Personal Injury Lawyers have something of a well-established reputation in New Orleans. As a category, most people see the billboards, the commercials, the celebrities, and the catchy sayings when they think of “personal injury” or “car accident” in Louisiana. Driven down I-10 lately (or ever)? Watched an episode of “Judge Judy” in the afternoon? Then you know what we mean.
When you experience the life-altering event that is a major injury, it’s bewildering and very scary. By default, the first thing you think of when you think of a car accident attorney are all those billboards and advertisements. It’s easy to just pick a car accident or personal injury lawyer based on the first one you remember or the first face and phone number you come across. Is this the right way?
When you get hurt, it’s difficult to think of an experience more personal than that. Placing something like that in a huge system that seems so impersonal – is it the right thing to do? There are big questions you need to ask yourself when selecting a personal injury attorney. The difference between good representation and bad representation could change the trajectory of your future forever.
The thing is, just because someone is a good businessman, it doesn’t mean he’s a good attorney, or even that he’ll be your attorney at all.
While the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, one condition doesn’t include the other by default. In fact, some of the savviest businessmen know that to make big money, they need to delegate, outsource, and cut the bottom line as much as possible. This can mean a lot of things, both good and bad, in a law firm. Associates could be managing your case with little to no input from the face you see on the billboard.
Here are some tips to help you know if you are getting the representation, communication, and attention you need in your New Orleans personal injury matter:
- You are able to speak to your attorney – not an assistant – on the phone in a timely manner.
While you probably don’t need to have daily or even weekly updates from your lawyer, when you want one you should be able to get just that. If a new element of your personal injury case presents itself, you should be able to discuss it with your attorney. If you cannot seem to get ahold of the actual attorney who is handling your case, it’s a sign that you may not be getting the most effective representation.
- You are staying with the same attorney from beginning to end.
If you are getting bounced around multiple times between lawyers and associates within the firm, you’d be right to feel like you are on unstable ground. While this could mean administrative problems within the firm, the more important aspect is how important details of your case can possibly be totally lost in transition. The nuances of a personal injury case are not to be downplayed. What you want out of your case is not to be downplayed. How your life has been affected is not to be downplayed.
Also, there’s something to be said for being with an attorney who is part of a small firm or solo practice. If you are not with a partner or an owner of the practice, you could be with an associate who doesn’t have much “skin in the game”. They are there for their own career and resume building, and/or a paycheck. If you are with someone who has ownership in the firm, it’s much more likely that your best interest is also theirs.
- You know and are being kept updated about the status of your case.
If you know what’s going on with your case at any given time, that’s a great sign. If you are having to call to learn of long-past important occurrences for the first time, it’s a sign that a firm may be handling a caseload beyond their capacity. This is a great way for the head of a law firm to maximize their intake and minimize their labor costs. It’s not such a great way, however, for you to get the personal attention you need out of your case.
- Your instincts are behind you.
The best way of knowing if you’re on to a good thing, or that you need to watch your back? Your instincts. Sometimes, something is “just off”, and that is absolutely a voice you should be listening to, especially with dealing with something as significant as a legal dispute.