A Guide to Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer in Dallas, Texas
Are you considering hiring a personal injury lawyer in the Dallas are? Well, you’ve come to the fight place! As with most important decisions, finding the best attorney to handle your claim will take a bit of time, toil, and effort. From avoiding the jack-of-all-trade lawyers who will settle your case quickly when the defense starts to fight back, to not falling into the traps of “mass volume” or “quick turnover” attorneys that will forget you are after your sign up, finding a good lawyer takes much consideration. But, we’re here to help!
This important guide provides you with insights that most accident victims in Texas aren’t aware of. Consider this article a life-saver. Here you will learn how to avoid pitfalls when hiring a personal injury attorney, as well and helpful advice and tips provided that will make difference between securing maximum compensation in your case, or going home with much less than what you’re entitled to based on your injuries and damages, or even worst-off, no recovery at all.
When you finally meet with an attorney to discuss your case, you’ll know how to interview them and what questions to ask to determine which personal injury attorney in Dallas you can confidently hire to represent you.
1. Determine what type of personal injury claim you have
The first and most important step in hiring the right personal injury attorney is to decide what type of personal injury claim you have. Personal Injury is a catch-all term and involves every type of civil lawsuits filed against people or entities that fail to use reasonable care or precautions and causes someone to suffer harm. So don’t make the grand mistake of hiring an overly confident dog bite attorney to handle a medical malpractice claim against a negligent neuron surgeon. That would be like begging for a loss.
Instead, start by thinking of the mechanism of injury, how you were injured. This will help you determine the practice area of the attorney you need to retain. If the injury event occurred on the property of another person, whether the location was a residential home, apartment complex, or hotel, you need to seek out a premises liability attorney. Similarly, an truck accident attorney is needed to advocate for traffic collisions. People seeking to pursue claims related to the unsafe actions of a doctor or medical professional should seek out a medical malpractice attorney. If you suffered injuries due to dangerous or defective products, such as a dangerous baby formula, the proper mass tort attorney would be one that handles products liability claims. These are examples of general practice areas within personal injury litigation.
Once you have determined the general practice area, you can search more detailed classifications to look for attorneys that handle any sub-categories. You can determine the subcategory by being more descriptions of the type of accident. In using a prior example, certain auto accident attorneys specialize in truck and 18-wheeler accidents, while others might focus a large percentage of their resources on handling Uber and Lyft collisions, motorcycle accidents, or bus accidents. If the traffic accidents involve a child, try searching for a child injury attorney, as claims involving children are much different than those of adult drivers or passengers. In the case of an animal attack, rather than search for a dog bite attorney, search for a pit bull attorney, of mastiff injury attorney. Thinking of descriptors such as these is a fast-track towards gathering a list of law firms that should be given greater consideration.
2. Search for personal injury lawyers in your area
Potential clients always ask, “Do you I need a personal injury attorney near me?” And the answer is yes, absolutely. Using a search word such as "personal injury lawyer Dallas, Texas" or “personal injury lawyer in my area” provides you with a list of attorneys that know the way of the land.
A personal injury attorney in your geographic area should also be familiar with the laws and regulation specific to your county, which can impact how liability is determined. Certain municipalities in Texas have greater protections that others, and a meticulous understanding of any differences could make or break your case. Different courts in Texas also have rules that are unique. A non-local attorney ignorant to local practices can unknowingly reduce your likelihood of having a successful outcome.
Another important benefit of hiring local is that the attorney most likely has an established network of doctors, surgeons, rehabilitation specialists, and care providers to aid in your recovery. Your medical treatment plan not only protects your health and safety, but also serves as evidence supporting the extent of how the injuries you suffered have impacted your life and also determines the range of compensation you should be entitled to.
An attorney more than 50 miles away is also less likely to meet with you on a regular basis. As a personal injury attorney myself, I can say that most award-winning settlements and verdicts come from the attorney spending a significant amount of time with the client, in their household, understand their story and how the injury event has altered the victim’s life.
3. Check the attorneys peer-review ratings
Next, there are a number of important peer-review resources you should review to further narrow down the list you’ve started. Practicing lawyers are often a bit slow to commend other attorneys because many are competing with other another. For this reason, a reliable way to determine a lawyer’s calibers and qualifications is by reading what other peers say about them. For lawyers there isn’t an official rating system or company, but you should search the attorney’s names on your list on the following rating systems:
The Martindale-Hubbell Bar Registry For over a century Martindale-Hubbell has provided verified peer review and client rating for the attorneys listed in in their law directory, and I must say, it’s rather impressive. Peers that decide to review an attorney do so through a private online survey and even provide their opinion on the attorney’s ethical standards and legal ability, which is exactly the type of details you need to attempting to choose a qualified and experienced attorney to represent you. Martindale-Hubbell also provides an “AV-Preeminent” rating that grades attorney from an A+ to C- based upon an extensive list of attributes, which includes their prior judgements, awards, publications, and the number of times they’ve taught classes educating other attorneys on how to handle an area of law.
The Best Lawyers in America: The Best Lawyers in America has been reviewing and highting the careers of trial attorneys for more than 35 years. Their methods have proven tried and true, making them a go-to source for attorney and potential clients alike that want to quickly determine the expertise, integrity and overall academic achievement of a curated list of legal practitioners. If some of the attorneys on your list are on Best Lawyers, it is a great sign that you’re headed in the right direction.
Superlawyers: Super Lawyers is a national rating service that reviews attorneys from 70 practice areas, and includes each major category of personal injury case type that you’re searching for. This rating service is curated by peers, meaning that the only attorneys listed on the sight are those that have received enough nominations from other practicing lawyers. Super Lawyers also categorizes attorney by State and City, allowing you to conveniently search for attorneys in your area to consult with. Super Lawyers has always claimed that less 10% of attorneys from each State are allowed listing opportunities, which toughens the listing criteria.
4. Look for any online reviews
Better stated, you should carefully check the lawyers’ online reviews. Understand that many personal injury law firms are master advertisers, so be cautious of fake reviews. A reader can easily decipher a canned review from those more genuine, specific and unique. So examining an attorney's internet reviews is a fantastic approach to get a sense of who they conduct business and how transparent they present themselves to the community. While checking online reviews make sure to do the following:
Restrict the Google review criteria to 4-star or more. It's impossible to please every clients, so be caution to perfect 5 star reviews and is could suggest review fraud. Instead, consider 4.0 to 4.9 star ratings a great place to start. Similarly, if a law firm has less than a 4.0 you should definitely proceed with caution.
Always read the lowest rated reviews. While it's important to read the positive reviews, it's also critical to examine the negative ones. Disgruntled clients generally feel more included review a service, and these will provide you with information on some of the firm's disadvantages. Keep in mind that a single negative review should be considered a red flag. Customers will be dissatisfied from time to time in any sector. However, if you see a pattern of customer unhappiness, it’s important to consider it in your decision-making process.
Look for reviews on other websites. Start with Google reviews for each legal company you're considering. Then skip over to Yelp, Yellow Pages, Better Business Bureau, or AVVO to see what other people have said about them on different platforms.
5. Ask about the lawyer's rate of referrals
Lawyers that are referring cases to another lawyer are strict on where they send their clients. When interviewing potential candidates, ask the attorney what percentage of their cases are referrals from other licensed attorneys. Legal professions know which other attorney are talented in the courtroom, have won millions of dollars in settlements and awards, and most importantly, who can be trusted to efficiently handle a complex injury lawsuit. If an attorney’s caseload is completely comprised of cases that they secured through marketing efforts, this could be an indication that they have not built a good reputation amongst their peers. Likewise, a firm with that is handling a significant number of cases sent to them by other attorney must be doing a great job if they’ve been doing this more an extended time. Referral cases are heavily scrutinized by the referring attorney, the lightest errors or poor result often dissuades an attorney from sending additional clients their way in the future.
6. Set a consultation with each attorney
Contact the law offices of each of Dallas personal injury attorney that you've included on your list of potentials and schedule a free consultations to speak with them. There should not be a charge to discuss for the consult. When scheduling the meeting, ensure that you'll be meeting with the actual attorney, rather than a paralegal, intake specialist, or intern.
This consultation is your best opportunity to interview the attorneys and get to know each one of them. You should discuss the details of your injury claim, but also gauge whether you have a genuine connection with them and want this person as your legal representative.
Important factors to consider after your meeting with a Dallas injury attorney include:
Did the attorney seem to care about your injuries?
Were you able to effectively communicate your grievances?
Did the attorney dismiss any of your concerns?
Were you able to express your thoughts?
Do you feel the attorney allowed you to be honest?
Do you feel assured that your case will be a priority for his or her firm?
Did the attorney seem rushed?
Do you feel as if the attorney would tirelessly advocate for you?
How did you meeting end?
Were you handled with respect and consideration?
Without a doubt, thinking of the details of your consultation while considering these factors will aid you in selecting the attorney you should hire to handle your compensation claim. It is imperative that you have have a good working relationship with your injury attorney. Oftentimes, it is not the most notable or awarded attorney that would be the best suitor represent you. You need an attorney that values excellence and knows how to fight for your rights, while also caring about you as a client.
7. Make sure the attorney specializes in personal injury
We live in a time of specialization, cross-industry, and thankfully, the law is no different! Just as you would not seek-out a foot surgeon to address your chest pain, don't make the grand mistake of hiring a criminal defense attorney to represent you in a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury lawyers in Dallas and across Texas need a meticulous understanding of the safety standards applicable to your accident, along with the medical terms, diagnoses, and rehabilitation plans related to your case and recovery. Personal injury attorneys gain specific training and experience from their handling of prior cases. As an example, the attorney may hire a Life Car Planning Expert if their client is suffering form catastrophic injury or chronic health conditions. Life care planners develop comprehensive reports detailing the future medical needs and associated costs of a patient, which the attorney uses to maximize a settlement of award for the client.
An attorney that focuses solely on accident and injury claims should also regularly attend conferences and seminars related to personal injury law. He or she might also teach others attorneys of their methods, experience, and strategies.
Insurance companies will also only pay top dollar to lawyers they know can beat them in the courtroom. Insurance adjusters have records of their dealing with every law firm in Texas, and know which Dallas lawyers do not often litigate claims. They also review an attorney's website and look to see if the lawyer also handles commercial claims, criminal defense, family law, or any other types of legal claims.
8. Ask about trial experience
While it is understandable that this is not the first thing that comes to mind when looking for an attorney, it is crucial to inquire about the attorney's trial experience. Although about 95% of injury claims end in the form of a settlement, you should still select an attorney with a history of successful courtroom representation. An attorney with trial experience has an in-depth understanding of how to strengthen your claim and fortify your case, even if ends in settlement. As an example, Plaintiff attorneys often hire economist experts to calculate the claimant's lost wages and economic impact. This expert, or any other type, can also be used pre-suit if the attorney believes it is necessary.
9. Ask About The Previous Client Results
An important step in this process of hiring the best personal injury attorney in Dallas is to inquire about each lawyer's prior case results. Previous results, specifically in the form of high settlement sums and jury verdicts, is a clear indications that the legal professional has experience securing notable recoveries. As an examples, if you family intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit of behalf of a loved one, ask the attorney about their average wrongful death settlement they've obtained for clients.
Any attorney should be more than willing to discuss their prior victories, and this can be done without bridging on confidentiality restrictions. Do not feel like you can't ask them about their past cases and how they established negligence is situations similar to yours. Previous customer outcomes also give further information on future projections and the lawyer's continued success. Recovering six-figure settlement is not an easy feat, so doing so multiple times a year is a nod to the lawyer's capabilities. Again, do not consider their economic returns as the most important factor, but rather an indicator that they know what they're doing. Please keep in mind that an attorney is legally forbidden from providing actual client names or information.
9. Review Your List of Options
Once you’ve spoken with each potential lawyer that has remained on your list, it is time or review your options! No two law offices are the same and you should even weigh how a firm's office staff handled your call. You should never take weeks to make your decision, because certain cases require immediate intervention to preserve crucial evidence. But, take a day or two to consider how you felt after each initial consultation and any information that stood out to you. Did the attorney demonstrate extensive experience in handling the type of accident you had? Was he or she familiar with your injuries and potential complications? Were your comforted by their approach to the handling of your case? What did each say about their prior results? Are their previous clients happy? Considers these questions when making the decision on which attorney you should retain.
10. Sign a contingency fee agreement
Finally, the Dallas personal injury attorney you choose to hire should allow you to sign a contingency fee agreement. This type of attorney fee arrangement allows you pay no upfront costs for the attorneys services. Instead, the lawyer will only receive a percentage of the recovery sum if the case is successful either through a settlement or jury verdict. During the hiring process, it is vital that you be absolutely understand what the percentage, and how it can change, at the various stages of the case. Understanding the fee arrangement and how various litigations costs are handled will help you and your attorney be on the same page moving forward. Your personal injury claim might be resolved within a months of two of your date of accident, but oftentimes reaching a proper settlement takes longer, so it is important to understand what you're getting into early on.
If you need some of the best personal injury expertise on your side, find out more about our personal injury legal representation services. We'd be more than happy to answer any of those key questions we listed above, contact Sneed & Mitchell LLP, and we will be happy to help. You can even ask to speak with attorney Niles Sneed directly when you call.