How to Find the Best Personal Injury Attorney in California [Updated 2022]

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 any California 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.

According to Los Angeles personal injury attorney Sherwin Arzani, 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?
What Is a Personal Injury Claim

What Is a Personal Injury Claim?

A personal injury claim arises from tort law. A tort is an omission or act that causes harm or injury to a person. The claim is a civil action seeking compensation for injuries and damages caused by another party.

Personal injury cases are based on claims of negligence, strict liability, or intentional wrongdoing. Examples of situations that can give rise to a personal injury claim include, but are not limited to:

Wrongful death claims fall under personal injury claims. A wrongful death occurs when an accident or injury causes the death of a person. For example, a person dies from the injuries they sustain in a car crash.

Legal Elements of a Personal Injury Claim 

Some product liability claims, dog bites, and activities involving abnormally dangerous activities are based on strict liability. You do not need to prove the party intended to harm you or was negligent. You only need to prove the other party was responsible for causing your injury. 

However, most personal injury claims are based on negligence. You must prove the legal elements of negligence to recover compensation for damages. You must have evidence proving each of the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:

Duty of Care

A legal duty of care in tort law requires a person to take steps to protect others from injury. 

For example, property owners have a duty of care to protect invitees from dangerous conditions on the property. Motorists have a duty of care to follow traffic laws to avoid accidents. Doctors owe a duty of care to their patients to provide medical care that meets the accepted standard of care.

Generally, everyone has a duty to act with a reasonable level of care to avoid harming or injuring another person.

Breach of Duty

A person breaches their duty of care when their conduct falls short of the reasonable person standard. The jury determines what level of care a reasonably prudent person would have used in similar situations. If the defendant failed to meet that level of care, the jury might find the defendant was negligent. 

Causation 

The breach of duty must have been the direct and proximate cause of the person’s injury. 

For example, a driver ran a red light and hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The driver’s breach of duty (failure to obey traffic laws) was the direct cause of the pedestrian’s injuries. Had it not been for the driver running the red light, the pedestrian would not have been injured.

Generally, a person is not held liable unless they could reasonably foresee that their actions could place another person in harm (proximate cause).

Damages 

The victim must suffer damages to recover compensation for a personal injury claim. The person could prove that the other party was negligent in breaching their duty of care. However, if the breach of duty did not cause any damages, the at-fault party is not required to pay any money to the victim. 

What Damages Can You Receive for a Personal Injury Claim?

Damages in a personal injury claim can include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic damages are the financial losses incurred by the victim. Examples include:

  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Past and future medical bills
  • Household chores and personal care
  • Past and future lost wages and benefits
  • In-home and long-term nursing care
  • Diminished earning potential

Non-economic damages are the intangible losses the person experienced because of the accident and injuries. Examples include:

  • Physical pain and suffering caused by injuries
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Permanent impairments and disabilities
  • Emotional suffering and mental anguish
  • Diminished quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive damages are not compensatory in nature, even though the injured party receives the damages. Instead, these damages “punish” the at-fault party for acting with malice, fraud, or oppression. Punitive damages are only awarded in a small number of personal injury cases. 

Is There a Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

The California statute of limitations provides the deadlines for filing lawsuits. Allowing the statute of limitations to expire means you lose the right to pursue a legal action to recover compensation for damages. 

The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of personal injury case. Most personal injury cases in California have a two-year statute of limitations. However, claims against government agencies must be filed within six months of the injury date. 

Because exceptions and special circumstances could accelerate or pause the statute of limitations, it is always best to seek legal advice as soon as possible after an accident or other personal injury. 

9 Things You Should Know About a Free Lawyer Consultation

9 Things You Should Know About a Free Lawyer Consultation

When you have been hurt in an accident, you may hope to file a legal claim to secure a financial recovery. The first step in this process is consulting with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. 

Even if you know that you have a valid California accident claim, you may be uncertain about what to expect during a free legal consultation. In the following post, you will learn about nine of the most important things to understand about initial case evaluations.

1. Statutes of Limitations

Before deciding to pursue a personal injury or accident claim, you should determine whether your claim has expired. 

The “statute of limitations” is a legal time limit. After the statute of limitations has passed, you cannot begin the legal claims process. In California, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases is typically two years.

2. Researching Your Attorney

Before meeting with a lawyer, make sure to research their office or firm online. You should read reviews from former clients to help you anticipate your own experience. 

Do not hire an attorney or firm unless the majority of online testimonials are positive. Also, make sure to read reviews from many different websites.

3. Bring Documentation

The attorney will want to review the facts of your case during the consultation. Because of this, you should bring the following documents and information to your case review:

  • Photographs of the injuries and accident
  • Police accident reports
  • Relevant tickets and citations
  • Medical records and doctor’s notes
  • Insurance information 

This information will allow your lawyer to fully understand the viability of your case.

4. Write Notes

When you attend the initial meeting, bring notes about your experience. Take detailed notes as soon as possible after the accident.

As time goes on, you might forget small details of the accident or injury. That is why you should keep a personal record of your entire experience.

5. Prepare Details About Your Accident

One of the primary purposes of a legal consultation is to provide your lawyer with information about your accident, illness, or injuries. 

The attorney will ask detailed questions to better understand your situation. These questions help the lawyer determine your ability to answer difficult questions about your accident or injury.

6. Bring Questions for the Attorney

During the consultation, make sure to ask the lawyer questions to help decide whether they are right to represent you. Preparing questions before the meeting will ensure that you use your time effectively. 

Some of the most common questions that clients ask include: 

  • How will my medical bills be covered?
  • Do you believe I can win this case?
  • What is the next step after this meeting?
  • What types of damages can I pursue?
  • Who is legally liable for my accident?
  • How do you handle attorneys’ fees?

These are only a few common examples. Make sure to ask any questions that will help you better understand the legal process or your claim.

7. Laws Related to Your Case

A personal injury attorney will explain the specific California laws and statutes relevant to your case. This will help you understand the viability of your accident claim. 

8. Discuss Attorneys’ Fees

Most injury lawyers are paid through contingency fees. With this payment approach, clients do not pay anything unless their case is successfully won or settled. 

You may not want to hire a lawyer or firm that demands upfront payments before your case is concluded.

9. The Next Steps

Once you have signed the hiring documents for your attorney, they will begin building a case for you. Negotiating with the opposing party will be the first step. If negotiations fail, your personal injury lawyer will file litigation on your behalf.