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How do you find the “best” car accident lawyer if you need help?

Part 1 of my blog post series on how to help people find and evaluate the best injury attorneys to help you and your family when you really need it


There are a lot of attorneys who advertise on TV in Michigan, and all of them claim they are the best or they win the most. They claim in some sort of crazy arms race that they’ve won $100 million – no wait, – 500 million, no wait, 1 billion dollars for victims of automobile accidents.

But all of these lawyer commercials and lawyer billboards and bus wraps don’t really help give people the information they need to make an educated decision when hiring a lawyer. And the ugly epidemic of lawyer ambulance chasing and illegal solicitation doesn’t help, either. The law firm sending you letters, or the proxy they’ve hired to ring your door bell if you’ve been injured in a car accident just lowers the esteem of the entire legal profession in this state. Again, it doesn’t help the accident victim choose the best qualified and experienced attorney to help them when they have been injured and truly need help.

I know my writing on this topic may also sound self-serving coming from me, because I’m also an auto attorney who helps people injured in automobile accidents. But let me explain. Hiring a personal injury lawyer based solely off of advertising can do far more harm than good for people.

Legal advertising by plaintiff personal injury lawyers is prevalent, competitive, ugly, and still evolving. It has already had immense ramifications for the entire profession. But there is often a trade-off that tends to hurt consumers.

Our own law firm made the decision never to advertise to the public. Our attorneys decided to forgo television advertising so we could keep case counts lower, and allow our law firm to have better communication and be able to spend more time with each person.

Besides being the right way to practice law, there are real benefits to this: great communication and being able to spend more time with each case translates to better settlement and trial results.

I don’t believe it is an accident or a coincidence that our law firm has factually and undisputedly had the most success in this one narrow area of law of helping people injured in automobile accidents than any other law firm in Michigan over the past two decades, based upon published injury settlements and trial results by legal newspapers like the Michigan Lawyers Weekly and Attorney at Law Magazine.

I also don’t believe it is a coincidence that our own law firm has over 500 happy clients who have left testimonials for people about how they were treated, and the communication and responsiveness they’ve had.

Television often works the exact opposite way for people who are looking for the best attorney to help them. Not Just in Michigan, but in every state, these are the personal injury law firms that are often considered the “settlement mills” by the attorneys who practice in the area.

They have to be, in order to offset the costs of legal advertising and much higher caseloads of each attorney.

An important part of all of this – and the reason why this all exists and continues to escalate and get worse – is that accident victims are often extremely vulnerable. They are often in pain or disabled, unable to work, and healing from injuries that they will have for months, years, or even the rest of their lives. The families of people who died in accidents are very vulnerable. They often are in shock, grieving and considering a future without their loved ones, and perhaps the income the decedents incurred to support them.

Hiring the wrong lawyer has real consequences for people

If an injury victim from a car accident victim hires an under-qualified injury lawyer, the chances of that attorney settling the case for less than the true value — or taking the case to trial and getting a bad result or even thrown out of court — are higher. This means less or no pain and suffering compensation at all for the people or the families that need it.

The joke we often hear is that the easiest way for a lawyer to settle an auto accident case for a million dollars is to screw up one that was really worth 10 million. Sadly, that’s exactly what I see too many lawyers doing these days.

But this also has real-life consequences. Consider the estimated lifetime medical costs after spinal cord injury for a 25-year-old, which can range from $321,470 during the first year with the least severe form of spinal cord injury (incomplete motor function at any level), to more than $4.7 million for an entire lifetime with the most severe form of spinal cord injury (high tetraplegia in the C-1 to C-4 vertebrae) (National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, 2011).

Yet most auto accident victims wouldn’t know where to begin to look to find truly helpful legal resources, and how to wade through the sea of legal advertising to find out who is truly most qualified to help them with their circumstances. That’s a huge part of why I created the legal resources and free legal guides of this website, and why I write this auto lawyers blog – to help educate accident victims and level the knowledge playing field for people looking to hire a lawyer.

So for the next several weeks, I’ll be posting a series of blog post instructing accident victims how to find and evaluate the truly great attorneys who can best help you and your family.

Next week, I’ll start with my 9-point “Best Lawyer” test for choosing the right car accident lawyer.

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Blog Author Steven M. Gursten
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