Working with a Florida personal injury attorney can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be! Most people call a lawyer is when they are in legal trouble and need help, so communicating with a lawyer isn’t always perceived as a good thing…
However, there are Florida personal injury attorneys out there who are helpful, especially if you are interested in pursuing an injury case. Knowing what to expect can help calm your nerves about initial consultations, meetings, gathering information, and even the outcome of your case.
Here are some helpful hints on working with your Florida personal injury attorney.
The Basics: Getting Started
Lawyers have very strict ethical rules. One of those rules is that, subject to very few exceptions, lawyers cannot represent a client when they also represent another client with adverse interests. To avoid this, an attorney must conduct a conflicts check before they can take a case.
To perform this check, an attorney, or his or her representative, will gather some very basic information from you. This will generally include your name, address, phone number, and the same information regarding the party against whom you are considering bringing a lawsuit.
They will also likely ask what the case is regarding generally, such as a car accident or a slip and fall case. Many attorneys will gather this information over the phone and then set up a meeting once your case passes the conflict check.
Do not be offended if the attorney does not set up a meeting right away! He or she is only fulfilling their required ethical duties by running a conflict check.
Once a case passes a conflicts check, most attorneys will set up a meeting with their potential client. It is at this time that the attorney can assess your case in depth and determine if you have a claim worth pursuing.
Your attorney will ask about details of your claim, with an ear toward creating possible claims on your behalf or possible defenses that you may need to overcome.
Bring as much information about your claim as possible to this meeting. This will help your attorney get started on your claim quickly if you decide to create an attorney-client relationship.
Keep in mind that this initial meeting does not automatically create an attorney-client relationship; you both need to agree that the relationship will be created.
The Fee Agreement
Once you decide that you have found the right attorney for your case, and the attorney is willing to take you on, you and your attorney will enter a contract. The contract will spell out exactly what the attorney is going to do for you and how much it will cost.
There are many types of fee agreements, but most plaintiffs’ personal injury cases are on a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorney only gets paid if you win your case. Generally, in this type of arrangement, your lawyer will take a percentage of the total winnings as their fee.
Be sure to look at the fee agreement closely to ensure that you understand everything and that it reflects everything that you and your lawyer discussed at your initial meeting.
Starting the Case
You are your lawyer’s most important resource in the case. He or she will need to use you to get information about the case, particularly you version of the events that led up to the claim. Your lawyer will use this information to file a “Petition” with the court or to attempt to negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
As your case makes its way toward trial, you will be called upon to answer detailed information about your life, including past medical treatment, employment, and even criminal history. Parties need this information in most cases to get a complete picture of who is involved in the case and how they will be presented at trial.
A Personal Decision to Work with a Florida Personal Injury Attorney
Deciding to bring a legal case is a big decision, and a very personal one. It can be stressful and scary for some people. Knowing what to expect can help you move quickly through this process and toward a damage award or settlement.
Your Florida personal injury attorney works for you—do not be afraid to ask questions provide comments!