How Do I Choose the Right Injury Attorney?

If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you will be facing many important decisions in the days, weeks, and months following an injury. 

Finding the “right” lawyer to represent you is often the most critical factor in a successful recovery.

Insurance companies have the financial resources to hire skilled lawyers who specialize in defending personal injury claims. The experience and skills of your lawyer will play a pivotal role in the amount of compensation you receive.

Most injury victims do not know that the best, most successful personal injury attorneys in your community charge fees that are the same as inexperienced lawyers who have no track record of success in the courtroom.

Don’t make the mistake of choosing a personal injury lawyer from ads alone. Some unscrupulous lawyers will settle your case quickly for whatever the insurance company will offer because these firms work on a “high volume” and “quick turnover” basis. Every community has several personal injury “wannabe” lawyers who would like to grab your case and settle it quickly for low dollars for you (but a high return for the lawyer’s time investment).

So how do you find a good lawyer for a serious personal injuries?

Like most important decisions, you need to do some “homework” on the lawyers in your community. When you decide to meet with an attorney to discuss your case, you need to ask the right questions to find out if the attorney has a proven track record of success.

The purpose of this page is to provide you with insights that most injury victims never bother to learn about lawyers who handle personal injury claims. If you follow the advice contained in this report, it may make the difference between winning your case or going home with nothing or significantly less than your case is worth.

What do REAL previous clients say about their experiences with the lawyer?

How do you find a top-notch lawyer for a serious personal injury case? One of the most reliable ways to research a lawyer’s qualifications is to check sources that rate personal injury lawyer reviews based on what their previous clients and other lawyers say about them. Please understand that there is no other official “rating” system for personal injury lawyers.  So, we encourage you to talk to others and read online reviews. 

CAUTION:  If you see that a lawyer or law firm has an overwhelming or unrealistic amount of 5-star reviews, those reviews could be fake.  That’s right.  Unfortunately, businesses sometimes to use third-party companies who load-up a company’s online presence with fake reviews (for a hefty fee, of course).  A business with hundreds and hundreds of 5-star reviews should, at least, trigger a caution flag.  It is best to read the reviews and determine whether or not the reviews are from real clients.  Often, a legitimate business will have less than a perfect 5-star rating.  Those businesses, in our experiences, are more legitimate and they rely on real reviews.

Be careful about lawyers who send “solicitation” letters to your home following an accident.

Recently, an increasing number of personal injury lawyers have been hiring runners or “gophers” to obtain traffic accident reports prepared by local and state police officers. Once the accident reports are obtained, a member of the law firm’s staff will comb through the report to find the name and address of the accident victim. The law firm will then mail a “solicitation” letter to the injury victim informing him/her that the law firm is ready and willing to represent the accident victim in a personal injury case. In our community, it is not unusual for an accident victim to receive fifteen to twenty solicitation letters from law firms. There is a law firm in southern Indiana that sends a solicitation to every single traffic accident victim in the entire state where there is a police report. There are law firms that will continue to send solicitation letters after the initial letter is sent and will even have a staff member call the accident victim and ask if they received the solicitation letters.

Do they only charge a fee if there is a recovery?

Virtually all personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation and will not charge a fee unless there is a recovery.

Anyone who has ever seen or received any type of advertisements (TV commercials, Yellow Pages, internet sites, direct mail solicitation letters, etc.) from personal injury firms quickly learns that every injury lawyer makes the same offers:

“No fee if no recovery.”

“Free initial consultation.”

“We will visit you at home or in the hospital.”

A lawyer who offers you a “free consultation” and tells you that he or she will not charge a fee unless there is a recovery in your case (known as a “contingent fee” agreement) is not offering you anything out of the ordinary. Almost every lawyer who specializes in handling personal injury cases will make the same offer.

NOTE: Sure, at The Boerst Law Office, Inc., we too promote it on our website.  And yes, it is true; we do not get paid unless you get paid.  But again, this should not be the deciding factor. That promise is not what sets us apart.

So, what does it mean when a lawyer says “no fee if no recovery”?

Almost every personal injury lawyer handles injury cases on a contingent fee basis. A “contingent” fee means that there is no attorney fee unless there is a recovery and the fee is a percentage of the amount recovered. (i.e. usually 33.33% of the amount recovered). That means that the lawyer will not charge the client a fee unless there is a recovery. Sounds simple, right? Not so fast. This is an area where personal injury victims need to be careful before they decide on a lawyer for their case.

If a lawyer agrees to handle your injury case on a contingent fee basis and loses the case, there’s not going to be an issue on whether you owe the lawyer anything for his or her attorney fee. You don’t owe anything. One-third of nothing is nothing. However, consumers must understand that there is a big difference between attorney fees and the case “expenses.” Almost every personal injury case will entail some case “expenses” that need to be paid to prepare the case properly. Case expenses are monies paid to third parties to keep the case going: expert witness fees, court reporter fees, charges for medical records, charges for physician reports, filing fees, and the many other expenses that go into a personal injury lawsuit.

Case expenses are handled differently by different law firms. In a typical motor vehicle accident case, where the settlement is less than $100,000, the case expenses are usually less than $5,000. However, in a serious personal injury case involving permanent or catastrophic injuries, or in a medical malpractice case, the litigation expenses can run up to $50,000 or more. There are different ways these ongoing litigation expenses are handled by different firms, depending, in large part, on the firm’s philosophy and the firm’s financial resources:

One way is to require the client to pay all or a substantial share of the litigation expenses at the start of a case or on an ongoing basis. That method can create serious financial issues for a client.

Another way is for the lawyer to pay all the expenses as the case goes along, with the client reimbursing the lawyer out of any recovery at the end of the case after the lawyer’s contingency fee is deducted. For example, if the recovery is $300,000, the lawyer and the client have agreed to a one-third contingent fee plus reimbursement of the expenses advanced by the lawyer, and the lawyer has advanced $5,000 toward the case expenses, the final disbursement of the settlement will look like this:

– you will receive $195,000
– the lawyer will receive $100,000 for his attorney fee;
– $5,000 will be paid back to the lawyer to reimburse expenses.

What happens to the expenses if the case is lost? Some lawyers have a policy of not asking the client to reimburse the law firm for the “out-of-pocket” expenses. Other lawyers expect the client to reimburse the law firm for all the expenses if the case is lost. As a consumer who has choices, you need to find out the lawyer’s policy on expense reimbursement in situations where the case is lost. If a lawyer tries to tell you “Don’t worry about it, I’ve never lost a case,” don’t accept that response. Even the very best personal injury lawyers lose cases from time to time.

What do other lawyers in your community say about this injury lawyer?

If you want to know who the top-notch personal injury lawyers are in your community, ask the lawyers who practice there. It’s important to find out whether a significant percentage of a lawyer’s caseload comes from referrals from other lawyers. In any field or profession, the professionals who work in the field usually know who’s good and who’s not. If you have an attorney or a friend who practices law, that might be a good place to start. Even if he or she doesn’t handle injury cases, they are bound to have colleagues who are familiar with personal injury or malpractice lawyers who are recognized by their peers as being the best in your community.

What kinds of cases does this lawyer handle daily?

It is important to find a lawyer who focuses on only a few areas of the law.  Some lawyers are “general practitioners” who handle many different types of legal cases, including the occasional personal injury case. If you have a serious personal injury claim, you will want a lawyer who handles personal injury cases on a day-in, day-out basis. The practice of law has become so complex that is it virtually impossible for a general practice lawyer to stay on top of all the developments in personal injury and medical malpractice law. Most of the lawyers who are hired by insurance companies to defend personal injury cases are seasoned specialists who limit their practice to the defense of personal injury cases. A general practitioner is likely to be at a major disadvantage when he or she goes up against a law firm that specializes in the defense of personal injury cases.

At The Boerst Law Office, Inc., our attorneys focus on personal injury and criminal defense.  The two compliment each other tremendously.  In the criminal law practice, our attorneys are comfortable in the courtroom.  We are actually inside of a courtroom every single week.  Whereas, many attorneys who focus their law practice exclusively on personal injury may rarely, if ever, actually step foot inside of a courtroom.  I trust that you can appreciate the impact that having real courtroom experience can have upon the attorney you choose.  Your injury attorney should be comfortable in court and prepared to go!

How long has this lawyer been handling personal injury cases?

For the most part, lawyers who handle personal injury cases charge injury victims the same “contingent” fee no matter how long they have been practicing. If a lawyer with only 3 years of experience is going to charge you the same fee as a lawyer with 15 to 20 years of experience and has handled hundreds of personal injury cases, you should strongly consider hiring the more seasoned lawyer. The experience of your lawyer can make a very big difference in the outcome of your case.

Does this lawyer teach other lawyers?

Lawyers who frequently lecture at legal education seminars (called “CLE” – or continuing legal education) have the esteem of their professional colleagues. They are asked to speak at legal education seminars because other attorneys want to hear what they have to say. Lawyers who regularly write articles in legal publications are usually the authorities in the field and know what they are talking about. If you want to know whether a lawyer teaches other lawyers about developments in personal injury law or writes articles about personal injury litigation, you should ask.

The Injury Attorneys at The Boerst Law Office, Inc. regularly teach other lawyers. Attorney Bruce Boerst has lectured and presented on a number of topics including, but not limited to, jury selection, trial evidence, law practice management, damages in injury cases, and many more.

There are both national and state organizations comprised of lawyers who are dedicated to the representation of injury victims. These organizations sponsor legal publications and legal education programs. They also conduct lobbying activities for the rights of injured perople. The most prominent organization for injury trial lawyers is Ohio Association for Justice (OAJ).  Formerly known as “Ohio Association of Trial Lawyers”), OAJ is a statewide organization of plaintiff attorneys dedicated to the rights of injured persons. You can certainly find a lawyer who doesn’t belong to any of these groups, but why would you want that lawyer to represent you in a serious injury lawsuit?

Attorney Bruce W. Boerst Jr. is a proud and long-time member of OAJ in which he is actively involved and regularly attends.

Can I get along with the lawyer?  Are they personable? Trustworthy?

Perhaps the most important questions to ask yourself before hiring an injury lawyer is: Am I going to like this lawyer? Are we going to get-along?  Are they trustworthy? 

When you’re injured and bring an injury claim, you will be required to work closely for your injury lawyer.  And, injury matters often take time to resolve.  Thus, it’s imperative that you like your attorney.  Meet with the lawyer and get a feel for it.  A lawyer who may be great for one person may, on the other-hand, be a terrible fit for another.  When you meet with the lawyer, pay attention to the following:

How did the lawyer greet me?

Did the lawyer talk WITH me and not AT me?

Did the lawyer take the time to respond to my questions and concerns?

Did the lawyer come across as one of those “I am better than you” types?

How did the lawyer make me feel?

Did the lawyer give me his or her direct contact information?

Did our personalities blend well?

At The Boerst Law Office, Inc, we hope that when you walk through the doors and throughout your entire experience as a client, that you feel as though you are family.  Meeting with us should not be stressful.  We invite our potential and existing clients to speak freely and engage in open conversation.  We enjoy getting to know every one of our clients and their families. 


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