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How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer
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
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:
- How long have they been doing personal injury work?
- Are they Board Certified by the Florida Bar as a specialist in Civil Trials?
- Are they Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy?
- Ask if they are prepared to go to trial if it is necessary in your case.
- Do they have the financial resources to pay for the investigation and costs of your case?
- Do they require you to pay any up-front costs?
- Will they handle your case on a contingency fee basis, so they only get paid if they make a successful recovery for you?
- How many times have they gone to a jury trial with a case like yours?
- Have they ever lectured and taught other lawyers about personal injury law?
- Have they written any books or articles regarding personal injury cases?
- Ask about their knowledge regarding the medical issues and doctors in your type of case.
- 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?
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 813-222-2222. 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.