How Do You Choose The Right Attorney?

Tampa Boat Lawyers, Frank D. Butler

What do doctors and attorneys have in common? One thing is that they both have to complete a long tenure of schooling. But at the end of the medical school process, some doctors become heart specialists, some become plastic surgeons, some become internal medicine doctors, some become podiatrists, some become general practitioners.  When a person has the flu, or a headache, or a minor cut they can even go to a walk-in clinic where they will be seen by a general practitioner.

But you wouldn’t go to a walk-in clinic for a heart surgery or go to a podiatrist for a kidney problem. You would go to a doctor who regularly handles heart surgeries if you have a heart problem. Then why go to an attorney who has no real experience handling a boating crash, Jetski crash, or cruise ship injury case?

Yes, there are many attorneys who list right on their website or advertisement that they handle “boat cases”, but do they actually regularly handle those types of cases? Would you go to a heart surgeon if you knew that they had only done one heart surgery in the last 10 years?  Of course, the answer is: Never. If your case is important to you then why would you go to an attorney who has only handled boating or cruise ship cases once every 5 or 10 years?

Also, if you had a heart problem, would you go to a surgeon who says they also handle podiatry and dermatology and weight loss and hair restoration? Again, of course, the answer is: Never.  When you look at attorney websites you can find attorneys who list more than 20 areas of practice that they claim they know—and some list more than 50 different types of cases. HINT: Here is the inside track on the practice of law: It is difficult to keep up with one specific area of the law. The state laws change, federal law changes, court decisions change, technology changes, etc.  It is unimaginable that one attorney can keep up with 20 areas of the law—but that does not keep attorneys from trying to reel in your cruise ship, JetSki, or boat-crash injury case as though they handle them all the time.


First, you have to ask them straight out “How many cruise ship cases have you handled in the last 12 months?” If they hesitate at all, or they cannot remember the last time they had a cruise ship client, time to run. Second, ask them “If you had to file suit in my cruise ship injury case, where would you file that suit?” If they don’t know immediately, or they say “the local courthouse”, time to run. The truth is that most cruise ship cases have to be filed in Miami, in federal court. Next, ask them, “What are the notice requirements to the cruise line and the statute of limitations?  If they cannot tell you immediately that most cruise lines require a 6-month notification of the claim and that most cruise lines have a one-year statute of limitations, it’s time to run.

You can Google them. List the name of any major cruise line (Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, etc.) and add the name of the attorney seeking your business.  If their name does not pop up on the first page next to lawsuits they have filed against the cruise lines, then it’s time to run. If you Google our lead attorney, Frank D. Butler, along with any major cruise line, you will see lawsuits we have filed against the cruise lines.  What this means is that we actually handle these types of cases, and Google is the proof of it.

Ask yourself this, Why would the attorney—who wants my business—not know the answers to questions that a true maritime attorney would easily know the answer? Ask yourself this, Why would I not be able to locate any cases on Google in which this attorney sued a cruise line?


The choice is important because this is your case and that of your family. You want to know that the person you choose to represent you in this unique area of law actually regularly—not just once in a blue moon—practices in this law. You would not allow the podiatrist to perform heart surgery on you. Choosing this law firm gets you 25 years of experience of actually handling cruise ship injury cases, boating cases, JetSki crashes, and parasailing injury cases. We have cases pending for clients right now against every major cruise line. We regularly file suit against cruise lines for our clients.  

The choice is important not only because we know what we are doing in maritime law. Another benefit of choosing our law firm is that we regularly see the same defense counsel over and over on maritime cases. Many times we are able to resolve a case before filing suit—not short-selling them for just anything—based upon our previous experience with the opposing counsel.

Experience matters. Experience matters when you are choosing a surgeon, and it matters when you are choosing an attorney in this unique area of the law.


***None of the foregoing is legal advice and is not meant to give legal advice. Each case is different. This is why it is important to contact us on the specific facts of your case. What you say in making the claim can greatly affect your outcome.