How do I find the right bicycle injury lawyer in Florida? How do I know if I even need an attorney? What should I expect when I hire them? If you are like most cyclists, you are feeling unsure as to how to find the right attorney and what to expect when you hire the one you choose. Start by looking for an experienced bicycle injury attorney who is also a committed cyclist, one who understands what being a cyclist means.
What Should I Look for in a Bicycle Injury Lawyer?
First: Look for an bicycle injury lawyer who has limited their practice to personal injury law for many years and has plenty of experience.
Second: Look for an attorney who has a special emphasis representing bicycle injury clients. Bicycle injury cases are different from car accident cases, which most injury lawyers handle. Very few injury attorneys handle any volume of bicycle injury cases. You should consider working with an attorney who is an active cyclist, someone who has handled hundreds of cycling injury cases and has ridden for many years, and understands the issues that cause road cycling crashes. Caution: every advertising law firm will say they handle bicycle injury cases. Virtually none of them are cyclists. Ask what bike they ride and how frequently they ride it.
Third: You should look for a cycling attorney who has demonstrated their commitment to the cycling community. Have they published safety and bicycle crash prevention information on their website or otherwise demonstrated their understanding of cycling crashes?
Fourth: Check out their credentials. Are they highly rated by well-recognized attorney rating services such as AVVO.com, Martindale.com, and Superlawyers.com. Look for an attorney who has the highest possible AV rating under Martindale for ethics and legal abilities. Check their website to see if their clients are satisfied with them enough to leave actual testimonials about the quality of their work and the relationship the client had with the attorney. Look to see if they have a large number of five-star Google reviews.
Finally: You should always talk to the lawyer directly. How long does it take them to respond to your phone call? Will they be available to answer your questions after you hire them? You must have a sense of whether you trust the attorney to, not only understand your case, but to demonstrate they care about you and your recovery, and helping you make the decisions which are best for your life and your case. You need to have an abiding peace that their first priority is you and not them.
Is My Injury Serious Enough that I Should Get an Attorney?
After your medical condition has stabilized, you should give consideration to whether you need an attorney. Many clients in our practice had never worked with an injury attorney before and had no clear sense of whether they needed one. You will benefit from an attorney's guidance if you suffer any injury which is significant. But what does significant mean? Here are some guidelines:
First: You should always speak to an attorney if have had surgery, or likely will require surgery in the future.
Second: We consider a significant injury to be one in which you suffered a concussion, whether you were knocked unconscious or suffered a period of being dazed or confused, had any loss of awareness of where you were or of your circumstances; or if you suffered a concussion with any ongoing reduction in your cognitive abilities (concentration, memory, word finding or recall, loss of focus…cognitive losses are many and varied); loss of your sense of direction; alteration of sleep patterns; change in personality or temperament; loss of senses, such as smell or taste; loss of balance, disorientation, vertigo or having the room feel as if it is spinning; or any similar symptoms.
Third: Other significant injuries include damage to the spine such as herniated disc injuries, compression fractures of the spinal vertebra, nerve damage; shoulder separations, or limitation in the use in any of your extremities.
What will I Need to Provide at the Initial Meeting and What will I be Asked to Sign?
During the initial meeting with our office, whether in person or by phone, we will gather all the facts about your case, including where you live, your work (if you are employed), your auto and health insurance, the identity of each health provider you have seen related to your injury, and any pertinent health providers you have seen in the past. We will ask about all photos you or those riding with you have taken, and we will ask about the identity and contact information of any witnesses.
During the initial meeting, we will also go over the documents that require your signature. If we meet by phone or a Zoom conference, we will email the documents to you ahead of time. These documents include an Authority to Represent (the fee agreement), which describes how the contingency fee works. Jim reminds every client they will never receive a bill from us and they will never be asked to write a check to us for anything. There is no surprise billing; our entire fee is a percentage of the total settlement.
The other documents requiring your signature include the Statement of Client’s Rights (which simply answers many common questions clients have about the process); a medical authorization, so we can obtain your medical records from each health provider; and a questionnaire asking you to describe your injuries and how they are affecting you. If you have suffered a concussion as a result of your crash, we will ask you to indicate on our Brain Injury Checklist any concussion-related symptoms you are experiencing. This simply gives us a full understanding of the impact of your injury.
Who will Help Me Get My Bicycle Repaired or Replaced?
If we represent you for your injury claim, we will do our best to get your bicycle repaired or replaced. We do not charge our clients any fee to settle their property damage claim related to their damaged bicycle, equipment and gear so long as we can do so without filing a lawsuit, which we have never had to do.
Who will I Be Working With?
Our practice is not an advertising firm handling hundreds or even thousands of cases. We limit the cases we accept to insure we provide personal service to each client. When you call our office, you will first speak with one of our friendly team members who will introduce themselves and get some basic information about your situation. Then they will connect you to the attorney or schedule a time for you to speak with Jim Dodson as quickly as possible, usually that same day. During your conversation with Jim, he will more fully determine exactly what happened in your case and make sure we understand how we can best serve you. We will always honor and address your concerns, and be honest with you about how we best serve you.
If you decide you want us to represent you, and we believe you have a case for which we can help you, Jim will set a time at your earliest convenience to talk in more detail and obtain all the information we need to get started on your behalf; that will be done the same day in many cases, or otherwise typically within twenty four hours. Since we represent cyclists throughout Florida, how and where we have our initial meeting varies based on your circumstances. We may decide it is best if we meet you at your home, in a hospital, or some other location close to you. It is not uncommon for our initial meeting to be entirely by phone so it is not necessary for you to come to our office in order for us to begin working on your case. We will always do what meets your needs and your situation.
After our initial meeting and upon receipt of the signed representation documents, we will begin work on your behalf. Jim’s long time paralegal, Judi, will request police reports, insurance coverage information from every insurance company insuring you or the other party and your medical records from each medical provider with whom you treat throughout your case, along with keeping tabs on your injury-related medical bills. Jim will be monitoring any investigative work undertaken and begin to deal with the repair or replacement of your bicycle. You should expect ongoing communication with Judi and Jim as your case progresses.
Our settlement team will assemble your medical records and other materials so that when you are released from active treatment by your treating doctors, we are prepared to put together our comprehensive demand package to be sent to the responsible insurance company. A key member of our team is Mark Murray, a retired insurance claims adjuster. Mark’s role includes carefully reviewing any insurance coverage issues and analyzing complex medical records, particularly those involving significant surgeries or concussion-related treatment. He works with the attorneys, and assists in assembling the demand package and strategizing our settlement goals.
Once we have drafted the settlement demand package, it will be provided to you before being submitted to the insurance company. You will have an opportunity to review it thoroughly with Jim to insure it is complete and accurate. During that conversation, Jim will also make sure our settlement demand accurately describes all of the injury symptoms and their effects on your life. Jim will discuss the settlement demand amount and the settlement goal. Any questions you may have will be addressed.
Hiring the right attorney after your bicycle injury is a big decision. We are committed to helping Florida cyclists regardless of where you are located in the state. In many cases, our clients live out of state and were injured in a crash in Florida while here on vacation or living here part of the year. We will help guide your medical care in Florida, or after you return to your home state. We invite you to review our client testimonials and Google reviews. We believe our clients say it best. We are here when you need us.