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FFP Podcast: Episode 3 – Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer

Interviewer: You’re listening to the Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano podcast. Today, we have on partner and founder of Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, Jack Fine. Jack, how are we doing?

Jack: We’re doing great today.

Interviewer: How do you first reach out to a law firm, and why should you pick a particular law firm maybe over another one depending on the case that you have?

Jack: Well, the most important thing to do is make the initial call to the attorney. One of the really good things about personal injury representation says it doesn’t cost you any money out of your pocket to talk to an attorney. If you’re seeking legal advice in other areas, whether it be property or family law, the attorneys charge by the hour.

In personal injury cases, they don’t charge by the hour, and you should be able to talk to someone at no charge. If you want to hire an attorney, you don’t have to come up with a huge retainer, it’s a contingency fee contract, which means the attorney only gets paid if he is successful in his representation. So it doesn’t cost any money to make the call, talk to an attorney. What should you be looking for? How do you figure out who’s the right person to handle your case, to maximize the dollars, to give you guidance, to give you good suggestions as to how to proceed?

Well, probably, you will end up using the internet, but I would try and find friends or relatives who’ve used an attorney, talk to them, try and come up with some different names and then look at their websites, talk to a couple different people if possible. And what you want to look for first off, see if they’re a specialist in personal injury. If you have a fractured arm, you want to see an orthopedist, he’s a specialist. If you have a brain injury, you want to see a neurologist.

If you have a personal injury case, you don’t want to see a lawyer who does family law. You want someone who specializes in personal injury, and more than that, you want someone who has litigated cases. Because what our experience shows, and I’ve been doing this kind of work for 35 years, what our experience shows is that having an attorney who’s willing to litigate and having a client who understands the benefits of litigation, which means eventually filing a lawsuit if the case is appropriate, that benefit cannot be overstated, because insurance companies, and we could talk a little bit more about this later, insurance companies are in an adversary relationship with you.

You need someone on your side. You need someone who scares the insurance companies that they know can take your side and take it as far as it needs to be taken in terms of pouring assets and resources and skills into the case against them. So look for an attorney who’s not only a specialist in personal injury but who has litigated cases involving the kind of injury that you have, and that’s really important.

Having someone who’s familiar with your community is also important. A lot of attorneys from Orlando or Jacksonville or other locations advertise in our community. Ideally, you want someone who’s lived in your community, who knows the roads, who knows the doctors, who’s familiar with the demographics of the jury pool, and you’re gonna do better with someone local than someone who’s unfamiliar with those issues.

So look for a specialist, someone who litigates these exact cases, someone who’s enmeshed in the community, you can’t go wrong. There’s various rating services, there’s Martindale-Hubbell, Avvo. You can look at a numerical rating. You could look and see if they get the highest rating from the services, but look at the qualifications and then size up and compare.