Qualities to Look For in a California Personal Injury Attorney

The Most Important Qualities to Look For in a California Personal Injury Lawyer or Law Firm

It can happen to any one of us without warning. Through no fault of your own, you suffer a serious injury. It can profoundly impact your life for the next few months, years, maybe even forever. It’s important to remember that you’ll only get one chance to litigate the case and seek damages against the negligent party. It pays to find the best possible attorney to advocate on your behalf.

So the question then becomes: what are the most important qualities to look for in a California personal injury attorney? In no particular order, we’ve listed some of the top qualities personal injury lawyers should have and those we feel are the most important for clients to consider when looking for a lawyer.

#1. They Have a Record of Solid Settlements

If they don’t, there may be a problem. There are nearly 9000 personal injury attorneys in California. Not all of them operate on the same standard of excellence. Someone who is looking to retain a personal injury attorney for their lawsuit needs to realize that there are law firms out there that operate on high volume and high turnover. That means taking as many cases as they can, settling them with as little effort as possible, and then moving on to the next one.

If you feel as though your lawyer is pressuring you to settle even when your settlement doesn’t come close to covering your medical expenses, that’s a huge red flag… and probably too late. You want to identify this before you hire them!

Some of the cases that we take at Sally Morin are clients that have come from another lawyer the client had a bad feeling about, but still went with them. Top-quality personal injury attorneys have a track record of success. No, they’re not going to win every single case, but they’ll maximize their clients’ payouts in the cases that are winnable. They don’t operate on a revolving door volume-based model of practicing law. They give each client’s case the attention it deserves and work as hard as they can to ensure an equitable outcome.

One of the most important qualities to look for in a California personal injury lawyer is the amount of personal attention you believe they will give you and your case. This should be indicated by a solid track record.

Be warned! There are various attorney “rating” sites that reward attorneys who pay for listings. Just because a lawyer has a dozen "Awesome Lawyer" badges on their website, doesn't mean they are actually awesome. They may have just paid for the badges.

#2. They Specialize in the Kind of Personal Injury Law YOU Need

One of the top qualities to look for in a California personal injury attorney is the extent to which their practice is specialized.

There is nothing stopping a criminal defense or family law attorney from taking a personal injury case. But personal injury cases often require expertise not only in that branch of law but also in sub-specialties as well.

For instance, you would not necessarily want a personal injury lawyer who specializes in traffic accidents to sue a doctor in a medical malpractice case. While it’s well within their power to do so, the results would not be anywhere near as good as a lawyer that successfully litigates malpractice cases on a regular basis. The same goes for the reverse.

Consider all the different kinds of a personal injury law that exist:

  • Traffic accidents
  • Premises liability
  • Medical malpractice
  • Product liability
  • Toxic tort
  • Dog bites
  • Assault
  • Boat accidents
  • Nursing home abuse

That’s just to name a few. So one quality you hope to find in your personal injury attorney is a depth of knowledge about the individual area of practice that you need them to focus on.

At Sally Morin Law we only handle California traffic accident cases. These include:

#3. They Are Empathetic and Understand that You Are Suffering

Clients come to personal injury attorneys during one of the most painful and trying times they’ll ever face. They’re adjusting to life after their accident. They’re not sure the extent of their injuries. They’re missing time from work. Medical bills are piling up, and they may not know if their lives will ever be the same again.

One of the most important qualities a California personal injury lawyer should have is empathy. Not because you want anyone to feel sorry for you, but because your attorney will need to be able to clearly articulate your pain and suffering as well as the impact your injury has had on your life to insurance adjuster, opposing attorneys, judges and jurors. It’s important to trust your instincts on this one. If your attorney comes across as cold or distant, then it may be wiser to move forward with another attorney.

It’s important to understand that there is a great deal of competition among personal injury lawyers. It’s also important to keep in mind that you only get one chance to litigate your case. An attorney needs to be able to advocate on your behalf. That requires empathy.

Rachel B.

Sally Morin Law Bicycle Accident


"They were kind, approachable, patient, caring, intelligent, and incredibly hardworking."

#4. You Don’t Pay Them a Dime Unless They Win

The majority of personal injury lawyers work on contingency. That means that they take a cut of whatever you win. But if you don’t win, then they receive nothing. Some personal injury attorneys will advertise that there is no fee unless you win, but they will expect you to cover expenses. That means that you’ll be responsible for covering expert witnesses and whatever other expenses your lawyer has to pay out-of-pocket for, even if they fail to win the case.

So not only do you end up being stuck with mounting medical bills and missed time from work but then you get a bill from your lawyer saying that you owe them money too. The best personal injury attorneys will not make you pay a dime unless you collect on your claim. That is an important quality to look for!

#5. ​They Take an Interest in Your Case and Instill a Sense of Trust

Trust is an important quality to look for in a personal injury law firm. Any lawyer with a law degree can try to take on a personal injury case. The question is will they have the know-how and devote the necessary time, interest, and resources to it. If you hire an attorney who doesn’t know enough about that particular niche of personal injury law, you are going to be second-guessing them through your case. That’s not going to work!

Trust is foundational to the attorney client relationship. What are your instincts telling you about your lawyer? If you don’t feel that you can trust them, move on… quickly.

Ask a lot of questions when you are interviewing personal injury lawyers for your case.

Make sure you choose the best personal injury attorney for your particular case and injury type. You want to make sure the law firm is a good fit for your own style of conflict resolution and your risk tolerance.

Be warned! There are various attorney “rating” sites that reward attorneys who pay for listings. Just because a lawyer has a dozen "Awesome Lawyer" badges on their website, doesn't mean they are actually awesome. They may have just paid for the badges.

#6. ​They Take the Pressure off of You

You have enough to deal with recovering from your accident. The last thing you need is insurance adjusters calling you about your injuries and acting as if they’re there to help you. They aren’t. One important quality the best California personal injury law firms should have is that they take much of the pressure off of you. This enables you to focus on your recovery while your lawyers handle the insurance companies and the legal aspect of your case.

Instead, take it upon yourself to do diligent research online to see what past clients are saying about this lawyer or law firm. In the instance where there are few, no or poor reviews online from former clients, there is likely a problem. If there are several reviews, be sure to read them closely to make sure the reviewers are touching on the top qualities you are looking for in a personal injury lawyer.

I could sleep worry free. Communication was very easy and I was aware of everything that was going on throughout the whole case. They really helped us get through one of the worst times of our life. 

Gabriel R.

Sally Morin Law Client

Important Qualities to Look for in a California Personal Injury Lawyer Who Handles Traffic Accident Cases

There are a number of qualities that lawyers who specialize in traffic accident cases should possess. Firstly, they need to have a solid understanding of the city or cities in which they practice. As a California-based personal injury law firm, Sally Morin law practices in a number of cities in the area. Those include:

Each city has its own charm and idiosyncrasies. So too does each city have its own dangers. California was recently rated the worst state in the country for pedestrians and cyclists. That means it ranked the highest in pedestrian deaths and bicycle accidents. An exceptional traffic accident lawyer may be able to hold the city itself to task when municipal negligence is to blame for an accident.

Curious about whether a California accident lawyer that is right for you? Find out if our law firm is a good fit for you.

Key Qualities to Look for in a California Personal Injury Lawyer in Your City

Important Qualities to Look for in a San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney

A San Francisco personal injury attorney that specializes in traffic accidents has a great deal to consider. As you may know, San Francisco is a very unique city in California. The City’s hilly streets and strange “grid” configuration, not to mention Market Street and the various restrictions it has, all make San Francisco a challenging place for motorists, bicyclists, motorcycles and pedestrians alike.
Finding the best personal injury attorney for your San Francisco traffic accident case will require someone who is familiar with the area and practices locally.

Why? Because people on the streets of San Francisco have an incredibly difficult time getting around safely. The reason for that is the City itself was simply not designed for the amount of foot traffic it now sees. Unlike other major cities, San Francisco does not have a network of freeways that can take pressure off of major city streets. This results in hundreds of pedestrian accidents a year. The number one reason why so many pedestrians are hit is due to distracted driving.

Top Qualities to Look for in a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney

For pedestrians, cyclists, and others who have been injured in LA’s notoriously dangerous traffic, having a Los Angeles personal injury attorney who understands the lay of the land will greatly improve your chances for an equitable settlement. Los Angeles’ freeways and traffic conditions are like no other place in California. You want someone intimately familiar with those conditions.

In some instances, poor maintenance of the roads can be partly to blame in bicycle-car accidents. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will understand the impact of their location on the individuals that they represent.

Qualities to Look for in an Oakland Personal Injury Lawyer

No offense to Oakland, but the city has some of the worst drivers in the country. This results in over 3000 traffic injuries and fatalities a year. The top causes of these accidents are speeding and drunk driving. You want to look for an Oakland injury lawyer who understands this and can help you get the best settlement possible.

The best attorney for your traffic accident will understand the particulars of the city that they practice in. Oakland roadways are some of the most dangerous in the country.

Qualities to Look for in a San Jose Personal Injury Law Firm 

Again, hiring the best attorney for your San Jose traffic accident case has a lot to do with finding a lawyer who understands the city in which they practice. While other personal injury attorneys may not need to have a depth of knowledge about a given area, it’s very important for those who specialize in traffic accidents.

Local injury lawyers can task their staff with conducting accident scene investigations, taking photos, canvasing the area for video footage and other localized efforts to maximize the value of your case. Regardless of whether you live in the city where you were injured, or you were a tourist or traveling on business when you were in an accident, you want an attorney with a local office in that city.

If you are curious, you can learn more about how the process would work if you hired Sally Morin Law (click here) to help you with your serious traffic accident case.