Choosing the right personal injury attorney for you might seem daunting at first. It might be challenging to sift through all of the lawyer marketing and advertising to find out facts from fiction. But, if you have been injured in an accident and are looking to hire a lawyer, countless others have been in your shoes before. This article is written to help you to avoid making mistakes when selecting a lawyer.
At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we realize the difficult position that you may find yourself in after an accident. You are injured, you might not have the use of your vehicle, and maybe you can’t work. These factors put a great amount of stress on you and your family. When you add in the calls from the insurance company, you might think that you will never have time to find the right personal injury attorney. However, there are several steps and tips that you can do to ease the process. The hiring of a lawyer is perhaps the most important decision that you can make after an accident, so the better your choice, the better the odds that you will have a better experience.
Pick a Specialist
If you were looking for a doctor for a heart condition, would you go to a cardiologist or a family care doctor? You would pick the specialist, right? The same goes for lawyers. In St. Petersburg there are so many lawyers that are willing to take your case that have no idea what they are doing. Many of their clients eventually realize their mistake and then come to us for help. But, often their cases have been mismanaged, and that it is tough to fix. A personal injury specialist will hopefully avoid the mistakes that an inexperienced lawyer would make on your claim. Therefore, in every case, I recommend that you hire a specialist. And, that rule applies regardless of whether you have used a lawyer for another matter in the past. Just because you know the lawyer from church and he is honest does not mean that he knows how to handle a personal injury claim properly.
Do Your Research
If you already know a lawyer, great. If you get a referral to one or two people, great. But, you should still research them. It is very simple to Google the lawyer and look at his or her website. Read the reviews on the lawyer and see if they match your situation. I also recommend looking at some independent lawyer ranking sites. Sites like Martindale.com, avvo.com, superlawyers.com, bestlawyers.com, etc. can all be useful tools to help you rate and judge the lawyer.
I am often told by new clients that they received a list of a few lawyers that could help. Maybe they got the list from their doctor or even another lawyer. And, without fail, clients tell me that they chose me because they did their research on the list of lawyers and liked what they read about me the best.
Meet With a Lawyer, Not a Paralegal
The biggest complaint that people make is that their lawyer does not communicate with them. If you have hired a personal injury lawyer and never met him, you really can’t complain about lack of communication. It never ceases to amaze me how people can hire lawyers when they never speak or meet them. I even recently had a law firm in south Florida text a client a contract. Needless to say, if you have never talked to a lawyer before signing the contracts to hire him, then you cannot expect that he is going to be involved in your case. So, doesn’t that mean that you just agreed to pay ⅓ of your money to a paralegal?
At my law firm, we meet with every client. In most situations, we will have received an incoming call or email and then set up an appointment. While we have the ability to email our contracts, we want to meet and interview our clients because it allows us to understand the case better. It also helps the client better understand how we manage files and what to expect in the claim. If you want to reduce the risk that you will be treated like a number and your file will not be handled by an actual lawyer, then insist on meeting your lawyer. It really isn’t an unreasonable request and if the lawyer won’t meet you, don’t hire someone who will.
Go Over the Contract With the Lawyer
In every contingent fee arrangement to recover money for a client because of bodily injury, The Florida Bar requires a written contract and for the lawyer to go over and have you sign a Statement of Clients’ Rights form. These documents are important for the client to understand because they lay out the terms of the contract that they will be responsible to comply with. While most of these contracts are similar, I hear from many clients that their prior lawyer never went over it with them and they simply signed. Again, going over a binding legal contract is not the job of a paralegal. No matter how well trained a paralegal is, they shouldn’t be involved in the signing of the contract between you and your lawyer. Explaining the contract and answering your questions is the job of a lawyer. If the lawyer doesn’t perform that duty with you, then that is a red flag.
Ask Questions About Your Case
As the client, you have a lot of control of your case if you want it. And, you should understand why your lawyer is suggesting that you do certain things. I recommend to every client to ask questions about the case during the initial meeting and thereafter. I like my clients to email me any follow-up questions that they have because it is easier for me to research the issue and get back with them that way. But, the phone is fine too. I understand that the initial meeting can be filled with information, so people inevitably do not process it all. I find that the more questions that are asked and answered, the better the communication and trust is between the lawyer and the client. You are paying ⅓ of your money to the lawyer, so don’t feel bad about asking questions.
Contact the Best St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys
At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we specialize in all personal injury accident claims. We believe that our experience, resources, reputation and results are unmatched in the area. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and are looking for representation, please contact us for a free consultation.