Hiring the right personal injury lawyer will affect the outcome of your case. But most injured clients do not know what to look for when they are consulting or hiring an injury attorney. Here is the ultimate guide to hiring a personal injury attorney.
When to Hire a Lawyer
Not every injury case requires a lawyer. If your case has minimal damages, you might not need a lawyer.
In Florida, you might not need a lawyer for a car accident insurance claim that falls under the no-fault threshold of $10,000 in damages. Similarly, a workers’ compensation case that involves minimal medical bills or just a few days of missed work might not require a lawyer.
But disputes can arise even in minor cases. An auto insurer might deny benefits. A workers’ comp insurer might reject your claim. When this happens, you might need the services of a lawyer.
Some signs you might need a lawyer for your case include:
- An insurer has denied or reduced your claim
- An insurer has blamed you for an accident
- Your damages exceed the insurance policy limits
- The at-fault party lacks insurance
- You suffered serious or permanent injuries
- An insurer refuses to make a fair settlement offer
In these and other situations, an injury attorney can explain your legal options for pursuing compensation for your injuries. They can also provide representation to help you obtain a fair settlement or damage award.
What to Look for When Choosing a Lawyer
Most people will never need to hire a lawyer. However, if your accident has resulted in serious injuries, you might have no choice but to hire a lawyer.
Some of the factors you should consider when you’re choosing a lawyer include:
You should look for a lawyer who has experience in cases like yours. All lawyers have training in tort law, the basis of personal injury cases. But not all lawyers have experience handling injury cases.
Look for a lawyer that focuses on injury law. A busy lawyer handles dozens of injury cases every year, giving them valuable insight into insurance practices and courtroom procedures.
An experienced lawyer will have the negotiating skills to get a fair settlement and the litigation skills to win an award for damages.
You can narrow down your search by looking for lawyers that focus on your particular type of case. Some lawyers have a knowledge of medicine and medical malpractice cases. Other lawyers have experience dealing with trucking companies and their insurers after a trucking accident.
Experiences like these can help a lawyer handle your case more efficiently and effectively.
An effective lawyer is a good communicator. A lawyer should explain all of your legal options and the pros and cons of each one. The lawyer should represent your interests when they’re negotiating with insurers and persuade them to make a fair settlement offer.
If the lawyer cannot settle, the lawyer must present your case to a jury while advocating for the best possible outcome under the law.
A good lawyer gets results. No lawyer can guarantee the outcome of a case, but a good lawyer will consistently get fair settlements and damage awards for injured clients. Look for a page on the lawyer’s website that talks about the results the lawyer has obtained for other clients.
A lawyer takes on a great responsibility when they’re representing your interests. An unscrupulous lawyer can abuse this trusted relationship.
Once you narrow down your choices, contact The Florida Bar to determine if any lawyers you’re considering have disciplinary actions or complaints on their records.
Good lawyers earn the respect of peers. Lawyer directories like Martindale-Hubbell use a rating system based on peer reviews. Lawyers with the highly coveted AV rating have demonstrated both competence and ethics in their dealings with other lawyers.
Using the Free Consultation to Interview a Lawyer
Most injury lawyers offer free initial consultations. You can use this time to learn about the lawyer and your case. This information will help you to choose a lawyer.
Prepare before you head into your initial consultation. The consultation will likely have a time limit, so you want to use your time efficiently.
Some steps to take before and during the initial consultation include:
Writing Down Questions
Brainstorm before your meeting and write down any questions you have so you do not forget to address any of them during your time with the lawyer.
Some questions you can ask include:
- Does my case have any deadlines or statutes of limitations?
- What experience do you have in cases like mine?
- What range of outcomes can I expect in my case?
- What strategy will you use in my case?
- Will you personally handle my case?
- Who should I contact for updates?
These questions will help you understand the lawyer’s practice. They will also guide you if you choose to hire a lawyer.
One of the most common disputes between lawyers and clients surrounds fees. Having a conversation during your initial consultation will help you avoid any misunderstandings about your expenses.
Most injury lawyers charge a contingent fee. This means that the lawyer will take a percentage of your settlement or damage award for legal fees. If you do not win or settle your case, you will not owe any legal fees.
Ask the lawyer about the size of the contingent fee. Also, ask the lawyer about outside expenses. In many cases, the lawyer will incur costs like filing fees, court reporter fees, and expert witness fees. You should discuss who will pay those costs and when they will need to be paid.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Florida’s ethical rules require written contingent fee agreements. If you choose to hire a lawyer, you will sign the fee agreement and return it to their office. Your lawyer will also need permission to collect your medical records. You will sign a HIPAA release so the lawyer can talk to your doctors.
Your lawyer may also request copies of your timecards or wage statements to prove how much work you missed due to your injuries. You will provide this information to the lawyer, along with any other evidence, such as witness lists or photos of the accident scene.
To schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options after a personal injury, contact Shaked Law Firm. Call (305) 937-0191 or contact our Miami law offices online. We’ll learn about the facts of your case and help you to determine your best options to move forward.