Updated on: 10/03/2023
Local attorney Chris Davis and the Amtrak trail derailment legal team at Davis Law Group, P.S., have been retained by several victims of the December 2017 Amtrak railroad derailment disaster.
Many out-of-state law firms are rushing to Washington State in an effort to capitalize on the worst railroad disaster in our state. But is hiring an out-of-town attorney really a good idea?
Bar association rules prohibit the practice of law “in” the state without a license issued by the state. When a lawyer in another state accepts a case in Washington they will need to enter into an association agreement with a local attorney who will handle court filings, court appearances, etc. You do not want to hire an lawyer that is not licensed to practice law in Washington State–he may not be the one who actually doing much of the work.
Amtrak Cascades is part of the Washington State Passenger Rail System which is operated in part by the Washington State Department of Transpiration (WSDOT). The day-to-day operational decisions; employees; training; maintenance; etc. were all made locally by WSDOT officials and/or their subcontractors (Amtrak, Talgo, etc).
Working with an attorney that has experience dealing with legal claims against WSDOT may be very important for victims and survivors of the Amtrak Cascades train derailment.
A local attorney with decades of experience in the same jurisdiction as the Amtrak derailment accident will likely have relationships with the lawyers and experience with the judges involved in the case. When it comes to court cases, your attorney’s familiarity inside the courtroom and the respect he or she commands could be the difference in your case.
Understanding local court rules; local civil procedures; and local case law is critical to the success of any case. Your attorney should have experience with the local ordinances, state laws and regional regulations related to your case. An outside attorney won’t be familiar with those nuances. A local attorney will.
Having an understanding of the local community is vital when it comes to handling a case. Should the case go to trial, a local attorney can accurately judge the temperament of your community and judge the likelihood of a fair verdict being returned in your case. Outside attorneys simply don’t have the knowledge of local culture, political beliefs and other factors that would help them successfully handle a case in your geography.
Don’t underestimate the factor convivence will play in a case, which may take years to complete. When you have a local attorney that lives and works in the region, you can see your lawyer whenever the need arises.
The same is not true of an outside attorney who may just fly into your area at different stages of the case. If you need to see your attorney and they are not available to meet face-to-face, you don’t get the same level of service.
Choosing an attorney to represent you might be one of the biggest decisions you make in your life. Doing your research, reading reviews and talking to former clients is important to do before hiring any attorney. People in your community are likely to know the reputation of a local attorney; they are unlikely to know about an outside attorney.
A local attorney has their reputation to protect. Spend any time in a courtroom and you’ll see which attorneys are held in high regard and which ones are not. A local attorney must maintain a positive relationship with not only those involved in the court system, but also consider the community. An outside attorney may burn bridges and be more abrasive because they may never appear in that court again.
Don’t believe the myth that hiring an outside attorney means you’re getting the best. If the local attorney has over two decades of experience, they’ve likely handled cases such as yours and are just as qualified to represent victims of “big cases.”
When the at-fault party’s insurance company knows your attorney is local, the likelihood of a successful resolution in your case by way of a fair settlement is greater. This is because the insurance company knows your attorney is prepared to go to trial. When an outside attorney handles a case, they must account for flights, hotel stays and meals. It is much more convenient, and cheaper, for an outside attorney to settle a case rather than try it in court. A local attorney is in it for the long run and will see your case through to the end.
The client is ultimately responsible for an out-of-town lawyer’s travel expenses, hotels, meals and rental. Attorneys from out-of-state rack up much higher expenses, which will cost you in the long-run. A local attorney can handle all aspects of your case without incurring additional expenses.
For more detailed information about the disaster, read AMTRAK CASCADES DERAILMENT DISASTER: A Legal Guide For Accident Victims/Survivors by the Amtrak train accident attorney team at Davis Law Group.
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