Preparing for Your First Meeting With a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
For those who don’t ride, it’s sometimes hard to understand that riding is a lifestyle, and often a more economic one than owning a traditional motor vehicle. With Florida’s generally friendly motorcycle weather, many residents choose to enjoy the freedom a motorcycle can offer. However, did you know that, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 80 percent of all motorcycle accidents result in personal injuries or even prove fatal to riders? This is compared to only 30 percent of traditional car accidents that result in serious injuries. So if a motorcycle accident injured you and you are preparing to meet with a Clearwater motorcycle accident attorney, what should you expect?
Personal Injury Fee Structure
Although personal injury attorneys generally charge no fees for initial consultations, one of the first questions you should ask, and the attorney should answer, is how his fee structure works. Most accidents saddle victims with heavy debts due to lost wages and medical bills, and few can afford to hire an attorney.
But did you know that hiring a personal injury attorney will generally cost you nothing out-of-pocket? Personal injury plaintiff attorneys do not work on an hourly fee schedule like many other attorneys. Instead, they charge what is known as a contingency fee, which is when the lawyer accepts as a fee a percentage of the overall compensation in the case—typically 33 percent. Furthermore, personal injury attorneys understand that most accident victims do not have the money to pay for litigation expenses such as medical records, independent examinations, filing fees, and expert witnesses out of pocket. Accordingly, personal injury attorneys can pay your expenses up front and deduct them from the final award amount.
For example, if your case settles for $110,000, your attorney will generally first deduct his expenses (say, $10,000), from the settlement amount. This will leave you with $100,000, of which the attorney will receive 33 percent or $33,000. This will leave you with a final settlement amount of about $66,000. Overall, it should not cost you anything up front to hire a personal injury attorney, and consultations are generally free. Furthermore, if you don’t win your case, then you still don’t owe your attorney, so there is little risk involved on the part of the client.
Skills to Look for in a Tampa Bay Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
You’re likely to receive a lot of information at the initial meeting with your attorney, but consider the following factors when deciding whether to ultimately hire that attorney to represent you:
- Amount of the contingency fee: Some attorneys may charge higher percentages than others, and you must ask yourself if their experience is worth the additional fee.
- Connection to the locality: Your attorney must know the judges, clerks, attorneys, and court structure of the district in which you file any litigation. Accordingly, you should not hire a lawyer who mostly practices in Orlando for an accident that took place in Tampa Bay.
- Experience: If you suffered a particular type of injury as the result of a motorcycle accident, let’s say a traumatic brain injury, you should hire an attorney with experience successfully litigating injury cases with the same or similar injuries as the ones you suffered.
- Organization and professionalism: Trust your gut. You are the client, so if an attorney or the attorney’s staff members are short with you, seem unorganized, or are not dressed professionally for your meeting when they should put their best feet forward, take care. Personal injury attorneys primarily settle cases because they behave in cordial and professional ways with the judge, insurance company, and other attorneys. If they do not treat you professionally, they may not treat the judge or other side professionally, which could hurt your case.
- Language: If English is not your first language, look for a local attorney who either speaks your first language or has dedicated staff who do. You should never feel limited in your communications with your attorney, and you should not have to locate a translator anytime you wish to speak with the law office.
- Culture: If you have a strong religious or cultural affiliation, look for a lawyer who understands and respects your views. For example, choose a lawyer who understands and respects your choice as a rider.
This is a lot of information to process, but don’t hesitate to ask questions about your lawyer’s skill set or cases similar to your own.
Prepare to Answer Questions About Your Accident and Gear
Under Florida law, motorcyclists older than 21 have the option of forgoing protective headgear if they maintain personal injury coverage of at least $10,000. However, safety organizations recommend using the following motorcycle specific gear, which can help prevent minor injuries:
- Eye and face protection
This gear will certainly help decrease your chances of suffering from preventable injuries, if not severe ones. However, if you did not follow recommended safety protocols, this may come up in your case—even if the law does not legally require that you wear it. Be honest with your personal injury attorney about how the accident happened, your experience as a rider, and what you did to protect yourself from injuries.
Contact a Clearwater Motorcycle and Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you are considering hiring a personal injury attorney after your motorcycle accident in the greater Tampa Bay area—including Clearwater—but are unsure about the process, take advantage of the Dolman Law Group’s free personal injury consultation. They can advise you as to whether you have a case under Florida law. One of our attorneys may be right for you! Contact them today at (727) 451-6900 or online for a free, no-risk consultation.