Best Personal Injury Attorney in San Diego? How to Interview an Attorney

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Best Personal Injury Attorney

The average person is unaware of their legal rights when they are injured because of another person’s negligence. The way to ensure their rights is by finding the best personal injury attorney in San Diego to represent them. With so many personal injury firms throughout San Diego, how do you know which one is the most equipped to represent you?

Most personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. Not only is this a great way to find out if you have a good case, it is also your chance to learn more about a law firm. The right lawyer for you is someone who cares about your situation and wants to get the best outcome for your case. They also need the skills and experience to carry through on their commitment to you.

The attorneys you see on TV take care of every aspect of their clients’ cases. They investigate every angle and follow potential suspects around the clock. In the real world, your attorney works as your partner. He advises you on what you should and shouldn’t do to strengthen your case. In return, you share all of the information you have about your case. To have a trusting relationship, you need someone you feel comfortable with.

Use the questions below to make the most of your consultation. Getting the right answers will tell you if they are the best personal injury attorney in San Diego for your case or if you should keep looking.

Case Results

How much experience do you have?

This seems like a simple, straightforward question but it actually has a number of layers. How many cases like yours have they handled? What is their success rate? How long have they worked in your area? What percentage of their cases are settled prior to trial as opposed to going to court.

The main reason that you need a personal injury attorney in the first place is for their experience. An experienced attorney knows how to negotiate, how to use your medical records to get a fair settlement, and how to argue your case in front of a judge if it goes to court. It isn’t unusual for attorneys to settle cases before they go to trial. This actually saves both sides a lot of money by eliminating court costs. The only time you’d be better suited going to court, is if the offered settlement is too low.

An in-depth knowledge of California personal injury law and extensive experience negotiating settlements and arguing court cases are valuable qualifications. They show that the attorney has the experience and skills to handle your case. A record of successful case results shows that they have the passion to put those skills to use for you.

Who else will work on my case?

Different law firms handle cases differently. You don’t want to waste your time looking for the best personal injury attorney in San Diego only to have your case passed off to an assistant. For some attorneys, it’s a matter of poor time management. They take on too many cases and then hand off responsibilities to other attorneys or employees in the firm. If they plan to share the responsibility with other members of the legal team, make sure you find out their qualifications as well.

What types of cases do you specialize in?

Legal expertise is one area where more is definitely not better. Some law firms advertise both family law and personal injury services. The problem with this is that the broader the range of services they provide, the less knowledge they may have about any one area. Ask what percentage of their practice is devoted to personal injury and wrongful death cases. You don’t need a diverse attorney; you need an expert in personal injury.

Trial Experience

How much trial experience do you have?

Most cases end in a settlement before they ever go to trial. But sometimes both sides simply can’t come to an agreement. Never hire a personal injury attorney based on successful negotiations alone. If your case goes to court, you want an experienced trial attorney who has a successful track record in court as well. They will need to know all the facts of your case and have the dedication and skills to fight for you.

Can you provide me with names and contact information of any previous clients?

One of the easiest ways to find a San Diego personal injury attorney that can get you the best results is through referrals from friends or family members. If that’s how you come across an attorney’s name, consider it as a starting point. You still need to make sure they are the best personal injury attorney for your case and for your personal needs.

Make an appointment for an initial consultation and go down this list of questions the same as you would for any name you came across during your research. In either case, ask for referrals from other clients.

What is your role in the community?

Not only is a good law firm aware of their community, they also take an active role in supporting it. When you need an attorney, you hire someone in your area who is familiar with local laws and businesses. The people in the community are the clients that make a law firm successful. The role the law firm takes in the community tells you a lot about the attitudes of the firm and their dedication to their clients.

Attorney Reviews

Have you received any awards or special recognition?

Over time, most attorneys come up against some tough cases. Awards and special recognition tell you that they went to bat for their client and put in the extra effort needed to win. Any attorney can accept the offer made by the other side and just move on to the next case. The ability and determination to get the best results, no matter what it takes, are what sets them apart as one of the best personal injury attorneys in San Diego.

What will my role be in my case?

As mentioned earlier, your role in the attorney-client relationship is an active one. As soon as your attorney looks at the circumstances of your case, he should start advising you on the next steps. For example, don’t talk to the insurance adjuster or the at-fault party directly. Also, do get medical treatment for your injuries, keep all of your appointments, and follow the doctor’s advice.

Honesty is just as important in this relationship as it is in any other. Your attorney will see from the accident report and your medical records what the facts of your case are. You also need to share the emotional and financial impact your injury has had on your life. Your injury could impact your quality of life for a long time to come. The settlement your attorney works for should reflect the full extent of these damages.

Sometimes what you don’t do is even more important than what you do. If you dismiss your injury too easily, don’t expect the other side to do any differently. You never know who is listening or watching. Anything you say or do could hurt you and your case.

Communication is also important. How accessible will the attorney be in case you have questions or new information to report? Do they make it a practice to keep clients informed regularly? You can tell during the initial consultation whether they put you at ease and make you feel comfortable enough to share your feelings about your injury.

Do I have a good case?

The premise of a personal injury case is that another person or entity caused your injury, either intentionally or accidentally. California’s classification as a comparative fault state makes providing fault a little more challenging. If the court determines that you were partly to blame, you won’t get the full amount of damages if you win.

An experienced attorney should have a good idea of what the potential outcomes for your case might be. They should also be upfront with you about how solid your case is. You don’t want an attorney who pursues your case even when there is not much hope that you will win. Ask what he thinks about your case and his advice on going forward. Also, ask him to explain the reasons behind his advice.  

How long do I have to file a claim?

Every state has a time limit for filing a personal injury claim called the “statute of limitations.” In California, it is usually two years from the time of the accident that caused your injury. However, some exceptions could apply that would reduce or extend the amount of time you have to file.

Two years seems like a lot of time but there is a lot to be done to prepare for your case. The sooner you find the best personal injury attorney in San Diego to advise you, the better. If you have a good case and your attorney advises you to go forward, they should start the process as quickly as possible. An experienced attorney also knows if any exceptions to the statute of limitations apply to your case.

How much will I pay if I do/don’t win my case?

One reason that people fail to pursue a personal injury case is concerns over cost. They already feel the burden of their medical bills and, in some cases, time lost from work. The idea of adding legal fees only to possibly lose their case doesn’t seem practical.

Ask the attorney what their fee structure is going forward whether you win or lose your case. Some of the best personal injury attorneys in San Diego won’t charge you anything unless they win your case. This prevents you from incurring additional debt at a time when you are already overwhelmed by financial problems. It also ensures the attorney has a common interest in getting the best possible result from your case.

You also need to know what to expect once you do win. Do they take a percentage of the winnings, charge hourly rates, or a combination of the two. Some attorneys simply write clients a check for their settlement amount without any explanation of how they arrived at the figure. You have every right to know how much the attorney’s services will cost you. A good attorney will fully account for all settlement funds and provide you with a list of itemized fees for services for which they charge hourly fees.

Do you only handle cases that fit into a specific category?

Even within the area of personal injury, some attorneys focus on specific types of cases. For example, the most common type of personal injury is from an auto accident. Even though your injury might not fall into a specific category of their practice areas, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t qualify.

A personal injury results from intent or negligence on another person’s behalf.Anytime you have the expectation of safety that isn’t met, there is the potential for a valid personal injury claim. Failure to upkeep commercial property or using braces or other materials that don’t meet building codes, for example, are some types of negligence.

The Internet: How Much Should You Rely on Your Online Research?

The internet is a valuable tool for refining your search for the best personal injury attorney in San Diego. But never rely entirely on the information you find online. Use it to comprise a list of no more than ten of the best candidates.

Once you have your list, it’s time to start scheduling initial consultations to meet the attorneys in person. In addition to getting answers to your questions, it’s also a good chance to observe the attorney’s willingness to be upfront with you. You should leave feeling confident and sure of your next step. If not, remember that you aren’t obligated to hire them as your attorney.

Contact Batta Fulkerson to schedule your free consultation to discuss your case. We look forward to answering your questions and discussing your options for going forward with your personal injury case.