FAQ: What Does it Take to Be a Good Personal Injury Attorney?
Being a good personal injury attorney takes a certain skill set. Many students going through law school think they can just hop into personal injury law, representing clients without first putting in the hard work to learn how to give those clients what they need. When people are injured in accidents, they need an advocate and a fighter in their corner. More than that, though, they need a person who understands how to deal with insurance companies and other negotiators. At the end of the day, the personal injury attorney’s job is to secure the best outcome possible for the client, and this can require an array of skills.
The ability to listen
Many bad personal injury attorneys want to dominate the conversation, never stopping to listen to the concerns presented by their clients. In most cases, the client is the biggest expert on the facts of the case, and he or she can provide insights that make it much easier to win the case. Good personal injury lawyers understand that the client gets to make the final decision on whether to settle or whether to go to trial. Listening is an underrated skill often missed by people in the field.
One of the most important tasks for any personal injury attorney is assessing the value of a client’s claim. How much can that client expect to get at trial if they win, and more importantly, what are the chances of them winning? By understanding the likelihood of a win and the financial payoff for that win, good personal injury lawyers can put an expected value on the client’s claim. This is critical information to have when going into settlement negotiations. If you have a good sense of what you can expect to get at trial, you can say no to bad offers made by the defendant or his insurance company during mediation or other pre-trial proceedings.
Many personal injury cases are won during the discovery element of litigation. It’s critical in these cases to get all of the information so you can identify the responsible parties and make the proper damage claims. Without the information about a case, you might be left with many John Doe characters in your lawsuit. Good personal injury lawyers know the right questions to ask, and they have good instincts that can lead them to useful information. More than that, they understand how to talk to people in order to get evidence that can help them win in trial. These skills set clients up for success from the earliest parts of the litigation process.
Any personal injury lawyer worth his salt will possess great negotiation instincts. While lots of cases end up in trial, quite a few are settled out of court before the parties ever pick a jury. This can be helpful for clients who are struggling. They might need money right away rather than waiting months for a verdict. Good lawyers have an instinctual ability to negotiate great deals, understanding their clients’ needs as well as the weak spots for the opponent. Understanding one’s appetite for walking away from the negotiating table is also critical.
Trial advocacy skills
If you meet a good personal injury attorney, you might hear him talk about fighting in court. Good lawyers are like bulldogs, never backing down from a challenge and always keeping the client’s best interests at heart. Trials can be battles for the hearts and souls of the jurors. The best lawyers are those who can sell not only the facts of the case, but also the back story of the client who has been injured. This is how big judgments happen and how clients end up getting a fair shake in court.
Good personal injury lawyers bring an array of skills to the table. The ability to listen to a client and understand his needs are critical skills. Likewise, being able to negotiate with the insurance company for the defendant will give a personal injury lawyer the chance to win a nice settlement before the case ever goes to trial. Those trial skills are important in the end, but much of the heavy lifting is done before the jury is seated in the jury box.