The Best Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Case
If you’ve been seriously injured, you have undoubtedly seen numerous ads for personal
injury lawyers on TV, on billboards and other advertisements around town, and on the
Internet. How do you know which injury lawyer will be the best for your case?
As we get asked this question often, we thought that it would be helpful to discuss the
factors that often end up mattering the most to clients, which are sometimes very different
than the factors that they think are important at the outset.
With this in mind, the following are our recommendations for consideration:
Does the Attorney or Firm Have the Experience and Tenacity that You Need (and
This really is a two-part matter. The first is whether the attorney (and law firm) have the
experience needed to take on your case and to get you the best result possible. The
experience factor breaks down into these components:
- How long has the attorney been practicing personal injury law? As with most
professions, lawyers tend to get much better the more experience they have.
- Will there be a team of lawyers representing your case? Having multiple
lawyers involved is usually beneficial, as multiple attorneys can handle separate
parts of a case, and collectively develop better case strategy. Multiple attorneys can
also be helpful in the event of an unforeseen matter, such as one of the attorneys
getting ill right before trial.
- Do the attorneys have the tenacity that you need in seeking the best result
possible? Tenacity, at least at our firm, means a single-minded devotion to getting
the clients the best result possible, and the willingness to do the tedious work
required. Advancing cases – even the ones where it would seem clear that one party
may be at fault – requires painstaking efforts to establish fault and full damages.
Here’s the important message – in many personal injury cases, there will come a
point where the other side will make an offer. In some situations, the other side
may offer a relatively “low-ball” settlement offer. In these situations, while it may be
financially advantageous for the attorney if the settlement is accepted (since the attorney may not have invested much time in a case), the attorney should provide the client with an honest assessment of what she believes the case is worth, so that the client can make a determination as to whether to accept the low settlement offer or to proceed in litigation.
At our firm, we are mindful that our role is to always put the client’s interest first. In
settlement negotiations, this means that clients need to have full confidence that we
will always provide our honest assessment of what we believe their case is worth so
that they can determine how to proceed. While no guaranty can ever be made about
a future recovery, we have advised clients many times that we believe a settlement
should be rejected as being too low, and we have recovered many times the original
offer in a later settlement or at trial. In determining which firm to hire, you
should feel comfortable and confident that the attorney and firm you are
hiring will always put your interests first.
Will the Firm Go to Trial? Do They Have Much Trial Experience?
Contrary to popular belief, many personal injury lawyers have little or no trial experience.
Having no trial experience, we believe, can be detrimental in two major respects.
First, having significant trial experience is clearly helpful if a case actually goes to trial, as a
lawyer can draw upon past trial experience in matters ranging from juror selection to
knowing how to cross-examine witnesses and deliver effective closing arguments.
Second, significant trial experience, we believe, is critical in settlement negotiations.
Defendants, and their legal counsel, know what lawyers routinely take cases to trial (as
well as what attorneys have received high verdicts at trial). If they are litigating against an
attorney who has an enviable record of successful trial verdicts, we believe that this
knowledge will be extremely helpful in the settlement negotiations, compared to litigating
against an attorney who has never taken a case to trial or who has a reputation for not
While we are not suggesting that an attorney who has never tried a case cannot get the
same verdict as an attorney who has tried dozens of cases, in our experience we do believe
that a solid record of trial success is helpful in settlement negotiations.
Does the Attorney Seem Like He or She Will Have Enough Time for You?
Attorneys vary greatly in terms of the number of cases that they handle at one time and
how cases are staffed. Some attorneys rely on little or no staffing (such as paralegals),
while others use significant staffing.
Regardless of the staffing used by the attorney, an important consideration for clients
should be the sense they get upon meeting with a potential attorney about how much time
the attorney will have for their case. In particular, does it seem like the attorney will have the time to take your calls and answer your questions, or will those calls and questions be
delegated to a staff member at the firm?
Pay close attention to your initial impressions of the office atmosphere when you are at the
firm, as these impressions can serve as a strong basis as to how your case will be handled.
Are you treated like a VIP, does everyone at the office seem highly professional, and does
everything seem under control? Or is it the case that the attorney does not seem to have
very much time to meet with you, that you don’t seem to matter all that much, and the staff
seems to be rushing around like they are about to miss a deadline?
How Do You Feel About Working with the Attorney?
While you don’t necessarily need for your attorney to be your best friend, you should feel
comfortable with working with the attorney, as there are sometimes very personal
circumstances that need to be disclosed. You should feel that you can completely trust the
attorney to work tenaciously on your behalf, as in personal injury cases there is significant
work that needs to be undertaken to get the best result. You should also feel that the
attorney will give you and your case the full attention that is deserved.
Should I Hire the Lawyers on TV?
The bottom line here is that there is no correlation between advertising on TV (or
billboards, buses, or any other media) and the competency of a lawyer. A large number of
attorneys choose not to engage in large-scale media advertising for a number of reasons.
We strongly believe that a client will be the best-served by considering the other factors
noted in this article, rather than choosing an attorney based previously upon his or her
presence in media ads.
Will You Help Me with Insurance and Other Matters?
In the cases in which a serious injury has been suffered, the person injured will likely be
facing multiple serious matters simultaneously. First, they may be facing an extended and
painful recovery, as well as the accompanying medical bills. Second, they may be unable to
work for a significant time period. Third – particularly if they are the primary breadwinner
for a family – they likely will be facing serious questions such as how they will pay their
mortgage or rent, and all of their other bills.
At our firm, we understand that the consequences of being seriously injured go beyond just
our representation in seeking damages against those who are liable. We are a full-service
injury firm, meaning that we will also help clients with many of the associated matters
affecting their case. We can provide assistance in helping clients get their medical bills
organized for insurance matters, we can help if a client has short or long-term insurance in
making the claim for such benefits, and we can additionally seek compensation under their
own insurance policies in some circumstances (such as if they were hit by an uninsured or
underinsured driver). We can also let medical providers who are making claims against
our client know that we are representing the injured person in litigation, so that they will
know that the process for seeking a financial recovery is being undertaken.
Attorney Fees and Advancing Litigation Costs
Attorneys in personal injury cases typically work on a contingency fee basis, which means
that they are only entitled to a fee if a settlement or verdict is achieved. Payment for the
attorney’s fee is then subtracted from the settlement or verdict award.
The actual fee is typically based upon a percentage of the amount recovered. Usually, the
percentage will be higher if a trial is required, as a trial will usually require more time than
if a settlement can be achieved prior to trial.
In addition to the fee, there will usually be significant expenses that are advanced in cases
involving serious injury, such as courts costs, expert fees, the costs of depositions, and
other expenses. In most cases, the law firm will advance these fees and costs, and such
amounts will also be subtracted from a settlement or jury award; it will be important to
confirm this understanding so that you do not need to come out of pocket for these
amounts while your case is proceeding.
Making the Ultimate Decision
We hope that this article proves useful in providing guidance concerning factors that
should be considered. If you or a family member has been seriously injured, or if a family
member has been killed, as the result of the fault or negligence of someone else, we would
invite you to contact our firm and learn how we can help you. We offer a free consultation
so that you can get to know us and determine if we are the right firm for you.