How to Find The Right Hawaiʻi Personal Injury Attorney

This video features Wayne D. Parsons, a Medical Malpractice attorney based in Hawaii.

Honolulu Lawyer Says Trial Experience is a Must

Video Transcript:

Wayne Parsons: 

If they're not members, I wouldn't hire them. I'm not saying they're not good trial lawyers, but they lack one resource...

Tom Mustin: 

Why is it important to seek out an experienced attorney for your injury claim? We ask Honolulu attorney, Wayne Parsons in this episode of Ask The Lawyer. If a person is injured and they decide that he or she needs a lawyer, how do they go about evaluating whether that attorney is the right one for them, the right match for them?

Wayne Parsons: 

Experience matters. When you get out of law school, when a lawyer graduates, they're not really ready to represent people and go to court and take out a whole case. So how much experience the lawyer has is very important. What kind of cases does the lawyer handle? For a personal injury case, or the lawyer that you hire, lawyer that a person hires, should only do personal injury cases. They should only do the kind of cases that you've got. And if they do other things like divorces or wills and estates or contract matters, or heaven forbid, if they ever represent corporations or insurance companies, they are not a proper attorney to hire.

And they should have experience at going to trial, because the reason insurance companies pay money is because they know if they don't pay, they're gonna have to go in front of a jury of 12 people and the jury of 12 people can make them pay a lot. Well, if the lawyer that represents a person has never been to trial before a jury or has only been to trial in a very limited capacity, in very small cases, then that lawyer is not gonna scare the insurance company at all, and the insurance company is gonna say, "Offer them whatever we want," because at the end of the day, the lawyer is gonna have to talk to their client into taking this money 'cause the lawyer doesn't know how to do a trial.

We have a problem with that in Hawaii right now, because there are very few jury trials. When I started, we went to trial all the time, but now we don't go to trial as much. So there's a limitation on younger lawyers. It's not their fault. They just don't have a lot of cases they can use to get practice at going to trial. Many of them go to the Public Defender's Office or the Prosecutor's Office, where they get to try criminal cases. That's great experience and is sufficient to make them a competent lawyer in a case for personal injury.

The third thing, and I think this is very important, I would ask lawyers, what do they do in terms of both the community and in terms of the legal profession? Are they active with organizations where lawyers combine their experience and train themselves and share information so that they can get help when they're in a case, when something comes up and they've not seen it before? This happens to all of us. The Hawaii Association for Justice is a non-profit organization that every personal injury lawyer who has a quality practice is a member of that organization.

Now, there's some pretty good trial lawyers who don't join. Meaning, they've done a lot of trials. They know a lot about trying cases. But all of us, I've been doing this for 40 years. I have 120 or so other lawyers in Hawaii through the Hawaii Association for Justice who I can go on the internet, I can say, "I just ran into this," "Farmer's Insurance just did this," or, "An insurance company just did that in my case. Does anybody had this happened before?" And everybody will pitch in and you almost always get answers that are very helpful. Lawyers who don't join these organizations can't do that. They are relying upon... Well, they'll try to figure it out themselves. No shortage of ego, and they just go through the case and they don't have access to those resources. I believe I would not hire a lawyer who doesn't belong to the Hawaii Association for Justice.

The national organization, The American Association for Justice has 20,000 members. They also have open listserv forums that any member can go in and say, "This came up in this case," or, "This came up in that case." "Here's an expert they've hired in my case. Has anybody seen that expert before?" This is absolutely crucial. It's very, very important. And again, I would ask lawyers what involvement they have with the Hawaii Association for Justice and The American Association for Justice, and quite frankly, if they're not members, I wouldn't hire them. I'm not saying they're not good trial lawyers, but they lack one resource which can be crucial when something comes up in their case that they haven't seen before, and it comes up for everybody, no matter how much experience you have.

Tom Mustin: 

Well, we always appreciate your expertise, Wayne. Thank you so much for joining us again today.

Wayne Parsons: 

Good to be here. Have a great day. Aloha.

Tom Mustin: 

Alright, aloha, Wayne. And that's gonna do it for this episode of Ask The Lawyer. My guest has been Wayne Parsons. If you wanna ask Wayne any questions about your situation, call the number on the screen there. Thanks for watching. I'm Tom Mustin for Ask The Lawyers.

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