Finding the Right Trial Attorney
The process of litigating a personal injury or malpractice claim can be one of the most significant life experiences an individual or family faces. This is especially true in complex or catastrophic injury cases.
Most serious civil litigation is complex, stressful and costly. The selection of the appropriate DC, Maryland, or Virginia personal injury lawyer can be the difference between winning and losing your case. If the attorney you hire is not an experienced trial attorney, the opposing counsel may force your to case to trial to exploit his inexperience. Whether your goal is to leverage an early settlement or take your case all the way to trial, your chances for a successful result will be higher with the right attorney.
But how do you decide who is the right attorney for your case? The internet offers a unique opportunity for consumers to educate themselves about attorneys in their area. But many web pages provide slick slogans and claims of great legal prowess without providing the detailed substantive consumer information you need to distinguish a qualified Washington DC medical malpractice lawyer from a skilled internet marketer.
The following are some of the factors you may want to consider in selecting your attorney:
- Is it a law practice or a referral service? Some web pages are simply marketing tools to refer you to accident lawyers or personal injury attorneys, who may or may not be qualified to handle your case.
- What level of trial experience does the attorney who will be handling your case actually have? If you go with a large firm, do you know who will actually be doing the legal work on your case?
- What actual trial results has the attorney obtained in the area that he or she practices? Are they posted on the web page or publicly available? An experienced and qualified nursing home neglect attorney or personal injury lawyer is generally happy to share the work he or she has done for clients and usually posts his or her case results on the firm’s website.
- What type of reputation does the personal injury lawyer enjoy in his field? If you are looking for an attorney in a particular state, is that attorney licensed in that state? Can he or she provide client references or testimonials? Are these testimonials posted on his website?
- What type of fee is the attorney charging for his or her services? Is he or she willing to engage in contingency fee agreement to share the risk involved in trying your case to verdict? Most personal injury attorneys in Virginia, Washington DC and Maryland make use of contingency fee arrangements.
- Be wary of any Washington DC personal injury lawyer who promises certain results or tells you your case is worth millions. No one can predict how a jury will decide your case and many states have damage caps.
- Does the attorney have publications in his claimed expertise areas? Does he or she belong to professional organizations related to his claimed specialty? Do not just look for publications. Make sure they are relevant to the type of law that will apply in your case. It is possible for an attorney to be qualified in more than one area. This is especially true in personal injury and malpractice areas, as many attorneys who are qualified to handle malpractice cases also do standard personal injury cases.
- Communication with your attorney is important. Does the attorney appear available and responsive to your initial inquiries? If you have chosen a Maryland, Washington DC or Virginia personal injury lawyer who does not appear responsive when you are trying to give them business, their attitude may not change once you have entered into a binding contract to pay his fees.
- Has your prospective attorney ever been the subject of disciplinary action by the state bar? All practicing accident lawyers in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are required to be members of their state bar. The same is true for attorneys of every specialty throughout Maryland, DC, Virginia or any other state. Without bar membership, they are not allowed to practice law. The bar is also responsible for ensuring that lawyers adhere to strict ethical conduct standards, taking disciplinary action when it finds violations. Many state bars will have publicly available disciplinary records of attorneys on their web site.