If you have been injured because of another party’s actions, you will face several crucial decisions in the coming weeks. The attorney that you choose to represent you in a personal injury suit might be the most important of all. Hiring the right attorney will increase your chances for prevailing in your lawsuit. Randomly selecting a lawyer won’t typically serve you well; you must do your due diligence to find the best attorney for you.
The experienced attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, can assist you after an injury and advocate for you throughout the claims process. If you live in the Aventura area, contact us at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH). We also have south Florida offices in Doral, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale. Below are some tips for hiring the best Aventura attorney.
Hire a Lawyer in the Right Practice Area
Any Florida personal injury lawyer can represent you after you’ve been injured in an accident, but the best attorney will focus on the practice area that applies to your case. For example, if you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you need a lawyer whose focus in premises liability law; if you sustained injuries in a car or truck accident, you need an attorney who has experience with motor vehicle accident injuries. Injuries resulting from medical diagnosis or treatment require a Florida medical malpractice attorney to handle all the mandated pre-suit requirements associated with a medical malpractice case in Florida.
An attorney who specializes in a niche of personal injury law knows the applicable Florida statutes and has experience applying them to build strong cases for clients.
Ask for Referrals
Sometimes hiring the best lawyer involves getting referrals from people you know. You might have close friends or family who had to bring suit after an accident. If your relationship allows, you can ask about their experience with their lawyer. Similarly, if you have an already established relationship with another type of an attorney, such as a tax, real estate, or estate planning attorney, ask them for a referral to a good personal injury attorney.
When peers offer direct referrals to an attorney or firm, it reveals that the firm and/or attorney are well-respected and trusted in their field. In fact, if you meet with a lawyer who wasn’t personally referred to you, ask them how much of their business comes from referrals. More referrals typically indicate that you are meeting with a firm and attorney who have a strong reputation. The best lawyers don’t have to chase down clients; clients come to them.
Read Client Testimonials and Reviews
Several online outlets give you the opportunity to read client reviews about the lawyer or law firm that you are considering. Many law firms offer client testimonials on their websites. These, however, might be biased. For more objective reviews, head to avvo.com. Here you can look up the vast majority of lawyers who practice in Florida and across the nation. Not only can you look them up by state, city, and name, but you can also search for a lawyer by practice area and legal topic. Each lawyer’s profile shows a score between 1 and 10, their contact information, practice area, and client reviews.
Clients who leave reviews for lawyers on Avvo, rate them between one and five stars. You can see the individual rating as well as comments, and the aggregate star rating to give you an idea of how clients view a particular lawyer overall. When you look up a lawyer on avvo.com’s directory, you can also see when they obtained their license, if they are in good standing, and if the state licensing authority has taken any disciplinary actions against them.
Investigate Peer Reviews
Peer reviews are the gold standard for determining the best attorneys in a particular practice area. Lawyer profiles on Avvo include lawyer peer endorsements, but some other sources have been provided peer reviews for much longer. Using the following three sources to look at peer reviews will give you a good feel for a particular lawyer’s reputation in the legal community:
- Martindale-Hubbell. This is the parent company of Avvo. Martindale maintains an online registry with biographies and peer review ratings of more than one million attorneys across the nation. Lawyers whose profiles show an AV rating have been rated for the highest possible level of professional excellence by their peers.
- The Best Lawyers in America. Best Lawyers provides a registry of attorneys who have been chosen by their peers in 57 practice areas, including medical malpractice and personal injury. Best Lawyers releases a list each year. A lawyer’s recognition depends entirely on peer review. Lawyers nominate other lawyers and appear on voter ballots for confidential peer evaluation. Once an attorney has been recognized, he or she is automatically nominated for the next cycle. Additionally, recognized lawyers participate in the peer evaluation.
- Super Lawyers. Each year Super Lawyers chooses five percent of lawyers from each state to compose a list of outstanding attorneys from more than 70 practice areas. They choose lawyers based on peer recommendations and evaluations of those who continually excel in their practice area, but also include independent research in their rating system.
Find out About Awards
Several prestigious awards exist to put a spotlight on attorneys who excel in their field and their practice area. The previously mentioned Best Lawyers awards Lawyer of the Year and Law Firm of the Year. A Super Lawyer designation comes from peer review, but many view it as an award because of its rarity. The National Law Journal’s Lawyer of the year award remains one of the most prestigious honors among attorneys in all practice areas. Historically, the award has been given to lawyers who go above and beyond and attain levels of excellence rarely seen in the legal community. The American Bar Association (ABA) also gives yearly awards to outstanding attorneys at all levels in a wide range of practice areas.
Looking for the best attorney in Aventura may involve considering some prestigious Florida awards for lawyers. The Florida Bar Association offers four different awards for Florida attorneys: Medal of Honor, Goldstein Award, Doyle Award, and the Curran Award. You might also find that one or more of the lawyers that you research has county, city, or other local level awards. Most of these awards arise out of a peer-review process of some sort, once again revealing how important peer reviews are to choosing the best lawyer.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Most personal injury firms offer free consultations for prospective clients to discuss the details of their cases with a qualified attorney. Think of this initial meeting like an interview. HIring the best attorney means asking questions about the way your potential lawyer will handle your case and communicate with you through the legal process. You can also use this opportunity to ask questions about an attorney’s personal record, especially those things that you cannot find out on the aforementioned websites. Your ultimate goal is to make sure that a potential lawyer is active and not relying on past accomplishments to attract you. Some subjects that you need to ask about during an initial consultation include:
- The extent to which the attorney will personally work on your case or pass it off to junior associates
- Phone availability for questions and concerns
- Frequency of updates about your case
- Amount of time for a return phone call
- Frequency of settling cases versus going to trial
- Examples of cases like yours
- Current caseload
- Examples of past verdicts and settlements
- Strategies for your case
- Challenges and obstacles regarding your case
Ask About Trial Experience
Most personal injury lawsuits settle before going to trial. Those that do not typically include a defense who doesn’t want to offer fair compensation, the might involve multiple liable parties, or the defense outright denies claims. Additionally, some personal injury attorneys cannot argue a case in the courtroom. It’s unlikely that you will go to trial, but in the event that settlement is not an option, you need an attorney with a strong track record in the courtroom. He or she must diligently pursue the best outcome for you, even if that means arguing in court. You need to verify your potential lawyer’s courtroom successes and failures to ensure that you have hired an attorney who is qualified to represent you regardless of which path your case takes.
Trial experience doesn’t only highlight a lawyer’s skills, but it also provides an avenue for him or her to build relationships with judges and defense attorneys. Experience also expands a lawyer’s professional network; the best attorneys have experts they rely on to help them build cases such as life care planners who can help determine the value of long-term health care after an injury causes permanent disability. Attorneys might also use forensic evidence specialists and medical experts to offer opinions to support a client’s case. These relationships provide credibility inside and outside of the courtroom that might benefit you at trial or in settlement negotiations.
Ask About Resources
Some claims are naturally more complex than others, often a result of multiple parties and insurance companies who are named in the suit. Teasing out liability, building a strong case, and placing an accurate value on a claim require thorough investigation. This includes simple activities such as gathering medical records, police reports, and other documents, as well as more involved things such as tracking down witnesses. Building the strongest case might require forensic testing and experts who specialize in accident reconstruction.
These activities are not free and require in-house experts and investigators or the financial resources to contract these jobs out to qualified parties. The best attorneys have the resources to conduct a complete investigation. Small firms with few financial resources might not be able to support your case, or they might expect a client to pay for the investigation. Firms who have been in business for more than a few years are more likely to have adequate resources, giving you the best chance for a positive outcome in your case.
Ask About Attorney Fees
The best attorneys, in any practice area, will openly discuss their fee structure with you during a free consultation. Some charge by the hour, others have set costs for specific tasks, but most offer a combination of the two. Exceptions exist, but most accident injury attorneys in Florida and elsewhere handle cases on a contingent fee basis. This benefits victims who often face financial hardship after injury and hospitalization because they don’t need to pay money upfront or out-of-pocket. Although your attorney will keep track of their hours and tasks, if your lawyer takes your case on contingency, he or she will typically deduct a percentage from any compensation that you receive. This might include a successful settlement negotiation or court-awarded damages after the court finds a verdict in your favor.
Hire a Skilled Aventura Lawyer Today
Serious accidents and injuries devastate victims and their families. In addition to pain of the injury and recovery, victims typically miss weeks or months of work. Lost wages compound the emotional stress of increased medical bills not covered by insurance. During this challenging time, victims need to focus on healing and rehabilitation. Leaving your claim in the hands of the best attorney possible will alleviate stress and let you remain focused on recovery.
The skilled personal injury attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, have recovered millions of dollars in damage for their clients. The firm’s award-winning legal team includes attorneys named as Super Lawyers, those with 10.0 Avvo ratings, those named in Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite, and those who are designated as one of National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers. Our knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys are here to help you through this difficult time.
We serve Boca Raton, Doral, and Fort Lauderdale, as well as Aventura. Call Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can assist you after an injury caused by another party’s negligence.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
20807 Biscayne Blvd
Aventura, FL, 33180