5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Car Accident Lawyer in Florida
Unfortunately, car accident victims are not always treated fairly by insurance companies and at-fault parties. An accident victim deserves to be compensated for their injuries and damages. However, other parties are not always willing to negotiate a good faith settlement.
In those cases, a car accident lawyer can provide legal advice and guidance. An attorney has the resources, skills, and knowledge that an accident victim may not possess. The lawyer can “even the playing field” by fighting on behalf of the accident victim.
It can be difficult to know which car accident attorney to hire. The following information provides some guidance to narrow your search for a car accident lawyer.
Five Factors in Choosing a Car Accident Lawyer in Florida
Many factors may affect your decision on who to hire as your car accident lawyer. Making a list of questions to ask lawyers when you meet with them is an excellent way to keep track of the things you want to consider. Make sure you include these five things when you consider hiring a car accident attorney in Florida.
- Is the Car Accident Lawyer Familiar with Florida No-Fault Insurance Laws?
Florida’s no-fault insurance can be complicated when a person sustains a serious car injury. If the injuries meet the serious injury threshold, the victim has the right to sue the at-fault party for damages. However, the insurance provider for the driver may argue that the injuries do not meet the threshold.
Ask the attorney how much experience they have arguing cases regarding the serious injury threshold. You want an attorney with experience handling these types of cases. Recovering fair compensation for your damages could hinge on proving that your injuries justify a liability claim against the other driver.
- Is the Attorney in Good Standing with the Florida State Bar?
An attorney must be admitted to practice law in Florida to represent clients in court. Check with The Florida Bar to ensure that a car accident lawyer is admitted to practice and in good standing. You can perform a search through the “Find a Lawyer” database on the Bar’s website.
You can also view the attorney’s Board Certifications, services, practice areas, and law school attendance. You may also verify that the attorney does not have a disciplinary history within the last ten years.
- Does the Attorney Take Car Accident Cases on a Contingency Basis?
Most personal injury lawyers in Florida accept car accident cases on a contingency fee basis. The attorneys’ fees are based on a percentage of the amount recovered for the client. Therefore, if the attorney does not recover any money, the client does not owe any attorneys’ fees.
Florida rules and laws limit the amount an attorney can charge for contingency fees in a car accident case without court approval. For example, an attorney may only charge 33 1/3 percent of any recovery up to $1 million if the recovery is before the other party files an answer or the demand for appointment of arbitrators.
However, an attorney may charge less than the maximum contingency fee. Therefore, you may want to discuss your case with several attorneys to compare the attorneys’ qualifications and contingency fees.
- How Much Experience Does the Car Accident Attorney Have Trying Cases in Florida Courts?
Most personal injury cases settle without filing a lawsuit. However, your car accident case could be one of the cases that cannot settle. If so, your case could go to trial to be decided by a jury.
Some attorneys have more trial experience than other attorneys. Always ask an attorney how much time they have spent trying cases in court. Trial litigators are experienced with Florida court procedures and court rules. They also understand how to give compelling arguments for jurors.
- Is the Lawyer Familiar with Florida’s Contributory Fault Laws?
Contributory fault can be a critical factor in a car accident case. Therefore, you want an attorney who understands how to argue against contributory fault allegations.
Florida’s contributory fault laws permit the court to reduce the amount of damages awarded to a car accident victim based on fault.
For example, if the jury finds that the accident victim was 45 percent responsible for the car accident, the court can reduce the amount of damages by 45 percent. Therefore, if damages totaled $300,000, the most the accident victim would receive would be $165,000 ($300,000 x 55%).
Insurance companies use contributory fault to avoid paying full compensation for damages. An experienced car accident lawyer understands how to fight these tactics to protect the client’s best interest.
Searching for a Florida Car Accident Lawyer
One of the most important factors to consider when hiring a car accident lawyer is how comfortable you feel when meeting with the attorney. A significant factor in an attorney-client relationship is communication. Without effective communication, vital information could be overlooked or misunderstood.
Evaluate the skills, experience, record, and resources of each attorney. However, pay close attention to how you “feel” when you meet with each attorney. Choose a car accident attorney that you trust and who makes you feel valued as a client.
Sagi Shaked is the founder of Shaked Law Firm. As a Miami personal injury lawyer, Sagi Shaked has over 15 years of experience handling all personal injury matters. Contact his Miami office today for a free consultation.