If you’ve been injured in an accident, speaking with an attorney can be an important step as you seek to secure the compensation you need. In some cases you may receive an offer of compensation from an insurance company, an attorney can help you evaluate the insurance company’s offer and can work with you to determine the true costs of your injury.
However, not all attorneys are equal. Choosing the right accident lawyer for you means working with someone who keeps you informed about your case, who helps you decide the best route to fair compensation, and who seeks fair compensation for you rather than taking the first offer an insurance company or defendant makes.
How Do You Find an Accident Lawyer?
There were 93,821 attorneys in Texas as of 2021, so there are many options if you need legal advice and representation. There are different ways you can find an accident attorney:
- Most accident lawyers advertise online and through other marketing efforts.
- You can find law firm websites and lists of attorneys online.
- The State Bar of Texas has a search portal.
- You can ask friends and family for references.
- You can research to find attorneys who have previous experience in cases similar to yours.
As you consider who to work with, you may want to put together a list of potential attorneys who might be right for your case. This allows you to compare experience, education, and other factors which help you move toward the right fit.
What Should You Look for in an Accident Attorney?
Just choosing an attorney with plenty of billboards is not necessarily the best option for you. Even choosing someone who is recommended is not always the best strategy, because an attorney who was the right fit for someone else’s case may not be the right option for your case. Once you have a list of potential attorneys, you will want to look for these green flags:
- Previous experience. Look for attorneys who have worked on cases similar to yours and have won settlements and compensation for their clients. A law firm with plenty of successful outcomes has attorneys that get results.
- Happy clients. It’s an excellent sign if an attorney has many previous clients vouching for them and offering testimonials and referrals. A good attorney will have plenty of evidence of past clients who were very happy with the support and representation they got.
- Referrals. An attorney who gets referrals from other lawyers is respected in their field. A good stream of referrals means the attorney has a certain level of experience and other attorneys recognize their good work.
- Plenty of resources. It costs money to build a strong case, including hiring medical experts and other professionals and ordering medical records, or conducting an investigation into the accident. A good attorney will have the financial resources to cover these costs if they work on a contingency fee basis.
You can find out this information about attorneys and law firms by researching online, reading law firm websites, and contacting a law firm to find out more. Good law firms are happy to share the factors that make them stand out.
What Should You Watch Out For?
To build a positive working relationship with an attorney, you will also need to watch out for some red flag signs. While these are not necessarily “bad” individually, you’ll want to avoid an attorney who has a few of these characteristics:
- A high turnover of cases. Look for an attorney who will dedicate some time to your case and make a genuine effort to get fair compensation. Stay away from law firms with a high traffic caseload who simply accept the first offer an insurance company makes.
- Aggressive solicitation. Attorneys need to market and since it is a competitive field, some attorneys approach potential clients in the hospital or send unsolicited letters to accident survivors who have filed a police report. Attorneys who are very aggressive in solicitation may be taking on a high volume of cases or may not be getting referrals from happy clients and colleagues.
- Representing both sides. If you have been injured, look for an attorney who doesn’t represent both insurance companies and plaintiffs and who isn’t a generalist taking on all cases. Accident and injury cases are complex, and you want an attorney who stays aware of the latest changes in case law and precedent. The Johnson Garcia law firm, for example, was established specifically to help only injured parties. Our entire focus and all our resources are targeted to help injured individuals.
- Unrealistic guarantees. There is no guarantee in an accident personal injury case, and no serious accident attorney would make promises about the outcome or guarantees about the amount of the settlement.
You may notice red flags when speaking with an attorney in a consultation or when doing research online. Sometimes, the signs of a bad attorney are subtle. For example, if a law firm is hard to reach or an attorney is impatient in answering your questions, consider what working with them would be like over the length of a claim.
What Questions Should You Ask?
After you have spoken with some past clients or have reviewed a law firm’s website, you may want to contact a law firm to find out if they can represent you. Many personal injury law firms offer free initial consultations, which can be an excellent opportunity to find out more about the firm by asking:
- Can we discuss expenses and fees? Many accident attorneys work on a “contingency fee” basis, meaning you do not need to pay attorney fees upfront. If a settlement is reached or your case is won, attorneys will have their fees — which are a percentage of the total — and expenses deducted from the proceeds of settlement and you will get the rest. If your case is lost, attorneys do not take the fee, but they may still charge for the expenses they incurred in working on your case. Before you agree to work with an attorney, make sure you understand how much the attorney fees and expenses will be and how they will be paid in case of different outcomes.
- Do you try cases in court? Find out how often an attorney tries cases in court. Strong litigation is important and an attorney who is willing to take cases to court is likely one who doesn’t accept initial offers. Litigation experience shows an attorney is willing to take a case before the courts to get a fair resolution. An insurance company that sees you are represented by an attorney who is willing to go to court may also be more likely to negotiate to avoid expensive litigation.
- What are some of your qualifications? A good attorney may have experience writing or teaching legal topics, will have membership in professional organizations, and will have plenty of evidence of their professional experience.
Come to your consultation prepared. An attorney will also have questions for you, to determine whether you have a case and whether the firm can take the claim on. Be ready to mention the specifics of your case and if you’re meeting in person bring any documentation you may have.
How Do You Compare Accident Lawyers If You Have More Than One Option?
There is both an art and science to choosing the right accident lawyer. You want to gather quantitative data first. All things being equal, look for an attorney with more experience in cases similar to yours rather than a general practitioner with fewer years of experience. Choose someone with good references and a track record of winning cases.
Beyond the obvious indicators of a good attorney, though, consider the intangibles. Which attorney makes you feel most comfortable and takes care to answer your questions? Which attorney reviews your potential case without rushing? An excellent attorney is one who is busy but not too busy to help. Your professional relationship with your attorney can last months or over a year and you want to build a strong rapport.
How Can Johnson Garcia Help If You Need an Accident Lawyer?
The Johnson Garcia law firm was founded by Daniel Johnson and Juan Garcia, who had both achieved significant success at large law firms but felt a calling to build a law firm that would fight aggressively for injured plaintiffs while also offering more personalized attention and care for every client. Between them, these two lawyers have many accolades, including the distinction of being named a Texas Super Lawyer®. Juan Garcia has also been named a “Top Lawyer” by H Texas Magazine and a Minority Powerbroker by Law360.
If you have been injured and are looking for a law firm dedicated to helping clients pursue fair compensation while remaining committed to the community, contact Johnson Garcia Law for a free consultation to review your case.