Personal Injury Lawyer:  
Avoid these 6 Costly Mistakes When Hiring One.

Your Personal Injury Lawyer is someone who represents you in your claim for damages when are injured. You want to make the best decision when hiring one and you want to avoid these costly mistakes. Although all practicing lawyers in British Columbia must be licensed to practice law by the Law Society of British Columbia, all lawyers do not practice in the area of personal injury law.

Mistake #1 - You hire your cousin Joey, not because he is a personal injury lawyer but because you want to keep it in the family: 

Just because your cousin Joey is a lawyer, you do not need to hire him for this kind of case. If Joey is not a litigator experienced in the area of personal injury matters, you should leave Joey to practice law in his area.

If Joey is a good personal injury lawyer with experience, then you should hire him. If he is not, you should hire someone who is. You want to spend your legal dollars on the best advice and legal representation as possible. 

You want your lawyer to have a potential rapport with insurance defense lawyers. You want them to have a rapport and be able to work with insurance adjustors. You want your lawyer to have credibility with the courts in case your matter goes to trial. 

Mistake #2 - You hire the cheapest lawyer who has the cheapest contingency fee:

The thing is that even if you end up paying your lawyers 33% of $250,000 you still end up with more than if you have to pay them only 20% of $20,000. 

Here is an almost a true scenario based upon a case our office worked on.

Jennifer was involved in a car accident. She wanted to represent herself or use a cheap lawyer (who incidentally had little overhead, little experience, no staff support, and not enough time to focus on her case). Jennifer was not worried too much about this because her lawyer only charged her 20% of the cost ultimately awarded in her case. So, for Jennifer, her lawyer was able to obtain a settlement offer of $20,000. After fees, taxes and disbursements, she was able to take home almost $15,000.

The thing is that Jennifer’s lawyer did not have the staff availability or resources available to fully and adequately pursue her claim. 

Jennifer’s Mom made her come to our firm. Jennifer had to pay legal fees. She, in fact, had to pay a contingency fee of 33% of the full amount collected.  She ultimately hired lawyers who:

  • Have experience in personal injury law;
  • Who have staff available to assist directly with working with insurance adjustors so that Jennifer could get her wage loss paid on an interim basis;
  • Have other lawyers or paralegals available so that the legal research about Jennifer’s injuries could get done;
  • Jennifer could totally relax and focus on healing because she knew she was in good hands. 

Jennifer’s personal injury lawyers were able to uncover much more about her injuries and how those injuries affected her life situation. As it turns out, Jennifer was able to get $250,000 (she had a head injury that had gone undiagnosed until she hired the new firm). Sure, Jennifer had to pay a bigger fee, but she got to take home more than $150,000. She took the $150,000 home after she paid her legal fees. 

Mistake #3 - You Hire A Lawyer Who Won't Go to Trial

Another almost true story. We know a personal injury lawyer who will not go to trial. Everyone in our legal community knows this lawyer will not go to trial. Although this lawyer is a very nice person, his clients pay dearly for the fact that everyone knows this lawyer will not go to trial.

The adjustors and opposing defense lawyers also know this lawyer will not go to trial. This means that the lawyers for the insurance companies give this lawyer what we call "low-ball" offers. It is not a good thing for clients when this happens.

Make sure your lawyer will go to trial.

Although we always remind our clients at Hemminger Law Group Westshore that the likelihood of trial is small, that we will litigate if it is necessary.

Mistake #4 - You hire a lawyer who is not clear about their fees.

If you have a personal injury lawyer who is not clear about their fees, you have a lawyer who is not clear about a lot of things. Good lawyers are clear. It is their job. From the moment you attend with a lawyer that you are considering hiring, they need to be clear about your fee agreement, who will be assisting with your file, and what will constitute your case.

This clarity will flow to all areas of your case. What lawyer do you think gets best results for their clients? The one who is wishy-washy or the one who is totally clear about the case?

Choose clarity.

Mistake #5 - You hire a lawyer you do not like

Lawyers are people too. Some you will find likable. Others, not so much. You do not need to choose someone to represent you if you do not like them. Liking your lawyer is not only more pleasant because you will be dealing with them a lot, but it is also good for your case.

Because you have a personal injury matter, you may have to share some personal information with your lawyer. It is best that you feel good about who you will be working with, so you feel comfortable sharing your personal information.

Putting it simply, your case and will get better results if you have a good working relationship with your lawyer. It is way easier to have a great working relationship with someone you like rather than do not like. 

Mistake #6 - You hire a lawyer that does not listen to you:

Some lawyers think that their client’s feelings are not relevant. Some lawyers think that listening to their clients complain is a part of the job. They cannot stand it but believe it is a necessary occupational hazard. Don’t hire this kind of lawyer.

Your lawyer needs to listen to you to find out what is important to you. For example, in your personal injury matter, if you were an athlete and your injuries have damaged not only your performance but your self-esteem, that damage is relevant to your case. 

You will pay the same amount regardless of whether or not your lawyer listens. So, hire a lawyer who listens to you.

We hope you have found this article helpful.

Written by Val Hemminger, personal injury lawyer