Searching for a quality personal injury lawyer can be exhausting, especially when you consider this situation usually follows a bad accident or malpractice. When an individual needs financial compensation for their pain and suffering, it is crucial to select the right attorney.
Arthur Elk, attorney at Elk & Elk in Cleveland; Howard Mishkind, attorney at Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co. L.P.A. in Beachwood, and Dana Paris, attorney at Nurenberg Paris in Cleveland, said there are a few factors that make someone a quality personal injury attorney.
Mishkind said it is important for an attorney to be transparent with the client at all times. He said a good attorney will not overstate the expected financial compensation the client could get.
“I do a lot of ethics work where employers have grievances filed against them,” Mishkind said. “These are some good lawyers that have grievances filed against them. Because they tell the client something that the client wants to hear, rather than being honest with them and telling them, not necessarily what they want to hear, but what their lawyers’ experience is in the area, so that they understand what they can expect.”
Because of the circumstances in which the client and attorney are working together, Paris said it is important to be very compassionate with the client. Like a doctor, a good attorney should have a good bedside manner.
“You have to understand that you are talking to your clients and representing them, oftentimes, when they are most vulnerable,” Paris said. “They have gone through, oftentimes, one of the most catastrophic events in their lives. Whether it’s an auto accident, trucking accident, motorcycle accident, or a medical malpractice incident that occurred, you are talking to them and representing them when they are at one of their lowest points. So you do have to have great compassion for the clients, and for their family members for what they’re going through.”
Elk added clients need a lawyer who can provide the resources that they need and be sensitive to their needs at the same time. At firms like Elk & Elk, it often will hire the leading experts in the country for certain cases. For example, in the case of an auto accident, it might use an accident reconstructionist.
Another crucial part of Elk & Elk’s mission is its open communication. Elk said that they have a‘24-hour rule’ at the firm.
“By that I mean, if a client calls you, that client needs some answers,” Elk said. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t be calling you. And if, for some reason, you’re in a deposition or in court, I expect our attorneys to get back to their clients within a day, or within 24 hours. Even if you have to return the call at night. Because when you have a client sitting at home with severe, serious injuries, it’s important that we provide the answers that they need to help them deal with their injuries, both emotionally as well as financially.”
When searching for the right attorney, Mishkind said there is a good litmus test to determine if it is a good fit.
“Is the lawyer listening?” he asked. “Is the lawyer willing to hear the story? Everybody has a story. And then explain the potential, and say ‘I understand.’ Or conversely, the client should say, ‘Have you ever handled this type of a case? Are you going to be handling this case, or is it going to be an associate or a law clerk? What’s your track record with this type of a case?’ And the lawyer needs to be listening to the questions and providing the client with honest answers.”
During the case, Paris said a good attorney will be tenacious in their pursuit of justice.
“You have to keep the pressure on (insurance companies) to make sure that they are properly evaluating, and going to make the most fair offer to your clients,” Paris said. “And the way that you keep the pressure on is you’ve got to let them know that you’re willing to go the distance as a lawyer. So as a trial lawyer, as a litigator, they know that I’m willing to go the distance to trial on behalf of my client.”