How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer (A Real One)

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    How do you Decide what Lawyer is Right for you?

    This is a guide about how to choose a personal injury lawyer. Hiring a lawyer is one of the most important decisions you can make on behalf of you and your family. For some people, hiring a lawyer may be a whimsical decision, based purely on advertisements. For others, the choice of who to hire is based on the attorney’s experience, skill, reputation, and expertise in handling personal injury cases.

     

    Insurance Companies Evaluate Your Lawyers to Determine the Value of Your Personal Injury Case:

    Consider this: how do you think insurance companies evaluate plaintiff’s attorneys? What do you think are the most important factors that an insurance company takes into consideration about your lawyer before they offer you any money? Here’s the key – insurance companies hate risk.

    Insurance companies like to control the entire personal injury case process. The one thing that creates a risk to insurance companies that causes them to make higher settlement offers quickly is which lawyer you hire. Insurance companies consider your lawyer’s skill, education, reputation, and, most importantly, their track record of filing lawsuits and taking cases to trial.

    Any lawyer, or even a big law firm, that won’t take their cases to trial is no risk or danger to insurance companies. This is why it is so important to learn how to choose a personal injury lawyer.

     

    What if I Don’t Want a Trial? How Can I Still get Full-Value for my Personal Injury Claim?

    Sure, everyone hopes their case will settle without a fight. But think about it. Wouldn’t you agree that having a seasoned, Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer is the best way to increase the risk to an insurance company and, accordingly, having them offer a fair settlement to you? You need to hire the lawyer the insurance companies hope you don’t hire.

    Hire a lawyer the insurance company is afraid. Lawyers that scare the insurance companies care more about their clients and will successfully take them to trial. Insurance companies pay fair value to the clients of aggressive, talented trial lawyers.

    Also, just because you hire a trial lawyer does not mean a suit will be filed. It doesn’t mean you will necessarily end up in trail either. But by hiring a trial lawyer, you improve the chances of your case settling sooner and for a higher value. Since insurance companies don’t want to take any risk, they don’t want to make a lowball offer and face having a lawsuit filed against them.

     

    Why You Need a Specialist in Personal Injury

    Before you hire an attorney, make sure the attorney is experienced in the type of law you need help with. It’s important to know how to choose a personal injury lawyer for your specific type of claim. Make sure the lawyer devotes most of their practice to that area of law.

    Whether it’s family law, criminal law, bankruptcy law, or personal injury law, each area of law has lawyers who specialize in those areas. Therefore, they are more familiar with the processes associated with them. There are more important traits you need to look for when learning how to choose a personal injury lawyer.

     

    Quick Video on How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer:

     

    12 Questions You Need to Ask Any Personal Injury Lawyer Before Hiring Them:

    These are the types of questions you will need answered to know how to choose a personal injury lawyer that can handle your case the best:

    1. How long have they been doing personal injury work?
    2. Are they Board Certified by the Florida Bar as a specialist in Civil Trials?
    3. Are they Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy?
    4. Ask if they are prepared to go to trial if it is necessary in your case.
    5. Do they have the financial resources to pay for the investigation and costs of your case?
    6. Do they require you to pay any up-front costs?
    7. Will they handle your case on a contingency fee basis, so they only get paid if they make a successful recovery for you?
    8. How many times have they gone to a jury trial with a case like yours?
    9. Have they ever lectured and taught other lawyers about personal injury law?
    10. Have they written any books or articles regarding personal injury cases?
    11. Ask about their knowledge regarding the medical issues and doctors in your type of case.
    12. Do they just sign up clients, then refer them away if they can’t get a quick settlement?

    The answers to these 12 questions will help you find a great personal injury lawyer that can handle your case in the best possible way for you.

     

    When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

    Time is not on your side because it is slowly reducing the value of your claim. You must quickly select the best lawyer for you and your family so they can start representing you immediately. Good legal advice is one of the greatest preventative measures a lawyer can provide to you. Good advice cannot only save you money in the long run, but it can also save you from unpleasant mistakes.

    The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is as true with legal matters as it is with regular medical checkups. Often, clients turn to lawyers as a last resort after the insurance company has made an offer. Or, even worse, after a recorded statement has been given or after key evidence has gone missing.

    If you have a moment, save your case by reading my article about how to deal with insurance adjusters to learn why you should NEVER give the other side a recorded statement. EVER! It’s probably the second most important thing to learn next to knowing how to choose a personal injury lawyer.

     

    How to Choose the Best Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Claim:

     

    Here’s the Deal: Avoid Lawyers Who Don’t Focus on Personal Injury

    There are many lawyers who claim to be personal injury lawyers when, in fact, they have little or no experience in filing lawsuits and going all the way to trial. By hiring an experienced and qualified personal injury trial lawyer in the beginning, your case will move efficiently. Therefore, you will avoid many of the common mistakes inexperienced lawyers make in personal injury cases.

     

    BEWARE: Many Lawyers Advertise and Settle Cases for Less than their Worth!

    Many lawyers advertise a lot only to sign up cases and settle them for less than they’re worth. So, if they can’t settle your case, they refer it to another lawyer to do the hard work. They think most people don’t know how to choose a personal injury lawyer and influence people with advertisements.

    Big advertising firms usually treat their cases like cattle. They push them through the system and slaughter them at the end for less than the true value of the case. Insurance companies keep track of those firms and when you hire them to handle your case, insurance companies offer you less money. This is because they know your lawyer will pressure you to take less like they did their previous injury clients.

    Big advertising lawyers just want to get paid fast. They make their money on the pure high volume of their case load. They process cases like a meat factory: as quickly and cheaply as possible. Knowing how to choose a personal injury lawyer will save you from the slaughter house.

     

    Insurance Companies Base the Amount they Offer on the Lawyer you Hire

    They keep track of lawyers and law firms that settle cases for low values. This means when you hire a big firm or a lawyer that never goes to trial and just settles cases, a lower value will be placed on your claim.

    That’s why it is so important to hire a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who takes their cases seriously and fight all the way to trial. Insurance companies know which lawyers and law firms fight for their clients and place higher values on their cases.

     

    How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Personal injury lawyer?

    Almost every personal injury lawyer works on a contingency fee basis. Which means you don’t pay anything unless you win the case. The attorney is only paid at the end of the case. They are paid a percentage. The fees typically range from 25% to ⅓ to 40%. Plus the costs associated with bringing your case to settlement or trial. Costs are usually things like medical records or expert witnesses.

     

    Why Should You Hire a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer?

     

    What is a Board Certified Lawyer?

    When a lawyer is Board Certified, they are recognized as an expert in their area of law. Board Certified Lawyers have special knowledge, skills, proficiency, and have a high level of professionalism. It is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar. I, Matt Powell, am Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Florida Bar. I am also Board Certified by the National Association of Trial Advocacy.  These distinctions allow me to be called an expert at taking civil cases to trial.

     

    Are Board Certified Lawyers More Expensive?

    No, the Florida Bar regulates contingency fees. So most personal injury lawyers charge the same exact fee. If every attorney charges the same fee, why not hire one who is an expert in personal injury cases?

    You need a lawyer who enjoys spending time in the courtroom. One who has a history of holding wrongdoers accountable for their negligence; a lawyer who knows what to do based upon years of specialized training and experience; one who has a passion for justice. Hire a lawyer with a history of successfully winning for their clients in trial.

     

    As Time Passes, Your Case Value Decreases – Don’t Wait to Hire a Lawyer!

    Since the attorney fees are the same no matter when you hire them, why not take advantage of advice from a board certified civil trial sooner than later? As a result, it will help you avoid making mistakes that could cost you money in the future. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the more valuable your claim is worth.

     

    Why You Want to Hire a Trial Lawyer, Not a Settling Lawyer:

    Well, no one really wants to go to trial. Trials are fraught with stress, expense, and risk. So if someone said, “Hey, don’t hire a trial lawyer because you don’t want to go to trial,” they are doing you a big disservice. Here is how and why a trial lawyer will get you a larger settlement:

     

    TWO SCENARIOS: Two Identical Cases with Two Different Types of Lawyers

     

    Scenario 1 – Lawyer Who Only Settles Cases and Never Goes to Trial:

    Lawyers who never go to trial are not much of a threat to the insurance company. Imagine you work for an insurance company and your job is a claims adjuster. You decide how much to pay injured people. Your goal is to pay as little as possible because this is how your performance is measured. The less you pay out in claims, the more money you save the insurance company. Which will increase your chance of receiving raises and bonuses.

    So as an insurance claims adjuster, you have two similar cases with similar injuries and liability. The only difference is the lawyer who represents the injured people. Let’s assume that one lawyer settles every case, and the other is an experienced trial lawyer.

    Think like an insurance adjuster who wants to save the insurance company money. How should you pay these two identical claims with the only difference being the lawyers? What will the lawyer who never goes to trial do if the insurance company adjuster only offers 50% of the value of the case?

    Well, knowing they won’t file a suit, or won’t go to trial, this lawyer has no leverage or ability to fight for you to increase the value of your case. So the lawyers only option is to encourage you to take the low offer. Or the lawyer has to tell you to hire another lawyer and get less or no fee. Learning how to choose a personal injury lawyer will help you avoid these types of attorneys.

    Scenario 2 – Lawyer Who Fights for their Clients All the Way to Trial:

    Now look at the contrast between the lawyer who settles all of his cases and never files a lawsuit. The insurance adjuster must decide how much to pay the injured victim with the lawyer who consistently files suit and takes them to trial. If the adjuster offers this lawyer the paltry 50% of the value of the case, this lawyer knows exactly what to do.

    The lawyer will file a suit, let a jury decide what your case is worth, and seek the full value of your case. Because the injured person hired a trial lawyer, you as the adjuster knows the insurance company will have to spend a lot of money to pay for a lawyer to defend the case.

    Now the case just got a lot more expensive for the insurance company with the added costs of the defense lawyer. Also, now they have to pay “Insurance Doctors” to examine the injured person. They pay the “Insurance Doctor” to come to court and testify about your injuries.

    Trial is Extremely Expensive for Insurance Companies

    Then the insurance company takes the risk of an excess verdict in your case. By hiring a lawyer willing to go to trial, the insurance company will likely end up paying the full value of your claim. At the same time, the insurance company incurs the additional expense of defending the case.

    From a business standpoint, it’s in the insurance companies best interest to pay the trial lawyer fair value for the claim. Because in the long run, they will save money. However, factor in that a jury may award full compensation for the injured victim.

    Now the insurance company has been forced to spend money on its lawyers, doctors, and still has to pay the value of the claim. The insurance company will obviously value a person’s claim much higher when that person has a lawyer who knows how to try a case and can win.

    So in these two scenarios, it is in the insurance companies best financial interest to pay the trial lawyer’s client a fair settlement to avoid the cost and risk of a trial. Learning how to choose a personal injury lawyer can save you and your family time and money.

     

    Your Lawyer Should Know the Science and Medicine of Injuries

    Make sure the lawyer you hire is very knowledgeable about science and medicine. The lawyer should understand the physics of things like car accidents. This is so they can hire the right experts and ask them the right questions. This is the same for medicine. Learning how to choose a personal injury lawyer with science and medical knowledge is key.

    If your lawyer understands medicine, they will be more knowledgeable about the types of medical expert witnesses needed to prove your injuries. They will know the right questions to ask them. They will also know what to ask from your treating doctors to prove your case. Hiring a lawyer that doesn’t know that much about science and medicine will significantly devalue your claim.

     

    If you Have Questions, Call Me

    If you have any more questions about how to choose a personal injury lawyer, call my office at 1-844-MATTLAW. Ask to speak with me, Matt Powell, about your claim. Please let me know if you need any additional information on how to choose a personal injury lawyer.

    About Matt

    Matt Powell is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer by the Florida Bar who represents injured victims and their families. He is an experienced personal injury trial attorney who has been practicing since 1989 in Tampa, Florida. If you have any questions, feel free to call him at 1-844-MATTLAW today.

    31 Comments on “How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer (A Real One)

    1. Skylar Williams

      That’s interesting that if you act quicker and get a lawyer as soon as possible you could get more on your claim. Maybe the reason behind that is procrastination shows it must not be that big of an issue. My sister has only been looking for a lawyer for a few days, hopefully, that won’t hurt her too much.

      1. MattPowell

        Hi Skylar, Thank you for your comment. I hope your sister is able to find an attorney who can help her with her claim. And as you said, the sooner the better because the attorney can start taking steps to preserve evidence, locate witnesses and let the insurance company know about the seriousness of the injuries. Good luck to your siter. Thank you again for your comment. Matt

    2. Maggie Allen

      It is really nice that a lot of personal injury attorneys charge a similar contingency fee. When you have that, then it is a lot easier for you to focus on the quality and reputation of the attorney. Like you said, it makes sense to hire an expert if he or she costs just as much as someone who is newer. In fact, I would still hire the expert even if they were more expensive. After all, they might be the difference between a small settlement and a large one.

      1. MattPowell

        Hi Maggie, Thanks you for your comment. It is interesting that many people don’t know that attorneys specialize in certain areas, and can become board certified. Quite often the quality of a clients settlement or verdict is a result of the quality of their lawyer. Thanks again for your comment. Matt

    3. Olivia Nelson

      I like your advice on hiring a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. I would imagine that the sooner you start looking into legal recompensation the better it is for your case. My sister recently got into a car accident so maybe she should look for a lawyer now to help her out.

      1. MattPowell

        I agree that your sister should look for a good lawyer to help her out sooner rather than later. Tell her that most attorneys will give her a free consultation. And the sooner she gets good advice, the better. It is always unfortunate when people call my office long after an accident and I can’t find witnesses or evidence that would help them prove their case. Thanks for the comment and good luck to your sister. Matt

    4. Shad Morris

      Personal injury has always been something that worries me a bit, and I was curious how you would fine one. I never knew that time was not on your side when making a claim. I would have thought that the law would be more on your side. Thanks for sharing all this great information.

    5. Sarah Smith

      My dad needs to get a personal injury lawyer. Thanks for the advice about how you should get a lawyer that is board certified. It would also be important to get a lawyer that you get along with.

    6. Zequek Estrada

      I agree with the warning of being careful when looking at lawyer’s advertisements. It seems like the best solution is to search for a couple different attorneys and then compare the cost. That’s sounds like a great solution to avoid that slaughterhouse situation that was mentioned.

    7. Tyler Meredith

      It’s interesting that insurance companies can actually base the compensation they offer off the lawyer you hire. It makes sense that if you hire a well-known lawyer, an insurance company might offer more in compensation to help prevent any disputes. It’s something to keep in mind for any type of injury case as having a lawyer’s help could really have its benefits.

    8. roberta cash

      I took a bad fall because the company outside lighting was so poor that I couldnt see the walkway where it ended that i was stepping what looking like the end of the sideway causing my knee to be backward then foreward that I fell onto the hard ground hurting my hands and both knees that I had surgery on both hand and broke my knee cap an torn my ACL and MCL in my right knee and had a factor hip, my pain from1/15/2015 is the same as if I just falling again. I had a lawyer after all this time is walking away, my case will end 1/15/2017,I have no I idea why my lawyer is giving up when he had me with they doctor and in physical therapy for a year and ten month.I really have no idea what the problem.but if you can tell is there is a proble with my case.I gave the fast about my fall and I was very truthful about how the fall happen.can you tell me what is the problem. Thank you

    9. Olivia Nelson

      I found your comment on how you should hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible interesting. I would imagine that the quicker you are in hiring someone the better chance at success you would have. My dad was recently in an accident so he should probably hire someone right away to represent him.

    10. Luke Smith

      I like what you said about finding a lawyer who enjoys spending time in the courtroom and who has years of training and experience. Especially since they all charge the same fee, like you mentioned, it would make sense to find one with lots of experience. I imagine asking potential attorneys about the sorts of claims they’ve won in the past would be a great way to help you get a feel for the experience they have.

    11. Dennis Sanchez

      You wrote that good legal advice is one of the greatest preventative measures a lawyer can provide to you. My cousin recently had a bit of an incident and was wondering if it was necessary to a personal injury attorney. Based on what you said, it could probably prove to be very helpful even if it doesn’t end up being a case. I’m sure my cousin would love to take any preventative measures to make sure he’s in the best legal position possible. Thanks for the read.

    12. Jasper Whiteside

      I hadn’t heard that the case value can decrease as time passes. I have heard that you should wait until you are well enough to pursue the case. I suppose that it would be good to talk to your doctor and lawyer to determine the best balance between these two pieces of advice.

    13. Baxter Abel

      I had no idea that insurance companies base the amount they offer on the personal injury lawyer you hire! I’ll have to look more into the work history and references that personal injury lawyers provide in order to find how much they’ve got settlements for in the past before I hire one in the future. Thanks for the tips, I’ll be passing them along to a friend of mine who is in need of a personal injury attorney.

    14. Zequek Estrada

      I wasn’t aware that insurance companies took in account the attorney you hire. This is a great reason why you need to take the time to choose a good personal injury lawyer. It sounds like it’s essential for ensuring that things will be in your favor.

    15. Tomas Killington

      Having a lawyer that will fight for you all the way to a trial is a valuable commodity. I had a personal injury a few years ago. I ended up being treated fairly and settling out of court, but I would definitely want an attorney that fights for my best interests.

    16. Derek Mcdoogle

      In your article, you stated that insurance companies like to control the entire personal injury case process and the one thing that creates risk to insurance companies that causes them to make higher settlement offers quickly is which lawyer you hire. My friend called me from the hospital because he was involved a rollover car accident. I wonder if most personal injury lawyers choose to specialize in certain types of injuries.

    17. John

      I found the information in this article really helpful for understanding how Personal Injury Lawyers work and what their services can do for you. I think the article raises a great point in suggesting you should choose a lawyer that is board certified in personal injury trial law. I know I would feel comfortable knowing my lawyer had the proper certification to help me with my personal injury case.

    18. Frank Delaware

      Thank you for all this helpful information about choosing an auto accident lawyer! One thing that stood out to me is that you say to find out if they are ready to go to court if necessary. Since you want to choose someone that has dealt with similar situations, it would be nice to know that they know how to deal with a court room.

    19. Ridley Fitzgerald

      Thanks for the information about personal injury law. I agree that it vital to find a lawyer who specializes in personal injury law, so that they know all of the ins and outs of your case. If I ever get hurt on the job, or something, I will make sure to research personal injury lawyers specifically.

    20. Steve Daniel

      Thanks for the information I believe we need to choose a lawyer who is Specialist in Personal Injury and who has excellent resources, who we can trust upon and who can get the rightful compensation we deserve.

    21. Jen Pack

      I have a friend who was recently involved in a car accident. She is so busy right now with figuring out all the details of what to do to get through this, so I told her I would try and help her find a personal injury attorney to help her through the experience. It’s interesting to me that you suggest asking potential personal injury lawyers how many times they have gone to a jury trial with a case like hers. That way, we will know what kind of experience they have had and how they can relate to what she is going through.

    22. Chris Winters

      I had no idea that you could hire a lawyer that the insurance company fears. My brother was recently severely injured in a car accident. I definitely think that we should find a personal injury attorney that could help us to receive some proper compensation.

    23. Rachel Lannister

      You wrote that you should ask the attorney how many times they have been to jury trial with a case similar to yours. With how intense jury trial can be, it would make sense that you would want to work with someone who has been through it before. Since accidents are so common, I’ll have to follow your tips and find a good specialized attorney, in case me or any of my loved ones requires their expertise. Thanks for the article.

    24. Kylie Dotts

      I like your advice to find a personal injury attorney who devotes most of their practice to the area of law that you have been involved in. The more experience that your lawyer has had defending in this area the more likely the outcome will be in your favor. It’s just like trying to hire someone to work on your home, you wouldn’t hire a plumber to do the work of a roofer or vice versa.

    25. Max Jones

      My wife was in a car accident last week, and I think that being able to hire some personal injury lawyers to help make sure we get compensated would be good. I’m glad that you talked about making sure you hire someone who is going to be prepared to go to trial if necessary, which is something that I hadn’t really considered yet. I’m going to have to make sure that the lawyers we talk to about our personal injury case have trial experience, and that they think we can win our case! Thanks for the tip!

    26. Marcus

      I liked how you said that it is recommended to choose an injury attorney that is willing to take your case to trial to get you the best results. It is important to remember that taking the time to do some research can help you find an attorney who can help you understand your case better and get the help you need to get the best outcome in your favor. My brother got injured in a motorcycle accident yesterday and wants to find a good attorney that can help him out, so I’m glad I found your post.

    27. Mark Finch

      Thank you for your article about hiring a personal injury attorney. I never knew that insurance companies look at my lawyer’s skill, education, reputation, and track record to evaluate how high the settlement will be. I imagine I’ll have to look for an attorney with a great track record as his skills will be most beneficial to me.

    28. Tammie Houston

      My brother is recently involved in a car accident, and he lost a lot because of it. I want to help him practice his rights by finding the right attorney for him. I agree with your idea of having an attorney that is experienced in handling cases that are similar to my brother because that will ensure that he is in safe hands. Thanks for the ideas. They’re really helpful!

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