What to Look for in a Personal Injury Lawyer

February 25, 2020
What to Look for in a Personal Injury Lawyer If you're looking for a personal injury lawyer, chances are you've been through a traumatic event. When you suffer serious injuries due to the negligence of another person, you need someone protecting your best interests. Unfortunately, scores of Americans find themselves in need of personal injury lawyers each year. Because so many different types of accidents and intentional decisions fall under the umbrella of personal injury, attorneys who specialize in this area of law see a wealth of different cases with regularity. Accidental injury has become the third most common cause of death for United States citizens in recent years. Every three minutes, an American is killed by a preventable event—and Americans are accidentally injured at a rate of one per second. Scenarios that lead to personal injury are common. If you feel that you've been the victim of personal injury—or wish to educate yourself in the event of future personal injury—it's crucial to understand how to select the best attorney for your case. Personal injury attorneys often have extensive experience in dealing with cases just like yours, but that doesn't mean that they'll make a good legal partner for you. Knowing what to look for in a personal injury lawyer can make the process easier when it comes to selecting one for your civil claim. There are a few traits and qualifications that serve to highlight effective and successful personal injury attorneys. Many of these come down to common sense. You probably wouldn't feel comfortable working with a lawyer who has low success rates or who has never set foot in a courtroom. Rather than fighting those instincts, lean into them a little. You may be surprised to find that your intuition is a powerful tool when it comes to selecting a personal injury lawyer. Read on for just a few examples of traits that make a personal injury lawyer a great choice for protecting your best interests from the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA.

They Listen

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, a good listener does more than just hear you. The article states that good listeners do the following:
  • They create a safe environment for discussing difficult or emotional issues.
  • They remove distractions such as smartphones, laptops and focus on making appropriate eye contact.
  • They observe your body language and facial expressions.
  • They capture key bits of important information.
  • They ask questions without taking control of the conversation.
  • They acknowledge and empathize with the speaker.
The right personal injury lawyer for your case is an active listener. They remain engaged with what you say and how you say it. Your emotions and concerns don't go unnoticed.

They Are Responsive

A personal injury lawyer doesn't just nod or agree with you. They respond to what you tell them by developing the best course of action for your case. Once your case is underway, they never leave you in the dark. Their inclusion of you throughout the process focuses primarily on communication. A personal injury lawyer never leaves their clients unsure, wondering about the status of their case. They respond quickly to your questions or concerns. Your peace-of-mind is among their top priority.

They Are Thorough

Preparing a case for civil litigation means collecting as much information as possible. This may involve collecting police reports, store incident reports, pictures or videos of the scene, and interviewing witnesses. A personal injury lawyer dedicated to helping their client win works tirelessly to develop the best case they can for securing compensation. Some cases are more complex than others. Like your injuries, there is no “quick fix” to your financial situation. Pursuing compensation for damages takes time. While most personal injury cases are settled out-of-court, the right attorney won't settle until they secure a fair settlement for you. If necessary, they are ready and willing to go to trial.

They Are Assertive

According to the Mayo Clinic, assertiveness is a core communication skill. Assertive behavior means that you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view. When a personal injury lawyer is assertive with insurance companies—who tend to demonstrate aggression rather than assertiveness—it shows a willingness to stand up for the rights of others. It also demonstrates a willingness to work on a resolution for the conflict. A personal injury lawyer must possess some form of assertiveness to negotiate the best outcome possible for your case. Insurance companies are very skilled at denying or delaying claims. They are also quite skilled at trying to assign the blame of an accident with you and not their client. When choosing the right personal injury lawyer for your case, ask about their prior success. Case results are often strong indicators of how assertive—and persistent—a law firm is on behalf of their clients.

They Understand Florida Laws

This may seem like an obvious trait of any personal injury lawyer. While some lawyers may know the law, your case requires someone who understands the law and how it applies to your particular claim. As a licensed professional, a personal injury lawyer must properly follow the law to secure the best possible outcome for your case. One key area of concern involving personal injury claims is the statute of limitations. Florida law allows four years for filing a personal injury claim. While that may seem like a long time, it can pass quickly when you are dealing with your injuries. A personal injury attorney can keep your case on-track so that you don't miss the opportunity for pursuing possible compensation. Wrongful death claims are another area where a lawyer must have a working knowledge of Florida law. The laws regarding wrongful death are quite complex regarding who may file a claim on behalf of the decedent's estate. Unlike the four year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim, the law only allows two years for a wrongful death claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows the strict guidelines for filing claims on time.

They Have Courtroom Experience

Matthew Dolman, Florida Personal Injury Attorney
Matthew Dolman, Personal Injury Attorney
When a case must go to trial, courtroom experience is essential. Your personal injury lawyer must know how to present cases to a jury and how to professionally interact with a judge. You never know when negotiations with an insurance company may break down, making a trial necessary. A personal injury lawyer whose experience is somewhat limited to insurance negotiations may present too much of a risk to your claim. The opportunity to present your case to a jury requires the skills of a calm, and strategic, personal injury lawyer. An inexperienced lawyer who tries to use your case as a stepping stone for gaining experience is not your best choice. Leaving your future to chance with a personal injury lawyer without courtroom experience may leave you disappointed and without compensation.

They Are Respected by Their Peers

A reputable personal injury lawyer is not only respected by their peers—but they are also respected by others in the court system. Their professional reputation can greatly impact your case in terms of whether they are successful, taken seriously, and respected throughout the legal and local community. Personal injury law is often competitive so any personal injury lawyer who has earned the respect of their colleagues is worth noting. While awards and designations are also impressive, it is how others view your lawyer that can matter with your case. A lawyer who doesn't have the respect of their colleagues may have hidden issues or agendas. Reviewing the website of your potential lawyer can help you determine if this particular lawyer is:
  • Charitable in the community
  • Supports local events
  • Received recent honors
  • Is highly rated among peer groups and associations
Reviews from former clients are also helpful in determining if a lawyer is the right match for you. While you don't have to share the same interests, you do have to communicate and work together to achieve the best outcome possible. Exploring the background and experience of a personal injury lawyer is a safe way to determine if they are the right fit for your case.

They Care

The trait of being a good listener involves a certain level of care. However, a personal injury lawyer enters this particular type of law to fight for the rights of others. Those who represent accident victims, day after day, do so to right a wrong. Finding a personal injury lawyer who cares about you, your family, and the outcome of your case is important. Once you discuss your case with them, you can easily tell their level of dedication to what they do and what they can do for you. Just as they listened to and observed you, you can learn more about them from their level of distraction to their understanding of your accident. A personal injury lawyer helps their clients through one of the most difficult times in their life. Their experience helping accident victims pursue justice has taught them how overwhelmed and anxious most people are about the litigation process. Letting go of your case to the extent that a personal injury lawyer takes control isn't easy. You may want to fight for justice alone. By taking a deep breath and focusing on your health and your family, however, you can learn to acknowledge your case is in good hands.

What Qualifies as a Personal Injury?

Personal injury law covers a variety of case types. Car accident victims, those who sustain injuries in the workplace, and patients subjected to medical malpractice make up just a small group of those who may turn to a personal injury lawyer for assistance. A wealth of scenarios and environments open up the potential for valid personal injury claims. Some of the most common varieties of personal injury cases include: The majority of personal injury cases revolve around negligence. This unspoken concept is meant to ensure that all of us, as members of society, take responsibility for acting in accordance with others' wellbeing. We're meant to automatically avoid placing those around us at risk. When careless individuals fail to take these steps, they demonstrate negligence. This negligence is what leads to trouble in court and what allows personal injury victims to collect damages. Personal injury cases are always somebody's fault—and chances are that if someone had caused you harm, it was due to negligence. You can ask your attorney for further information and clarification about personal injury law during your consultation. If you're unsure of whether your case qualifies as a personal injury case, don't worry! Your lawyer will help guide you in the right direction; but just remember that if somebody else caused you harm, there's a high likelihood that your case falls under personal injury law.

Why do I need an attorney?

Navigating a legal matter alone isn't a good idea. For one, you have enough stress in dealing with the pain of your injuries. Secondly, you do not need the added stress of negotiating with insurance companies on your own. Your life changes the moment you become injured due to the negligence of another person. No one should suffer physical, financial, and emotional stress due to the careless actions of someone else. These are just a few examples of reasons for personal injury lawsuits. A personal injury lawyer invests years into learning state and federal laws and how they apply to victim's rights. Their experience is the most substantial asset for anyone without a law degree. Most personal injury lawyers offer free case evaluations, and many work on a contingency-fee basis. This means you owe them nothing unless they collect compensation for you. You have nothing to lose by discussing your options for civil litigation with a qualified personal injury lawyer. Personal injury victims deserve justice. Whether that justice is delivered in the form of monetary compensation or some other form of retribution, you're much more likely to see success in court with a skilled attorney by your side. The time that follows an accident or injury-causing incident can be turbulent for victims. Rather than exacerbating your mental load by trying to handle your case alone, you can simplify the process by partnering with a lawyer.

Is my personal injury case too small for an attorney?

No. Most seasoned, talented attorneys have extensive experience handling cases of all sizes. A handful of firms or individuals may opt to prioritize and chase larger cases, but that doesn't mean that your case is too small for representation. Any legal professional worth collaborating with should have the time, resources, and knowledge to carry your case to justice regardless of severity. You also may find that your case encompasses more than you think. While many personal injury victims manage to escape accidents with minor injuries, they fail to realize the deep psychological impact that the experience can have. Emotional pain is a real and valid form of suffering—your case likely goes deeper than you think. Loss of enjoyment of life and mental anguish can even increase the amount that you recover in court.

The Research Process:Why you need a personal injury attorney

Before you begin your hunt for the perfect personal injury lawyer, you must understand why you may need one. These attorneys take on claims that fall under the purview of personal injury (or tort) law. That means that personal injury attorneys are well-versed when it comes to helping you protect yourself and your property from injury and damage caused by another's negligence. Your personal injury attorney obviously won't be able to stop a harmful event from happening. What they may be able to do is assist you in pursuing and receiving the compensation that you deserve after you sustain your injuries. The realm of “personal injury” is vast, so select a personal injury attorney with experience and knowledge concerning this specific area of the law. Hundreds of thousands of personal injury claims are filed throughout the United States each year—experiencing pain or loss due to somebody else's negligence is common, but that doesn't mean that you should settle for an inexperienced or unprofessional lawyer.

Conduct active research

Finding Good Personal Injury Lawyer Sitting down in your office chair and throwing a few search terms into Google will probably land you with a few helpful results. You won't, however, have a clear view of every option available to you. Regardless of whether you're on the hunt for the perfect personal injury attorney or you're trying to sort out how to make a complicated recipe, you'll have a better chance of finding what you're looking for if you play an active role in researching. That means you'll have to put in a little work to find the right personal injury lawyer for your case. Go into your research with a list of non-negotiables, and work from there. Once you've selected a few attorneys that meet your requirements, you should dig deeper into what the web has to offer. Most of the crucial information that people rely on to help them choose a lawyer is readily available online. You can look up how long certain attorneys have been practicing, poke through disciplinary records, and check out a thorough summary of an attorney's trial experience right from your home. If you want to be especially involved in your pursuit of the perfect candidate, try asking for referrals or turning to web services for some help. Many of us know a family member, friend, or colleague who was unfortunate enough to experience personal injury due to somebody else's neglect. See if you can glean some feedback and advice from people who have been in your shoes before.

Important Factors to Consider While Selecting a Personal Injury Lawyer

Aim for attorneys with a focused practice

Some firms insist on trying to do it all. While it may be enticing to partner with a firm or attorney who knows everything about everything, there's a high likelihood that the lawyer you're eyeing actually knows some of everything. Law is a tricky and complex practice. The more you try to take on, the less likely you are to truly understand the web of details that goes into each claim. Opt for firms and lawyers that focus on personal injury. Not only will you have fewer cases to contend with (and therefore receive more personal attention), but chances are that your attorney will be able to represent your case much more effectively.

Never underestimate trial experience

We all have that soft spot that pushes us to give underdogs a chance. While the notion is admirable, consider saving it for a scenario that doesn't involve your personal or civil rights. A wealth of attorneys advertise personal injury services, but how many of those possess real trial experience? Not only does trial experience help build an attorney's knowledge, but it could impact your case in other ways. Insurance companies wind up handling most of the same personal injury cases that lawyers do—and those companies know which lawyers know how to get what their clients deserve in court. If your lawyer has never seen trial, you could be taken advantage of.

Your lawyer is not a team of one

Even if your attorney operates independently from a firm, your case should not come down to the two of you battling alone to secure compensation. Talented, seasoned, and successful legal professionals understand that they need backup in court to ensure their clients' success. Because personal injury cases can so easily devolve into a cycle of “he said” and “she said,” savvy attorneys retain contacts that can assist with investigation and testimony. Look for an attorney with a sparkling track record when it comes to collaborating with other professionals. The more external resources your lawyer suggests to involve in your case, the surer you should feel that they have your best interests at heart. Many attorneys call on medical, vocational rehabilitation, and even accident reconstruction professionals to help a case.

Questions to Ask Your Potential Personal Injury Attorney

Remember when you were young and just beginning your first batch of job interviews? Some well-meaning adult probably advised you that if you really wanted to “WOW” your interviewers, you should ask your own questions about the company and the position you applied for. It sounded silly to you then; but now, chances are that you've recognized that this presents an opportunity to show your interest in the company, clarify confusion about the position, and determine whether the job is a good fit for you. Speaking with and selecting a personal injury attorney is no different. If you ask an attorney the right questions during a consultation, your case could benefit in more ways than one. You'll be demonstrating your own active interest and effort when it comes to your case. It's also an easy way to quickly rule out lawyers who pass hard limits or fail to stand up to your requirements. Don't be afraid to ask a lawyer for whatever information you require to make an informed decision. Ask questions like:
  • What level of experience do you have when it comes to handling cases like mine?
  • Who else will be involved in work on my case?
  • How much time do you predict you will devote to my case?
  • How long do you believe it will take to resolve my case?
  • What do you believe my case may be worth?
  • What is my role in the legal process?
  • Can you offer contact information for previous clients?
Don't forget—the attorney may be unable to offer precise responses to each question due to legal and ethical guidelines. Most lawyers, for example, will avoid speaking in certain terms when the subject of case value arises. Don't let this scare you away from a firm or individual. You should speak to multiple attorneys before selecting the one that's best for you. That means that you should hear a collection of answers to each of these questions. If each of those lawyers offers similar ballpark estimates of the compensation that you may receive, you can likely rest easy. Be on the lookout for outlier figures and grandiose claims.

Time Is Not on Your Side

A serious injury takes priority over all other things in your life. It is unexpected, disruptive, and can turn your world upside down in an instant. The inability to focus on your legal claim that can delay your contacting a lawyer. While your injuries are devastating enough, missing your opportunity to file a claim can affect your financial and medical future. No one truly knows the full extent of their future medical needs until they receive a firm diagnosis. A catastrophic injury, like a spinal cord injury, can result in millions of dollars of medical costs per year. A patient with a severe traumatic brain injury may require expensive around-the-clock care. The costs associated with a skilled living facility in the United States averages more than $8,000 per month. Your financial future is too important to risk to just any personal injury lawyer. Finding the right lawyer for your claim is possible. Trust your instincts, and if your conversation with a personal injury lawyer makes you uneasy, then they probably aren't a good match for you.

Don't Forget: A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

A personal injury lawyer who works on a contingency-fee basis has a lot to lose by not securing compensation for you. This method of not collecting money until they reach a settlement for you sets their bar for success high. It also leaves you without the added stress of finding funds to secure a lawyer. Personal injury lawsuits are challenging for several reasons. Big insurance companies like to settle cases for as little money as possible. To protect their best interests, they often pull out all of their best tactics and tricks. A personal injury lawsuit that requires a trial is also quite challenging. It requires lawyers to draw upon their previous experience and to prepare presentations that reach—and resonate—with juries. Judges presiding over a trial play an important role when it comes to the outcome of your claim. Determining compensation for damages in your personal injury case is often difficult due to intangible damages. Compensation for tangible damages, such as medical bills, for example, is rather easy to determine. The expenses are what they are, as outlined on hospital bills. Determining compensation for intangible damages is much more difficult. There is no price tag you can place on the loss of a close loved one or on pain and suffering. When a civil claim involves re-living your accident, the skills listed above become crucial for your mental health. Having a personal injury lawyer on your side, listening, caring, researching, communicating, and fighting for your rights can ease your mind. If you experienced a serious personal injury due to the negligent actions of another person, consider starting your search for a personal injury attorney now. The sooner they review your case, the sooner they can get to work for you. The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA understand how crucial it is to find the right personal injury attorney for your unique case. That's why we offer potential clients NO-FEE consultations and never charge unless your case sees success. We're dedicated to the pursuit of justice and fair compensation—and our deep knowledge of personal injury law allows us to achieve these goals in a wealth of cases every year. If you or a loved one suffered a personal injury, remember that a trusted, experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand your options and the best way to proceed. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 N Belcher Rd Clearwater, FL 33765 Phone: (727) 451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/florida-personal-injury-lawyer/

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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