The 3 steps that I would utilize in hiring a Florida personal injury lawyer to represent me.
Florida is a competitive place for professional services. There are lawyer advertisements all over the place. If you or a family member has been injured in an accident or by medical malpractice, how do you go about hiring a personal injury lawyer? Below are three steps that will make your decision easier.
Step 1: Find a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer
Florida has a process whereby attorneys who meet certain specifications can become board certified in their respective specialty. This is what the Florida Bar says about board certified lawyers.
Certification is the highest level of evaluation by the Florida Bar of competency and experience within an area of law, and professionalism and ethics in practice. More than 4,500 Florida lawyers are recognized as specialists in one or more of 24 certification areas.
For a personal injury lawyer, you can click here to search for a civil trial lawyer. On this screen you can look up the attorney that you considering by name or city.
There are a number of reasons that you would want a board certified lawyer to represent you:
- The lawyer actually tries cases
- The lawyer has taken a higher number of continuing legal education
- The lawyer has undergone a peer review process
One of the only hammers that a client has against an insurance company is the possibility of taking the case to trial and getting a verdict over the insured's policy limits. Insurance companies know the lawyers that try cases and the lawyers that do not. Ask yourself, why are there only a little over a 1,000 board certified civil trial lawyers when there are almost 80,000 lawyers licensed in Florida?
Step 2: Does the Lawyer's Background Help With Your Case
All lawyers are not created equal. Many lawyers have specific backgrounds with professional degrees like a CPA, Engineering Degree, Pharmacy Degree, MD, DC, DO, or PhD. Take me for example. I am a licensed chiropractic physician. I was in active chiropractic practice for over 16 years. There are certain cases that are within my wheelhouse, and where, with a straight face, I can say that I have more knowledge and understanding than 99% of the Florida lawyers. These cases usually involve spinal cord and neuromuscular skeletal issues. How many lawyers in Florida have had a chance to dissect the human body, treat patients, and testify in court as an expert witness?
On the other hand, even though I have knowledge of the human body, I certainly would not have the specific knowledge of an OB nurse or an OB/GYN who practices law. A person with this type of background would be somebody that I would consider in an obstetrical medical malpractice case.
In personal injury cases, at least 50% of the case is documenting, proving and supporting the client's medical condition. To see if the lawyer that you plan on retaining has the background to handle your case, I recommend that you read their bio and other written material.
Step 3: Referral from Friends, Family, Professionals
Referrals from family, friends and professionals are something to consider. I think this provides good information regarding the lawyer's temperament, style, accessibility and personality. I do not know that this type of referral provides enough information regarding specialty or competency. If a friend tells you that I got a “good settlement with the lawyer” what does that really mean?
Lawyer referrals are another story. Florida allows lawyers to pay a 25% referral fee. So, you have to ask, is the lawyer referring me to so and so because of their relationship and the fact that he/she is going to get a referral fee at the end of the case?
Nobody wants to be hurt in an accident or because of medical malpractice. When these injuries happen sometimes people do not spend the time to research the lawyer before hiring him. Your choice of lawyer can make a big difference one way or another in the long run. You should spend some time looking into the subject matter, the lawyer's background, and the lawyer's competence before signing the agreement.