Swimming Pool Accidents and Drownings

Swimming Pool Drownings and Deaths Orange County CaliforniaWe were fortunate to grow up with swimming pools and truly appreciate how much fun they can be, especially on a hot summer day. Here’s a picture of Mitch being tossed by his dad way back in the day. To this day, Mitch still shows the same level of enthusiasm on the first day of trial :-)

Despite the found memories of swimming and staying cool in the summer, we think it’s important for our clients to know that swimming pools can be very dangerous and care must be taken to avoid injury and drowning. The tragic cases we’ve helped families with over the past 3 decades compelled us to write and share this post.

Most people are not aware of the fact that drownings happen quickly, are silent, and can happen to anyone. We’ve represented very good and responsible Orange County families who have tragically lost loved ones to drownings in a backyard pool, Jacuzzi, or public lake. Without exception, they never saw the tragic drowning coming. Hopefully this information will help avoid another tragic loss from taking place.

Before we share specific safety tips, we want to share a particular case we handled because a drowning was the last thing anyone would have ever expected to happen. The case involved a family who lost their wonderful 18 year old young son and brother. He was in excellent shape, a high school track start, and in the prime of his life.

California drowning casesIn fact, this young man was so talented that he was on his way to college on a full track scholarship.  At the time of his death, the victim was swimming with friends and with lifeguards present. This particular loss raised our awareness of just how quickly a drowning can take place. Drowning truly is a silent death.

Submersion incidents involving children usually happen in familiar surroundings. Statistics show that sixty-five percent of the incidents happen in a pool owned by the child’s family and 33 percent of the incidents happen in a pool owned by friends or relatives.

Here are several facts provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in a comprehensive study of drowning and submersion incidents. The study involves children under 5 years of age in Arizona, California, and Florida.

Seventy-five percent of the submersion victims studied by CPSC were between 1 and 3 years old; 65 percent of this group were boys. It is noted that toddlers, in particular, often do something unexpected because their capabilities change daily.

At the time of the incidents, most victims were being supervised by one or both parents. Forty-six percent of the victims were last seen in the house; 23 percent were last seen in the yard or on the porch or patio; and 31 percent were in or around the pool before the accident. In all, 69 percent of the children were not expected to be at or in the pool, yet they were found in the water.

Submersion incidents involving children usually happen in familiar surroundings. Sixty-five percent of the incidents happened in a pool owned by the child’s family and 33 percent of the incidents happened in a pool owned by friends or relatives.

Pool submersions involving children happen quickly.  A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone. Seventy-seven percent of the victims had been missing from sight for 5 minutes or less.

Survival depends on rescuing the child quickly and restarting the breathing process, even while the child is still in the water. Seconds count in preventing death or brain damage.

Child drowning is a silent death. There’s no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble.

Swimming Pool DrowningsHere are steps you can take to avoid a swimming tragedy…

Watch All Swimmers– Keep a close lookout while EVERYONE swims.

Use Barriers– Please note that the following barrier recommendations are the result of identifying key parameters that typically contribute to child drowning in backyard pools. These recommendations are the minimum steps you can take to make your home a safe place for your child. Barriers are not childproof, but they provide layers of protection for a child who strays from supervision. Barriers can give parents additional time to locate a child before the unexpected becomes a reality. Barriers include a fence or wall, door alarms for the house, and a power safety cover over the pool. Barriers also may be used to protect children from accessing hot tubs and spas. Use the following recommendations as a guide.

Fences and Gates– Install a fence or other barrier, such as a wall, completely around the pool. If the house is part of the barrier, the doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with an alarm or the pool should have a power safety cover. Alarm and cover details are below.

The fence or other barrier should be at least 4 feet high. It should have no foot or handholds that could help a young child to climb it. Vertical fence slats should be less than 4 inches apart to prevent a child from squeezing through.

Use this as a guide when the release mechanism is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate. If horizontal members are equal to or more than 45 inches apart, vertical spacing shall not exceed 4 inches. If the fence is chain link, then no part of the diamond-shaped opening should be larger than 1-3/4 inches. Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The gate should be well maintained to close and latch easily. The latch should be out of a child’s reach.

When the release mechanism of the self-latching device is less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate, the release mechanism for the gate should be at least 3 inches below the top of the gate on the side facing the pool. Placing the release mechanism at this height prevents a young child from reaching over the top of a gate and releasing the latch. Also, the gate and barrier should have no opening greater than 1/2 inch within 18 inches of the latch release mechanism. This prevents a young child from reaching through the gate and releasing the latch.

There are a wide variety of fencing construction materials available to compliment your house and pool surroundings. Your local fence company or pool enclosure company can provide you with information and assist you in making a selection.

The weak link in the strongest and highest fence is a gate that fails to close and latch completely. For a gate to close completely every time, it must be in proper working order.

Door Alarms– If the house forms one side of the barrier, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce an audible sound when a door is unexpectedly opened. Install an alarm that can be temporarily turned off by an adult for a single opening of the door by using a keypad or switch that is out of a child’s reach.

Battery and electrically powered alarms are available. The key pad switch can be used by adults who wish to pass through the door without setting off the alarm. It should be placed high on all doors leading from the house to the pool. Affordable and easily installed alarms are available. An alarm signal immediately tells a parent that a door has been opened.

Power Safety Covers– Power safety covers over the pool may be used as an alternative to door alarms. A power safety cover should meet the requirements of the ASTM pool cover standard which addresses labeling requirements and performance. ASTM requires that a cover withstand the weight of two adults and a child to allow a rescue should an individual fall onto the cover. The standard also requires quick removal of water from the cover. A young child can drown in just inches of water.

A power safety cover is a motor powered barrier that can be placed over the water area. Motor-driven covers easily open and close over the pool. When the power safety cover is properly in place over the pool, it provides a high level of safety for children under 5 years old by inhibiting their access to the water.

Above Ground Pools– Steps and ladders leading from the ground to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.

More Rules for Pools…

Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards to young children and about the use of protective devices, such as door alarms and latches. Emphasize the need for constant supervision.

Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool. During social gatherings at or near a pool, appoint a “designated watcher” to protect young children from pool accidents. Adults may take turns being the “watcher.” When adults become preoccupied, children are at risk.

If a child is missing, check the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the pool area.

Do not allow a young child in the pool without an adult.

Do not consider young children to be drown proof because they have had swimming lessons. Children must be watched closely while swimming.

Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.

Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Babysitters and other caretakers, such as grandparents and older siblings, should also know CPR.

Keep rescue equipment by the pool. Be sure a telephone is poolside with emergency numbers posted nearby.

Remove toys from in and around the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children to the pool.

Never prop open the gate to a pool barrier.


Get your questions answered 150The nationally recognized firm of Jackson & Wilson, has been helping victims of personal injury and wrongful death since 1986.  Both Lisa and Mitch have received the top “AV” rating for ability and ethics by Martindale-Hubbell and their firm is listed in the prestigious Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers.  They are also proud to be multiple time members of the Million Dollar Advocates Club with membership limited to only those lawyers who have achieved a settlement or verdict of $1,000,000 or more.

Have a question? Please feel free to contact us today!

April is Injury Prevention Month

Injury and Death in the United StatesSerious injury and death affect all of us. Many people are not aware that each year in the United States, injuries (intentional and unintentional) account for more than half of all deaths among persons ages 1–44 years of age.

Here are several other related statistics:

  • There are more than 180,000 deaths from injury each year—1 person every 3 minutes
  • Injury is the leading cause of death for people ages 1–44 in the U.S.
  • An estimated 2.8 million people are hospitalized with injury each year
  • An estimated 31.7 million people are treated in Emergency Department for injury each year
  • Violence and injuries cost more than $406 billion in medical care and lost productivity each year
  • 4.1 million people suffer a workplace injury each year
  • 185 people (in the US) die each day from workplace injuries
  • Workplace Costs for Unintentional Injuries/Deaths: $164.7 billion
  • Injury related lost quality of life costs an additional $3,080.1 billion
  • Total injury days lost: 80,000,000

Other resources

California personal injury cases (rights and damages)
California wrongful death cases (rights and damages)

Rain, Hydroplaning and Driving Automobiles and Trucks on Wet Roads

Wet roads, cars and driving- hydroplaning danger[Note- this article was originally posted last year. Because of the recent storms, we’ve added some updates and are sharing again. Please go over these tips with all the drivers in your family. The chances are good they are not aware of all the hazards and risks]

It’s starting to rain here in Southern California.  Every night on the news serious accidents are being reported.  Our incoming phone lines are busy with one client after another calling with accident related questions.  Our web site traffic has almost doubled this week because of the bad weather and related accidents and injuries.

This weekend, Lisa had to drive up the 5 Freeway to pickup frozen turkeys from the Second Harvest Food Bank.  Together with members of our Rotary Club, she is going to distribute them later that day to several families in South Orange County.  It was pouring when she left the house and started to come down even harder as the day went on.

She called me on her way home.  I could tell from the sound of her voice that she was nervous.

After picking up the turkeys and heading home, her car began to hydroplane without any warning.  The massive amount of rain and water on the freeway resulted in a layer of water preventing the tires of her vehicle from contacting the road surface.

Fortunately, she was able to regain control.  She pulled off the freeway and took a slower and safer alternative route home.

When driving in rain, snow or ice, remember that hydroplaning accidents are a very real danger.  A layer of water on the road can prohibit your car tires from cleanly contacting the road surface.

The loss of friction between your tires and the roadway can result in the driver being unable to safely brake and steer the vehicle.  In some instances, a total loss of control happens.  Other factors like speeding, improperly balanced or overloaded trucks and worn out or underinflated tires can make hydroplaning even worse.

Here are several safety tips for driving in the rain

  • Exercise extreme caution after a long dry spell. During a dry period, engine oil and grease build up on the road over time. When mixed with water from a new rainfall, the road becomes extremely slick. Continued rainfall will eventually wash away the oil, but the first few hours can be the most dangerous.
  • Allow for more travel time. You should plan to drive at a slower pace than normal when the roads are wet. Keep in mind that traffic is likely to be moving slower as well. There’s also the possibility that your preplanned route may be flooded or jammed. Whatever the case, rushing equals higher risk.
  • Brake earlier and with less force than you would normally. Not only does this increase the stopping distance between you and the car in front of you, it also lets the driver behind you know that you’re slowing down. Also, be more meticulous about using turn signals, so that other drivers know your intentions, and take turns and curves with less speed than you would in dry conditions.
  • Most of America’s roads are crowned in the middle, which means that the water will run off to the sides. If possible, stay toward the middle of the road to avoid deep standing puddles.
  • Don’t use cruise control. If you hydroplane, there’s the chance your car could actually accelerate. Cruise control also allows drivers to be less vigilant and to take their foot away from the pedals — not a great idea when reaction time is so important.
  • If you see a large puddle up ahead, drive around it or choose a different route. Water splashing up into your car’s engine compartment could damage its internal electrical systems. Also, a pothole may be hiding under the water, just waiting in ambush to damage a wheel or knock your suspension out of alignment. If you can’t gauge the depth, or if it’s covering up the side curb, try to avoid it.
  • Don’t attempt to cross running water. This is not an SUV commercial, and you’ll probably get into trouble if the force of the water is greater than the weight of your vehicle. All-wheel drive isn’t going to be much help if your vehicle is being pushed sideways. Don’t end up like those folks on the nightly news who had to abandon their cars to Mother Nature.
  • After you cross a puddle, tap on your brake pedal lightly to dry off some of the water on your rotors.
  • Turn on your headlights, even when there’s a light sprinkle. It helps you see the road, and more importantly, it helps other motorists see you. However, don’t blast your high beams in the rain or fog — it’ll obscure your view further, as the light will reflect back at you off the water droplets in the air. If your car is equipped with foglights, you may find it helpful to turn these on, as they throw a little extra light on the road while making your car easier to see.
  • Watch out for pedestrians. An ordinarily observant pedestrian may become distracted by fiddling with an umbrella or a rain slicker. Plus, raindrops deaden sound, so the usual audio clues for measuring car distances become obscured. Keep a sharp lookout for people in the road.
  • If it’s raining so hard that you can’t see the road or the car in front of you, pull over safely away from the side of the road and wait it out.
  • Track the car ahead of you. Let the car ahead pave a clear path, so to speak, through the water.
  • Give a truck or bus extra distance. Their extra-large tires can create enough spray to block your vision completely. Avoid passing one, but if you must pass, do it as quickly as safety allows.
  • Defog your windows. Rain will quickly cause your windshield to fog up. Switch on both front and rear defrosters and make sure the air conditioning is turned on. Most cars’ climate control systems will automatically engage the A/C when the windshield defrost function is selected.
  • If you start to hydroplane, don’t brake suddenly or turn the wheel, or you might spin into a skid. Release the gas pedal slowly and steer straight until the car regains traction. If you must brake, tap the brake pedal (unless you have antilock brakes, in which case you can put your foot down).
  • Now that you know how to drive in the rain, take some precautionary measures to ensure that your vehicle is prepared to get you through a downpour.
  • Stay on top of your car’s condition. Its brakes, tire pressures, tire tread depth and defroster operation should be checked regularly so that you’ll be ready to deal with a deluge when the time comes.
  • Most vehicles are available with antilock brakes these days, and safety features like traction control, stability control and all-wheel drive are becoming increasingly popular as well. Although all-wheel drive is really only necessary if you frequently drive in snow and ice, traction and stability control can be very handy on rain-soaked roads. Traction control helps you maintain grip by putting the brakes on the tire(s) that don’t have traction, while a stability control system monitors your steering input, intervening with the brakes and/or reducing engine power as needed to keep you on your intended path.
  • Although several tire manufacturers design tires specifically for wet roads, a good set of all-season tires will do the job for most drivers.
  • Make sure that your wipers are in good condition and functioning properly. If the blades are brittle or damaged, replace them before you’re caught in a downpour. Some wipers are definitely better than others, so ask your retailer for recommendations.
  • If there’s a chance of freezing rain, double your precautions. Carry snow chains, as well as a supply of salt, sand or kitty litter (the non-clumping kind). If you’re stuck and uselessly spinning your tires on a patch of ice, stop what you’re doing and place some of said material around the drive wheels to gain traction. Then give it another go, giving the car as little gas as possible. If your car has a manual transmission, it also helps to start out in second gear rather than first. If you live in a particularly harsh climate, consider keeping a small shovel in the trunk to remove excess ice and snow from around the tires in the event that you get stuck.
  • Every car should have a good emergency kit. The contents of these kits vary, but when driving in rough weather, a tow rope is always a good idea — just in case.

When the weather’s bad, stay home if you can.  If you must drive, be careful.  Slow down and please drive defensively.

I want to get home in one piece this evening and so I’ll be playing it safe behind the wheel.  Please remind your family to do the same this holiday season.

Kim Pham Wrongful Death Case

kim pham wrongful death crosby bar and nightclub Santa Ana CaliforniaOur firm was recently contacted by a representative of the family of 23 year old Kim Pham. Kim was brutally beaten to death outside the Crosby Bar and Nightclub in Santa Ana this past weekend.

Pham was found unconscious on the sidewalk after a fight. Videotape show several people beat and kicked Pham as she lay on the ground outside nightclub.

Friends of Pham say the incident may have started after Pham accidentally stepped in front of a camera as a group of people posed for a photo. According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 25, of Westminster, was arrested and charged with one felony count of murder.

Because of a conflict of interest, we were unable to represent the family.

This is a very tragic death. One has to wonder how such an insignificant thing of walking across someone else’s photo could start such a fatal confrontation.

People also need to reflect on why they didn’t put down their video phones and help. The facts seem to suggest that if people had simply helped break up this confrontation, Pham might still be alive today.

The latest LA Times article and video about this case is here.

In the Pham case, criminal murder charges are being brought against Zavala. Wrongful death rights and damages available to victims can be reviewed here. In civil assault and battery cases not resulting in death, theories of liability and damages can be read here.

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Nine Question You Need To Ask Every Lawyer You Interview in a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Case

Mitch Jackson and Lisa Wilson are Orange County California personal injury and wrongful death lawyers- accidents, motorcycle accidents and large truck accidentsHere are 9 important questions you NEED to ask EVERY lawyer you interview to represent you in a personal injury or wrongful death case.  Just as important, we also share our thoughts about what the right answer to each question should be.

Question No. 1:  How Long Have You Been Practicing Law As A Licensed Attorney?

The attorney’s answer to this question is important and can be very revealing.  It takes many years to become proficient in the legal profession.   We recommend that you make sure any attorney you are thinking about hiring has, at a minimum, at least 10-15 years of substantial litigation experience in personal injury and wrongful death matters. 25-30 years is even better!

Sure, there are exceptions to this rule and we know several very good, ethical attorneys with less than 5 years of experience.  What they lack in trial experience they make up for with intelligence, drive, passion and the wherewithal to associate in experienced counsel to answer their questions and help them with trial. Unfortunately, these “exceptions” are far and few between and frankly, why take a chance?  Let’s move on to the next question…

Question No. 2:  What Percentage Of Your Practice Is Devoted To Personal Injury And Wrongful Death Cases?

For the past 10-15 years of a lawyer’s practice, at least 90% of the attorney’s time should have been focused on representing personal injury clients in major catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. Why not 100%? There are two good reasons.

First, the reality of the situation is that good personal injury and wrongful death trial lawyers are hard to find. Most will handle the litigation needs of past clients and friends in other areas of law such as business litigation.  They find it interesting and challenging to take on other cases and help people succeed in other areas of law (it’s a competitive nature that top lawyers have and frankly, it’s difficult to hold back).

Second, we truly believe that the experience and knowledge gained in taking these other types of cases to trial allow a personal injury attorney to gain new insight to various “outside-the-box” litigation approaches he or she may not normally be exposed to during personal injury litigation. In the long run, this can prove to be very beneficial to the client in a personal injury or wrongful death case.

We’ve taken various trial techniques we’ve learned in civil, business and criminal trials and successfully used the approaches in complicated personal injury cases and trials.  In our opinion, this made a huge difference in the ultimate favorable outcome to our clients in these cases.

Let’s say you are looking for s surgeon for a heart problem. How would you like to be the very first patient that particular surgeon has ever operated on?  Not a pleasant thought is it?  The fact of the matter is that you want YOUR surgeon to be a successful specialist in performing open heart surgery and also one who has done the procedure hundreds and even thousands of times before.  As with medicine, in law it’s equally important to get things done right the first time.  There are no second chances.

Here’s something else to think about.  Believe it or not, the successful handling of a catastrophic injury or wrongful death case is many times more complicated than what your heart surgeon is required to do during surgery.  Bypass surgery may take several hours (with the surgeon actually involved “hands on” for only 30-45 minutes), your legal case may take months or even years.  The surgeon may be required to make dozens of important decisions during the heart procedure.  Your lawyer will be required to make hundreds, and even thousands, of legal and procedural decisions during the handling of your personal injury case.

Why in the world would someone who’s life is turned upside down because of a serious personal injury or wrongful death ever settle for anything less than the best?  The answer to this question is that most consumers simply just don’t know any better.  Now you do!  Be smart and be thorough when it comes to selecting your personal injury attorney.

Question No. 3:  How Many Court And Jury Trials Have You Had And What Were Your Results?

Have you had any court trials?  How about jury trials?  When was the last trial you had?  How many of these trials involved serious catastrophic injury or wrongful death?  What were the pre-trial settlement offers? What were the results and verdicts?

Many years ago when we first started to practice law, we read an interesting statistic.  Apparently, most California lawyers have only tried an average of 3 trials during their entire career.  As supported by the facts and contrary to what you watch on television, most lawyers are not trial lawyers and most cases never make it all the way to trial.

In our opinion, the handling and trial of a personal injury or wrongful death case demands a much higher level of expertise and commands a great deal more pre-trial and trial related work and effort than most other types of legal cases.  For example, in criminal cases, rarely will the prosecution or public defenders do their own pre-trial preparation (they each have huge governmental support staffs to help them with the work).  In work comp and bankruptcy practices, in most cases the “trials” are actually hearings which only take a couple of hours or days.

In a catastrophic injury or wrongful death case, there are hundreds of complicated issues involving medical treatment and bills, loss of earnings, property damage, liability, expert testimony, health insurance, civil liability, procedure, negotiation, settlement, damages, jury, trial and appeal issues.  On almost a daily basis, a personal injury lawyer literally holds the value and quality of a client’s life in his or her hands and there truly is no greater burden, challenge or privilege.  The right personal injury lawyer will recognize this fact and step up to the challenge.

The lawyers that do handle and try other types of cases are all incredible lawyers and we tip our hats to each and every one of them,  especially when it comes to juggling the high volume of cases many are forced to handle.  But having said that, we believe that a catastrophic injury or wrongful death case, litigated all the way to trial, is substantially more work and exponentially more difficult.  So when you ask your potential attorney how many cases (or more specifically, personal injury and wrongful cases) he or she has taken to trial, make sure you get a clear and accurate response.

Because insurance defense attorneys and insurance companies all know which personal injury lawyers try their cases and get the best results for their clients, you want to be represented by an attorney who has a strong reputation for obtaining consistently large settlements and judgments.

Since 1986, we have helped thousands of clients with thousands of cases. With respect to cases we’ve take to trial, we have tried more cases than most lawyers in California. We’re also proud to note that out of about the 65+ cases we’ve taken to trial, we’ve won 63 of them. That’s a pretty impressive win/loss ratio.

Question No. 4:  Will I Be Interacting Directly With You Or Someone Else In Your Office?

The attorney you hire should have the time to meet with you in his or her office and talk with you over the telephone.  The attorney you hire should be the attorney appearing in depositions, hearings and court on your behalf.  The attorney you hire should be the attorney who will negotiate on your behalf and if necessary, take your case to trial.

Here’s a little unknown truth that many people are not aware of: In many firms, after you meet with the senior partner during your initial consultation, the secretaries, law clerks and paralegals do all the work on the file. Young and inexperienced associate lawyers work the file, negotiate, and even appear in court on your behalf.  The senior attorney or partner may rarely work or look at the file.  This is an ugly truth that many clients are not aware of.  Now you are!

For this reason, if your initial consultation is scheduled with a clerk, paralegal or new associate attorney because the “experienced” partner does not have time to meet with you, we strongly suggest that you turn and run the other direction as fast as you can.

What we’ve observed about these types of law firms is that your file will not get the attention it deserves.  In more cases than not, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.  The last thing you need is to have your file used as a “test” or “learning” case for a new non-lawyer paralegal or associate.

We think it is important that you establish a personal “one on one” relationship with the actual Senior Partner who will be handling your case.  Make sure that any written retainer agreements you agree to sign clearly spell out that the attorney you are retaining is the attorney who will be handling your file and personally representing you during the entire litigation process and trial.  As a courtesy, we’re always willing to review other attorney’s retainer agreements and advise you on whether or not they not only comply with California law, but also have your best interest in mind. We never charge a penny to do this.

Question No. 5:  Are You “AV” Rated By Martindale-Hubbell And What Other Awards Or Ratings Have You Received?

“Yes” is the only answer you should settle for.  Most consumers are not familiar with the “AV” and other high ratings. This is why they are so important.  According to the 150-year-old independent company named Martindale-Hubbell, an “AV” rating identifies a lawyer and firm as having (1) very high to preeminent legal ability and (2) the highest level of expertise, experience, integrity and overall professional excellence.

This rating is the best you get get as a lawyer. It can’t be purchased or bargained for. It’s a rating given to you by other lawyers and judges in the community. The attorney who is being reviewed does not even know the process is taking place.

By presenting the attorney with an “AV” rating, Martindale-Hubbell is making the statement that other attorneys and judges in your community clearly believe that the “AV” rated attorney consistently “shows a demonstration of the highest professional and ethical standards.”  Isn’t that the kind of lawyer you want protecting your interest?

We’re proud to announce that all of our senior partners have been awarded the prestigious “AV” rating.

Once again, while there are many good lawyers practicing law who have not yet been awarded an “AV” rating (only about 5 out of 100 receive this honor during their legal career), unless you know the attorney personally, why take a chance with someone who is not highly rated by his or her peers?  You can easily confirm an attorney’s rating status by going to Martindale.com

Question No. 6:  Are You An Active Member In the Local, State And National Trial Lawyer Organizations?  How About Your Local Community and Online?

Good personal injury trial attorneys share tips, tools, information, and techniques with other attorneys across the state, country and world.  It’s important for your attorney to be “plugged into” these organizations so that you can benefit from the exchange of information.

In Orange County, we have the Orange County Trial Lawyer Organization.  At the state level, we have the Consumer Attorneys of California.  Nationally, many excellent personal injury and wrongful death trial lawyers belong to the American Association for Justice.

All of these organizations work hard on a daily basis to educate personal injury attorneys and consumers on issues involving their important consumer rights.  We share information, pleadings, discovery and documents with each via personal relationships, conferences, meetings, web site memberships and email lists.

When it comes to community service, find out if your potential lawyer is active. What groups or organizations is he or she involved with?  For many reasons, it’s extremely important for your lawyer to be “connected” to his or her local community.  Interacting with other lawyers, experts and even judges outside the courtroom and in a community service setting will directly and indirectly foster new relationships and strengthen old friendships.

Question No. 7:  Can You Provide Me With The Names Of 5-10 Past Clients Who Are Willing To Share Their Experiences With Me About Your Representation And Firm?

You can sit all day in the attorney’s office and listen to the attorney tell you just how great he or she is when it comes to handling a personal injury case or taking a wrongful death case to trial.  While the attorney may be very convincing, how do you really know if he or she is telling you the truth?

We believe smart consumers should independently confirm the lawyer’s abilities by talking with some of the lawyers past clients.

We suggest that you ask for a list of 5-10 names and numbers of past clients you can contact for a reference.  These are people who have already agreed to have you contact them to independently confirm what you’ve been told or have read about the attorney.

It is not OK for the attorney you are interviewing to respond with something like, “my cases are confidential and I can’t disclose this information.”  The defense attorneys and insurance companies know which cases the attorney has handled and so should you.  If you get this kind of response, be very cautious.

Good lawyers have plenty of happy and satisfied clients who are more than willing to share their experiences with you.  The smart attorneys have already made arrangements to share client names and numbers with you.  If the attorney does not already have a list available, we guarantee that he or she will put one together in no time if they are truly interested in handling your case.

Question No. 8:  Do You Have Testimonials From Past Clients And Other Attorneys Which I Can Take With Me And Read?

Client testimonials are an excellent way to see what people have to say about the lawyer you are meeting with.  Case results and awards are important, but in our opinion, good lawyers with satisfied clients will have plenty of written client testimonials for you to take with you and review.  Some even offer testimonials from other lawyers in the community.

If an attorney does not have, or cannot give you client testimonials, you need to ask, “WHY NOT!”

It’s true that some very good attorneys simply do not take the time to ask for testimonials but on the other hand, how do you know if this is the case with the attorney you are sitting across from.  The attorney may not have testimonials because simply put– he does not have any happy clients.  Just as with the unbiased Martindale-Hubbell “AV” rating discussed above, getting independent third party confirmation and validation as to the attorney’s ability is the smart way to go.

Question No. 9:  As My Case Works Its Way Through The Legal System, Will You ALWAYS Look Me In The Eye And Tell Me What You HONESTLY Think And Believe As Opposed To What You Think I Want To Hear?

We think this quality in a personal injury trial attorney is very important for the following reasons.  If you have a good case, you want your lawyer to tell you.  If your case is weak or has other difficult legal issues you need to know about up front.

You always want your lawyer to be truthful and honest with you concerning his assessment of the case and your options.  The last thing you ever want is to have your lawyer tell you what she thinks you want to hear rather than the truth and what you really need to hear.

When it comes to getting advice from your lawyer, honest opinions and feedback are absolutely necessary.  It’s not unusual for us to tell 18 out of every 20 incoming potential clients that we don’t think they have a strong case and that we can’t help them.

How’s that for being brutally honest!

The problem however is that these people then continue to call other lawyers until they finally find someone who will agree to represent them.  They end up eventually being led down the wrong legal path to dissatisfaction and in some cases, financial disaster.  The bottom line is that it’s just better to have an experienced lawyer be up front with you about the merits of your case, good or bad, from the very beginning.


When interviewing a lawyer, please put this information to good use.  Share this report or link with your family and friends who need to hire a lawyer.

Use the 9 questions (and answers) to properly interview all of the lawyers you are thinking about hiring in your personal injury and wrongful death case. We suggest that you print this post out and take it with you to your meeting.

P.S.  Although many personal injury victims, just like you, try to seek justice, most are not aware of the great myth that there is actually “liberty and justice” for all.  The truth of the matter is that most people simply do not know how to protect their legal rights or can’t afford to protect themselves.  Because of this, they are denied justice.

That’s unfortunate because it does not have to be that way.  Now here’s some good news.  Under the right circumstances and with a skilled lawyer, it is still possible to force the system to deliver justice.

We feel the information in this report will help you make smart decisions so that you can get all of the justice you and your family deserve in your personal injury or wrongful death case. Please call us if you have any questions.


Related Post: Three Good Ways to Find a GREAT Lawyer