Finding the Right Attorney for You
Having the right attorney can be the difference between securing a settlement or suffering under the weight of medical bills and lost wages following an accident. Whether you were involved in a car crash, suffered a slip and fall, or were involved in any other form of accident, choosing the right personal injury lawyer is a critical decision. However, choosing a personal injury lawyer does not need to be as complex as you may think. At Weinstein Legal, our trusted personal injury attorneys have connected with countless clients in need of legal representation. Now, we want to help you, by providing our complete guide to hiring a personal injury lawyer that is right for you.
1. Determine the Area of Law You Need an Expert InIf you don’t know where to start when looking for an attorney, you’re not alone. To begin, figure out the broad area of law that you need an expert in. If you’ve been injured in an accident that was either not your fault, or you were not fully responsible for, you’ll be looking for a trusted personal injury lawyer. In this case, you’ve come to the right place! Personal injury lawyers fight for clients’ rights to recover damages they sustained in accidents caused by negligent individuals. This can be auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and more. Focus on finding an attorney that has extensive experience in the practice area that you need. For instance, if you sustained injuries in a car crash, look for an experienced car crash attorney.
2. Search for Legitimate, Licensed AttorneysNext, you’ll want to search for legitimate, licensed attorneys in your area. Refrain from typing in something like “car accident lawyer” into Google. While this might turn up qualified attorneys in your area, you’ll also get a flurry of paid results for lawyers that might not have the best skill set, but had the best budget to advertise. Instead, you’ll want to consider a lawyer’s experience. Search within the Florida state bar’s association, or search professional organizations based on the specialty you need. Look at the minimum requirements for inclusion into whichever professional organizations they belong to, and check to see if they are board certified in the practice area that applies to your situation. This can also provide key insights into judicial connections. Participation in local bar associations or contributing to campaigns is an indicator that the attorney is very involved in the local legal culture.
3. Look Out for a Discipline HistoryYou want an attorney with a clean track record. The easiest way to find one? The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation operates the Attorney Consumer Assistance Program, which administers a statewide disciplinary system. To search public record information regarding any Florida Bar attorney, visit the Florida Bar website. If you stumble across an attorney with a discipline history, you might want to steer clear. Being noted means that the attorney in question “has received a professional discipline for violating the rules,” by the Florida Bar.
4. Scope out Size and ResourcesFirm age, size, experience, and connections with doctors and medical expert witnesses relevant to your case are all important in a personal injury case. But, don’t be quick to eliminate small firms. While larger firms may have frequent advertising on billboards or radio spots, they will also most likely have larger price tags to meet their costs, and you may receive less personal attention to your case. Look for firms with a collection of reviews, connections, and referrals from other lawyers in the area.
5. Review Past Client ReviewsThink of client reviews as a chance to test drive an attorney before committing to scheduling a consultation. Past client reviews are an opportunity to get a feel of how personable the attorney is – did his or her past clients recommend him? Did they have an issue coming to agreements on key aspects of the case? Again, the attorney-client relationship is a personal one. Past clients should have felt comfortable with the attorney, and felt reassured and confident in their skills. Past client reviews will also provide insight into an attorney’s negotiation ability and experience with your type of case. Remember that online reviews are the new word of mouth. You can get a great sense of an attorney based on Facebook, directories, and lawyer-matching services like Avvo. At this point, it would be in your best judgement to narrow down your possible options to 3-5 attorneys. From here, you can look at each attorney more closely, getting a better feel of them individually and on a first-person basis.
6. Call the Office to Schedule a ConsultationWhile you can find a decent amount of information about an attorney online, many questions will need to be asked in person or via the phone. We recommend that you call the attorneys you’ve selected to set up an appointment. Likewise, most attorneys offer a free case evaluation form, such as the one on the right-hand side of your screen. These forms can be incredibly beneficial when you’re looking for an expert opinion on a case. Simply input your name, email address, phone number, and key details about your case. As opposed to needing to pick up a phone yourself, free case evaluation forms are a request for the attorney’s office to call you. Plus, when the office calls they’ll already know the key facts of your case, such as if you were harmed in an auto accident or suffered a slip and fall. The outcome of these forms is the same as if you placed the call yourself: an appointment is set for a free consultation. With the most basic details out of the way, you can focus on other deciding factors, such as if the receptionist on the line made you feel welcomed or if you felt comfortable discussing your case with them.
7. Come Prepared with QuestionsPersonal injury attorneys at Weinstein Legal, will typically provide a free consultation to discuss the details of your claim. During the consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions that can help you decide if you would like to move forward, or if you should check out the other attorneys on your list. You’ll most likely begin your consultation by discussing your claim: the main reason you’re even in the attorney’s office in the first place.
However, use the rest of your time to ask some of these top consultation questions:
- Have you tried these types of personal injury cases before?
- Have you tried or settled similar cases in my city or county?
- Do you have the time necessary to actually work on my case right now?
- If not you, who will be responsible for my case?
- How will you let me know what is happening in my case?
- What is your negotiation history? Do you think we will need to go to trial?
- What is your comfort going to trial? Do we have other options?
- What will my participation in the claim be?
- What is your contingency fee and costs? Will I be responsible for any advanced costs if we lose?
- What do you believe is the likely outcome of my case?