The Five Biggest Mistakes When Choosing a Pennsylvania Injury Lawyer
Hiring a Pennsylvania injury lawyer is an important decision and one that you should not make lightly. Choose the right lawyer and you may recover enough compensation to pay for your medical bills, cover your lost wages, and otherwise make up for your losses. Choose the wrong lawyer and you’ll make a bad situation even worse.
How do we know? Well, we have had the experience of being the second Erie lawyer hired in a case. The story usually unfolds like this: The client asks for an office conference. They come in and tell us that they are currently represented by a lawyer who advertises for Pennsylvania injury cases. Unfortunately, they’re not happy. When they tell us why, we can see that they’ve plainly chosen the wrong attorney and sometimes, if the situation hasn’t gotten to the point where the case can’t be salvaged, we see an opportunity to help. But always the client would have been better off if they’d taken the time to choose the right lawyer from the start.
So, what are the biggest mistakes we’ve seen people make when choosing an Erie injury attorney?
1. Not Getting a Fee Agreement in Writing at the Beginning of the Case
This is an amazing phenomenon for us, and yet we’ve seen it happen more than a couple of times. First, Pennsylvania lawyers are ethically obligated to provide most clients with a written fee disclosure before or shortly after commencing litigation. (See Pennsylvania Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.5(b)). Why any ethical lawyer would start working on a case without a fee agreement is a mystery to us.
Second, it’s a bad idea for a client to enter into any major professional relationship without knowing the fee. How do you know if the fee you’ll be charged is a fair one?
At Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C., we always enter into a written fee agreement with our injury clients before working on the case. Our Pennsylvania injury fee agreement provides that we won’t charge any fees unless or until we’ve recovered money on your behalf. In some cases, we offer special “Client-Friendly” fee agreements that modify the fee to be charged if the case settles early and that allow for tiered rate structures that can benefit the client.
2. Not Discussing Current Caseload and Firm Resources
Some Pennsylvania injury lawyers will take cases even when they don’t have the resources to handle the case. Overwhelmed injury law firms are a major cause of client dissatisfaction. Make sure that the lawyer you’re considering has the staff and resources necessary to give your case the attention it deserves.
3. Choosing an Attorney on Referral Only
We’re lucky that we have an amazing group of former clients and referring lawyers who send their friends and family to us when they’ve been injured. There may be no better endorsement than a satisfied former client. Still, it makes sense to do your homework, even when a friend tells you, “You should see Atty. _________. He’s the best Erie injury lawyer around.”
Maybe Atty. ________________ is the best Erie injury lawyer around, but maybe your friend had a completely different case than you have. Maybe you and Atty. _____________ communicate in completely different ways. Maybe you just get a vibe from Atty. ___________ that rubs you the wrong way. There are a multitude of reasons why a lawyer who was perfect for your friend might not be perfect for you. All we’re saying is, do your own homework. A friend’s recommendation is a great start but you should meet the lawyer yourself; find out if the lawyer has experience with cases like yours; make sure the fee agreement is acceptable; and make sure you click with your lawyer.
4. Hiring the First Injury Lawyer You Reach
This is one that we hear all the time when we ask these dissatisfied clients, “So, how did you get connected with this guy in the first place?” Nine times out of ten, it’s something like this: “Well, I called a bunch of lawyers in the phonebook and he was the first one to call me back.”
If you’ve got a good Pennsylvania injury case, there will be more than one good lawyer willing to help you. So, don’t jump at the first guy who returns your call (and heaven help you if you choose some guy who calls you first). Instead, take the time to meet with several lawyers; assess for yourself whether you’re comfortable with the lawyer; and choose an Erie injury attorney only after you’re comfortable that you’ve done the research necessary to make an informed choice.
5. Hiring an Inexperienced Lawyer
It just isn’t wise to hire a lawyer who lacks experience with cases like yours. Personal injury laws are complex and the trials are difficult. You need a Pennsylvania lawyer with the experience necessary to battle big insurance companies and defense law firms.
Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. Can Help You Find the Right Lawyer for You and Your Case
One of the things we commit to at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. is helping our friends and clients get the best possible legal representation, even if the case isn’t in our practice areas. If we’re not the right lawyers for you and your case, we’ll do our best to connect you with an attorney who will give you the service your deserve. So, even if you think we might not handle your type of case, feel free to call on us.
Of course, if you have a Pennsylvania injury, wrongful death, or medical malpractice case, we’ll be glad to give you a free, no-strings attached consult with one of our experienced Erie injury lawyers. Call us today, or email us, and we’ll schedule a conference at your convenience. If your injuries keep you from traveling, let us know and we’ll come to you. Call 814-833-7100 or toll free 814-833-7100.