Lawyers have inundated TV and radio, billboards, buses, telephone books and other means of advertising. Many of them purport to have particular skill and experience in the area of personal injury representation. When one is confronted with the enormity of a truly catastrophic injury or death of a family member, do you pick up the yellow pages or think back to the last catchy jingle you heard on TV and make a call for help? We suggest that there are better ways to ensure quality representation when faced with medical bills, the fear or certainty of permanent injuries, lost work and all the very serious problems that a devastating injury or loss bring.
Skill and Experience
The first thing to understand is that any attorney licensed to practice law in Arizona has a First Amendment right to advertise. A mere advertisement is no assurance that that particular lawyer or law firm has exceptional skill and experience in the personal injury field. You should find out how many jury trials, arbitrations and mediations your proposed lawyer has handled in the field of personal injury or wrongful death. The attorneys at MSHW have tried numerous personal injury jury trials, handled arbitrations, mediations, written appellate briefs, resolved liens and handled the many problems that come with a serious physical injury or death. Most of this Firm’s work involves personal injury/wrongful death litigation.
The State Bar of Arizona has a program for certification of lawyers as “Specialists” in the field of Personal Injury and Wrongful Death. Lawyers who apply are vetted by a State Bar panel and serious inquiries are made of judges and other lawyers against whom the proposed candidate has practiced. At MSHW, we have two Certified Specialists in the area of Personal Injury and Wrongful Death.
There are many trial lawyer organizations that seek out the best trial lawyers for membership. You do not apply to these organizations, you are invited for selection. Among them, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers, and the American Board of Trial Advocates are all organizations that are very limited in their number of Members and any lawyer must have a proven track record of success and high ethical standards before he or she is even considered for membership. At MSHW, we have lawyers in each one of those prestigious organizations.
Before hiring a lawyer to represent you in a serious injury or death of a family member, make some inquiries about the reputation of the particular lawyer or law firm you are considering. There is a national organization, Martindale Hubbell®, that ranks lawyers and law firms both in terms of skill and experience, as well as ethical reputation. Find out the ranking of your proposed lawyer or law firm. At MSHW, the firm and several of our lawyers have a Martindale Hubbell® AV rating, the highest rating that a law firm or lawyer can obtain both in recognition of skill, as well as ethical standards.
A consultation with a lawyer for purposes of double checking your proposed attorney’s reputation for skill and ethics is always a wise idea.
You need to feel comfortable.
Most lawyers do not charge for an initial conference with a potential client seeking help in a personal injury or wrongful death matter. You need to sit down with the proposed lawyer(s) and make sure they “fit”. You ought to ask questions about experience and handling of cases similar to yours. Just as you would with a potential physician, you need to feel that the professional has your best interests in mind and that he or she truly listens to you and is concerned about your well being. No matter what the track record of the potential lawyer, if you do not feel comfortable around that person, you need to move on in the selection process.
If you have a serious personal injury or wrongful death claim, any of the lawyers at MSHW would be happy to sit down with you and discuss the particulars of your claim and how we might be of help.
Michael R. Murphy