You’ve been seriously injured in an accident. You know you should hire a personal injury attorney to handle your case, but you’re worried that you might pick the wrong one. This is one of the most consequential decisions you’ve ever had to make, and it will have long-lasting effects on you and your family.
So, where do you start?
The chances are that you will start where most searches in the digital age start: Google. With a few keystrokes, you’ll instantly find hundreds of “Personal injury lawyers in South Florida”.
But now you have a second problem: information overload. You went from having no information to having way too much, and now you again don’t know where to start. On top of that, the Google results can be hard to interpret in and of themselves. There are any number of pay-per-click ads, irrelevant results, and clickbait headlines muddying the waters.
You should keep two important points in mind. First, search ads are a pay-to-play system. An ad showing up in top position in search is 1% a reflection of the competence of the firm and 99% a function of its advertising budget. A firm that is willing to pay $10,000 a month will always rank above a firm that pays less.
Second, the so-called organic results (the non-paid search results) are influenced by a number of factors from your previous search history to the device you’re using to where you physically are standing at the time you search.
All this is to say, don’t reflexively choose the result on the top of page 1. They probably paid large sums to get there, which doesn’t mean they are your best choice.
But, if top ranking on Google isn’t a good metric, what is? How do you begin to sift through the pages and pages of results and evaluate the law firms and lawyers? Let’s look at a couple of approaches to identifying and assessing the right personal injury lawyer from the gigantic pool of potential lawyers.
Website Design, Messaging, and Content
A great way to find out more about a lawyer is to look at their firm’s website.
Design and Use
At first, just take in the overall design of the website. Is it easy to navigate? Does it look like it was built in the early 90s? Is it mobile responsive or did you have to pinch-zoom on your phone? If their website hasn’t been updated since Windows 95, how up to date can their client communication, record keeping, and cybersecurity systems be?
You may not want to deal with a law firm that still does everything on paper and by snail mail. While both are valuable, it’s good to have options for how to communicate with your lawyer, how to receive and sign documents, etc. Worse, you don’t want to work with a firm that’s technologically incompetent and vulnerable to security breaches.
Message and Educational Content
Next, what’s the purpose of the website? Does it feel like the website’s only goal is to tout the accomplishments of the attorney and give him a place to brag about himself? Or is the website built for you, the client?
Read through the types of content posted to the firm’s website. You should want to work with a lawyer who presents information to you freely and openly, who welcomes the opportunity to educate clients and potential clients on their legal rights and injury claims. If the personal injury attorney is tight-lipped on the website and is only concerned about flaunting degrees and giant settlements, it may portend a similar disinterest in educating you on your case when you are a client.
Reviews and Testimonials
Social proof is highly potent. Again, the internet has increased the access to and prevalence of reviews for businesses and services. Most consumers will check online reviews for a business, even if they have been referred by a friend. As President Reagan was fond of saying, “Trust, but verify.”
You should check the reviews and testimonials for your personal injury lawyer on multiple platforms including social media. Use reviews judiciously, of course. A perfect rating isn’t a necessity—who among us is perfect?—but a terrible rating should raise your Spidey senses!
Background and Experience
Experience matters. Unfortunately, too many firms misleadingly present theirs by saying “Over 50 years of collective experience.” At first glance, you might think “Wow! That’s a big number.” But you don’t know immediately whether that means 2 lawyers with 25 years of experience or (more likely) 25 lawyers with 2 years of experience. The statement is true in both situations, but the second isn’t all that impressive.
Instead, what you want is a personal injury law firm that exclusively does personal injury cases. Assuming that it takes around 10,000 hours of concentrated practice to become an expert in something (as was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book Outliers), a lawyer that has four distinct practice areas is unlikely to be an expert in any one of them. She may negotiate a business deal in the morning and send a demand letter to an insurance company in the afternoon.
If you are here, chances are that you or someone you know has been injured in an accident. We are truly sorry that you are going through this, but we hope you recover from your injuries and that you can return to your normal life as soon as possible.
You may be worrying about many things right now, but how you will pay for injuries that you didn’t cause shouldn’t be one of them. Unfortunately, victims who don’t have a dedicated personal injury lawyer on their side or who hire the wrong lawyer often don’t recover the full amount of damages to which they are entitled. Afterall, the insurance company has qualified attorneys on their side to protect their interests—so should you.
The personal injury lawyers here at Personal Injury & Accident Law Center would love to speak to you about your case and tell you how we can help you get on the path to a full recovery. Call us today at (561)372-3800 or fill out a case evaluation form and a team member will contact you soon.