If you have suffered injuries due to another party’s intentional harm or negligence, Florida law permits you to seek compensation for damages through a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Your success in recovering losses depends largely on the quality of the attorney you choose to represent you. Hiring the best attorney increases your chances of recovering some or all of your damages after an injury, but finding the right attorney requires some effort on your part.
Most personal injury firms offer free consultations to discuss the details of your case with a qualified attorney. Use this opportunity to ask questions of your potential lawyer and to ensure that you have chosen the best litigator to represent you. Before scheduling a consultation, take some time to learn more about the attorney with whom you’ve scheduled your consultation. First, we provide the following tips to consider when researching your potential lawyer. Second, we provide useful questions to ask at your first meeting.
Take time to narrow down your search for the best attorney and to learn as much as possible about those whom you are considering prior to meeting with them. You can find information on trusted websites, many of which provide biographies, client feedback, and peer evaluations. You can also ask for a referral and research an attorney’s honors, awards, and community involvement.
Ask for a Referral
Reach out to your contacts for a referral to a personal injury attorney. Your close friends and family members might have had experience with a lawsuit and can speak candidly with you about their experience with their lawyer. Also, draw on already established relationships with other lawyers and professionals. For example, your accountant, tax attorney, real estate attorney, and estate planning attorney all are likely able to refer you to a reputable personal injury lawyer. When your close contacts give you a referral, it signals that a lawyer has a strong reputation in the community. The best lawyers receive referrals from others on a regular basis.
Research Client Reviews
A quick internet search will give you information on several personal injury attorneys in the New Port Richey area. However, to narrow down your search to the best lawyers, you need to seek unbiased and objective client reviews. You can read testimonials on a firm’s website, but you should expect to only find positive information there. Visit avvo.com to look up lawyers with whom you might want to meet. Avvo.com maintains a directory of more than 90 percent of licensed lawyers in the United States. Each lawyer’s profile includes contact information, practice areas, and client reviews that rate attorneys on a scale of one to five stars.
You can also view the average client star rating to give you a feel for an attorney’s overall level of client satisfaction. Lawyer profiles on avvo.com also include other important details, such as how many years an attorney has been practicing, his or her standing with Florida’s legal licensing authority, and any disciplinary actions that he or she has incurred. The company takes into account all of the information about a particular lawyer and assigns him or her a score of between 1 and 10; the best lawyers have scores close to 10.
Research Peer Reviews
Peer reviews are the best indication of a good attorney, particularly if you are short on time for research. Avvo.com profiles display peer endorsements, but some other reputable sources also indicate a lawyer’s reputation and standing in the legal community. The following trusted websites provide peer reviews:
- Martindale-Hubbell owns avvo.com and offers some similar information on its website. Its registry provides biographical, contact, and peer review information for more than one million lawyers across the United States. Martindale-Hubbell highlights lawyers whose peers have given them high ratings of professional excellence by displaying an AV designation on their attorney profiles.
- The Best Lawyers in America is famous for its yearly list that includes lawyers from almost 60 practice areas, all of whom have been chosen by their peers to be included on the list. This list serves as a registry of the nation’s best lawyers, who nominate others for recognition on future lists and participate in a confidential peer review process. After Best Lawyers has included an attorney on its list, he or she is automatically nominated for the next year’s list.
- Super Lawyers is an excellent way to narrow your search down to Florida’s best attorneys. The company maintains a list of outstanding attorneys from 70 practice areas and chooses lawyers for the elite list based on peer nominations and reviews. Super Lawyers uses independent research about a firm and its lawyers to create the list, which only includes the top five percent of lawyers nationwide.
Read About Awards
The best lawyers have usually been recognized with awards and accolades by national, state, and/or local organizations. Best Lawyers recognizes excellent attorneys with its “Lawyer of the Year” and “Law Firm of the Year” awards. The rarity of a Super Lawyers designation also makes it a significant honor for those who are included on the list. Other national awards include recognition from the National Law Journal or the American Bar Association.
The Florida Bar Association also recognizes excellence and outstanding service in Florida attorneys with four different awards: the Medal of Honor, Curran Award, Goldstein Award, and Doyal Award. If your potential personal injury lawyer has received one or more of these local, state, or national awards, you are likely considering one of the best attorneys in New Port Richey.
Questions During Your Consultation
After taking some time to research potential attorneys, you should try to narrow down your list to one or two of the best New Port Richey lawyers. Your next step should be to schedule a free consultation with your finalist(s). Most lawyers offer free consultations so that you can discuss your case with a qualified attorney prior to making a decision regarding whom to retain. Your initial consultation not only serves as an opportunity for a lawyer to evaluate your case, but also for you to determine if he or she is a good fit.
Use this meeting to ask more in-depth questions about things that you couldn’t find information for online, such as a lawyer’s service philosophy, personal record, and specific experience with cases like yours.
One key characteristic that separates the best lawyers from the rest is their activity. You want an attorney who is currently active in the legal community and not relying on past accomplishments to gain clients. Below we provide some important questions that you should ask during your initial consultation to ensure that you’re working with the best New Port Richey lawyer.
Questions About Client Service
Who will primarily work on my case? Sometimes you meet with one lawyer, discuss your case and strategy, and decide to hire him or her. The next thing you know, your case has been passed off to a junior associate. The best lawyers offer personalized service. You may have to communicate with an assistant or paralegal on occasion for inconsequential items, but you want to communicate with the attorney who you hired for important questions regarding your case.
Are you available by phone most of the day, and do you return phone calls in a reasonable amount of time? Few lawyers will admit that they won’t return your phone calls quickly or that they are often unavailable, but their answer to this question sets your level of expectations going forward. It is important to let your attorney know that you expect to reach him or her in a timely manner when you have questions, concerns, or important information to share. You shouldn’t expect that your attorney is available to speak every single time you call, but it isn’t unreasonable to expect him or her to return your call and address your concerns within 24 hours.
How often will you provide updates on my case? Every case is different and some procedural elements take longer than others. Regardless, you should insist that your lawyer call you with an update following any major event, such as settlement offers, new witnesses, additional information, and expert opinions. Feeling uninformed about your case can cause a great deal of stress, so verify at the onset that your attorney will keep you informed throughout your case.
Questions About Experience
Can you provide examples of cases similar to mine? Experienced lawyers know the complex details of Florida laws, and they know how to appropriately apply any relevant law to your case to maximize the likelihood of successful settlement negotiations or litigation. Additionally, knowing that your attorney has experience representing clients with similar cases can put you at ease while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
Can you provide me with some examples of your past verdicts and settlements? Many law firms offer a past results page on their website, but it may not show which lawyer actually handled the case. Your potential lawyer should not (and legally cannot) guarantee results in your case, because every case is unique. However, he or she should be able to share past results on cases similar to yours. This provides evidence of experience, success, and gives you a broad range of what to expect regarding compensation if a court rules in your favor.
How many clients have you represented since you’ve been licensed in Florida? This broad question allows you to learn more about a lawyer’s level of experience.
How many cases do you take on each year? As previously mentioned, you want a personal injury lawyer who is active in the legal community. The best lawyers might work on a few high-stakes cases or have a larger caseload; however, be wary of attorneys with a caseload that seems excessive.
How many cases are you currently managing? You want to ensure that your attorney is not spread too thin. If a lawyer has too heavy of a caseload, it can affect the kind of service that you receive and the outcome of your case. You should find an attorney with an impressive but manageable caseload.
How many cases have you litigated? Most personal injury cases settle prior to going to trial, but sometimes litigation is unavoidable. If settlement proves impossible and your case goes to trial, you want a lawyer with significant litigation experience.
Questions About Your Case
Are you willing to litigate my case, if necessary? Even though a lawyer can litigate, that doesn’t mean that he or she wants to litigate. When the defense doesn’t offer a fair settlement, another party disputes your claim, or multiple parties confuse liability issues, your lawyer will need to take your case to court. If that occurs, you need a lawyer who has the willingness and desire to aggressively litigate your case.
What kinds of damages can I potentially recover? Florida courts most often award damages for the cost of medical care, lost wages, and non-economic losses. Each case differs, so you need to ask your attorney what types of damages apply to your case. You should also ask what documentation your attorney needs to support a claim for damages.
How will you win my case? Your lawyer will choose a strategy to build your case and argue your claim based on specific characteristics, such as the type of accident and injuries that you suffered, your need for future medical care, the presence of preexisting conditions, and if you played a part in causing the accident. Your potential attorney should be able to provide you with a broad roadmap on how your case will proceed.
What challenges do you foresee with my case? The best lawyers have experience both winning and losing personal injury cases, which allows them to identify obstacles before they ruin your case. It’s in your best interest to ask about potential problems sooner rather than later and to find out how your attorney plans to deal with them.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a New Port Richey Personal Injury Attorney
After doing your homework and asking questions during your free consultation(s), you have done your part to ensure that you hire the attorney that’s the right fit for you and your case. Keep in mind that even the best attorneys are only as good as the information that you provide them. Open and honest communication is a key part to a successful attorney-client relationship and a positive outcome in your case.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries from another party’s reckless or negligent actions, the skilled legal team at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Accident Injury Lawyers is here to guide you through this difficult time. Our award-winning attorneys serve clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Sarasota, as well as in New Port Richey. Contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Accident Injury Lawyers online or call us at (833) 552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) to schedule a free consultation today.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL, 34652