Choice can be a good thing when it comes to hiring any professional. But when it comes to hiring an Ohio malpractice attorney, how do you sort through the seemingly endless maze of phone book and TV ads, and a dizzying array of Internet websites? Here are some tips that will hopefully make your choice easier.
AVOIDING THE INTERNET "CIRCUS"
I've never been a fan of circuses. Too many clowns for my liking--in fact, one clown is one too many in my opinion. And the food is downright awful. The standard fare cotton candy and circus peanuts not only lack any nutritional value, but give me a sugar buzz, splitting headache as well. In many ways, a circus is a good metaphor for the majority of websites designed to "help" you select a medical malpractice attorney.
For example, some websites are "generic" sites that do not identify a specific malpractice law firm or attorney. Many are nothing more than "clearinghouses" and are actually out of state firms that attempt to "sign you up," then refer you to an attorney in your local area. The catch? The "referring" firm takes a cut of the potential recovery in your case, and you have no choice over the local attorney whom you're referred to. If you like the idea of a roundabout, "forced marriage," feel free to go this route.
Yet other websites merely list firms in local areas who claim to provide legal services like "malpractice attorneys." Take lawyers.com, for example. If you click on "ohio" and "personal injury" and then hit the link for "Canton," you're given a listing of various firms from all over Northeast Ohio who claim to litigate Ohio malpractice claims. The problem? Many of these firms actually represent doctors and hospitals in defending malpractice claims! Obviously, if you're a malpractice victim looking for an attorney to represent you against a doctor or hospital, you have no way of identifying which of these firms represent malpractice victims or defend those claims--unless you visit countless firm websites and/or make numerous phone calls.
"SELF LAUDATORY" WEBSITES
As you fine tooth comb numerous law firm websites, ask yourself this question: how many firms and attorneys devote countless website text and video talking about themselves? How do adjectives like "experienced, "tough," "committed," "aggressive" help you select a competent firm when most firms are touting these superlatives? If you think about it, have you ever viewed a law firm website that says: "We're not all that experienced, tough, compassionate, or competent but we would like to represent you?" The point is this: "bragging" websites are a lot like that circus cotton candy: airy, doesn't last long, and seriously lacks any real substance.
The same holds true for all those TV ads. Does this mean that these firms are not competent to handle your malpractice claim? Of course not. But it does mean that you have to dig deeper to cut through all the cookie cutter claims of "greatness" that exist on the airways or on the Net.
There is a better way to hack through this forest. The absolute best way to start any search for an attorney is to ask friends, neighbors, or those connected with the legal system, for a recommendation or two. Second, look for websites that actually give you useful information that may answer some questions you may have before you ever pick up the phone or send an e-mail inquiry. Third, an in person interview is a must. You should expect not to be "pressured' to sign anything during your initial interview. And be on the lookout for any attorney or firm that tells you that they "are the only one" that can adequately represent you. No lawyers should feel the need to blow out some other lawyer's candle in order to light their own.
So shop around. And make your choice carefully and methodically.