If you were recently involved in a car accident in Florida, you already know just how stressful everything can feel. From the initial hit to the injuries to the paperwork, you likely feel as though you’re climbing a hill with no summit. Unfortunately, the process of filing an insurance claim, dealing with doctors, and wrestling with your rights was never designed to be straightforward. It’s why so many people who deserve more end up settling for far less than what they’re owed.
If you’re looking for a car accident lawyer in Florida to help, you’re taking the first step toward the justice you deserve. Most people who sustain injuries are too preoccupied with their recuperation to file claim after claim, resulting in the responsible party paying only the bare minimum. Instead of trying to fight the system yourself, you can hire someone with the time and expertise to stand in your corner. If you’re seeking a professional who knows their way around the law, you don’t have to look much farther. Learn more about what a personal injury lawyer does, why they protect you, and how you can find the right professional for you.
Make sure you are dealing with an actual law firm
There are plenty of websites and resources available to you if you’re looking for legal advice. But these resources can’t give you the same degree of expertise as an experienced, practicing personal injury lawyer. If you’re not working with a real law firm, you run the risk of getting incomplete or even incorrect advice.
The state laws for personal injury in Florida can be tricky for even specialist lawyers let alone general consultants. And if you do decide against a real law firm, you’ll be left to do much of the work yourself. Most people who have suffered personal injury simply don’t have the time or the energy to collect the evidence needed to prove their case. The professionals at an actual law firm will tell you what you can expect and how the courts work, so you can take that burden off your back.
The rule of thumb is to retain a lawyer as quickly as possible after the accident, so there’s less chance of facts being lost in the shuffle. While you can go through insurance first, it may take more than a standard claim form to explain the extent of your injuries. From the police reports to the doctor’s notes, the point of a personal injury lawyer is to know the case backward and forwards. To give the lawyer the best chance at being thorough, they need to be involved from the very beginning.
Ask about fees and disbursements
Personal injury lawyers in Florida may charge clients based on both fees and disbursements. Fees typically refer to the amount the lawyer charges for their services and time. This can include anything from the initial consultation session to the filing of court forms to the negotiations with an insurance carrier. Disbursements refer to incidental charges paid on behalf of the client and can include anything from court costs to travel expenses. Understanding the cost structure is pivotal to clients and helps them make smarter decisions about the financials of their case. The injured party may ask the at-fault party to pay for their legal costs, provided they win the case.
Experience in Managing and Taking Cases
Car accidents are usually handled by an insurance company. If you’re injured or your property is damaged, you’re supposed to file a claim so an insurance company can pay or reimburse you for the expenses. But insurance companies don’t always make the right decisions, especially when personal injury is involved. The resulting medical expenses from one car accident can last for decades, and it’s not uncommon for decision-makers to turn people down for services they need. For example, if you develop chronic back pain from the accident, you may need ongoing pain management treatment. Or you may need income replacement if you can no longer work due to your injury.
This is just one of the reasons you need someone with experience. While the insurance company may want you to accept their decision, you don’t have to. A personal injury lawyer will examine your claim, determine the facts, and then set to work constructing a case for you. They’ll get in touch with medical professionals, the insurance company, the at-fault party — anyone who can help them build a defense that will result in your favor. This can be your best (and only) chance to turn your case around.
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Does the lawyer charge a contingency fee?
Many personal injury lawyers charge a contingency fee to their clients. This means that the lawyer will only be paid if the client wins their settlement. Typically, it’s as a percentage of the settlement. So, if you’re paid a lump settlement by the insurance carrier, the lawyer will receive a portion of the funds. As with fees and disbursements, it’s important to know exactly what the firm is charging beforehand. As with most decisions, be careful of lawyers who charge rock-bottom prices. This can be a sign that the lawyer does not have the skills or expertise necessary to win your case.
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20+ Years Experience
“If your injuries are minor, an attorney may pass on your case because the expected monetary compensation will likewise be minimal.”
Personal injury law can be a difficult subject to dive into, especially if you don’t have much experience with it. Part of making the right decision is having all the information in front of you.
What to ask a personal injury lawyer?
There are several key questions to ask your lawyer:
How Much Will It Be?
The costs and fees are what you need to clarify first. From contingency charges to disbursements, you need to know upfront how much you’ll spend on your case — regardless of its outcome. You should also ask about your responsibility in the matter. Some clients will need to do more to provide the necessary documents and information than others.
How Often Do You Win?
Your next questions should revolve around the lawyer’s experience. The lawyer may have argued plenty of cases in the past, but have they argued a case like yours in front of a jury before? They may have more exposure to slip-and-fall cases than they do in car accidents, and this discrepancy may cause you to lose the case. If they do cover cases like yours, ask what their success rate has been at trials.
Will My Case Settle?
While the majority of personal injury cases settle before they make it to trial, you should be consulting with a lawyer who is prepared for the case to go to court. A settlement will be far less involved than a full civil trial, but if you’re refused, it may be the only way to get the recourse you need.
Will I Win and How Long Will It Take?
A personal injury lawyer can’t predict the future, but they can tell you the most likely outcomes if they have enough experience. You should ask the lawyer how much time they’ll have to devote to your case, whether they think the case will go to trial, and how much the case is likely to be worth.
A lot of personal injury lawyers will take on more than they can handle, so make sure you choose someone who will give your case the attention it deserves. A car accident lawyer in Florida should be honest about your chances, so you enter into the agreement with both eyes open.
Can I Talk to One of Your Clients?
Professional references can say a lot about a lawyer, so make sure to ask for them! When you speak to a past client, be specific about their experience. For instance, you can ask how long it took for the lawyer to respond to questions or how often the lawyer reached out to update them about the facts of the case.
Does the lawyer only practice personal injury law?
Usually, the answer is yes. A personal injury lawyer has studied the civil laws that protect people from wrongdoing and negligence. This can include anything from workers compensation claims to defective products. The purpose of a personal injury lawyer is to both help their clients and discourage these kinds of accidents from happening again. However, it’s important to note that not all personal injury lawyers have the same area of specialty. A lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice may not be very helpful to someone who’s sustained injuries in a car accident.
Choosing a car accident lawyer in Florida may not be easy. There’s a lot to consider before you take the plunge, including the odds of winning, the extent of your injuries, and the nature of the accident. However, it’s ultimately a better option than accepting the decision of an insurance company that has its own bottom line to take care of. If you want someone who will put you first, a personal injury lawyer may be the only choice you have to find justice.