5 Top Tips For Choosing a Lawyer for your Personal Injury Case
Over the course of more than 25 years in the courtroom,
trying small cases and multi million dollar cases, I have
had an opportunity to observe people and companies simply choose the wrong lawyer for their case. Likewise, I have had many prospective clients come to me over the years after choosing the wrong lawyer to ask if I can repair their case. I am often able to make the best of the mess that I have been given but just as often the damage is not repairable as many lawyers are reluctant to try to clean up another lawyer's mess. How do you avoid this problem? Well, here are five tips that I hope will help you.
1. Choose a high quality lawyer who is focused on good advocacy and professionalism putting the client’s needs first rather than being focused on money.
2. Choose a Certified Civil Trial Attorney as less than 2% of all lawyers in New Jersey are certified civil trial attorneys. The Supreme Court of New Jersey has a Trial Certification Board which reviews and approves applicants based up on actual trial experience, a written trial certification on exam, reviews from judges who have had the opportunity to observe the attorney in court, other attorneys, often opposing attorneys, who have had the opportunity to observe the attorney in court and continuing education requirements to ensure that the attorneys or up to date on the most current civil trial practices. In addition, you must recertify every 5 years. Also, there is a good chance that the lawyer hired by the insurance company is a certified civil trial attorney. Shouldn't you have one as well?
3. DO NOT choose a lawyer that oversells you on your case. Choose a lawyer that is honest about the pluses and minuses of your case. While many people think that their case is amazing, I assure you that after more than 25 years of hotly contested jury trials, every case has pluses and minuses. If your attorney is not discussing these with you upfront, there is a good chance that they are just looking to sign you up on the case and will deliver the bad news to you later on. I have had many potential clients come to me to tell me that their attorney just told that there were problems with their “perfect” case. This is often the result of attorneys overselling the case and creating unrealistic expectations for the client, which is unfair to the you.
4. Choose an attorney based on their credentials not their flashy website. First, you will probably see a list of the wonderful million-dollar cases that the firm has been involved. My thought is that this tells very little about your individual case as statistically your case is probably not one of those cases. If your injuries are devastating and life changing, it is even more important that you follow this advice. Moreover, has the firm lost any cases? I’ve never seen a firm list any losses yet, all lawyers have losses. While I have had a terrific run of six and seven figure cases, I have also lost some cases, not many but some. That is the reality of a trial law. There is always a winner and a loser at trial. Second, many of the so called “awards" for best lawyer this and best lawyer that should in my thinking be taken with a grain of salt. The Wall Street Journal concluded that it is often the result of a campaign conducted by lawyers for votes and sometimes even people at the firm whose job it is to lobby for votes. I have received those awards (with no lobbying) and I would still be more inclined to rely on the Certified Civil Trial Attorney designation discussed above.
5. Choose an attorney that is an advocate for alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration. Whether you have a personal injury case or a business litigation the court system can devour your time, your resources, your focus and your energy. One of the things that I do on every case is evaluate whether a more direct route to a fair and timely resolution can be made through mediation or arbitration. This involves gathering all of the necessary records documents and reports that the defense will receive in the ordinary course of litigation and providing them early on for evaluation. It often makes sense from both sides in that it saves costs such as expert fees, legal fees, case expenses and court fees. You should ask your attorney at the outset if this is a possibility. You should also make sure that your attorney is not too busy with numerous cases that they cannot provide prompt and timely attention to your case so that it moves as fast as possible whether through mediation or arbitration with the court system.
You can call Ray Murphy to evaluate your case and provide you with guidance in selecting an attorney that is appropriate for your case and a good match for you. There is no charge for your initial consultation with Mr. Murphy. While Mr. Murphy accepts a limited number of cases so that he can provide the highest quality representation to all of his clients, if he cannot accept your case, he can provide a free analysis and direction.