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Personal Injury Lawyer: How to Find and Choose One Wisely [11 Steps]

Trying to find an experienced personal injury lawyer for yourself or friends and family can be an exhausting, long, drawn-out task. When you or a loved one is injured whether it be injuries from a car accident, negligence or aworkplace injury, medical bills can add up quickly. Sometimes you may even face the added pressure of debt collection and worry how you can protect yourself and family. Dealing with the insurance companies over injury claims can also be difficult. You can put your mind more at ease when you choose a lawyer wisely. But where do you start? We put together this video to guide you through the process.

If you conduct a general internet search, you will find many to choose from. However, depending on your search, you may also find attorneys who are not in your city, county or state. You will want to find one who not only understands the nuances of personal injury laws but also is familiar with the local court system. They should also be personable and attentive and quick to helping clients. Below, you will find advice on how you can search for and choose a reliable personal injury attorney wisely. The following will also apply if you are searching for a criminal defense attorney and experienced trial lawyers.

Tips on Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer

personal injury lawyer

1. Find a lawyer through a directory.

You can refine your online search by checking out the lawyer directory through the Florida Bar. There you will be able to find an attorney with specific search criteria to get a list of qualified injury lawyers close to you. You can even choose to filter your search by which law school they attended, what services they provide, by practice area or even by languages they speak.

2. Ask your friends or family.

You can also ask friends or family members who have had a personal injury claim or required a criminal defense to refer you to their attorney. However, everyone’s case, claim, and experiences are different. Make sure you find someone whose opinion you value and trust.

3. Ask for referrals from other attorneys.

If you have worked with a lawyer for some other type of case who does not handle personal injury, you can ask them for a recommendation. Lawyers are familiar with others within the legal community. Many will provide referrals when they cannot take on another case or do not practice in the specific area you need legal advice for.

4. Look into their personal injury specializations.

When choosing a lawyer, make sure you find one that suits your specific needs. For example, if you get an injury at work, you will want to find an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation. If you got an injury from medication, medical device or procedure, you would want to find a medical malpractice attorney.

If the personal injury law firm you choose is a general practice firm (meaning they have attorneys who practice various types of law, including but not limited to family law, criminal law or estate planning), make sure they hire experienced lawyers who specialize in only one or two areas. If your case has elements of other legal practice areas, it may be beneficial to have the expertise of other lawyers within the same firm.

Some examples of specializations and type of personal injury are:

  • motor vehicle accidents
  • motorcycle accident
  • slip and fall accident
  • legal representation
  • wrongful death
  • trucking accidents
  • product liability (lawsuit for brands with defective product)
  • auto accidents
  • medical malpractice
  • dog bite

5. Do they have a settlement first or trial first approach?

When you or someone you love is injured, the legal process can seem like it takes a lifetime – especially if funds are limited while you are in the middle of a legal crisis. Often, it is also difficult to trust the insurance company because they don’t have the injured parties’ interests in mind. They are looking out for their bottom line and not the victims.

A good attorney is one who will assist you quickly, put your mind at ease, and take a settlement first approach throughout the litigation. The settlement first approach often reduces conflict and leads to better overall outcomes. However, you will also want to seek out a personal injury attorney who has extensive trial experience in the event your case moves to trial to get the compensation you deserve.

6. How does the attorney get paid?

Personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. This means that your lawyer will not charge a fee unless they have led your case to a satisfactory resolution. How does this break down?

  • Your lawyer will only charge 1/3 of the total sum they recover on your behalf for your personal injury claim/s.
  • The fee is deducted from your total settlement sum.
  • If your lawyer does not obtain a settlement or win at trial, you will not owe the lawyer for his or her work, and they will not receive any compensation.
  • However, you may be responsible for other expenses such as filing fees or expert fees. Make sure you ask your lawyer about additional costs.

A good lawyer will go over the details and expectations with you about payment for fees and expenses.

7. Interview the lawyer.

Most attorneys will meet with you for a free consultation. This allows you to get to know them and for them to get a basic understanding of your case. You can meet with a couple of different lawyers to determine which one you think will provide you with the best legal advice and service.

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 person you are meeting with going to handle the case personally or will another attorney at the firm take it on?
  • If another attorney takes it on, 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 about the status of your case?
  • Do they have a particular strategy in mind?
  • Will you have access to speak to your attorney directly?
  • How long do they think your case will take from start to finish?

8. Will you receive compensation for pain and suffering?

The term pain and suffering is probably something you have heard of, considering it is plastered all over television dramas. Those who have suffered personal injury know for sure about the physical pain that comes with it. However, the suffering part is more complicated than the anguish felt while recovering. Depending on the severity or type of the injury, there could be a claim for loss of consortium, which is related to the companionship of a spouse. A qualified attorney will explain the legal theory behind pain and suffering and discuss how it may apply to your case.

9. Ask about the role your health insurance company may play.

You should also ask any attorney you interview whether you will need to reimburse your insurance company. In some cases, your health insurance will pay for your medical care but then seek reimbursement if another insurer is on the hook for payment. If payment has already been made to you or on your behalf, you will want to understand how that may affect the outcome of your settlement.

10. Has the lawyer been disciplined or received complaints?

You can also check with the Florida Bar Association to see if the Florida attorney you have chosen has received disciplinary action or complaints. Depending on the reason for any disciplinary action, you may want to reconsider your choice.

You can even review the attorney’s website, social media and other review sites to determine if they are active and provide current information before making an office visit. This will also give you some insight into how they handle cases and clients, especially if they have received a complaint.

However, even if the attorney has received a complaint, it does not always mean they are a poor choice. You can ask the lawyer about this during the initial consultation. A good lawyer must be forthcoming and willing to explain how the process goes, such as what solution they used and how it is going. They should have a good track record saying they’ve helped clients using the best legal methods possible.

11. Be leery of ambulance chasers and false guarantees.

The lawyers who suddenly appear at your hospital bed with unsolicited advice, handing out business cards, are called ambulance chasers. Not all personal injury lawyers are one, but you should be leery of those who blindly send flyers or other marketing material to your mailbox or insist you sign a retainer with them without review it.

You should also beware of any attorney who guarantees a certain outcome. There are no guarantees in the law, and it may even be unethical or even illegal for them to do so. A good lawyer will give you an honest analysis of your case and 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. This document will spell out the type of work your lawyer will do. It will also outline the details of fees and other 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 or are unsure about, you can ask your attorney for clarification.

Continue to stay informed

Once you have chosen your trial lawyer from a reputable law firm, stay informed by continuing to ask questions. The legal process can be overwhelming and even scary, but it doesn’t have to be when your qualified personal injury attorney leads the way. When you choose the right legal counsel, they will assist with determining how you can get your car repaired based on your damages, losses and financial situation as well as deal with insurance claims and insurance adjusters to help you move beyond the pain.

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