Stephanie had been in a devastating car accident, which would eventually require a back fusion and leg surgery. She thought she found a good attorney after learning that her brother had a friend that was a personal injury attorney. She had never been in a lawsuit, but now that she lost her job and couldn’t find work due to her injury, getting a good outcome on her case would help create a stable home for herself and her two young children. Stephanie’s brother told her that she could trust his friend. Since trust meant everything to her, she hired her brother’s personal injury attorney friend who, after meeting him, ended up being a really nice guy. The personal injury lawsuit seemed to take forever, and after two years of waiting, she finally got an offer from the at fault parties insurance company for $617,000. She wasn’t sure what to do so she consulted with her personal injury attorney who advised her to go to trial since he felt that her case was worth double that amount. Stephanie took his advice and after a five-day trial the jury’s verdict was just under $100,000. That wasn’t even enough to pay for her medical bills. Her debts had grown to large amounts since she hadn’t worked in over two years. After her attorney negotiated her medical bills down she only walked away with $1,479. Stephanie and her two kids moved in with her mother and she had no choice but to file for bankruptcy. Where did Stephanie go wrong? Could she have done anything different? Let’s evaluate each question separately.
Where did Stephanie go wrong?
While Stephanie trusted and liked this person, which is clearly important, she really had no knowledge or information of her personal injury attorney’s ability. Although her brother’s friend was trustworthy, he wasn’t a sophisticated strategic thinker and had limited trial experience.
Could she have done anything different?
Stephanie should have done her homework to find out what her personal injury attorney’s capacity and skill level were before she hired him. How could she have done this?
- View public court records online to find out what her personal injury attorney’s track record was. Find out how many times in the past five years he had been to trial. Find out what types of verdicts did he obtained. If he rarely went to trial, she should have asked him why?
- She could have located a successful businessperson (friend or otherwise) to help her sort out her attorney or make a recommendation. Her brother isn’t a businessperson and has no real experience or aptitude for evaluating attorneys. Successful business people are usually successful because they have a special aptitude for sorting people out and projecting their behavior forward. They usually have extensive experience working with attorneys and know what attributes to look for.
- Use a Lawyer Referral Service. Their services range from self service which allow you to use their database online and you never speak with a live person to full service which include speaking with a specialist, who will learn the nuances of your case and introduce you to a qualified personal injury attorney after researching and carefully considering your matter. One, free of charge, full service company that we recommend is Lawyer Locator. They have expert resources and have evaluated thousands of lawsuits, which makes them savvy at sorting out personal injury attorneys. If you’d like to contact them, they’re located at 8711 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd. #315 Scottsdale, AZ 85255 and can be reached by calling 800-220-0114 or visit them online at lawyerlocator.biz.