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 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 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 In
If 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 weren't fully responsible, 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 who 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 Attorneys
Next, 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 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 History
You 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 Resources
Firm 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 reviews, connections, and referrals from other lawyers in the area.
5. Review Past Client Reviews
Think 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 agreeing 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 Consultation
While 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 Questions
Personal 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.
- 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?
8. Rate Your Comfort
Above all, be sure to take note of your comfort with the attorney while you discuss claim details and he or she answers your questions. If you sense hesitation or doubt their truthfulness, trust your gut and move on. If you feel you can easily collaborate and trust in the attorney, this is a good indicator that you have met your match.
Remember, the success of your case will not just rest with how skilled your attorney is, but also how well you two work with one another. Comfort is key to a successful relationship.
9. Review Your Options
Once you’ve met with the attorneys that remained on your list, take the time to review your choices. While you won’t want to spend the next month weighing your options, it would benefit you to at least sleep on the decision.
Consider what you’ve learned in your initial consultation. Does the attorney have experience in the specialty you need? Are you comfortable with their track record? What about their past client reviews? Take all you’ve learned into account before making any decisions.
10. Sign a Contingency Fee Agreement
Congratulations! Bearing in mind all of the information you’ve learned, you should be ready to hire an attorney. Your next step will be to sign a contingency fee agreement with your attorney of choice, which will outline the terms of your working relationship as well as any fees.
At the end of the day, you want the best possible chances of receiving compensation for your injuries. Those chances come when you work with a lawyer who is dependable, honest, and determined to fight for your rights. At Weinstein Legal, our dedicated attorneys are vigilant in their pursuit of compensation for our clients, and always keep an open channel of communication.
If you’re on the hunt for a new attorney, bear in mind these tips before making any decisions. Contact Weinstein Legal to set up your free consultation today.