People living in Miami and the Beaches have a range of options to choose from if they suffer an injury, but not all personal injury lawyers are created equally. Anyone with a law degree can call themselves a personal injury attorney. That means a person who just graduated law school and has never litigated a case can market themselves in the exact same way as someone who has practiced for years. So how can a person who has no legal experience discern a skilled Miami personal injury lawyer from one who doesn’t know what they’re doing? Here’s what you need to know about personal injury law in Miami and the beaches.
Any lawyer can throw up an impressive website. One of the best ways to know that you’ve chosen an attorney who actually gets results is to get a referral from a friend who has already used and gotten a good result from a lawyer. Ask loved ones who have hired lawyers who they recommend. If you don’t know anyone who has previously hired a lawyer, contact the Florida Bar. They can refer you to a lawyer who practices personal injury law. You may also want to contact local bar associations that specialize in personal injury law. These organizations offer support and resources to lawyers in the area of personal injury, so a lawyer who is a member is more likely to be actively experienced in personal injury law.
You don’t have to hire the first—or even 10th—lawyer you talk to. In fact, making a decision on the spot can result in a bad outcome. It’s easy to be impressed by a cushy office or charming smile. What really matters is your lawyer’s ability to get results. Interview him or her in person, asking anything that feels important to you, and trusting your gut to lead you in the right direction. Then take at least 24 hours to contemplate your decision before signing a contract. Some questions to consider asking include:
Every good personal injury lawyer has at least a few clients who are thrilled with their work. Attorney-client privilege means that your attorney cannot reveal references without permission, so don’t expect a long list—and be skeptical of any lawyer who readily gives away contact information for their clients! But do ask your lawyer if he or she can provide you with any references, particularly if those references had cases similar to yours.
You should also ask about previous outcomes. Don’t shy away from asking about cases your attorney lost, either. Not every case is winnable, and not every loss is the lawyer’s fault. If the attorney recently lost a case, ask why, and contemplate whether or not you find the answer satisfactory.
The Florida Bar is charged with overseeing all Florida attorneys, including those located in Miami and the Beaches. Not all bad attorneys have a disciplinary history, and a handful of good ones may have previously made a mistake. Generally speaking, though, a personal injury lawyer who practices long enough and breaks ethical rules enough will eventually be sanctioned by the Bar. Visit the Florida Bar’s website and search for the attorney you’ve chosen. If he or she has a disciplinary record—especially one that is recent—consider hiring a new lawyer. And if your lawyer has been disbarred, that means he or she is not legally allowed to practice law, and should not be soliciting your business.
Before you agree to hire a specific lawyer, ask for a consultation about your case. Most good personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation, since a case review is really the only way that an attorney can tell whether it’s a wise idea to take your case. Ask your lawyer for insight about your case—its strengths and weaknesses, its estimated value, and your
likelihood of winning. The best lawyers give honest assessments, not just vague promises that you have a “winner.”