You have seen the television ads, billboards, and infomercials promising you a check for your injuries and a tougher-than-steel advocate. I mean, there has to be a lawyer calling himself “The Hammer” in every state! A cursory check found one in Illinois and nearly every state it borders.
The persona must work or it wouldn’t be so ubiquitous. Why is toughness such a selling point? What do these lawyers/firms really offer? What should you, the consumer of legal services, be looking for in a personal injury, workers’ compensation, or medical malpractice attorney? Also, what are some sources of information a legal consumer can use to find a lawyer who is right for their needs?
Why The Hammer?
The pandemic has changed the dynamic of work routines. More people are working from home, fewer are going downtown regularly, but aggressive and dangerous driving is actually increasing. Overall, there has been a continued decline in the number of injury cases. Which means there is an increase in competition for those cases among the lawyers who handle them.
Which explains why you may feel like you are seeing more lawyer ads on television and on expressway billboards.
Personal injury lawyers traditionally were seen as “lesser” lawyers. And, it was often immigrants, Jews, and others who were locked out of high-end “white shoe” law firms who wound up in that practice area. So the perception was that a tough-talking “shyster” lawyer on your side was an advantage. While this is definitely not the way it is today—some of the finest lawyers I know are tort lawyers—that old mythology still resonates with some populations.
Hence, lots of hammers.
What Does a “Hammer” Offer?
Many of the heavy advertisers are high-volume firms, firms in which cases are referred to others shortly after intake, or “settlement mills” where cases are settled quickly and cheaply rather than taken to trial.
These lawyers thrive on a huge influx of new cases to keep the revolving door moving so they can pay for the huge costs of advertising.
What do you get from them? You will not get personal attention. It is often rare to ever speak to an actual lawyer when you employ these firms. They have systematized their production so that receptions, paralegals, and young lawyers handle the day-to-day tasks. Phone calls are not returned, emails ignored, and don’t even be presumptuous enough to think you can text your lawyer!
These lawyers are not big on explaining the process to you. You will have to ask questions to understand what they are doing, what comes next, or even get an answer about an unpaid medical bill.
Well, if they provide lousy lawyering, lousy service, and no attention to their clients, why do people hire them?
There are many reasons, but chief among them are lack of understanding of the legal process, lack of knowledge about how these lawyers work, coupled with the outmoded perception of perceived toughness being the only trait that matters.
What Should You Look For and How Can You Find It?
You should try to find, first and foremost, a lawyer who has a reputation for honesty and ethics. Check out the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission website (www.iardc.org) to research a lawyer’s disciplinary history (hopefully, there is none); whether he or she maintains malpractice insurance (run the other way if he or she does not have any!); and how long he or she has been practicing.
You want a lawyer who garners great reviews from his or her clients. One who is involved in the community. One who has cases similar to yours that have been tried or settled successfully. The Internet is a great resource for all general research. Look up that lawyer’s website, reviews from clients, articles, blogs, and any other information that pops up.
Finally, you should insist on a lawyer who will communicate with you on a reasonable basis. That doesn’t mean you should expect to text your lawyer at 11 p.m. and receive a response, but it also doesn’t mean you should have to call five times to get an answer to a question.
Set expectations for communication with that lawyer when you interview them. Good lawyers will set parameters for communication frequency, method, and expectation of explanation of the process. For example, will you receive copies of pleadings and documents filed with the court? Is your lawyer able to provide you with receipts for all costs incurred for which she is seeking reimbursement? It seems obvious that you should receive these things in most cases, but not every lawyer has the time and manpower to accommodate these requests. Set boundaries before you hire the wrong lawyer for you.
Keep in mind, you need the best lawyer for you, not the “best lawyer.” (And remember, those who make loud noises about being the best often aren’t.) Make sure you feel comfortable and have a good fit on a personal level or it could be a very long series of months or years. An attorney-client relationship is a relationship; it’s not just a signed piece of paper.
- Lawyers who advertise heavily aren’t necessarily more effective
- It’s important to think about what a lawyer really offers, not just how they portray themselves
- Do your homework before hiring a lawyer
Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman
As in all cases involving injury, medical malpractice, or other injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.
If you’ve been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has over 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front, and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.