Engaging the best attorney for your case
When you hire a personal injury attorney, you might not realize that sometimes you’re hiring him for years on end. So you’d better like him, because he’s sticking around for a while. (Why do we say “him”?)
Some personal injury cases can take years to resolve, while others can be wrapped up in months. Either way, you want to be comfortable with your counsel. You want to be assured that he or she knows what’s best for you, what deadlines need to be hit, what defenses should be raised and what tactics should be taken. You want someone else to take the steering wheel.
So what’s the best way for you to find the perfect lawyer for you, especially in a state as big as Florida?
Finding your attorney
- Ask friends and family: Chances are that someone you know has had to deal with a lawyer before. They’ll have someone that they like and recommend, or they’ll have someone that you should definitely avoid. Either way, it’ll be a way to narrow down your list.Ask around your social circle and use that information as a way to start networking. You want to shop around a bit, because only sitting down with one lawyer is like only test-driving one car. You’ll want to get a range of personalities and see who you gel with.
- Research different attorneys online: The Internet is your friend. Not only does Enjuris offer a directory of Florida attorneys, but sites like Avvo and Lawyers.com have listings of attorneys in your area. They list themselves by skill area and accolades, so you can see exactly what you need.
- Past client reviews: These are always a great indicator of what a practice is like. Try to find as many as you can on as many different websites as possible. If there are articles from magazines and trade publications available, see if you can track those down as well.
- Find out their training and expertise: If you can’t find this out online, ask them on the phone or in person. Here are some sample questions you might consider, and here are some more for you to think about:
- How long have you been in practice?
- What areas do you spend the most time practicing in? Construction? Car accidents? Medical or pharmaceutical cases?
- Do you go to trial often?
- What is your settlement rate?
- Will you be handling my case from start to finish, or will an associate be handling it?
- What are your rates and how do you expect to be paid (hourly or contingency)?
- Ask what your expected role in the case will be: Some lawyers don’t want the plaintiff to be involved at all, while others expect the plaintiff to have a phone call every other week to touch base and review facts. Every lawyer is different and has varied expectations. Also consider what you want your role to be. Are you a person who likes to be in the mix, or do you want to throw the file at your lawyer and be done with it?
- Check the state bar association website: You will want to see whether this attorney has any past disciplinary problems or ethical issues pending against him. See how to check a lawyer in Florida.
- What is the firm like? Is it small and agile, or is it large and faceless? Who will be handling your case? Talk with them on the phone or visit them in person. See if you are comfortable and if you like their staff. You will be dealing with the paralegals and associates a lot.
- Ask how disagreements are handled: If you and the attorney disagree on a settlement offer, for instance, what would happen?
If you can get through all of that, then you should be able to find a very good attorney to help you with a personal injury case in Florida. Here is a list of documents that you should bring with you for your first meeting; after that, your lawyer will tell you exactly what he or she needs you to do.
Finding a lawyer is like matchmaking and can take as much time to get right. If you are still having trouble, consider taking a look at the Enjuris law firm directory.
It’s not always easy to find a lawyer who can take on your case
There are many reasons why attorneys may not be able to take on your case. If you don’t make much headway, try picking up the phone instead of submitting via web forms. You may get answers a lot faster.
Why Might a Personal Injury Lawyer Decline My Case?
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More resources on finding and hiring the right attorney
- What does a personal injury lawyer do?
- When do you NOT need an attorney after an accident?
- Negotiating lawyers’ fees - how do accident lawyers charge? Are there any hidden costs?
- Reasons a personal injury attorney may not take on your case
- Switching attorneys in the middle of a case