HIRING A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
The vast majority of personal injuries occur in car wrecks. Even if you’ve never been in one, you know there are lawyers advertising in every available media for victims of auto accidents. If you are so unfortunate as to be injured in a car accident, how do you sort out which lawyers are experienced, ethical, and highly regarded by the legal profession? What criteria should you use to select a lawyer to represent you?
The great majority of lawyers representing victims of auto accidents work on a contingent fee of one-third of the gross recovery if a lawsuit is not necessary and forty percent if a lawsuit is necessary. That fee arrangement is the same no matter whether the lawyer has never tried a case to jury or the lawyer is board certified as a personal injury trial lawyer by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has the highest rating for legal ability and ethics by the legal profession. In other words, average, or even incompetent, lawyers are most often compensated in the same way as the very most competent.
The experience and track record of your lawyer will strongly influence the settlement value of your case. Insurance companies who defend auto accident cases know the qualifications and history of all attorneys who represent victims. They know which lawyers never try cases to a jury and therefore never offer as much money to settle the case because they know that such lawyers will always settle for whatever if offered. Attorneys who are willing and able to reject a low settlement offer, file suit, and have a proven track record for taking cases to a jury trial and winning almost always get higher settlement offers for their clients. Always hire an experienced lawyer with a solid and proven track record of success in trying cases to a jury.
In Travis County, Texas there are about 120 lawyers who are board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in personal injury trial law. More than half of that number specialize in representing insurance companies, or are judges, or are retired. To become board certified, the lawyer must have tried a least ten contested jury cases and pass a written examination, and rigorous peer review. Board certified attorneys are a better choice.
Lexis Nexus Martindale Hubbell ratings are very important, because the ratings are based on confidential information supplied by the lawyers who are in active practice (peer review rated). The AV Preeminent rating is the highest rating for legal ability and ethical standards.
The bottom line is that you can hire a board-certified Martindale Hubble AV rated lawyer for the same fee as a lawyer who has no such ratings. You can be assured that the board certified Martindale Hubble AV rated lawyer is experienced, has the respect of his or her peers, the courts, and the insurance companies. One of my favorite saying is “if you want to spend a lot of money, hire an amateur.” That saying has significance when hiring a personal injury lawyer. If you want to get the best recovery, do not hire an amateur, but hire a board certified lawyer with a proven track record of successful jury trials and high peer review ratings.