the best source for a referral. You need a lawyer who is much more than just a nice person; you need an attorney who has the personal injury trial experience to go up against billion-dollar insurance companies. Insurance companies hire experienced investigators, adjusters and lawyers to work against you. You need an experienced personal injury lawyer working for you. Your best choice is an experienced personal injury firm with a proven track record and reputation for success.
MISTAKE #6: Choosing a lawyer merely because he appears successful.
A handsome office and an expensive car don't tell you anything about the lawyer's experience. Don't judge a lawyer merely by appearance. Maybe it is inherited money, dressed up to make the lawyer look more successful than he/she is. Choose a lawyer by whether he/she has the knowledge, skill, experience and ability to (1) sue the other party and (2) take your personal injury case to trial, if necessary. That's the best way to make sure you recover the amount of money you deserve. Ask the lawyer: How many personal injury cases have you taken to/won at trial?
MISTAKE #7: Not reviewing the lawyer's track record.
You can get a good idea of a lawyer's experience by reviewing his/her track record of cases that he/she has settled or taken to trial. Ask the attorney about cases he/she has tried in court and cases he/she has settled. This will give you a way of determining the level of the attorney's experience.
15 GOOD QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU HIRE A LAWYER
- How long have you been practicing in the specific field of accident and injury law?
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to accident and injury law?
- Have you previously represented people with injuries similar to mine?
- Do you have investigators and expert witnesses who will help in cases with my type of injury?
- Can you refer me to a physician who can provide treatment for my injuries?
- Can you help me with my property damage claim and get a rental car for me?
- Will you handle my case on a percentage fee basis?
- Will you discuss my case with me over the telephone?
- Have you attended the Arizona Trial Advocacy College?
- Are you a member of the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association?
- Are you a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association?
- Are you a Certified Specialist in Injury/Death Law in Arizona?
- Have you ever defended insurance companies against injury claims?
- Will you evaluate my case for me without cost or obligation?
- If the insurance company doesn't offer a fair settlement, are you willing to fight for what is fair?