If you were told that you needed surgery because you needed to have a toe amputated, would you do it right away, or would you get a second opinion? Well, the same thing applies to personal injury accident cases.
How do you know that the law firm that you hired is acting in your best interest? How do you know that they are not just settling your case quickly because they need the money? Do you know whether they are afraid to go to court? How do you know what their reputation is with the insurance companies? Do you know what their track record is in the courtroom? Do you know if they even have a track record?
These issues can be daunting. Lawyers who claim to be specialists in personal injury cases come in all shapes and sizes. There are some great attorneys, and there are some terrible ones. You know when you went to school, there were kids in your class that got A’s? And then there were the kids in the class that got F’s? How do you know where your lawyer fits on that A through F scale?
By Google reviews? They have 300 Google reviews! The problem is, now, there are companies out there that you can hire to get you 5-star Google reviews, and many of those reviews may not even have come from real clients. Google reviews, on their own, aren’t going to tell you very much about a lawyer or law firm.
Word-of-mouth? Well, that can be a good way, as long as the person who referred you to the lawyer isn’t ‘on the take’ - and that does happen in the personal injury business. Look out for tow truck drivers, first responders, and just people calling you who you don’t know anything about, promising to give you or get you money, or even giving you some money in the beginning.
Now, there are some reliable factors that you can look at when evaluating your attorney. One of the first and most important things to ask is whether the lawyer is board certified. A board-certified lawyer generally means that they are a specialist in their specific practice area. For example, Board Certified Civil Trial lawyers are specialists because they have passed a special exam approved by the Florida Bar (beyond merely passing the regular bar examination), practiced civil trial law for a certain period of time, done the requisite amount of legal education courses, underwent peer review, and have had a certain minimum number of jury trials. Getting board certified as an attorney is a rigorous process. Board certification for lawyers is different that board certification in other professions, such as the medical profession. It’s not like an orthopedic surgeon being board-certified, since 97% of them are board-certified. Instead, I would guesstimate that only about 5 to 10% of lawyers who do a lot of personal injury law are board-certified civil trial lawyers.
So, that’s a good first place to start. Make sure that you’ve hired a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer. That’s step one. Now, I’m not saying that everybody who’s not a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer isn’t a good lawyer. Some may have chosen not to sit for the exam. Others may not have been practicing long enough to qualify to sit for the exam, or may not have handled the requisite number of jury trials to become board certified. But being board certified is a pretty significant accomplishment, which at least can give you some comfort level that your case is in the hands of a qualified lawyer.
Insurance companies generally know which lawyers will go to court and the ones that won’t. And when we say go to court, we mean go to court, all the way through trial and appeal, if necessary. That doesn’t mean filing a lawsuit and then settling at mediation for thirty cents on the dollar because the lawyer is afraid to go to trial. So even if your lawyer is willing to file a lawsuit, that doesn’t mean that he or she is a trial lawyer. Make sure you have yourself a trial lawyer, even if you have no plans to go to trial. A personal injury lawyer who will not go to trial just isn’t the same as one who will fight for you all the way through trial. Most insurance companies know who the trial lawyers are and will oftentimes pay more money on cases handled by board-certified trial lawyers than cases handled by a non-trial lawyer.
If you are questioning whether an offer to settle your case is fair or how your case is being handled, or if you are being told not going to trial is in your best interest, then you should get a second opinion (remember, most of the time, once you settle your case, that’s the end of it). And with any personal injury lawyer whom you contact, that second opinion should not cost you a penny.
No matter what type of incident caused your injury (or caused the death of a loved one), whether it’s a trucking case, a motorcycle crash, an automobile accident, a slip or trip and fall, or any other injury case where you’ve had to hire a lawyer, you should consider getting a second opinion.
The bottom line: At Law Offices Cytryn & Velazquez, P.A., we will be happy to give you a second opinion on your personal injury or wrongful death case, both as to the value of your case and the quality of the lawyer whom you’re using. Our office is located in Coral Springs in Broward County, and we handle cases all throughout Florida (and sometimes even outside the state). Our founding attorney, Dan Cytryn, has been a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer for 30 years and is a specialist in accident cases.
Call our office today at 954-255-7000 for a free consultation if you would like a second opinion on your injury case.