Category: Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

New York, NY

Finding a Good Personal Injury Lawyer in NYC – A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’ve been injured in an accident in New York City, going to court can feel like a tremendous burden has been dropped into your lap. There is paperwork to file, strict rules to follow, and a great deal of uncertainty about whether or not you will be fully compensated.

For that reason, it’s important to have a qualified attorney on your side that will work hard to get you the money you deserve. But, as you may have noticed, there are thousands of law firms and personal injury lawyers to choose from in New York City. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help the process seem less overwhelming.


Do an Online Search

Perhaps the easiest place to start looking for an attorney is by doing an online search. Now, this can turn up hundreds of results. However, you can begin to narrow your research by selecting only a few relevant law firms or solo attorneys that have personal injury law listed as one of their specialties.

Spending some time on a lawyer’s website can give you an indication as to whether or not you might be a good match for each other. Firms often have blogs you can read and testimonials from clients that may be helpful. If you find an attorney that you like, write down his or her contact information and compile a list of those that you wish to follow up with. 

Ask for Referrals

When it comes to finding quality professional services, word of mouth is an extremely useful method. According to Michele Mirman, a personal injury lawyer in New York City, “If you have friends, family, or a colleague that has hired a personal injury attorney in the past, they might be able to recommend someone.” Additionally, they may be able to alert you about a potential issue they had with a particular attorney in the past.  

However, keep in mind that not all attorneys have experience in personal injury law. This means that if a referral is based on prior dealings with an attorney in another practice area, the advice might not be helpful. An example would be if your friend recommended the lawyer that helped him close on the purchase of a house. 

That said, attorneys often have strong professional networks and can connect you with a lawyer that would be qualified to handle your case. For that reason, it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Conduct a Background Check

Now, attorneys often get a bad rap in the media. While much of this may be undeserved, it is always a good idea to do some sort of background check to make sure that the person you may be working with is honest and trustworthy.

In fact, the New York State Unified Court System makes this process easy through its website. You can use the search function to see whether an attorney is licensed in New York and whether he or she has a disciplinary record. When looking at this information, pay particularly close attention to any ethical violations against clients.   

Create a List of Questions

Before reaching out to a potential attorney, it can be helpful to prepare a list of questions to ask. The goal in your initial meeting is to ascertain whether the attorney is qualified to handle your case and determine whether you will work well together.

Questions you might consider asking the attorney include:

  • What experience do you have in personal injury? 
  • Do you have a track record of success? 
  • What is your current caseload like? 
  • Do you have support staff or paralegals? 
  • How do you prefer to communicate – email, phone, etc.? 
  • How will you get paid, and what expenses are the client responsible for? 

The answers to these questions – and any others that you might have – can be really helpful in guiding your decision.

Schedule Meetings with Attorneys

Note that many attorneys offer a free initial meeting, often referred to as a consultation. However, this is not always the case, so you should consider asking before scheduling the meeting.

In most cases, meetings may be done over the phone or at the attorney’s office. Be prepared to explain your case and to ask any questions you have. 

Contact a Legal Referral Service

If you are unsuccessful in finding a lawyer through recommendations or your own research, you might consider using the Bar Association’s attorney referral program. The service is free and the staff will help connect you with a qualified attorney.

Note that consultations with the lawyer may be up to 30 minutes, and the attorney is allowed to charge you a maximum of $35. 

Make Your Decision

Now, after conducting your research and meeting with one or more attorneys, the final step would be to decide whether or not you would like to work with any of them. This process can take time and, unfortunately, it’s not always possible to know which lawyer would produce the best outcome for your case. 

At the end of the day, this is your decision and the lawyer you hire should be someone that you feel comfortable with and is courteous to you. 

When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you suffered an accident or injury, you are probably wondering if you should hire a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers deal with a variety of different practice areas including car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and slip and falls. They know the laws and can accurately represent you to make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve. It can be difficult to know when in the process you need to hire an attorney.

Here are some tips to make sure you get the representation you need; at the time you need it.

Do You Have a Case?

This is the most important step in making a claim, but it is often the most overlooked. Before you can even file a personal injury claim, you must be able to show that there was an actual injury that was caused by someone else. You must also be able to prove that because of the injury you are entitled to some sort of compensation.

There must also be a way to get compensation. For example, if the person who caused the injury is uninsured, it may be difficult to obtain any sort of monetary payment from them. A personal injury lawyer is trained to look at a set of facts and make sure all of these elements are met. They can also consult with you and determine what type of case you should file and when you should file it.

What Are the Time Limits?

There is a statute of limitations for many injuries in California. This is a time limit that dictates how long you have to file certain personal injury claims. For example, in California, most bodily harm injury claims have a statute of limitations of two years after the injury. This means that you have two years to file a personal injury claim from the date of your injury. You will not be able to file a claim after two years.

Medical malpractice personal injury claims must be filed within three years of the injury. However, you may not discover your injury until years after you had surgery. If this is the case, you are allowed to file a claim up to one year after you discover your injury. Meaning, even if you discover your injury several years after the statute of limitations has passed, you still have one year to make a claim.

Consulting a lawyer to find out what the statute of limitations is for your case is an important step. If you wait too long, you may be barred from any recovery. Lawyers also know of ways to possibly extend the time frame. For example, California allows for tolling. This is a delay or pause of the clock that is running on your time limit. Tolling may be an option if there are circumstances out of your control that make it impossible for you to file your claim before your time runs out.

Do You Have to Deal With Insurance Companies?

If you were injured, you more than likely have to deal with an insurance company. The company will request all records that are related to the accident or injury. This can be a drawn-out process.

For example, if you were injured in a car accident, you may be seriously hurt and in a lot of pain. While you want to recover, the insurance company wants to quickly close your claim. If you miss one document or don’t fill something out completely, your claim may be denied or may take longer than usual. This can be detrimental if you are depending on insurance money to pay medical or car repair bills.

It is important to remember that insurance companies are not lawyers working on your behalf. Their bottom line is to save the company money and to provide you with as little compensation as possible. They may raise your rates even though you are not to blame for the accident. This is where a personal injury lawyer can help you. They can act as your advocate with the company and make sure you are heard and that you get maximum compensation.  

What Other Factors are There to Consider?

In California, legally any person can file a personal injury claim without a lawyer. This may be a good option if the injury is minor or insurance is not involved. Be warned though, there will still be a lot of documentation needed and you will still need to provide evidence. If you choose to go this route, a judge will not give you sympathy because you are not an attorney. They will expect you to be as prepared as if you had representation.  

 It is important to meet with an attorney early in your claim. Usually, a personal injury lawyer will provide a low cost or free consult to hear all of the facts of the case and decide if they can help you. If they take your case, they can help you figure out what type of claim to bring and what the time limits are. They can also help you deal with insurance companies and get the compensation you need to recover. 

How to Find a Good Personal Injury Attorney California

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 a good 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?