Sustaining a serious injury brings emotional and financial stress to victims, in addition to the physical pain of the injury and recovery. Florida law entitles you to sue for damages when another party’s actions caused your injuries, but the success of your lawsuit is only as good as the lawyer you choose to represent you. Hiring the best lawyer maximizes the likelihood that you might recover some or all of your damages after an injury. Yet, choosing a lawyer isn’t as easy as a quick internet search. You need to do your homework to ensure that you have the best representation.
Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. This is your opportunity to ask questions and interview a potential lawyer to make sure he or she is a good fit. Before you schedule a consultation, you need to do some legwork. Below includes some guidance on your initial search for an attorney, followed by important questions that you should ask during your initial consultation.
Before Scheduling a Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney
You can learn a lot about a potential lawyer prior to meeting them in person. In addition to checking out trusted websites that provide biographies, client reviews, and peer reviews, you can also ask others for a referral, and find out about an attorney’s awards, accolades, and community activities.
Ask Your Contacts for a Referral
Begin your search for the best lawyer by reaching out to family, close friends, and professional contacts. Extended family members and close friends who have been injured and needed legal representation can share their experience with their lawyer with you. If you have a relationship with a tax attorney, an estate planning attorney, or lawyer in another practice area, ask them for a referral to a colleague who specializes in personal injury cases. When your trusted family and friends or a colleague refer you to a lawyer, it serves as an indication of a lawyer’s standing among clients and peers. The best lawyers have a strong reputation causing past clients and peers to refer them to others.
Read Client Reviews of the Attorney
You can find client reviews of a particular lawyer in several places online. Some law firms publish client testimonials on their website. These offer additional information for you, but you will only see good reviews. For unbiased or less biased reviews, look up any potential lawyer on avvo.com. This site has a directory of more than 90 percent of practicing lawyers in the United States. You can look up lawyers in Florida and in Boca Raton, as well as by name, practice area, and legal topic. Each attorney profile on avvo.com lists contact information, practice area, and client reviews. Each client review includes a rating between one and five stars.
The profile also shows an aggregate rating to provide an overall view of the lawyer. Avvo.com also includes a lawyer’s years of experience and information about any disciplinary actions taken against them by the state licensing authority. The site takes all of this information into account and assigns a score to each lawyer between one and ten. You shouldn’t depend on one particular piece of information from avvo.com. Instead, look at everything a profile has to offer to find the best lawyers in Boca Raton.
Read Lawyer Peer Reviews
If you have limited time to investigate the best lawyers, depending on peer reviews will be your best bet. Attorney profiles on avvo.com provide peer endorsements, but you should look at some of the other sources that speak to a potential lawyer’s reputation in the broad legal community and in their respective practice area. The following three respected websites offer in depth peer reviews of attorneys:
- The Best Lawyers in America is another registry of lawyers. The company’s yearly list includes attorneys from 57 different practice areas who have been chosen by their peers. Inclusion on their list rests completely on the peer-review process. Attorneys nominate those who they think are worthy to appear on ballots for voters who participate in a confidential evaluation of their peers. One a lawyer has been included on a Best Lawyers list, they are automatically nominated for the next award cycle. Listed lawyers participate in the peer review process.
- Martindale-Hubbell is the parent company of avvo.com. They have a registry of more than a million lawyers in the United States. Each profile has a biography, contact information, and peer reviews. Martindale-Hubbell recognizes those who have been rated with a high level of professional excellence by their peers with an AV designation on their profile.
- Super Lawyers is an elite designation reserved for only five percent of practicing attorneys from each state. The final list includes exceptional lawyers from 70 practice areas. Super Lawyers chooses attorneys for designation based on peer nominations and evaluations of those who continually demonstrate excellence in their practice area. Independent research about a firm and lawyers also informs their rating system.
Research Awards Given to Attorneys and Their Firms
The legal community remains big on recognition, but not every attorney who practices gets recognized. Often, the best lawyers have been recognized by their local community, by the state, and/or nationally. Prestigious national awards that highlight excellent attorneys include the “Lawyer of the Year” and “Law Firm of the Year” designation by Best Lawyers. You can also consider the previously mentioned Super Lawyer designation as an award of sorts. With only five percent of lawyers in each state receiving the designation, making the list is an accolade as much as a place to look at peer reviews. National awards from the National Law Journal and the American Bar Association (ABA) remain some of the most coveted awards within the legal community among all practice areas.
The Florida Bar Association also awards some prestigious awards to attorneys who practice in the state. Their four major awards include the Medal of Honor, the Goldstein Award, the Doyal Award, and the Curran Award. Florida Bar Association Awards recognize excellence as well as service. These awards all depend on some type of peer reviews. Whether a national or local award, if your potential attorney has received any of these awards, you are considering one of the best lawyers in Boca Raton.
During the Free Consultation
Once you’ve done your due diligence and have narrowed your choice of attorneys, your next step to hiring the best Boca Raton attorney is to schedule a consultation. Most law firms provide free consultations for potential clients to discuss their cases with an attorney experienced in the applicable practice area. This initial meeting not only gives your potential attorney the opportunity to review your case, but also provides the chance for you to ask questions about your case, the firm’s service, the lawsuit process, and the lawyer’s personal record.
As you ask questions during the consultation, you will be able to ascertain whether your potential lawyer is currently active. Lawyers that rely solely on past accomplishments might be rusty and provide service that is less than you deserve. Getting as many answers as possible to the following questions will help you determine if the attorney with whom you are meeting is a good fit:
Client Service Related Questions for Lawyers
- Will you be working on my case through the whole lawsuit, or will you pass it off to junior associates? The best lawyers offer personalized attention and don’t pass their clients off to junior associates. You should expect to talk to a secretary or paralegal on occasion for mundane things, but the majority of communication should be with the attorney who you hired to represent you.
- How long on average does it take for you to return a phone call from a client? If an attorney is not willing to guarantee a return call within 24-hours, he or she might be spread too thin or have little focus on client service.
- How often can I expect an update about my case? It’s difficult to put an exact time on updates. Each case is different and some things take longer than others. You should, however, expect that your attorney will update you anytime any major event happens, such as a settlement offer, a new witness, or new information arrives. Beyond that, your attorney should be able to give you a rough time frame before your next conversation. For example, “I have countered the settlement offer on your behalf. I will let you know as soon as I hear anything. It could take a day or two, or it might take a couple of weeks.” For many clients, not knowing what is going on with their case leads to additional stress. Make sure your attorney is a good communicator.
- Are you available via phone or email for questions or concerns I might have? Sometimes you might have a question or concern, or you feel you need an update. When you call or email your attorney, you should expect that they will be available for you ASAP.
Lawyer Experience Related Questions
- Can you offer some examples of cases like mine? Knowing that your attorney has experience representing clients who have suffered the same or similar injuries will help put you at ease. Additionally, an experienced lawyer knows all angles of the Florida Statutes related to your case and how to best apply them during settlement negotiations and litigation.
- Can you share some examples of past settlement and verdict amounts? Your prospective attorney cannot guarantee results in any case because each situation differs. Yet, he or she should be able to share past verdicts and settlements in cases like yours. This demonstrates experience and success and also gives you a ballpark idea of what you might expect for compensation.
- How many cases have you handled during your career? This is a broad question that allows you to learn about an attorney’s past experience.
- How many cases do you handle on average each year? The answer to this question will indicate whether or not your attorney stays busy. The best lawyers have large caseloads or work on a few high-stake cases.
- What is your current caseload? You want an attorney who is active, but you also want one who has time to dedicate to your case. If an attorney has too much going on, it will affect client service and might affect the outcome of your case.
- How many cases have you fought in the courtroom? The vast majority of personal injury cases settle without going to court, but sometimes litigation is necessary. You want an attorney who has experience and a proven track record in the courtroom in the event that your case must go to trial.
Case Related Questions
- If you cannot reach a settlement with my case, are you willing to go to trial? When the defense doesn’t want to offer full and fair compensation, they dispute the claim, or multiple parties muddy the waters, your lawyer will have to go to trial with your case. Some personal injury attorneys are afraid of the courtroom or pride themselves on always settling out of court. You want an aggressive litigator to represent you who doesn’t fear entering a courtroom if necessary.
- What types of damages apply to my case? Broadly speaking damages in a personal injury suit include medical treatment, lost wages, and non-economic costs. Specifics differ among cases, so make sure to ask a potential attorney about the types of damages that you might be able to recover and what kind of documentation you might need to provide.
- What is your strategy for my case? The strategy that your attorney uses for your case will differ based on circumstances such as the specific kind of accident you were involved in, the extent of your injuries, the need for future medical treatment, whether you have preexisting conditions, and the extent to which you contributed to your accident and injury. Your attorney should have a rough game plan for how your case will proceed and the ways in which he or she will advocate for you.
- What are some potential challenges and obstacles for my case? Some cases are easier than others, but most have at least one challenge or obstacle. The best lawyers can pick out potential difficulties and anticipate problems before they arise, giving you the best chances for a positive outcome in your personal injury lawsuit.
Hire a Skilled Boca Raton Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you have been injured because of another party’s negligence or intent to harm, the skilled legal team at Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP is here to help you through the aftermath of your injury. The firm’s award-winning attorneys serve Aventura, Doral, and Fort Lauderdale, in addition to Boca Raton. Call Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or email us to schedule a free consultation today.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
301 Yamato Road, Suite 1240
Boca Raton, FL, 33431