Finding the right attorney for your Big Island personal injury case can be challenging. A big part of the challenge stems from the fact that most people who find themselves injured as a result of someone else's negligence have no experience in what to look for in a personal injury attorney.
There are many fine personal injury attorneys in Hawaii who care deeply about their clients and their plight for justice. However, we have noticed attorneys who lack personal injury experience marketing themselves in online and offline campaigns as "experienced personal injury attorneys".
To assist you in identifying those who may not actually have the personal injury experience they tout on their website(s), we have put together a list of five questions to ask an attorney who seeks to represent you in your personal injury case:
1. How many personal injury cases has the attorney successfully prosecuted? There is no substitute for experience in any personal injury case, no matter the size. If an attorney does not have sufficient experience she or he will be gaining such experience in your case and at your expense. Jeffrey Foster has been litigating personal injury cases since 2001 and has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of injured victims here in Hawaii and in Washington State.
2. Will the personal injury attorney be willing to advance costs in your case? In virtually every personal injury case, one or several expert witnesses are needed to prove the injured victim's case. The retention of investigators, medical experts, economists, professors, human factors, accident reconstruction and other experts can make or break a personal injury case. If the attorney does not maintain the resources to finance the cost of experts in your personal injury case, or if the attorney will not commit to advance costs in writing, this will likely have a detrimental financial impact on your case. It is important to note, the client/plaintiff is ultimately responsible for costs at the end of the case, win or lose. So, even if the attorney does agree to advance costs but is ineffective or unable to obtain a settlement, the client/plaintiff is legally responsible to pay for the costs advanced by the attorney even if the client receives no settlement.
3. Can the attorney provide client reviews? The reviews of the attorney by former clients may be one of the best ways to determine the potential attorney's experience and ability to obtain results for injured clients. With the prevalence of online reviews and sites such as the lawyer rating website, AVVO.com, most experienced personal injury attorneys will be able to direct a potential client to online reviews of former clients. If an attorney has bad reviews or no reviews, it may be a reflection of the attorney's lack of experience in personal injury cases. Attorney Jeffrey Foster's reviews can be found here - https://www.avvo.com/attorneys/96750-hi-jeffrey-foster-31416.html.
4. What types of personal injury cases has the attorney litigated in court? If an insurance company, corporation or other institutional entity responsible for paying a personal injury settlement knows the attorney representing the injured person will not file a lawsuit or has little personal injury litigation experience, the injured client will pay the price in the form of lowball offers and less-than-ideal settlements. It's not necessary for all cases to be litigated, however, if the insurance company or corporation knows the attorney either won't file a lawsuit or is an ineffective personal injury litigator, it WILL NOT offer the same settlement that it will offer to the experienced litigator. On the other hand, if the insurance company or corporation knows the attorney is an effective litigator, the case will likely settle much quicker and for much more than if the attorney representing the injured party is not experienced in personal injury litigation.
5. How much has the attorney collected in personal injury settlements on behalf of the clients over the last calendar year? It is important to not only ask about the amount of settlements in the last calendar year but also the amount of cases that the attorney handled during that time period. This may be the best way to weed out those who market themselves as personal injury attorneys from attorneys who actually have the experience, acumen and resources necessary to deliver the results you or your family member deserve.