How to Find the Best Personal Injury Attorney in California [Updated 2021]

After an accident, you may need an attorney to help you get the money you deserve.

In this post, we share our ideas on how to find the best personal injury attorney. See below to get started.

1. Searching Online

Google

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 Los Angeles, CA, you would simply type, “personal injury attorney Los Angeles 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.

2. Legal Directories

Avvo

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

Avvo is one of the more popular attorney 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

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

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.

Yelp

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.

3. Online Reviews

Yelp Reviews

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.

4. California State Bar Page

California State Bar

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 look up a lawyer by clicking here.

5. Asking the Right Questions During the Initial Consultation

People with with attorney

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 is 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?

6. Be Prepared During Your Initial Consult

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.

Additionally, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with tort law and legal terms like negligence.

7. Understand the Fee Structure

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 may be true, make sure you understand what they get in the event 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.

8. Personality

People meeting with an attorney

The last thing to consider is how well you got along 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.

Reasons Why You Should Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer:

We put together this infographic dealing with the benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer after an accident. These reasons include:

  1. Medical Issues: A good attorney will work with a team of experts that can properly evaluate your injuries.
  2. Financial Issues: An attorney will help you with the financial issues that inevitably arise after an accident.
  3. Higher Settlements: An experienced attorney can often help you negotiate higher settlements with the negligent party’s insurance company.
Why Should I Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer?
5 Things You Need to Know About Going to the Emergency Room After an Accident

5 Things You Need to Know About Going to the Emergency Room After an Accident

Millions of people are treated each year in emergency rooms for injuries sustained in accidents. People go to the emergency room after car accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle crashes, slip & fall accidents, dog bites, defective product injuries, and construction accidents, to name a few. 

Some individuals are transported directly to the ER from the accident scene. Other people go to the emergency room after experiencing symptoms of an injury in the hours or days following an accident. 

Since so many people visit the emergency room each year, you should know a few things going to the ER after an accident.

1.  Notes and Records From Medical Staff Are Important in a Personal Injury Case

Nurses, doctors, and other medical providers ask lots of questions. They will ask about your injuries, and they may question you about the accident or how you were injured. 

Be careful what you say to nurses, doctors, and ER staff members. Your comments and answers become part of your medical record, which the insurance company and defense attorney will receive when you file a personal injury claim.

Therefore, if you state that you are unsure how the accident occurred or imply you are at fault, those statements could significantly impact the outcome of your personal injury case.

Try to keep your answers short and to the point. Do not elaborate on how the accident occurred or offer information that is not requested. Try to keep the conversation confined to your injuries and symptoms. 

2.  Be Careful What You Sign

You will be given numerous documents when you enter the emergency room. The hospital requires that you sign a consent to treatment and other forms. You may also be given forms about your insurance coverage.

If you are seriously injured, it may be impossible for you to understand these forms. If you do not understand the insurance forms, ask the person to wait until you are not under the influence of medication or severe pain to read and understand the document. 

Tell the records personnel that you have health insurance that may cover the cost of care but that the injuries were sustained in an accident caused by another party. 

3.  Tell Nurses and Doctors About All Symptoms

Do not leave out any information about your injuries or symptoms, regardless of whether the symptom is minor or severe. All aches and pains could be an indication of a serious condition. You want the medical staff to note all of your complaints in your medical chart.

One reason for relaying all your symptoms is for doctors to provide a correct diagnosis. It is also crucial for claims purposes. 

Some injuries may not be immediately noticeable. It could take a few hours or days for you to begin feeling severe pain or severe symptoms. It is more difficult for an insurance company to allege that the accident did not cause your injury when the ER records indicate you were experiencing minor symptoms within minutes or hours after the crash. 

4.  Emergency Room Costs Can Be High

The costs of emergency care can be high. Your physicians may need to perform one or more diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your symptoms. The ER doctor might order a CT scan, MRI, x-rays, an ultrasound, and various blood work. The cost could total thousands of dollars for one imagining test.

Your health insurance company may pay for some of these costs. However, you could have thousands of dollars in co-pays or uncovered amounts that the hospital expects you to pay. Talk with a personal injury lawyer about ways that you can hold off paying ER bills while your personal injury case is pending. 

5.  Request Written Instructions for Further Care

Before you leave the emergency room, ask the staff to provide written instructions for your care. Make sure you understand these instructions and follow them after leaving the hospital. Follow up with your physician as soon as possible for further care.

Delays in medical care, refusing care, and failing to follow a treatment plan can hurt your chance of recovering a fair settlement for your personal injury claim. 

Seek Legal Advice if You Have Questions

Most people have never had to deal with a personal injury claim. Therefore, they may not understand the process or the types of damages they might be entitled to receive. If you have questions about an injury, ask a personal injury attorney for help. 

It is in your best interest to seek legal counsel rather than trust what an insurance company tells you about a claim. The insurance company is looking out for its best interest. You need someone who will do the same for you.

What’s a “Reasonable” Person When it Comes to Negligence?

For most personal injury claims, you must prove that the other party was negligent to recover compensation for your damages. 

Negligence is the basis for injury claims arising from:

Almost every type of personal injury case involves a negligence claim. Whether a person was negligent is based on what a “reasonable person” would have done in a similar situation. However, who is considered a “reasonable person?”

Who is Considered a Reasonable Person?

A “reasonable person” is subjective. It is a model for judging the reasonableness of another party’s conduct. There is no specific definition of a reasonable person.

In most cases, a reasonable person is defined as someone who uses ordinary prudence. In other words, the person uses a reasonable level of cautiousness in approaching a given situation. A reasonable person considers a situation and acts with common sense based on the circumstances.

For example, a reasonable person knows that texting while driving and speeding through a school zone are dangerous driving behaviors. Therefore, a reasonable person does not engage in these behaviors. 

Another example might be a store owner failing to clean up a spill. A reasonable person knows that a spill makes the floor slippery. If they do not clean it, the spill could cause someone to fall. Therefore, a reasonable person would clean up the spill as quickly as possible or take other steps to prevent someone from falling.

The Reasonable Person Standard is Not the Same in Every Case

The facts and circumstances of the case dictate the standard used for a reasonable person. Using this standard does not mean that a person must be perfect. It only means that the person acted with reasonable prudence.

If a reasonable person would have made the same mistake or error, the party who caused the injury may not be liable for damages. There are also instances in which a situation was not within someone’s control. If the injury was unavoidable, a party might not be liable for damages. 

Children Are an Exception to the Reasonable Person Standard

Children may be exempted from the reasonable person standard in some cases. A child lacks the knowledge and maturity of an adult. For that reason, a child cannot be expected to act with the same level of prudence and reasonableness as an adult in certain situations. 

The court may apply a modified standard for the reasonable person test for children. The child’s actions may be measured against what a child of the same age, knowledge, and experience would do in a given situation. 

The court uses the facts of the case to determine what standard should apply. Therefore, it is difficult to determine in advance what a judge may rule in these types of cases. 

Who Decides What a Reasonable Person Would Do in a Given Situation?

The jurors stand in the shoes of the reasonable person. They listen to the evidence presented by each party to determine the facts of the case. They decide what a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances.

The jury must decide if the risk was foreseeable. Suppose a risk was foreseeable and the person proceeded with this knowledge and without regard to the risk of harm or injury to another person. In that case, the jury may find the person’s conduct was not reasonable. 

Personal injury lawyers often argue that the defendant could have taken steps to prevent the injury or harm. The hypothetical “reasonable person” can play a significant role in whether you recover compensation for your damages.

Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Case

To prove negligence, you must show that:

  • The person owed you a duty of care
  • The person breached the duty of care
  • The breach of duty caused your injuries
  • You sustained damages because of the person’s conduct

Jurors may have strong opinions about what constitutes reasonableness. Reasonableness is used to judge whether the person breached the duty of care. If you cannot convince the jury that the person breached the duty of care, you cannot recover compensation for your economic damages (financial losses) or your pain & suffering damages. 

What Are the Odds of Dying in A Car Crash?

What Are the Odds of Dying in A Car Crash?

Since 2014, over six million motor vehicle accidents have been reported in the United States each year. In 2019 alone, there were 6,756,000 traffic accidents nationwide. The result was 36,096 traffic fatalities and 2.74 million injured persons. With such a high rate of accidents occurring each year, you may wonder: “what are the odds of dying in a car crash?”

Odds of Dying in a Car Crash Compared to Other Causes of Death

The National Safety Council (NSC) calculated the lifetime odds of dying from selected causes. In 2019, your odds of dying in a car accident were one in 107. Dying in a motor vehicle crash was eight on the list of causes of death. 

The other seven causes of death examined were:

  • Heart disease (1 in 6)
  • Cancer (1 in 7)
  • All preventable causes of death (1 in 24)
  • Chronic lower respiratory disease (1 in 27)
  • Suicide (1 in 88)
  • Opioid overdose (1 in 92)
  • Fall (1 in 106)

Most traffic accidents are the result of negligence or carelessness. In other words, traffic accidents are preventable in most cases. Drivers make mistakes or engage in dangerous driving behaviors that increase their risk of being in a car accident.

Common Causes of Car Crashes in the United States 

The most common causes of automobile accidents include:

Speeding

Speeding was a factor in 26 percent of the fatal auto accidents in 2019. As the vehicle speed increases, the chance of being in a crash and sustaining severe injuries increases. In 2019, over 9,475 speeding-related deaths were reported.

Distractions 

Distracted driving continues to be a contributing factor in many motor vehicle accidents. In 2019, distracted driving was a factor in six percent of fatal traffic accidents. 

The most common distraction was daydreaming or being lost in thought, followed by:

  • Cell phone use
  • People or objects outside of the vehicle
  • Vehicle occupants
  • Using or reaching for a device
  • Eating or drinking
  • Adjusting vehicle controls
  • Moving objects in the vehicle
  • Smoking

Any activity other than focusing on the road has the potential to be a deadly distraction.

Impaired Driving 

Drunk and drugged driving continue to be a problem throughout the country. Each day, approximately 28 people die because of a drunk driving accident. In 2019, approximately 10,142 people died in drunk driving accidents.

Impaired drivers typically face criminal charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The criminal penalty increases if someone is killed or severely injured because of a drunk driving accident. Likewise, drunk drivers may also be held financially liable for the damages caused by a DUI accident.

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving caused 697 deaths in 2019. When a driver is fatigued or drowsy, their ability to operate a motor vehicle can be severely diminished. Moreover, the chance of falling asleep at the wheel increases, and reaction times and judgment can be severely inhibited. 

Failing to Follow Traffic Laws

Many accidents are caused by failing to follow traffic laws. Failing to yield the right of way, improper lane changes, and following too closely are common causes of traffic accidents. Other factors might contribute to the causes of these types of accidents, such as drunk driving and distracted driving. 

All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a manner that is safe and does not place others at risk for injury or death. If the driver fails in that duty of care, the accident victim may sue the driver for damages.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim or Personal Injury Claim 

When a car accident injuries a person, that person may file a personal injury claim seeking compensation of damages. 

If the other driver is entirely at fault for the cause of the crash, the accident victim may demand full compensation for damages, including:

  • The cost of medical treatment and care
  • The cost of personal care and in-home health care
  • Permanent disabilities and impairments
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Decreases in future earning potential
  • Physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life and enjoyment of life

When a person dies in a car accident, the family may file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. The wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the family members for damages arising from their family member’s death. 

Damages in a wrongful death case may include financial losses, such as loss of income and funeral expenses. The family may also receive compensation for the loss of companionship, support, guidance, and care from their loved one. 

Lawsuits related to car accidents must be filed within a certain period after the car crash to satisfy the statute of limitations. If you do not file a lawsuit seeking wrongful death or personal injury damages before the deadline, you give up your right to pursue an action in court. Seeking legal advice as soon as possible after a car accident is generally in a person’s best interest.