Injuries due to a car accident or negligence are very common. Debt and loss are quick to follow when you or one of your friends or family are injured. Medical bills and lost wages add up fast. Dealing with the insurance companies over injury claims is difficult. Legal representation becomes necessary when you’ve been hurt due to another’s careless actions.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can get results and ease burdens. You need to choose a lawyer wisely, but how do you begin? We put together this quick video with 3 tips to start the process.
HOW TO FIND A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
Below you’ll find advice on how to search for and choose a reliable personal injury attorney. Communicating with your attorney should be easy. Being personable and attentive to clients are also important traits for your attorney to have. You’ll want your lawyer to have experience handling litigation too. Trial lawyers are needed when a personal injury case ends up in court. Let us guide you through the next 11 useful steps. Then start your search to find a personal injury attorney that’s right for you.
1. USE A DIRECTORY
To find a personal injury law firm, most people start with a general internet search. But this may turn up attorneys who aren’t in your area. For greatest success, your lawyer should be familiar with your local laws and courts. You can refine your search by checking out the lawyer directory through the Florida Bar. There you’ll use specific search criteria to find a qualified attorney near you. You can filter your search by services they provide, practice areas and even what languages they speak.
2. ASK YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY
Seeking advice from those you trust is a good move. You can ask those who have had a personal injury claim or required a criminal defense to refer you to their lawyer. They can give you insight on what to expect. Make sure to ask someone who is reliable and whose opinion you value. Keep in mind that each case, claim, and experience are different. Just because your friend was able to get a certain verdict and settlement doesn’t ensure you will too.
3. ASK FOR REFERRALS FROM OTHER LAWYERS
You may have worked with a great lawyer before. You would hire them again, but they don’t handle this type of case. If you trust their opinion, you can ask for a referral. Most lawyers are familiar with others within the legal community. Many will provide referrals to another law group when they don’t practice in the area for which you need legal advice.
HOW TO CHOOSE A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
We’ve now covered the basics of searching for a lawyer. But how to choose the right one to represent you? Consider the following and be sure to ask questions to your potential lawyer too.
4. LEARN THE LAWYER’S SPECIALTIES
When choosing a lawyer, make sure you find one that fits your specific need. Such as if you get hurt at work, you’ll need an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation. If a medical procedure caused problems, then a medical malpractice lawyer is needed. Seek out the legal experts that best fit your case.
You may want to consider a general practice firm. These firms have attorneys who practice various types of law. Including, but not limited to, family law, criminal law, and estate planning. Be sure the firm hires experienced lawyers who specialize in only one or two areas. Some examples of specialties are:
- auto accident
- dog bite
- medical malpractice
- motorcycle accident
- product liability (defective product lawsuit)
- slip and fall accident
- trucking accident
- wrongful death
If your case falls into other legal practice areas, it’s helpful to have the expertise of other lawyers within the same firm.
5. SEEK SETTLEMENT APPROACH FIRST
When suffering pain and loss, the legal process can seem like it takes a lifetime. Especially if funds are limited while you are in the middle of a crisis. Often, it’s difficult to trust the insurance company and have a claim fulfilled. They don’t always have the injured person’s best interest in mind.
A good attorney won’t push your case into a costly court battle. Instead, they’ll use a settlement first approach to saving you time and money. You and the other party will come to an agreement without having to go to trial. This reduces conflict and leads to a faster and better outcome overall. But remember, you’ll want to seek out a lawyer who has trial experience just in case you end up in court.
6. CONSIDER HOW (AND HOW MUCH) A LAWYER CHARGES CLIENTS
In these types of cases, injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that your lawyer won’t charge a fee unless your case has reached an acceptable resolution. So if your lawyer doesn’t obtain a settlement, or win at trial, you won’t owe the lawyer. However, you may be responsible for other expenses such as filing fees or expert fees. Make sure you ask lawyers about expected additional costs before you hire them.
If you do reach a resolution, then the lawyer charges for one-third of the total sum they recovered on your behalf. This fee is deducted from your total settlement sum. A good lawyer will go over all the financial details with you. They’ll be open and honest about costs. All expectations of payment for fees and expenses should be clearly explained.
7. INTERVIEW THE LAWYER
Most attorneys will meet with you for a free consultation. This allows you to get to know them and lets them get a basic understanding of your case. You can meet with a few different lawyers too. This will help to determine which one will provide the best legal advice and services. Here are a few questions you can ask the attorney:
- How long has he or she been practicing?
- How many cases do they currently have?
- Of those cases, how many of them are personal injury?
- Is the lawyer at the interview going to handle the case or will another at the firm take it on?
- If so, can you interview them before you decide?
- Do they offer thoughtful and informative lawyer blogs that you can refer to throughout your case?
- What is their approach to a typical case? Is it aggressive and quick moving?
- How will they communicate with you throughout the process?
- Will they provide you with regular updates on the status of your case?
- Do they have a particular strategy in mind?
- Will you have access to speak with your attorney directly?
- How long do they think your case will take from start to finish?
Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. You shouldn’t feel intimidated or receive vague answers. A good lawyer will take the time to answer your questions thoroughly and honestly. They’ll seek to help you the best that they can.
8. ASK ABOUT COMPENSATION FOR PAIN AND SUFFERING
Pain and suffering is referred to the trauma a client suffers due to an accident. It isn’t just about physical pain, but also mental and emotional hurts such as grief or fear. A qualified attorney will explain the legal theory behind pain and suffering. They’ll discuss how it may apply to your case too.
9. ASK ABOUT THE ROLE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY MAY PLAY
Ask the attorney you interview whether or not you’ll need to reimburse your insurance company. In some cases, your health insurance will pay for your medical care. Then they’ll seek reimbursement if another insurer is on the hook for payment. If payment has already been made to you or on your behalf, you’ll want to understand how that may affect the outcome of your settlement.
10. CHECK FOR DISCIPLINE AND COMPLAINT RECORDS
Check with the Florida Bar Association to see if a lawyer has any records of disciplinary action or complaints. Depending on the results, you may want to reconsider your choice.
You can ask the lawyer about any issues during the initial consultation. A good lawyer must be forthcoming and willing to explain. They should have a track record showing they’ve helped clients by using the best legal methods possible.
You can review the attorney’s website and social media too. Check out other review sites. Be sure they provide current information before making an office visit. This research provides some insight into how they handle cases and clients.
11. BE LEERY OF AMBULANCE CHASERS AND FALSE GUARANTEES
Lawyers who suddenly appear at your hospital bed with unsolicited advice are called ambulance chasers. You should be leery of them and those who blindly send marketing materials to you. Watch out for those who insist you sign a retainer with them without having a chance to review it first.
Beware of any attorney who guarantees a certain outcome. There are no guarantees in the law. A good lawyer will give you an honest analysis of your case. They’ll let you know whether they think they can reach a positive result for you. They may even discuss their approach to other similar cases that resulted in a positive outcome. But they will not offer a guarantee of the same.
WHAT IS A RETAINER AGREEMENT?
The attorney you choose will ask you to sign a retainer agreement. It spells out the type of work your lawyer will do. It outlines the details of fees and expenses, as well as other expectations throughout your case. It will even mention whether or not a trial is included. Make sure you review your financial situation and the agreement thoroughly before you sign. If there is something you do not understand, you can ask your attorney to explain.
HOW TO FIRE A LAWYER
Despite your best efforts, sometimes it doesn’t work out with the lawyer you chose. You may have lost confidence in their ability to handle the case. You end up disagreeing with important case issues. They show a lack of care and attention. It is possible to fire them.
First, review your contract for legal services to know the right procedure to follow. Then hire a new attorney so there is no lapse in your legal coverage. Last, send a letter to the former attorney to explain the ending of your client-attorney relationship. Your new legal counsel can help you through this transition.
The legal process can be overwhelming and even scary. It doesn’t have to be that way if a qualified attorney leads the way. Once you have chosen your lawyer from a reputable law firm, stay informed by continuing to ask questions. Don’t wait too long after an accident to seek legal counsel. Contact Denmon & Pearlman today for a free consultation.