Late last month, the Florida Bar announced the indefinite suspension of a father-son team of personal injury lawyers. The punishment, handed down by the Florida Supreme Court, followed a finding that the attorneys had cheated their clients of millions of dollars.
The facts of the case are as such: The lawyers were hired in a suit against an insurance company that was refusing to pay out on valid injury claims. According to a local CBS affiliate, “after receiving a $5.25 million settlement… [they] paid clients $672,000 and kept more than $4 million as attorneys’ fees.”
Good apples vs. bad apples
Attorneys, as a general category, are often seen as self-serving and untrustworthy. And personal injury lawyers in particular have a reputation for lacking scruples. At times–as with the individuals disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court–there is good reason to view them as such.
But the barrel contains many good apples. Indeed, in many cases, an experienced attorney can help his or her clients get the compensation they need to recover. Lawyers, of course, know how to negotiate aggressively with insurance companies, and can quickly assess all the facets of one’s situation and understand the financial damages to which one is entitled.
How to find a trustworthy personal injury attorney
Still, prospective clients ought to take precautions to protect themselves. It is relatively easy to check whether a lawyer has faced disciplinary action–the Florida Bar’s website maintains a database of attorneys who have faced punishment for misconduct or gross malfeasance. Likewise, because many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, it is crucial to understand what their contingency fees are prior to retaining them.
Suffering a physical injury will affect all areas of your life. It is important to understand how to avoid incurring a financial injury, too.