It can be confusing to search for a personal injury lawyer in Tampa. You know you need to hire a personal injury attorney, but which attorney is right for you? How do you know you are choosing a personal injury lawyer to handle your case?
Whether your injuries were caused by medical malpractice, a car accident, or a slip and fall accident, hiring a personal injury attorney to work on your case is a crucial decision.
Fortunately, hiring the right attorney to handle your personal injury claim is not as complicated. Our injury attorneys at Catania & Catania Injury Lawyers provide the following guide to help you find the right Florida personal injury firm to represent you as you seek compensation for personal injury damages.
Table of Contents
1. Choose an Attorney With Experience in the Right Area of Law
Personal injury lawyers may handle a wide variety of injury claims or limit their practice to a few areas of law. Therefore, you want to choose a lawyer who has experience handling cases similar to your case.
For example, if you were injured in a boating accident, you want to choose a law firm that handles boating accident claims. Likewise, if you lost a family member because of nursing home abuse, you want a lawyer who routinely handles nursing home abuse cases.
A personal injury lawyer works to recover compensation for damages you sustained because of another party’s wrongful acts or negligence. Although the damages available in personal injury claims are the same, the laws may differ based on how the accident occurred.
Choosing a lawyer with substantial experience in the specific area of law means that the attorney is not using your case as a “learning” opportunity. Instead, the attorney is prepared and ready from the moment you hire the law firm.
2. Verify the Attorney is Licensed to Practice Law in Florida
Practicing law without a license is a crime in Florida. Therefore, you want to make sure that the lawyer you choose is licensed to practice law in Florida.
The quickest way to verify an attorney’s license is to do a name search with The Florida Bar. You can verify that the attorney’s law license is valid and they are in good standing. You can also view other information, such as when the attorney was admitted to practice in Florida and the law school the attorney attended.
3. Check for Complaints and Disciplinary Actions
When you search The Florida Bar to verify the attorney’s law license, you can view the 10-year disciplinary history. You can also request information about an attorney’s discipline record through the Attorney Consumer Assistance Program. Attorneys with a disciplinary record may not be the best choice to handle your case.
4. Consider the Law Firm’s Resources
You want to ensure that your lawyers have the resources necessary to handle your case. Access to medical experts, accident reconstructionists, and other expert witnesses may be essential for proving the other party is responsible for your injuries and damages. Knowing which doctors in the area provide medical treatment for accident victims is also helpful.
Also, some law firms have more manpower to handle cases. If the lawyers have been practicing in the area for many years, they also have connections with the court and understand how local courts and judges operate.
5. Pay Attention to Attorney Reviews by Past Clients and Peers
When you Google a law firm or a lawyer, you will see online reviews from peers and past clients. Both types of attorney reviews are important. You want to hire a personal injury lawyer who has an excellent reputation and is respected within the legal community.
However, you also want an attorney who will work to develop a close attorney-client relationship. Past client reviews provide insight into how a law firm treats its clients.
Facebook, Google, Yelp, and other review sites are excellent sources for client reviews. You may also want to check reviews through Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, and other lawyer review websites.
As you read reviews, you should narrow your list of potential attorneys. Three to five law firms or attorneys on a shortlist is manageable. A longer list makes it difficult to meet each potential lawyer in person to judge the attorney face-to-face.
6. Schedule a Free Consultation to Meet with an Attorney
Most personal injury attorneys in South Florida offer free consultations. An attorney will meet with you to discuss your personal injury case. In addition, some law firms use free online case evaluation forms to help personalize the consultation by choosing an attorney in the office who best fits your needs.
Our law firm has a simple online request for a consultation that allows you to describe your case. However, it is never a good idea to include personal information in an online form.
We always welcome calls to the office to speak with a knowledgeable member of our legal staff. You can also chat with a live assistant on our website if you prefer.
7. Prepare for Your Initial Consultation
During your initial consultation, we want to learn more about what happened to you. For example, how were you injured, and how are you doing now? We may ask many questions because we want to learn as much as possible to provide you with an honest assessment of your injury case.
You will also have the chance to ask us questions after discussing your case.
Some common and helpful questions:
- How many cases have you handled that are similar to my type of case?
- What can I expect if I hire your law firm?
- Do you have the time and resources to devote to my case?
- What is your track record for negotiating settlements and winning trials?
- Will you handle my case, or will someone else oversee my case?
- Do you know how much my case is worth?
- Who will I speak to if I have questions or concerns?
- What are your attorneys’ fees for handling your case?
- Do you believe you can achieve a successful outcome in my case?
- Who orders copies of my medical records and other documents?
Our lawyers believe in being upfront and honest with clients. Sadly, that means that we cannot always help someone with a case or that the answers to their questions may not be what they want to hear. However, we will always give you honest answers to all your questions.
8. Compare Attorneys and Make a Choice
After meeting with the law firms on your shortlist, review your options and choose an attorney to handle your personal injury. Keep in mind that you need to feel comfortable with the attorney so that you can communicate effectively.
You need to ensure you will have a good working relationship with your lawyer. Trust your instincts. If you have two or three names on your final list, do not hesitate to cross off a name if you have a “feeling” that something is just not right.
9. Retain the Law Firm by Signing a Contingency Fee Agreement
Contact the attorney you want to hire to schedule a time to retain the firm. The lawyer reviews the contingency fee agreement and retainer agreement. A contingency fee agreement means that you do not pay the attorney any fees until he recovers money for your claim.
Read the documents carefully. If you have questions about any section of the agreement, ask the lawyer for clarification. It benefits everyone when there are clear expectations regarding fees and services.
It is important to take the time to choose the right personal injury attorney for your case. However, the Florida statutes of limitations set deadlines for filing personal injury claims and lawsuits. Therefore, do not wait too long to hire a lawyer, or you could lose your right to file a claim for damages after an accident.