5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
- Personal Injury
If you think you have a personal injury case and you’re wondering what questions to ask an attorney before you hire them, then congratulations, you are on the right track. The best thing you can do for your case is to hire a lawyer. Unfortunately, too many people try to go it alone and make costly mistakes that can’t be undone.
Hiring an attorney can seem daunting if you have little or no experience with lawyers, but it’s just like hiring anyone else to perform a service. Think of the first meeting as an interview. There are a lot of lawyers, so you’re looking for one who is right for your specific case, and that may not necessarily be the first one you meet.
Here are five questions to ask before hiring a personal injury attorney.
1. Do You Have Experience with My Type of Case?
Personal injury is an extensive practice area that covers everything from car accidents to medical malpractice to industrial pollution. Different cases require significantly different expertise, so lawyers tend to specialize in particular areas, such as workplace injuries, slip, and fall cases, etc. Once they’ve developed a specialty, they can work more efficiently and confidently.
If a lawyer has never handled your type of case before, it’s not necessarily a dealbreaker, but it should give you pause. On the other hand, if your case is particularly complicated or the defendant has a lot of resources, you may want to find a specialist.
2. Do You Have Trial Experience?
It may come as a surprise, but many lawyers have no trial experience. This doesn’t mean they’re not great attorneys or can’t handle your case; after all, most lawsuits settle before trial. However, the implied threat of going to trial is inherent in any settlement negotiation. A lack of trial experience may indicate an attorney is unlikely to go through with that threat. On the other hand, it could also signal to the opposing attorneys that they have little to fear in case of a trial. Either way, it may put you at a disadvantage during negotiations.
3. What Are Your Fees?
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they will take a percentage of your overall compensation. For example, if your case settles for $100,000, and the contingency fee is 33% (a fairly typical amount), the attorney will be paid $33,000. It may seem like a lot of money, but attorneys are taking a financial risk with every case because they may end up being paid nothing. Attorneys may be willing to negotiate this percentage or not.
Another important matter to address is who pays for costs such as filing fees, expert witnesses, and more. These costs can quickly add up, so it’s good to know who is responsible for them. You may agree to pay these yourself as they arise, but more commonly, the attorney agrees to pay these costs and recoup them once your case is settled as part of the contingency fee arrangement.
4. Will You Handle My Case Personally?
It is common in a law office for staff members such as assistants and paralegals to do much of the actual work on your case. However, it’s also not unusual for simpler cases to be handed off to junior associate attorneys. Depending on the circumstances, that may be okay for you, but it’s better to know in advance if the senior attorney promising you the moon won’t actually be involved in your case.
5. What Do You Think of My Case?
Surely this question will already be on your mind when you meet with an attorney, but plaintiffs sometimes arrive with elevated expectations, assuming their case is an easy win. They’ll be walking out with a big check within a week. But, even when you have a strong claim, the results can be unpredictable and take a frustratingly long time to be resolved.
It’s critical to get an honest assessment regarding how likely you are to prevail, how long the process may take, and how much compensation you might receive. No lawyer can give you a guarantee as to results, but they should be able to provide you with a general idea.
Our Attorneys Are Happy to Answer These Questions and More
The best chance of winning your case is to find a personal injury attorney who is the right fit for you and your case, and the only way to do that is to start talking to lawyers in your area. Our legal team has experience in a wide variety of practice areas and has the trial experience to take your claim to court if needed. Schedule a free consultation today if you want to discuss your case with an expert.