Think you might need to hire a Florida personal injury lawyer but have no idea where to start?
Most Naples personal injury clients are folks with little-to-no experience in civil litigation, and this is a good thing as we all don’t want to hire lawyers unless we have to. Many of our clients are reeling from a horrible crash or devastating loss due to a medical mistake and unsure of their next steps. Very often doctors or insurance companies are not always helpful in encouraging people to seek legal counsel.
The good news is that an experienced Naples Florida personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the whole process from start-to-finish, sometimes without even stepping foot in a courtroom.
How Do I Find a Lawyer?
The internet is usually the first place people start nowadays when looking for a Florida personal injury lawyer.
You can start with a simple search of attorneys in your region who practice the type of law you need. For serious injuries, you may want to dig a little deeper.
Personal injury law falls under the general umbrella of “torts,” but there are actually several different types of personal injury claims. For example, injury due to a doctor’s error is going to fall under “medical malpractice law.” Injuries resulting from a dangerous or defective product or vehicle will be filed as “product liability” claims. If you’re injured as a result of a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, this is called “premises liability.”
You want to check for injury lawyers in the area with experience and success in handling cases just like yours. For this, you can specifically for a section on their website with detailed testimonials and/or case results. (You can also ask for this directly if you decide to meet with the attorney.)
It’s not a bad idea to check the ratings and reviews on Google, social media, and other platforms. These might not give you the whole story, but attorneys and/or law firms with a fair number of positive reviews are probably doing something right.
In Florida, you can also contact your local Bar Association for lawyer referral services. There are offices in Collier, Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota Counties.
What Does a South Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Need From Me?
Most attorneys offer free initial consultation appointments. These are opportunities for you to lay out the basics of what happened. The attorney can assess whether you have a viable case and determine whether they have the skill and resources necessary to help you prevail in that case. Consider scheduling a few of these initial consultations with different attorneys. This will give you the best chance of finding a lawyer who:
- Meets your qualifications.
- Is willing and able to take on your case.
- With whom you can establish a rapport and ease of communication.
Sometimes these meetings can happen over the phone. They can also be scheduled in-person or over secure video conferencing apps. Just know that so long as you are seeking legal advice/representation, this communication is confidential, even if that lawyer doesn’t end up representing you. You can feel free to be honest and upfront about the circumstances and challenges of your case.
Before you meet with the attorney for these meetings, it’s a good idea to have the following:
- All materials pertaining to your case, organized in a fairly logical manner that will make it easy for you to explain and the attorney to understand. This includes notes, photographs, video files, medical records, police reports, etc. The more of this you can provide at the outset, the better sense the attorney will have about both the viability and value of your case.
- Make sure the records are in a format that is legible.
- Create a timeline of events – even if it’s just in a notebook or Google Doc. These cases are often wrought with emotion, and having a written timeline can help keep you on track as you’re explaining what happened.
Ask the lawyer if they would like you to look over these materials before your meeting.
How Much Money Will I Need to Pay Upfront?
One thing to know right from the start is that personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. In short, you do not pay attorney’s fees upfront. A contingency fee arrangement means the attorney collects their fee from a portion of whatever you ultimately win. If you don’t win, you don’t pay any attorney’s fees. This arrangement helps ensure legitimate claims aren’t discarded simply because the claimant doesn’t have money for a lawyer.
When the attorney agrees to take your case, they will explain at the outset exactly what percentage of your damage award they will accept as payment. The exact percentage will depend on the case type, complexity, deadline, attorney’s experience, etc. However, it’s usually somewhere between 25%-35%. If you have questions about how personal injury lawyers structure their fees, the Florida Bar Association has resources specifically on this. Scroll to the section on “contingent fees.”
Can’t I Just Represent Myself?
Technically, Yes, you can represent yourself. (The insurance companies would probably prefer it.) It’s called being a pro se litigant. Each county clerk of court does have forms and some general guidance on how to do this. However, they can’t provide you legal advice. Representing yourself is almost never a good idea. This is particularly true if your case involves serious injuries or a wrongful death.
There are many factors that weigh into what a case is worth and what strategies are most effective in pursuing full and fair damages (money paid to you for injuries caused by negligence). An experienced South Florida personal injury attorney is going to be equipped to help you deftly navigate through these procedures, avoid pitfalls, protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome.
If you have been injured in Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, Cape Coral, Naples, or Key West, contact Garvin Injury Law at 800.977.7017 for a free initial consultation.
How to Hire a Lawyer, The Florida Bar Association
More Blog Entries:
“Can the Defense in My Fort Myers Injury Lawsuit Spy on Me?” Nov. 27, 2023, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Naples Blog