Posts Tagged ‘Personal Injury Lawyer’

Does a Free Lawyer Referral Service
really exist?

Question Mark MoneyIt depends on what you mean.

FREE? Yes. If you call one of those companies (which we can’t actually call “referral” services), you know the ones I mean, they have huge advertising budgets… they will “give” you the name of a lawyer. Here is how they work: You call them, they give you the name of a personal injury lawyer (you’ll have no idea if that lawyer is any good) and that’s it.  End of story. End of relationship. (See my prior post “Lawyer Referral Service Illusions” about the difference between being “referred” to a lawyer vs. being “informed” about a lawyer!)

SERVICENo. Most of those big companies “give” you the name of a personal injury lawyer who has paid to be on their referral list. That’s it. What they don’t do is provide you with any service, and that’s not good for you.

Solution: Find a California State Bar certified lawyer referral service that will help you find the best personal injury lawyer for your particular type of case.

You Don’t Always Need a
Personal Injury Lawyer!

Handy ManSometimes you have to fight for justice on your own.    So how can you get a little do-it-yourself justice? By filing your own case in small claims court.

In this day and age everyone loves to “lawyer up”. Well some cases aren’t big enough for a lawyer to take, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your day in court and your own slice of justice. Having worked my entire career as a personal injury lawyer I understand how difficult it is to get an insurance company to actually pay money for a legitimate claim.  If the insurance company knows your claim isn’t large enough for you to find a lawyer, they will often deny it outright. But don’t give up! Fight them in small claims court.

It is simple to file your very own small claims case and obtain a judgment of up to $7,500. In small claims court the parties must act as their own lawyers, so you won’t be up against a lawyer on the other side, you will be up against the person you feel actually caused your damages. You can file your small claims case and handle the entire case on your own. It’s really not that hard.

Below are the links where you can get all the information you will need:

For Los Angeles County Small Claims

For the Orange County court handbook on how to file a small claims case

For small claims information in Santa Barbara County court

For the Ventura County Superior Court

For the San Bernardino County Court

If you need assistance filling out the forms, or have any questions about how to prepare your small claims case, feel free to email me at info@higherlegal.com.

Don’t let a personal injury lawyer
buy your case!

If you asked your friend for the name of a doctor to fix your broken arm, would you want your friend to:

  • A.  Give you the name of the best orthopedic doctor they know,  or
  • B.  Give you the name of a doctor who paid your friend $5,000 to get your name?
PI lawyer

PI lawyer

Of course you would want them to refer you to the best orthopedic doctor they know. In fact, if they told you to go to a doctor who paid them $5,000 to get your name, you would probably be highly suspicious of that doctor because the only reason he got your name was because he paid for it, not because he is a good doctor.

People with personal injury cases fall victim to this trap everyday.  Thousands of personal injury clients have their cases “sold” to lawyers every day, and they never even know it. How does that happen? I’ll tell you how…

Most lawyer referral services are not really lawyer referral services at all. Instead, they are “advertising call centers” that make themselves look like a law firm, take in telephone calls from people who are looking for a personal injury lawyer and then sell the calls to lawyers who pay for them.  These are well known “referral” companies that “sell” clients to the highest bidder. In my opinion, that is a very bad way to find  lawyer.  So how can you protect yourself?

When you contact a lawyer referral service ask them these important questions:

  • Are they actually licensed as a “certified lawyer referral service” by the California State Bar?
  • Are they owned and operated by lawyers, or are they really just an advertising company?
  • After they give you the name of a lawyer, will they stay involved and monitor the progress of your case until it is completed?
  • Do they have a 24/7  telephone hot line number so you can contact them at any time and speak with a lawyer?
  • Has the lawyer paid them a fee to get your call? (i.e. is that lawyer buying your call?)

Most unsuspecting consumers who need a personal injury lawyer call one of these well known companies simply because they feel a level of comfort after seeing their commercials so many times. But beware! Don’t let your personal injury case be sold to the highest bidder.

Watch out for “lawyer referral service” illusions…

When you look at this picture do you see two silhouette black faces or do you see a white vase?

Illusion

Life is full of illusions. And this is certainly true when it comes to lawyers and Lawyer Referral Services (LRS), some of which aren’t really “lawyer referral services” at all.  So if a service refers you to a lawyer, don’t they have to be a “referral service”? Apparently not, they can really just be an illusion.

The State Bar of California has a special certification for companies that engage in the business of “referring” people to lawyers to make sure that people who need a certain type of lawyer are protected from being referred to the wrong kind of lawyer.  These certified referral services have to comply with all sorts of rules and regulations that have been established by the Supreme Court to protect people who are looking for a lawyer. The point of the certification is to make sure that people who hire lawyers are protected.

There are however many companies that will “find” a lawyer for you (which is apparently different that referring you to a lawyer) and they are not licensed or regulated by the California State Bar.  I was looking recently searching the internet and I came across the company called Lawyers.com. It’s a very BIG company. You have probably seen some of their commercials on television. I have always thought they were a lawyer referral service. They’re NOT!

At the top of their web site it says: “FIND A LAWYER”. But then at the bottom of their web site it says that Lawyers.com is a “source for identifying” lawyers (what does that mean?) …and it says that “Lawyers.com is not a lawyer referral service..”  That doesn’t make sense to me. So they will help people “identify lawyers” but they don’t have enough faith in the lawyers to “refer you to them”?  I asked myself, are they “identifying” both good and bad lawyers for you! Who is going to tell us which are the good lawyers and which are the bad ones!  The whole thing smells if you ask me. Sounds like an illusion.

I checked the California State Bar web site and found out that indeed Lawyers.com is NOT a certified referral service and it does not have to comply with all the rules and regulations that have been established by the California Supreme Court for the protection of people looking for a referral to a lawyer. Sounds like a bad deal to me. Sounds like an illusion to me.

Bottom line. Before you hire a lawyer, do your research and know who you are really dealing with. It’s your best bet for success.

Ambulance Chasers!

One of the worst things about personal injury lawyers are the infamous “ambulance chasers”. For those who are not familiar with this term, it is a derogatory term used to describe those sleazy personal injury lawyers who would run after an ambulance in order to sign up the injured person on board! The dictionary is not as crass about it, defining an ambulance chaser as ‘a lawyer who obtains clients by persuading accident victims to sue for damages’.

Many people remember Paul Newman in the movie “The Verdict” where he plays the role of a lawyer who goes to funeral homes to look for cases. Disgusting!

The terms “runner or capper” are also used to describe this phenomenon where a person (non-lawyer) comes to you (uninvited) on behalf of a lawyer to try and get you to sign up with that lawyer. Sometimes lawyers send investigators to an accident site to sign up injured victims.

Well, being an ambulance chaser, runner or capper is illegal in California. It is against the California State Bar rules and if it happens to you, you should contact the California State Bar and report it. Here is how you can report it:

California State Bar Complaint Hotline
(800) 843-9053
www.calbar.ca.gov

I have been a personal injury lawyer for 25 years and have heard many unfortunate stories about accident victims who were displeased with their personal injury lawyers because they found the lawyer through a runner or a capper. Want to know how to find a good lawyer? Use a State Bar certified lawyer referral service to find your personal injury lawyer. Don’t be a victim twice. Do your research and find a legitimate personal injury lawyer. There are a lot of great personal injury lawyers out there, but you have to find them!

Have you been approached by a runner or a capper? If so, please share your story…