You get one shot at recovery. Lawyers must make sure the insurance companies are acting fairly. I worked for eight years defending these claims for companies and big businesses such as Coca-Cola, Hertz, State Farm, GEICO, USF&G, JM Family, Enterprise, Toyota and a host of others. I could write a book (except for attorney-client privilege) about ways some companies use your desire to be fair and reasonable against you. I now ONLY work for injury victims like you.
While all lawyers are allowed to advertise and anyone can basically handle a personal injury case, only Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyers are allowed to identify themselves as an “expert” or as “specialist” in this area. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the area by the Supreme Court of Florida. It also means the lawyer is known for trials- pushing beyond low offers by defendants, passed a peer review and passed a tough exam. Most cases do not get that far, but it is good to have a lawyer with all of the tools in their arsenal.
Some advertising firms, like you see on TV in Jacksonville, call themselves personal injury lawyers or trial lawyers, but did you know some don’t even try their own cases? One such firm hires a lawyer from outside their firm and pays him 50% of their proceeds to try their cases. You didn’t hire him. They don’t tell you about him. He’s not in their commercials. It’s not exactly fair.
Insurance carriers are savvy. They try to negotiate every dollar they can, because every $100 means millions in the end to their Board of Directors and/or shareholders. Attorneys matter. Defendants and their carriers change their game plan when an experienced lawyer is involved. For that reason – and the misinformation by TV lawyers and referral services- is why people should select lawyers carefully. Also, make sure it is a lawyer who shows up to meet with you and not a mere investigator. You are hiring a lawyer and deserve their time.
Also, ask for sample closing costs. Some lawyers charge for faxes, phone calls, scanning, postage, “in house courier” charges and even interest in these charges. You pay for their commercials and you don’t even realize it. That extra overhead comes out of your bottom line.
Because of the economy, more lawyers are jumping into personal injury and should stick to what they know. Personal injury law requires knowledge about medical science and biomechanics (the forces on a body in a wreck or a fall) far greater and more specific than you’d think. The other side has doctors and millions on their side to say nothing is wrong or fight the claim.
Research your lawyer wisely.