Deciding on a personal injury lawyer in Florida may seem like an overwhelming process, especially after dealing with the trauma of actually being injured. Most people don’t know what to look for in attorney nor do they know what qualities make a good attorney. They are bombarded with huge promises and bold claims, all with little understanding of what it all means.
While there are a number of reasons someone might file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida, the most common are the following:
- slip and falls
- workplace accidents
- medical malpractice
- car accidents
It’s especially helpful to have some understanding of the law regarding car accident claims.
Is Florida a No-Fault State?
You may have heard that Florida utilizes the “no-fault” insurance law. This is somewhat of a confusing way to say that, in the event of a car accident, injured drivers and occupants must first file with their own insurance. Because all Florida drivers must carry PIP insurance on their policy, it should be an easier process to seek medical care when compared to other states.
Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney in Florida
We have narrowed down some of the confusion to some simple and easy-to-remember factors to keep in mind if you need to hire a personal injury attorney in Florida.
Remember, the statute of limitations for personal injury in Florida is four years. This means that you only have four years from the time of your injury to file a lawsuit.
Don’t be afraid to ask your Florida lawyer all about their expertise and experience in handling cases similar to yours. A law degree is important, but actual on-the-job knowledge and courtroom experience can make or break a case. The experience will help an attorney decide how to proceed with your case, and whether or not they should try and take it to trial.
When hiring a personal injury attorney in Florida to represent you, be sure to choose someone to help guide you through the process rather than someone who is “learning as they go”. Spend time shopping around and doing your research to pinpoint a lawyer who specializes in your exact needs. Those who have been in situations similar to yours before are most likely to help you earn the highest compensation.
In addition, spend time asking about the attorney’s trial experience. While your case probably won’t need to go to trial, the possibility is still there, and you want to hire someone who has done it all before. Remember, your lawyer is going to act as a powerful liaison between you and insurance company attorneys, so it’s important for them to know how to file the proper paperwork to help you get the outcome you desire.
2. Costs and Fees
While some lawyers may require upfront payment, most personal injury attorneys in Florida work on a contingency fee, meaning that they don’t get paid until you do. This also means that they won’t get paid if you lose your case, which motivates them to get the most out of your settlement.
Before deciding who to hire, make sure to ask how they expect to be paid. If your potential attorney works on a contingency fee, you will both have to agree on a percentage beforehand. Most contingency fee attorneys take 33.33% if the case settles outside of court, and 40% if it goes to trial.
If your personal injury lawsuit does go to court, costs, and fees associated with that process are much different than cases settled outside of the court system. “Litigation”, or the process of taking a case to court, can be a costly one. Filing fees, expert witness payment, administrative costs, and miscellaneous expenses are all to be expected in a case that makes its way to the courts. Discuss these costs, and how they will be paid, should you lose your case. Medical malpractice suits in particular can be quite a costly upfront. It’s important to ensure that your lawyer can handle these costs.
3. Personality and Communication Skills
Settling a personal injury lawsuit is not a fast process. It can take several weeks, months, and even years to finally reach the end of your case, so your attorney’s personality needs to mesh well with yours. You’re not looking for a best friend, but you are going to have an extended relationship with this person. You will also be expected to share personal and private information with this person, so it’s important for you to feel safe and comfortable around and with them. Look for an attorney who possesses desirable characteristics, like integrity, reliability, and good communication.
Ask your potential attorney how often they will be reaching out to you regarding case updates, and how they plan to contact you. You want your lawyer to prioritize communication with you on your case so you’re not learning about case events at the very last minute or feeling left out of the loop.
4. Reviews and Reputation
A lawyer’s reputation is possibly one of the most valuable assets they have, with former clients holding incredible amounts of insight into the way they operate. An attorney can tell a potential client whatever they want to hear, but they can’t do much about their existing reputation. Consider asking around your community for reputable attorneys, identify a local attorney referral service, or use an online database to find top-rated attorneys.
In the age of Google and Yelp, people love leaving online reviews after working with attorneys, so you might even be able to find your potential lawyer online to see what previous clients have to say about working with them. Top-rated attorneys tend to have a high work ethic and five-star personalities.
It is very easy to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and even angry at the necessity of hiring an attorney after you’ve been injured. All of these feelings are natural and normal, but you can feel empowered by the process as well. When you walk into an initial consultation feeling informed and prepared, you are significantly more likely to have a good experience and get the most out of your personal injury lawsuit.
Your injury may not necessarily be your fault, but with the right attorney, you can feel some sense of wholeness again. Do your research, ask questions, and don’t be afraid of being picky. This is your case and your decision, and it’s only right to hire the best person for you.