The Importance of Hiring an Honest California Personal Injury Attorney
October 22, 2013
What is the importance of hiring an honest California personal injury attorney? Getting injured in an auto accident or other traumatic event is one of the most difficult things any person can endure. The road to recovery can be long depending upon the severity of the bodily harm sustained. You have to deal with doctors, physical therapists, and insurance adjusters. The role of your attorney should be to ease the burden of this process by being an intermediary between you and the insurance representatives and, most of all, to provide good sound legal advice based upon honesty and integrity and not simply what you want to hear to sign up (e.g. I’m going to get you a billion dollars!). Unfortunately, there are over 200,000 active lawyers in the Golden State and not all of them operate with such sincere ideals.Top Five Signs You May Be About To Hire A Dishonest Accident Lawyer:
- Personal Contact At the Scene of An Accident or By Phone After A Traffic Collision: California Rules of Professional Conduct 1-400 prohibits lawyers from soliciting business either in person or on the phone either directly or through a representative. Despite this strict prohibition, solicitors (also known as “cappers” or “runners”) routinely go to accident scenes especially in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles to directly solicit accident victims. They have also been known to go to hospitals or even people’s homes unannounced to get a sign up. You should never hire a lawyer if the first contact that was made was a phone or in-person contact by that attorney or someone acting on their behalf!
- Your Initial Introduction and Dealings Are With A “Paralegal” or “Legal Representative” and Not A Lawyer: Again in large cities in California and especially in certain ethnic communities, there are many persons holding themselves out to be attorneys when they are, in fact, not licensed with the State Bar of California. For example, in the Hispanic communities, it is typical for persons to call themselves “notarios” or even “licenciados”. Many of these individuals “team-up” with actual attorneys but, California Rules of Professional Conduct 1-310 prohibits real lawyers from forming partnerships with non-lawyers. If the majority of communications you are having with a purported “law office” is with an individual who is a non-attorney, this should be a red flag that you may have hired a non-reputable firm.
- Exaggerated Promises About The Time-frame To Conclude An Injury Claim or the Amount of Money to Be Recovered: Any honest injury lawyer will tell you that there are two things about which every accident victim must be reasonable: The amount of time to resolve the claim; and the total amount of recovery. Every lawyer who represents persons who have sustained bodily harm wants to conclude the claims as quickly as possible and for the most money possible but, realistically, the process takes time and the value of any claim depends upon many factors. Any lawyer that says otherwise is not being honest with you!
- Lawyers With Advertisements That Do Not Include Disclaimers or Identify A Law Firm or Lawyer Responsible for the Ad: California Rules of Professional Conduct 1-400 requires any advertisements that include past results or testimonials to also include a disclaimer to the effect of the following: “this testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.” This is because every case is different. While past results are a great measure of a lawyer’s ability, every case is different. They all have unique facts and circumstances that affect the value. Likewise, these same ethical guidelines require that attorneys put their names on their ads so that the general public is aware of who is placing the ad. There are websites, flyers, newspaper ads, and many other forms of solicitation that don’t even have the name of the law firm or attorney. This is another sign of potential lack of compliance with law firm ethics.
- Lawyers Who Offer “Cash Up Front” For You To Sign on the Dotted Line: While it is not per se illegal for attorneys to loan client’s money, California law does prohibit the practice of tying any such loans to the outcome of a personal injury claim. Moreover, there are strict guidelines and disclosures that must be made to a client for such a transaction and these disclosures must be put in writing and signed by both the attorney and the client. If the first interaction you have with a lawyer or legal representative and such overtures are already being made, it is a bad sign!
Hiring a lawyer to represent your best interests in pursuing a claim based upon tort negligence is much like retaining any other service professional. It is always best to speak directly with the professional, themselves and not their “representative”. It is during this interview process that you can best assess their knowledge of the law, their enthusiasm to assist persons in need as opposed to just “making money” and their honesty and forthright representations that provide a realistic picture of both the positive and potentially negative aspects of your particular claim so that you go into the process with both eyes open. Why is this important? What do you think is going to happen at the end of the claim if you hire a lawyer that is dishonest in the beginning? You guessed it! You are more than likely going to get a result that is much less than what was promised!
Los Angeles Accident and Injury Lawyers
Los Angeles, California