The attorney you hire after suffering a personal injury is THE most important factor in how the case shakes out. You may not have been in this position before – and you’re likely in a fragile state (both physically and mentally). Choosing an attorney to represent you is a big decision you shouldn’t make lightly.
As much as we wish things were different, the reality is most attorneys do not have your best interests at heart. Some have no problem taking advantage of people at their most vulnerable. The good news is these unsavory characters are easy to spot – if you know what to look for.
In this post, we provide five of the biggest red flags that mean you should head for the door. Let’s discuss.
1. They Demand Payment Upfront
This is arguably the most obvious sign you’ve got an untrustworthy attorney.
Experienced personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they make a percentage of the total settlement paid out AFTER they win the case. Hiring a personal injury lawyer shouldn’t cost you a penny upfront.
Some lawyers will ask for payment in the initial consultation to take the case. Once the client pays, they may negotiate a low-ball settlement to speed up the process. You don’t want this. If you get injured due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated for every penny. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Reimbursement for ALL medical bills
- Cost of future medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Decreased enjoyment of life
A good personal injury attorney will fight to earn the maximum compensation – and not ask for any out-of-pocket costs.
2. They Make Bold Promises About Results
A general rule in personal injury cases is there are very, very few guarantees. This is especially true when it comes to results. The legal system is unpredictable – and anything can happen.
If the attorney guarantees you will earn X amount, it’s a big red flag – especially if it’s early in the process. No lawyer has a crystal ball showing them the future. Earning compensation for an injury is a long process involving aggressive negotiations with insurance companies.
When asking the attorney about results, they should be cautiously optimistic. Like in most service industries, the best providers under-promise and over-deliver – personal injury law is no exception.
3. They’re Bad with Communication
A good personal injury attorney doesn’t make clients play the waiting game after an accident. You should never be left wondering what’s going on for days (or weeks).
A lawyer who is bad at returning phone calls or emails shouldn’t be trusted. If it seems like they’re too super busy or apathetic to your concerns, don’t bother with them. It’s not worth the headache (on top of your recovery).
Now, an outstanding attorney will likely be busy, and they should be upfront with you about it. They may tell you they are too swamped to give you the proper level of attention. If this happens, ask them if they have any recommendations for another attorney. Chances are, they know a good one.
4. They Don’t Ask Many Questions
The goal of every personal injury case is to earn the maximum compensation from the at-fault party. To do this, the attorney will need to ask a long list of questions. For instance, if you got in a car accident, the attorney will need to know everything including (but not limited to):
- The events of the accident
- The police report
- The information of the at-fault party
- The assessment of your injuries
- Medical costs (current and future)
- Whether or not you can work
- The property damages
The lawyer will discuss all of this in the initial meetings – as the information they get will form the foundation of the case. If they aren’t asking many questions, it’s a sign they may push for a fast settlement. Keep in mind, the more information the attorney has, the more money they can pursue.
5. They Quickly Pressure You to Settle
Earning a fair settlement takes time – even with plenty of evidence. Insurance companies have no intention of paying you what you deserve after an accident. The attorney you hire has to fight for every dollar. It can take years after the accident to earn a settlement.
A trustworthy personal injury attorney will be very clear about this from the beginning. If they pressure you to take a settlement as quickly as possible, keep shopping for lawyers. These attorneys commonly have a game plan to take a high volume of cases and close them as quickly as possible. Most of the time, victims end up getting short-changed.
Your recovery is THE most important thing after suffering an injury. You deserve an attorney who will fight for your best interests – without compromising. Choosing the wrong attorney can leave you with a miserable financial burden, on top of your injuries.
Hopefully, this post has provided some insight on how to spot an untrustworthy lawyer. If you get even a whiff of shadiness, go with your gut. There are plenty of good attorneys out there.
Samuel R. Carl is the co-founder of Midwest Injury Lawyers, a full-service personal injury law firm that specializes in serious accidents involving car accidents, bike accidents, nursing home abuse, medical negligence. With over 10 years of experience in the personal injury law field, Sam spent years protecting the rights of injured victims and their families, securing millions of dollars for his clients through jury verdicts and settlements.