After an accident, you may need an attorney to help you get the money you deserve.
In this post, San Diego personal injury attorney Curtis Quay shares his tips on choosing a good accident lawyer in California. For the past 15 years, Mr. Quay has successfully handled thousands of personal injury cases. See his suggestions below.
Table of Contents
- Search Online
- Legal Directories
- Online Reviews
- California State Bar
- What To Ask During the Initial Consultation
- Preparing for the Initial Consultation
- Understand the Fee Structure
When choosing a personal injury lawyer, start by searching via a search engine like Google.
You can search by using terms like “good personal injury lawyers near me” or “personal injury attorney” followed by your City and State. So if you live in Pasadena, CA, you would simply type, “personal injury attorney Pasadena CA” into the search bar.
This type of search will usually give you a list of attorneys in your area and a list of legal (and non-legal) directories. See more about those below.
Legal directories are like mini-search engines of their own, but focus only on attorneys. We’ll go over the most popular ones and one non-legal directory, Yelp.
Avvo is one of the more popular attorneys directories. Avvo offers a lot of great info including ratings, law school attended, and contact info. More importantly, Avvo tells you if the attorney has ever been disciplined by the California State Bar. Visit Avvo by clicking here.
FindLaw is another popular legal directory that may show up in the search results. FindLaw includes attorney contact info and a bio. FindLaw lacks the robust review system you’ll find in Avvo, but given FindLaw’s search engine placement, we included it in our list. Visit them by clicking here.
Lawyers.com is owned by Martindale-Hubble. They’ve been around for years providing info on attorneys. Lawyers.com provides contact info, client reviews, and peer reviews. You can see more by clicking here.
Although not a legal directory, Yelp has established itself as a go-to location for those seeking an attorney. Yelp includes contact info, bio, and reviews. Visit Yelp them here.
Many of the online directories listed above include personal injury lawyers reviews. When looking at reviews, make sure you don’t just look at the amount of reviews or overall ratings.
Instead, take the time to read the reviews – especially the longer ones. A long review might give you more insight into an attorney.
Another way to find attorney reviews is by using Google Maps. Once you’re there, type “personal injury attorney” and you’ll see results below with reviews.
No attorney search is complete without visiting their profile on the California State Bar website. On this site you’ll see their official contact info, educational background, and further detail on their disciplinary history, if any.
You can lookup a lawyer by clicking here.
Most, if not all, personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation. This is a great time to ask a lot of questions regarding their practice and your case.
Here are a list of questions to ask a personal injury lawyer during the free consultation.
- How many years have you been practicing?
- Have you handled my type of case before?
- Where did you attend law school?
- Do you exclusively practice personal injury law?
- How long have you exclusively practiced personal injury law?
- Have you taken any cases to trial?
- Have you been disciplined by the California State Bar?
- Ask for a list of their previous victories – both verdicts and settlements
- How much do you think my case is worth?
Prior to meeting with an attorney, take some time to learn a little about personal injury law in your state. For example, most personal injury attorneys will not take a car accident case which solely resulted in property damage.
Don’t sign a retainer agreement without making sure you understand the fee structure. We’ve all heard personal injury attorneys say, “I get nothing unless you win.” This means they work on a contingency basis. While that my be true, make sure you understand what they get in the even that you do win.
In California, an accident attorney will typically take somewhere between 25% – 40%. However, many attorneys will also require that you pay for any fees incurred throughout the process. Your attorney will charge these fees on top of the percentage. What you’ll want to know is exactly what these fees include. For example, it might include the cost for experts, private investigators, and depositions.
Make sure you don’t get blindsided, as these fees can significantly cut into your award settlement.
The last thing to consider is how well you got a long during the initial consultation. Did you find it easy to speak with the attorney? If not, you might want to consider continuing your search until you find someone who is a good personality fit for you.
Did We Miss Anything?
We hope that this guide will help you find a reputable personal injury lawyer in your area. Did we miss something? If so, please comment below.
About the Author: Attorney Curtis Quay has over 15 years experience handling both plaintiff and defendant personal injury claims. Mr. Quay earned his J.D. at prestigious Temple Law School.
Reasons Why You Should Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer:
We put together this infographic dealing the benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer after an accident. These reasons include:
- Medical Issues: A good attorney will work with a team of experts that can properly evaluate your injuries.
- Financial Issues: An attorney will help you with the financial issues that inevitably arise after an accident.
- Higher Settlements: An experienced attorney can often help you negotiate higher settlements with the negligent party’s insurance company.