If you have been injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, it’s crucial that you find the best attorney to represent you for your personal injury claim. The odds of reaching a fair settlement or the court finding a verdict in your favor increase when you have a reputable quality lawyer in your corner. With numerous options for legal representation in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding areas, you might be overwhelmed. You can take the guesswork out of choosing a personal injury attorney by doing some easy research prior to meeting with a potential attorney. The following tips will help you significantly narrow your options and ensure that you hire the best Fort Lauderdale lawyer to assist you with your case.
The best lawyers get referrals from past clients. Talk to your family and friends to find out if they have ever hired a personal injury attorney, and ask them about their experience. If they speak highly of their lawyer, get contact information. If you have an already established relationship with another attorney for taxes, real estate, estate planning, or other areas, ask them to refer you to a colleague. When people that you care about and professionals who you hire refer you to an attorney, it indicates that your potential lawyer has a strong reputation among past clients and peers.
You might find client testimonials on a law firm’s website. These are useful, but they are biased to the extent that a firm is not going to publish a bad review or testimonial. For more objective client reviews with less bias, visit avvo.com and look up your potential lawyer on their site’s directory. Almost all practicing lawyers in the United States have a listing in avvo.com’s directory. You can look up personal injury attorneys in Florida and Fort Lauderdale, as well as by name, legal topic, and practice area. Each lawyer’s profile includes contact information, their practice area(s), and client reviews that rate an attorney between one and five stars.
The profile also displays an overall rating to give you a broader view of how past clients feel about a particular attorney. You can also find how long an attorney has been licensed, if they are currently in good standing with the state licensing authority, and if they have ever had disciplinary action taken against them. Avvo.com also assigns an overall score between one and ten that includes all aspects of a profile. The best Fort Lauderdale attorneys have an avvo.com score at the upper end of the scale.
If you don’t have a lot of time to do research about a potential lawyer, you should rely on what you read about peer reviews. A lawyer’s colleagues are not willing to put their neck on the line for another lawyer, unless he or she is the cream of the crop. Sometimes peer reviews are confidential and other times you can see a review from a specific colleague. In either case, positive peer reviews translate to a strong reputation and earned respect in the legal community. Avvo.com’s profiles offer peer endorsements, but some other trusted sources also offer peer evaluation in some form. Three of the most respected are:
Legitimate awards and accolades send signals to other attorneys and potential clients about the reputation of an attorney and/or law firm. The most prestigious awards are granted based on some type of peer evaluation or peer review process.
The best lawyers in Fort Lauderdale have often been recognized locally, statewide, or nationally. The most prestigious national awards for exceptional lawyers include Lawyer of the Year and Law Firm of the Year awards given by Best Lawyers, and awards from the National Law Journal and the American Bar Association (ABA). These coveted awards are reserved for the best of the best.
If your potential lawyer has been honored with any of these accolades, it is likely that you have one of the best. The best Fort Lauderdale attorneys might also receive awards from the Florida Bar Association. Their four main awards recognize lawyers for achievement and service and include the Medal of Honor, Goldstein Award, Doyal Award, and Curran Award.
Most personal injury law firms offer free consultations for prospective clients to share details about their case with a qualified attorney and determine their eligibility for compensation. Once you’ve done your homework and decided on an attorney who appears to be a good fit for your case, you need to schedule a consultation. Yes, you will be sharing information with the attorney to see if he or she wants to take your case, but a free consultation is also a chance for you to ask questions, especially referring to information you cannot find online. To ensure that you hire the best attorney, you need to ask questions about the firm’s service, the lawsuit process, and the lawyer’s individual record. The following three broad questions serve as a guideline for the types of things you need to ask during a free consultation:
This broad question encompasses many areas of your relationship with your attorney. Everyone wants impeccable customer service whether dining out, renting a car, staying at a hotel, or hiring a lawyer, but bad client service from a lawyer might affect the outcome of your case. If the attorney doesn’t offer specifics, you should ask them if they will be working on your case the entire time. Sometimes you meet with a lawyer and then they pass you off to a junior colleague and you also find they might not update you frequently or return phone calls. You should ask about phone call availability and how long it takes for a return call, as well as often you should expect an update on your case. If the answers aren’t to your satisfaction, you might have an attorney that provides poor service as a result of being spread too thin or pure laziness.
Every new attorney has to learn sometime, but it doesn’t mean you want them to represent you in a personal injury case. The best lawyers have some experience with negotiation, mediation, and litigation in the practice area relevant to your case, and they should know Florida Statutes that apply to your case forward and backward. During the initial consultation ask the lawyer for examples of cases like yours, including examples of settlement amounts and court-awarded damages. He or she cannot guarantee results in a particular case, but this will give you an idea of how your case might play out. You should also ask how many clients they have represented during their career.
You also want to get a sense of whether or not the attorney with whom you speaking remains active in the profession. Asking about how many cases a lawyer handles each year and the size of their current caseload will show the extent of continued involvement in the South Florida legal community. An active lawyer who regularly takes cases or works on a small amount of high-profile, high-stakes cases is walking the walk, so to speak. The best lawyers do not have to rely on past achievements to sell themselves to current potential clients.
Finally, you must get a sense of the attorney’s feelings about going to trial. You want an aggressive litigator with a proven track record in the courtroom. The vast majority of personal injury cases settle before going to trial, but the best attorneys are willing to fight it out in court when settlement isn’t an option. Sometimes the defense doesn’t make a fair settlement offer, they dispute the claim, or multiple parties create complexity making it difficult to settle. Regardless of the reason, you need to know that your attorney will diligently pursue the best outcome for your case, even if that means going to trial.
This broad question speaks to more pointed questions about strategy and process. When asking about strategy, you must address your potential lawyers resources and professional network. The best lawyers don’t rely on police reports and insurance adjusters to build their case for you; instead, they conduct their own investigation to uncover as much information that they can to support your case. In-house investigative teams might research your case, or your lawyer might outsource this job to a trusted third party.
In either situation, a thorough investigation costs money. You need to ask your potential attorney if the firm has the resources for an investigation or if they expect you to pay out-of-pocket. Firms with ample resources will give you the best chance of prevailing in your personal injury suit.
Your attorney’s professional network contacts are another crucial part of case strategy. Depending on the type of accident in which you were involved, the extent of your injuries, and the likelihood of more or continued medical treatment, your attorney will likely enlist the expertise of specialists. Examples include professionals who can help value your claim like life care planners and accident reconstruction specialists who can help determine liability in your case. If your injury is a result of medical malpractice, Florida law requires a notarized opinion about the viability of your case from a medical expert. The best attorneys have go-to people for these things because they have built a strong network throughout their career.
You should also ask your potential lawyer about any obstacles or challenges your case presents. The best lawyers are quick thinkers with strong problem-solving capabilities. They can anticipate potential problems before they cause damage to your case, giving you the best chances for success with your lawsuit.
Most personal injury law firms handle cases on a contingent fee basis, deducting attorney fees from any settlement or court-awarded damages that your lawyer secures for you. You should, however, ask about your attorney’s fee structure to make sure you understand how payment occurs. Any attorney who avoids discussing fees might have something to hide. The best attorneys will openly discuss their fee structure and how it applies to your case.
If you were injured because of another party’s negligence, you can join forces with the skilled legal team at Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP to hold the appropriate party liable. The firm’s well-respected and knowledgeable attorneys serve Aventura, Boca Raton, and Doral as well as Fort Lauderdale. Call Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or write to us online to schedule a free consultation today.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
100 SE 3rd Ave, 10th Floor
Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 33394