As a Florida personal injury attorney and the director of operations of the Dolman Law Group, I often find myself considering how victims of negligence select their legal representation. I know how it is that many of my clients find our firm, what I find more intriguing is how they pick their Personal Injury Attorney. Because of the stakes involved, choosing which attorney to represent you in a personal injury matter is a crucial and personal decision. A client must feel that they can trust their attorney, and they must believe that the attorney they hire will pursue their interests to the fullest of their abilities. The problem, though, lies within the nature of the process (i.e one must hire an attorney ASAP since vital parts of the claims process occur right at the start). This makes a long, deliberate approach to selecting a personal injury attorney impractical, at best, and impossible, at worst.
So, what is it that prevents consumers from making quick, informed choices?
The reason any business advertises is to attempt to reach potential customers. Since anyone can be injured in a car accident or hurt themselves on someone else’s property, almost all Floridians are a potential customer to any Florida personal injury law firm.
It’s the ubiquity of car crashes—there were approximately 375,000 in the year 2015 alone—paired with the size of the potential demographic which makes personal injury law such a ripe field for advertisement. If you combine these two things with the sense of urgency cases have in the beginning, it’s clear why both sides of every major roadway in Florida are lined with billboards advertising personal injury attorneys. This is not to say that attorneys that use billboards are all bad or all good. In the interest of full disclosure, the Dolman Law Group has several billboards of it’s own. However, an injured victim of negligence should never make the critical decision of who will represent them in a personal injury case based solely on a billboard, a TV commercial, or the recommendation of a radio spokesperson.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what a lot of attorneys and attorney referral services want you to do. That’s why they say to call them as soon as you hang up with emergency services. How could anyone have the time to research an attorney properly if they are calling from the scene of the accident?
Since the 1970’s, when attorney advertising ceased to be barred based on a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, legal advertising has only expanded as attorneys across the country have pushed the envelope in order to gain an edge. While some advertising can be helpful to consumers (see the entirety of the Dolman Law Group website) by providing detailed information about their area of law and credentials, some of it can be misleading—like a particular lawyer referral service that once indicated that anyone who was involved a motor vehicle crash was entitled to $10,000.00.
We at the Dolman Law Group are not currently, nor will we ever be, part of any lawyer referral service. We believe that there are a few fundamental issues with these services:
Simply put, lawyer referral services serve the interests of lawyer referral services first, and the interests of clients only when and if their interests align with the services’.
Furthermore, lawyer referral services (namely 1-800-ASK-GARY and 411-PAIN) are some of the worst offenders in the over-saturation of the advertising market for personal injury attorneys. One of these companies—with which I’m certain you are all familiar—has even crafted several different versions of their radio jingle to air on different radio stations with the tune changed to match the musical genre of that station. They’ve also encourage inadvisable practices (as I mentioned above), led people to believe law enforcement endorses them, stooped to gimmicks to generate attention, among many others.
When choosing a Florida personal injury attorney, as when hiring any other service provider, a consumer should do some homework. To start with, most law firms today have in-depth websites; browse them. Once you have found a few in your area, research what awards the attorneys there have won. Some of the most respected and most convient places to research this information is on avvo.com, superlawyers.com, and the Florida Bar’s website. Research whether that attorney or firm has any substantial trial verdicts, find out if they’ve in good standing with the Bar, and of course, see what others have to say about them. Do this by checking out the attorneys’ Google reviews.
The consumer’s goal should be to make certain that they have as much information as possible. You want to make sure that the decision you’re making it your own, and not a decision that is being made for you by a catchy jingle or the design of a billboard.
Whether you were just involved in a car accident or have questions about a past car accident, it is important to contact a Florida personal injury attorney to discuss your options. If you were injured in a Florida car accident and you have questions about the nature of your rights, contact the Dolman Law Group, the premier personal injury lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area. We can advise you as to what steps you need to take after an accident under Florida law. Contact us today online or at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.