IS MY PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER RIGHT FOR ME?
When life throws you an unexpected turn, hiring the right lawyer to protect you could make a huge difference. Do your own research on both the lawyer and the law firm to ensure the lawyer you pick is the best lawyer for your needs. While there is no formula to ensure you hire the right lawyer, below are a few things to consider when making this important decision.
Many lawyers and law firms claim to be trial lawyers. Many of them have not seen the inside of a courtroom or tried a case to a jury. In the industry, most lawyers know who the skilled trial lawyers are and who are not. Many lawyers do not have real experience or are not adequately prepared to handle a civil jury trial. Experience matters and can be the difference in the success of your case.
History and Results
The internet has changed what information is readily accessible to all, including information available about lawyers and law firms. Most firms have a website and/or a social media presence that outlines the firm’s tradition, history and results. Analyze these carefully, and look for a firm that has a long history of consistently obtaining good results for their clients. Keep in mind that assessing “good” results is not as simple as looking at the dollar amount.
Compare the facts of similar settlements across multiple law firms to see if the prospective firm consistently handles the types of cases that you need. A good lawyer can maximize the value of your case based on your case’s unique facts.
Financial Stability and Attention
Ask questions about the financial stability of the prospective firm to ensure that the law firm is financially capable of funding your claim (if the law firm is responsible for funding it). Litigating a case can be extremely expensive. It is not uncommon that a single case may require in excess of $100,000 to properly prepare it for trial. You only have one opportunity to have a jury hear your claim, and you do not want a jury to only hear part of it because your lawyer cannot afford to fund it properly.
Many people think that the size of the law firm equates to the firm’s financial stability. While size is one thing to consider, frequently with large size comes the loss of personal attention to your case that it deserves and requires to be successful. Conversely, a solo practitioner or a small firm may be able to give you all of the attention your claim needs, but may not have the experience or financial stability to properly prepare it. Neither does your claim justice. Pick a law firm that you feel comfortably can do both for you — provide attention and financial stability.
Take Advantage of Free Consultations
Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations to discuss your potential claim. Take advantage of this, and insist on meeting with the lawyer that will be handling your claim. Too often clients meet a runner who is not a lawyer, or meet their lawyer on the eve of a deposition, mediation, or even trial. Ask the lawyer about his training, education, experience, and trial experience if your matter may require litigation. Don’t just take the lawyer’s word for it, but compare what you hear during the consultation with all of the other available resources. This will help you assess the honesty and credibility of your prospective lawyer.
Read Online Reviews
There are multiple online sites that past clients can rate the attorney and/or firm, such as Google, Facebook, Lawyers.com and Avvo.com. Read these reviews carefully, but understand that some bad reviews are not a result of poor representation. Don’t be afraid to ask the potential lawyer about negative reviews.
Use the Florida Bar’s Website
All attorneys in Florida are members of the Florida Bar, and its website has an abundance of information about every lawyer in the state. Make sure to search your prospective lawyer’s name through their database to ensure that lawyer is in good standing and has no disciplinary actions taken against him or her. You can also see which lawyers are board-certified, what his or her practice specialty is, and even what languages he or she speaks. Understanding your prospective lawyer’s specialty is important because you want to hire a lawyer that is an expert in the issues that matter to your claim.
While there are no guarantees in law, picking the wrong lawyer can result in you receiving only partial justice. Do your homework before choosing one because this person is your advocate. It is important to find a lawyer that has the knowledge, experience and financial capabilities to ensure your only day in court is your best day.
By: Scott Alpizar
Scott Alpizar is a trial attorney with the law firm of Alpizar Law, LLC and practices in the area of auto accidents, personal injury, trucking accidents and wrongful death.