A license to practice law permits a lawyer to represent clients in all types of legal matters. But, just being licensed to handle a specific type of case is not the same thing as being knowledgeable, experienced or successful at it. This is especially true in the field of personal injury litigation and specifically in litigating construction accident cases in New York.
There are no courses in law school on litigating construction accidents in New York, no structured training programs to gain valuable experience, and no professional organizations to certify a lawyer as a specialist in the field. And the task of hiring just the right lawyer for a construction accident case is made even more difficult by the lack of effective controls over lawyer advertising. Just look on the Internet, in the phone book or on TV and you will find dozens of lawyers from all over the state who want your case.
So, how should you go about the task of choosing the right lawyer for you? Should it be the lawyer with the biggest telephone book ad, or the one with the most television commercials, or the one with the catchy jingle? Put this way, it sounds quite naive to select the lawyer you will trust to rebuild your life after a devastating personal injury on this basis. Yet, studies have shown that aggressive marketing techniques do produce a steady flow of new clients. Why? It is often because we don’t know what or where to look for the information needed to intelligently choose the right lawyer for the job.
Determine What Qualities You Want in Your Legal Advocate
Before you start interviewing attorneys, think about what you are looking for in a trusted advocate. If you were injured on the job and need a lawyer, ask yourself these questions:
- What is more important to you, choosing the lawyer with the best commercials or the lawyer who has the better qualifications?
- Do you want a lawyer who attends continual legal educational courses on construction accidents or someone who teaches those lawyers?
- Would you rather have a lawyer who reads about litigating construction accidents in New York or the one who actually knows how to?
- Would you feel more comfortable with a lawyer who has had years of litigation experience in handling construction accident cases or one who is still gaining that experience?
- Do you want a lawyer who read about what construction workers do for a living or a lawyer who has done it?
- Will you be better off with a lawyer who is known by judges and other lawyers for his/her reputation in handling construction accident cases or someone who is trying to earn a reputation?
After you have answered these questions you need to look for the information you consider important.
- Experience: The lawyer’s personal experience in handling a particular kind of case is one of the important factors to look at. Because New York has no specific training requirements or qualifications in order to practice in a given field of law the consumer must look to other sources. Looking on the Web, reading the lawyer’s resume, or by simply asking, it is important that you learn how many years the lawyer has been representing clients in the field of interest. Five to 10 years in the field of personal injury generally results in proficiency.
- Acknowledged in the field: Is the lawyer’s reputation in the community well known to other judges and lawyers? For this information talk to a judge, lawyer or even someone who works in the courthouse. Find out what professional Bar Associations the lawyer is an active member in. Has the lawyer ever published any professional articles or books, or lectured on the topic of law you are interested in. A list of successful cases handled is important if the lawyer him/herself was a lead attorney on the case. Many lawyers sign clients up and then refer their cases out to other lawyers to do the actual work. This arrangement, called a “referral” or “of counsel” arrangement is permitted and allows the attorneys to divide the legal fees between the two lawyers. This has given rise to lawyers and law firms that do a lot of advertising to sign up clients. If the firm cannot settle the case and it needs to be put into litigation, they refer the case to a lawyer who does know how to litigate the case. Insurance companies on the other side know who tries to settle cases and who actually handles the prosecution of a case.
- Resources to handle your case: Lawsuits have become very sophisticated in our current technology-prone society. Jurors need to understand the facts about what happened. The best and quickest way is to show them what happened through computer graphics, accident re-enactments, charts and graphs. Expert witnesses need to be hired. Medical doctors, life care planners and economist may need to be retained to present the total cost of the damages incurred. These people all charge for their services and want to get paid before any work is done. These case costs can, and many times do, exceed $100,000. You need to know if the lawyer is going to pay these expenses, can he/she afford to pay these large sums of money, and what happens if the case is lost. Will you be responsible to reimburse the lawyer?
Not all lawyers are equally competent. How do you find out about their credentials?
The quick way is to ask for their resume or CV (Curriculum Vita). This will list the major accomplishments of the lawyer. Ask judges or lawyers who are actively practicing law but who have no personal interest or desire to steer your case to a friend, relative or business colleague. Ask the lawyer for a list of cases involving construction accident litigation handled and the results. Ask how long the lawyer has been representing clients involved in construction accidents and whether that lawyer will be personally handling your case or will the lawyer refer you to another attorney after he/she signs you up.
Leader in the Field
Construction accident lawyer Dan Santola has the experience and knowledge required to tackle any workplace injury claim. He is seen as one of the preeminent authorities on the subject of construction accident cases, and has literally written the book on the subject. He fights hard for each and every client to ensure they all receive the attention and care required to obtain full and fair compensation.
New York Workplace Injury Attorneys · Free Consultation · 518-465-5995 or 315-308-1020
If you were injured in a work accident, talk to a lawyer who has the experience, compassion and determination to help you. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP., for a free consultation.