Hiring an attorney to handle your personal injury claim is a significant decision.
It can be stressful to figure out what law firm and which attorney is right for you, given the number of personal injury lawyers in Boston.
At Swartz and Swartz, we know how important it is to find the right attorney – and we want to help! Here are some things to consider when deciding which personal injury attorney is best for you and your case.
Look into credentials
Not all attorneys are created equal. As a start, no matter who you choose to represent you, make sure the attorney you hire for you an injury occurring in Massachusetts is a member of the Massachusetts Bar (i.e. is licensed to practice law within the Commonwealth) and attended an accredited law school. Don’t be shy about asking the attorneys you are vetting where they went to law school and what year they got admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.
Make sure to also ask the attorneys you’re vetting if they can be found and are highly rated on Martindale-Hubbell, Super Lawyers, Avvo or Justia – or check yourself! All four are reputable attorney search engines featuring some of the best and the brightest. If you get evasive answers to any of your questions you should keep looking.
Check for complaints and disciplinary decisions
Did you know that you can check whether your attorney has ever received a complaint about their work or got in trouble for their professional behavior? In 1974, the Office of the Bar Counsel and the Board of Bar Overseers (BBO) were created by the Supreme Judicial Court to investigate and evaluate complaints against attorneys.
Make sure you run the name of your potential personal injury attorney through the “Look Up an Attorney” feature on the BBO’s website. The search function will tell you right away when your attorney was admitted to the Mass. Bar and whether any disciplinary decisions have been brought against them. If you come across a disciplinary decision against your potential attorney, you may want to investigate further or tell your candidate you will not be asking them to represent you.
Have the money talk
It’s no secret that hiring an attorney costs money, and that filing a lawsuit against an insurance company or individual is a complicated process that requires a lot of work. Before you hire an attorney, make sure that you have a frank conversation about the fees the attorney charges. Many business and defense attorneys charge by the hour, although personal injury attorneys most commonly work on a contingency. Also, ask about any costs you’re responsible for covering, and when such costs will need to be paid.
For example, often, an attorney will charge you for disbursements – these are essentially costs and expenses that are part of any legal case. Such costs might include anything from administration and travel, to depositions and expert retainers. Ask the attorneys you are vetting the disbursements you will be expected to pay, and whether any of the fees and disbursements you will owe must be paid as the litigation progresses, or will be deducted from the proceeds if you win your case.
Make sure to also ask the attorneys you’re vetting if they can be found and are highly rated on Martindale-Hubbell, Super Lawyers, Avvo or Justia – or check yourself!
Ask about experience and success
It goes without saying that it should not be the first time your potential attorney has handled a personal injury case. Don’t be shy to ask for referrals from past clients or statistics about past successes in personal injury cases. Does your potential attorney list their successes on their website? If not, why not? Since some attorneys handle different kinds of cases on top of personal injury, our advice would be to choose an attorney that exclusively deals with personal injury to maximize the success of your case. Make sure that the firm and attorney you choose has an established reputation in the area of personal injury law. When it comes to getting you the justice you deserve, you don’t want to take a chance on an untested and inexperienced attorney.
Your comfort is key
Whoever you choose, you need to feel comfortable with them. If you don’t feel like you can be yourself, or, if you feel uncomfortable asking questions, keep looking! You need to “click” with your attorney. After all, they are dealing with helping you with your personal injury case, which can be a very stressful time for you and your family. You should feel like your attorney has your back and will fight for just compensation for your injuries and damages.
James Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C., is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.
If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.