If you have suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident and you are searching for legal representation to recover damages, you might feel overwhelmed. In the coming weeks, you will have several decisions to make, some more impactful than others. One of the most critical decisions you could make is choosing the right motorcycle accident lawyer to guide you through the claims process and help you recover damages.
Reaching an agreeable settlement or receiving court-awarded damages requires the skill of an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who knows how to effectively apply the law to your individual circumstances.
Finding a lawyer to represent you is as simple and searching the internet, but you do not want any random lawyer. Instead, you need to look for specific things in a motorcycle accident lawyer to ensure you have the best legal representation for your individual case and maximize the chances of a positive outcome for your motorcycle accident claim.
Look for Positive Client Reviews
Your search for a motorcycle accident attorney will likely begin on the internet if you do not receive a referral from a personal or professional contact. As you review your choices, you should look at client reviews for a lawyer and for the law firm where they work. You can find client reviews or testimonials on a law firm’s website. Yet, you will only find positive reviews because no firm is going to publish negative testimonials.
Search for objective sources for reviews. One common resource is avvo.com, which has a directory of the majority of practicing attorneys in Florida and across the United States. The website allows you to search for lawyers by name, practice area, legal topic, city, and state. Each lawyer on avvo.com has a score between 1 and 10 to indicate an attorney’s overall level of excellence, and client reviews have ratings that range between one and five stars.
Clients who review lawyers on avvo.com also leave comments about their personal experience with an attorney. Lawyer profiles also include additional information such as experience, status with the licensing authority in the state where one practices, and whether the lawyer has been disciplined or sanctioned for conduct.
Look for Positive Peer Reviews
If you do not have time to do too much homework to find a motorcycle accident lawyer, you could rely on positive peer reviews to inform your decision. Some mistakenly assume that peer reviews are not completely honest and that lawyers like recognizing each other. Although this might be true in some industries and sectors, the success of attorneys and law firms relies on a strong reputation in their community.
Attorneys typically will not risk their own reputation by recommending an incompetent lawyer to others. Also, some peer reviews come out of a confidential process that allows lawyers to provide candid comments, criticisms, and ratings without directly offending a colleague or potentially associating themselves with an inexperienced or ineffective lawyer. Avvo.com provides peer reviews on attorney profiles, but some other sources have offered peer reviews for decades.
These three legal websites serve as strong examples of common legal peer review sites:
- Martindale-Hubbell is the parent company to avvo.com and other websites that offer legal information. The company has an online registry of over a million practicing attorneys. Their website provides attorneys who have received exceptional peer reviews with an AV designation.
- The Best Lawyers in America is a publication of the best lawyers in the United States in almost 60 practice areas. The company comprises the list from votes on confidential peer nominations during each award cycle. Once an attorney receives a nomination and gets their name on the list, they automatically receive another nomination for the following award cycle.
- Super Lawyers also creates a list of outstanding attorneys each year, but their list is more elite than other peer review sources. Super Lawyers only chooses the top five percent of attorneys from each state. They use peer recommendations in the same practice area, peer evaluations, and they conduct independent research to choose the lawyers for their list.
Lack of peer reviews do not automatically mean a lawyer is incapable or bad at their job, but these designations do signal professional excellence and increase the likelihood that your attorney can effectively handle your motorcycle accident claim.
Look for Career Accolades
As mentioned above, lawyers and legal organizations do not like recognizing other firms or lawyers if they truly have not done a good job. A variety of organizations give out yearly honors and awards to lawyers and law firms, signaling their excellence. Each year, Best Lawyers chooses “Lawyer of the Year” and “Law Firm of the Year” recipients; Super Lawyers has a highly selective and strict peer review process; and other associations and organizations present awards to showcase attorneys who demonstrate exceptionalism.
The most prestigious national awards include the National Law Journal’s “Lawyer of the Year,” which recognizes one lawyer who went over and above. Other highly respected accolades include awards from the American Bar Association (ABA), the Florida Bar Association, and other societies throughout the state. If the motorcycle accident lawyer you want to hire to represent you has one or more of the above awards, you can be more confident in your choice.
Look for a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer with Access to Resources
When you are involved in a motorcycle accident, law enforcement may come to the scene of the accident, investigate the accident, and fill out the report. Sometimes the police get it right; sometimes they get it wrong. Additionally, the police report is only one person’s narrative about how an accident occurs. But, the police officer did not witness the accident. For this reason, insurance companies and legal defense teams also investigate accidents.
If liability is murky, having a lawyer who could thoroughly investigate your case is a necessity. It is also important to have an attorney who can handle other challenges with your motorcycle accident claim such as multiple parties, poor evidence, and difficult witnesses. Investigation takes time and resources, so you should look for an attorney who has the resources to conduct a proper investigation and deal with any challenges regarding your motorcycle accident claim.
Some law firms have investigators and specialists who work in-house, while other firms rely on third parties to serve as expert witnesses. Lawyers and law firms that are not well-established might not have the financial resources to conduct a proper investigation, or they might require you to pay for these services upfront.
Look for Experience in the Courtroom
The majority of traffic accident claims settle out of court long before accident victims and their lawyers need to worry about litigation. This includes those involving motorcycles. Yet, some circumstances exist that may require your lawyer to fight your case in the courtroom. The driver or other party responsible for your motorcycle accident might deny the claim or make an unfair settlement offer. Also, multiple parties can complicate a case and make negotiations difficult.
Most motorcycle accident lawyers are skilled negotiators who know how to handle insurance companies and fight any questionable tactics. Not all motorcycle accident attorneys, however, have the skills and experience to prevail in the courtroom. In case your motorcycle accident case goes to trial, you should look for an attorney with courtroom experience and a successful track record. Inquire about how many times your potential attorney has had to go to trial and ask about their success.
More importantly, ask about any failures the attorney might have had in the courtroom. It can be helpful to know why the lawyer did not win a case and find out about any lessons they learned. You want to feel secure that your attorney has sharpened his or her litigation skills, and knows how to pursue the best outcome in the courtroom if necessary. Lawyers with ample courtroom experience also have larger professional networks made up of other attorneys, expert witnesses, and judges, all of which might benefit you during the claims process.
Look for Signs of Exceptional Client Service
It is not uncommon for a client to meet with an attorney to discuss their accident and strategies to recover compensation and then get handed off to a junior associate. Reading client reviews should give you an idea about client service, but you should also ask questions during your initial consultation with an attorney. Client service is a broad umbrella, and some clients have different preferences than others.
Look for the following as you choose representation for your motorcycle accident claim:
- Will the lawyer you met personally work on your case? It takes a great legal team to properly serve a client, so expect some delegation of responsibilities. Yet, you may want to ensure that your lawyer has a hands-on approach.
- Will you get regular updates on your motorcycle accident case to ease your mind?
- Will your attorney answer questions or deal with any concerns by email or phone, and can you expect a timely response?
When you hire a lawyer, you have the right to expect that he or she is doing everything possible to pursue the best outcome for your claim, and giving you the best chances for maximum compensation. Motorcycle accident lawyers get paid on a contingency fee basis, which can help motivate them to do a good job. Yet, some may be more adept than others, so it can be in your interest to examine their client service record and ensure it meets your needs.
Look for a Clear Strategy
Once you have narrowed down your search for a motorcycle accident lawyer, you will likely choose one or two you want to meet. During this initial consultation, you should look for evidence that your potential lawyer has a clear strategy of how to proceed with your case. Many times lawyers cannot provide specific names or details, but an experienced attorney should provide you with at least one or two examples of cases similar to yours.
You should ask about the outcomes of each example and find out whether the client settled the case, went to trial, and whether he or she received compensation. Finally, if the lawyer you meet does not offer you a clear strategy and timeline, you should ask. Find out what strategy or strategies he or she intends to use with your case, and ask for an educated guess on how things might proceed.
Most motorcycle accident lawyers know how to handle a run-of-the-mill accident claim with two parties, especially when everything goes smoothly. You want to look for the lawyer who knows what to do when the insurance company, witnesses, other lawyers, or another party throws a wrench into the mix. One of the most crucial strategic questions you can ask a potential lawyer concerns the obstacles or challenges they see in your case. Look for an attorney who critically thinks about your claim, provides transparency about challenges, and has ideas about how to overcome those challenges.
Look for a Good Fit with Your Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Ultimately, you should look for a good fit with your motorcycle accident attorney. Many things discussed above—including experience, client service, and resources—could contribute to finding a good fit.
However, you must also feel comfortable with the person who will be fighting for you. Compassion and empathy are important because you are likely going through a difficult time if you have recently suffered motorcycle accident injuries. Yet, a lawyer’s knowledge, ability to stick to the facts, and focus on the task at hand without getting emotional are also important.
During your initial consultation, you should get a good feel for the person who will fight for you. Look for an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who you trust and who you know will advocate for you every step of the process.