Your choice of attorney can make an enormous difference in your personal injury case. Different lawyers have varying skill sets and may handle your cases using several strategies. It is not a stretch to say that a good lawyer can add value to your personal injury case. However, you have a limited time to make a very critical choice, with many possible options. Here is what you need to know about when and how to choose a personal injury lawyer.
Your Need for a Personal Injury Lawyer
After you have suffered an injury in an accident, the question is not whether you should hire a personal injury attorney. Regardless of the nature of your case, or the amount of money involved, you should always get legal help. The insurance company can run roughshod over you if you do not have an attorney. They may deny your claim or try to give you less than you deserve. A personal injury lawyer will stand up for you and fight for your legal rights throughout the process.
The pressing issue is how you will find the right attorney. Every lawyer advises you to hire an attorney quickly after your accident because you can lose valuable evidence. However, you do not want to sign with just any attorney. Hiring the right lawyer can positively impact your case and the amount of money you can get for your injuries. You must balance time considerations with finding the best lawyer for your case.
You Have Many Choices of an Attorney
Let’s face it— you will find scores of personal injury lawyers near you. A brief Google search may reveal hundreds of options. They may all look similar to you and speak the same language.
Everyone seems to tell you the same thing. They promise to fight for you against the insurance company. You may begin to think that all personal injury lawyers are alike. That can not be further from the truth, although you may have no way of knowing the difference between lawyers. The question is how to make the right choice in the short time available to you.
Speak to Multiple Lawyers Before Making a Final Choice
You should not necessarily hire the first attorney with whom you speak. Nobody is saying that you need to interview every possible lawyer who shows up in a Google search. You do not have the time to talk with everyone. However, you also need a frame of reference and ways of comparing lawyers. You do not know that a lawyer is right for you until you have spoken to other attorneys.
The choice that you will make is critical. Therefore, you must take some time to do your homework. If you cannot have the conversations with attorneys yourself, you should have trusted family members conduct the interview.
You will need to speak with multiple attorneys in a short period. Thankfully, it does not cost you anything to talk with a lawyer. Every personal injury lawyer offers free consultations to prospective clients. There is no downside to at least speaking with a lawyer. All it costs you is time. It is time that you need to invest to make the right choice. You do not have to be concerned about getting a bill from the lawyer for the conversation.
You Need the Most Effective Lawyer for You
Your choice of lawyer should be the one who is the most effective for you. Plenty of good personal injury lawyers are dedicated to their work and obtain results for their clients. However, this does not mean that every lawyer is right for you. An attorney specializing in car accidents may be unable to handle a complex truck accident, where there are different sources of evidence and regulations.
Not every lawyer has the right experience for you. Some may not have substantive experience in the particular area that you need. For example, medical malpractice cases are very complex. They require scientific knowledge and the ability to work with medical experts.
You will not want an attorney specializing in car accidents to handle a medical malpractice case. Although there is nothing wrong with car accident attorneys, they have what they are good at, while other attorneys may not know how to try car accident cases. You should make sure that your lawyer has experience in your particular area.
In addition, lawyers have different styles. Some tend to settle more cases, while others are more aggressive about going to trial. This is not to say that one style is better than the other. Nonetheless, a particular style may be better for your own case. You may need a more patient lawyer, or you may need an aggressive lawyer. The key is selecting the right attorney.
Pay Close Attention to Online Reviews
One of the best ways to understand how a lawyer works is to read about how previous clients viewed their experience with the attorney. There are several places you can go online for reviews. The best sources are usually Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau. Most attorney reviews will be glowing and positive, so you should look for bad reviews. Some clients may be dissatisfied with the result of their client, while others raise valid concerns about the attorney. If there are multiple poor reviews, it should raise a red flag.
Be careful about the source of the review. Some attorneys make deals with each other to give positive reviews. You should take those with a grain of salt. You want to pay attention to what real clients say.
Get Referrals From a Friend or Family
Sometimes, the best advice can come from people you trust who have worked with a lawyer before. If someone you know has used a personal injury lawyer before, they can tell you about the attorney. Of course, delivering results for another client does not assure you of success. However, you can get a sense of how the lawyer works and interacts with other clients. It does not hurt when they have provided exemplary service and obtained favorable legal results. You should speak with a few trusted people and ask them if they have any recommendations.
Speak to the Lawyer During an Initial Consultation
Your initial consultation is the chance to take stock of the lawyer. You are looking at both their experience and their temperament. Some lawyers are just not the right fit for specific clients. They may do great work, and they may be suitable for other clients, but they are not right for you. This is a determination that you do not have much time to make. If you need more time to speak with an attorney, you can ask for an additional conversation after your free initial consultation.
In addition to finding an attorney with the right experience, you should also select a lawyer with whom you are compatible. To clarify, you are not seeking someone that you can see yourself hanging out with on a regular basis. Instead, you are trying to find someone that you can see yourself working with on a sustained basis.
Your Lawyer Is a Critical Part of Your Life
Your lawsuit can take years until it reaches a conclusion. You are having regular conversations with your lawyer about critical substantive issues. Whether you work effectively together can determine the outcome of your case. If your lawyer has a communication style that does not sit well with you, it may keep you from having open conversations.
In some cases, it may be apparent right off the bat that an attorney is not the best fit from a personality perspective. While it is true that you are not trying to become friends with your attorney, you want someone with whom you are comfortable because you will be having constant conversations with them for perhaps an extended period of time.
Pay attention to whether the lawyer answers your questions in an easy-to-understand manner. Your attorney should not speak to you in legalese, and they should answer questions in plain English that people without a legal background can comprehend. You want a lawyer who seems to be patient with you and listens to your concerns. Each plaintiff may be in a different position. Your lawyer should know your particular situation to provide the most effective legal representation.
The initial consultation is where you are both interviewing each other. You are deciding whether the lawyer is right for you. The attorney is doing the same thing. They take a risk when they accept your case. They need to both make sure that you have a strong case and that they can work with you. Otherwise, they may have to represent a client in a case that may not be the best use of their time. Pay close attention to the questions the lawyer asks and how they ask.
Questions to Ask Your Lawyer
Here are some questions that you may want to ask an attorney at the initial consultation:
- What percent of your cases settle, and what percent go to trial?
- What strategy will you use with my particular case?
- What difficulties do you foresee that can get in the way of me receiving financial compensation?
- What is the potential range of outcomes in my case?
- Describe similar cases to mind that you have handled
What you are looking for is honest answers. Instead of asking questions they can answer with a yes or no, ask open-ended questions that can get the lawyer talking. Be careful of rosy promises. Your preference will be for an attorney who sets realistic expectations and over-delivers.
Understand their Resources
Your attorney should have the resources necessary to handle your case. Being a single attorney should not automatically rule someone out of being your lawyer. However, you should ask questions about how they can handle your case. If you have a complex and challenging case, it will take more than just the lawyer.
They will need:
- Legal support (especially if there are many documents and filings in your case)
- Expert witnesses to work with
- The technology to handle documents and handle your case
- Additional lawyers to work with when the case is complex and detailed
Even larger firms may not have all the necessary resources. You should understand what resources the firm can bring to bear. There is a chance that your case can be too complex for the law firm with its resources. Personal injury lawyers should have the capacity to get additional help if the case becomes more complicated than it appears at first.
Search Their Disciplinary History
Once you think that you have found the right lawyer, you must learn more about them. You are putting your trust in this person. Your financial future may partly be in their hands. Therefore, it is essential that you can trust them.
One glaring red flag that should scare you away is a disciplinary history. You can search this online with the state bar in your jurisdiction. You should be very careful if there is any record of a reprimand or sanctions against the lawyer. You should take any discipline relating to their competence or their honesty very seriously. Given your many available options, you should avoid any attorney with this record entirely.
It does not cost you anything to speak with an attorney at first. Personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, where you can ask the questions you need to ask. They also want your business because that is how they make money. Not only is the initial consultation free, but you do not need to pay an attorney unless you win your case. Your attorney will work for you on a contingency basis, meaning they collect payment if you receive a settlement or jury award.
If you are looking for a personal injury attorney in Florida, it is likely because you’ve suffered an injury. You need help, and you may have debts due to the injury. It is critical to choose the right lawyer for you.