Choosing an attorney to handle your personal injury case is one of the most critically important decisions you will ever make, but one that is often made at a time of terrible distress and conflicting advice. In the hopes that you will never need to take advantage of these tips, the team at Patch & FitzGerald has compiled the following guidelines to assist you.
The reputation of the law firm or attorney is of paramount importance. You want to have an attorney who is credible, capable and able to get opposing counsel to the table with offers that reflect the reality of your damages. You want an attorney whose reputation is one that makes opposing counsel or the insurance companies sit up and take notice. You want an advocate, a smart, successful warrior who will fight for your best interests.
Your best bet for good representation is an attorney with decades of experience in the field. Not months or a few years. You will have a significantly better outcome being represented by an experienced, smart attorney who knows how to maneuver through the system, who knows what will and won’t work. You want a seasoned strategist leading your fight, not someone who is learning the ropes. And that takes years of practice.
RECOGNITION, REVIEWS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Personal recommendations from friends, family or colleagues are always a good place to start. But recognition of an attorney’s skills and achievements by professional legal organizations and peers are also an important indicator of skills and capabilities. Look for notices of achievement by credible organizations such as Martindale Hubbel, Avvo, or the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys. And don’t be fooled by the organizations that rate attorneys by age: being in the “Top 50 under 40” category just means you might have potential, but don’t have experience.
CHECK FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS OR TAX LIENS
An important point of evaluation should be that the attorney you are considering has not been found guilty of professional misconduct. An easy way to check is to go to the Attorney Discipline System page of the NH Supreme Court (nhattyreg.org) and type in the attorney’s last name.
We also recommend that you check that there are no outstanding tax liens on the attorney or firm. Attorneys under financial pressure from the IRS may be more likely to take a quick settlement in your case, to generate income for their office, rather than to hold out and fight for a larger settlement that could take more time and be better for you in the long run. Because tax liens are filed at the county level, check the county where the attorney has his office, and the neighboring counties as well, since occasionally someone may practice in one county but reside in another. IRS tax liens that are filed at the county level are public information, available online. Simply type NHDeeds.com into your browser, select the county, and click AVA search. Just type in the last name of the attorney (s) to make sure you are dealing with someone whose first interest is in your case, not settling their own IRS matters.
Finally, having conducted your own research, we hope you will contact us at Patch & FitzGerald (603-647-2600) and let our experience, integrity and tenacity win for you and your family. Patch & FitzGerald: Relentless Advocates, Winning Results.