After being in an accident or suffering an injury, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is selecting an attorney to represent you
After being in an accident or suffering an injury, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is selecting an attorney to represent you in a personal injury claim. When considering a potential attorney, you should place a high priority on experience, getting along with them, and trusting them.
The method that is most likely to result in your hiring the lawyer who is best suited to handle your case is to schedule consultations with multiple potential candidates and come well-prepared with questions to ask each of them.
- 1 Questions to Ask Personal Injury Lawyer Candidates
- 1.1 1. What is your level of experience in cases like mine?
- 1.2 2. Can you give client references?
- 1.3 3. How and how much do you charge for your services?
- 1.4 4. Who will handle my case, and who can I expect to interact with?
- 1.5 5. What is your impression of my case?
- 1.6 6. How often will I get case updates?
- 1.7 7. Have you previously worked with the other party’s insurance company?
- 1.8 8. How well do you know the community where my injury happened, or will my case go to court?
- 1.9 9. How long do you expect my case to take?
- 1.10 10. Are there any deadlines I need to meet?
Questions to Ask Personal Injury Lawyer Candidates
Nearly all personal injury attorneys make themselves available to prospective clients for free consultations. During this meeting, you will have the opportunity to ask questions that will help you select the best attorney to represent you.
The personal injury lawyer that you go with should have previous experience working on cases similar to yours, as well as a proven track record of winning such cases. But that’s not the end of it. It would be best if you also had a lawyer who you are comfortable trusting and who can effectively communicate with you.
The following is a list of questions that we recommend you ask when searching for an attorney to handle your personal injury case.
1. What is your level of experience in cases like mine?
One of the most important qualities in a personal injury lawyer is experience with cases similar to yours. During your initial consultation, you should inquire as to whether or not the attorney has experience handling cases similar to yours.
- Just how long have you been an attorney?
- How big do a chunk of your business personal injury cases make up?
- I was wondering how many similar cases you’ve dealt with.
- I was wondering how many cases similar to mine you’ve tried. If so, how many were you able to claim?
- Tell me about some of your most notable victories involving situations like mine.
- Is there anything else about your experience that could make you a good fit for my case? A lawyer with experience as an insurance adjuster, for instance, may be able to help you negotiate a better settlement with the insurance company.
You can find out when and where an attorney got their license to practice law, what schools they went to, and if they have any disciplinary records by searching their state bar.
2. Can you give client references?
The opinions of a lawyer’s former clients are a valuable source of information.
Asking a lawyer for contact information for former clients who can attest to the attorney’s competence and professionalism is perfectly acceptable. However, keep in mind that the lawyer may be limited in the information about former clients that they can give you on the spot due to confidentiality obligations. It could take the lawyer a day or two to get clearance from a former client before they can put you in touch.
It would be best if you inquired about the following when speaking with a lawyer’s previous client:
- Was getting in touch with the attorney a hassle?
- Was the client able to get timely responses to their inquiries?
- How did the client feel about the attorney?
- Is there anything about working with the lawyer that the client disliked?
- What was the verdict in this matter?
- How would you rate the trip as a whole?
Reviews from former clients on sites like Avvo and Super Lawyers can be helpful if an attorney is unable to provide client references.
3. How and how much do you charge for your services?
Most lawyers who specialize in personal injury take cases on a contingency basis. This means that they are incentivized to produce positive outcomes for you.
Get an attorney’s confirmation that that’s how they normally charge for cases like yours. If a lawyer is unwilling to take your case on a contingency fee basis, that may be a red flag that they don’t believe in your claim or don’t have much experience in personal injury law.
The lawyer will take a cut of the money they win for you in a contingency arrangement. The maximum amount or percentage an attorney can earn on a contingency basis is set by law in some states. Find out from the attorney if your state has any such regulations.
At the outset of any representation, a lawyer’s fee structure must be made crystal clear and in writing to the client. That language is typically included in the retainer agreement that the lawyer and client sign before the case even begins. If your lawyer doesn’t immediately offer you a written proposal for the fee arrangement, make sure to ask for one. A lawyer who is unwilling to discuss fees with you should raise red flags.
To get a better idea of what to expect from a lawyer’s fees, you can ask further questions like:
- How do I make a down payment on the attorney fees and court costs? Should I pay them, or do you want to?
- If we don’t win, will I have to pay for any of the court costs?
- Will my bill change no matter how or when my case is resolved?
4. Who will handle my case, and who can I expect to interact with?
When you finally find a lawyer you trust, it can be disheartening to learn that they intend to hand off most of the work to associates. This may end up being fine in the end, but it’s still good to know what to expect going in.
Inquire about the following to get a feel for how your lawyer’s office divides up casework:
- I need someone to represent me in court.
- Who will speak on my behalf with the insurer or defence attorneys?
- Will I be working with a specific person at your company?
- Will I be able to reach you by phone or email if I have any concerns?
- When I send a message requesting a call back from you or someone in your office, how long until I hear back?
5. What is your impression of my case?
When you meet with potential legal representation, they should be ready to give you an honest assessment of your case. This, of course, is not the same as saying they can see into the future. Although they may not be able to give you a definitive answer, they should at least give you an idea of whether or not they think you have a case.
You can inquire how much the attorney values your case by asking this question. However, keep in mind that many factors, many of which are unknown at the time of your initial consultation, can affect the value of any claim. An attorney can usually provide you with a ballpark figure but not a firm one. Avoid hiring a lawyer who guarantees a certain settlement amount.
6. How often will I get case updates?
Hiring an attorney is stressful enough without having to wait weeks at a time for updates on the status of your case.
If you’re looking for a lawyer with whom you can easily communicate, try posing the following questions:
- Will there be regular updates, and if so, how often can we expect them?
- When a major event occurs, how quickly will I find out about it?
- What sorts of pre-decisions will you discuss with me?
7. Have you previously worked with the other party’s insurance company?
Lawyers who specialize in personal injury cases frequently deal with insurers. They are conversant with the strategies employed by insurers, the procedures they follow, and the most fruitful methods of negotiating settlements with them.
A seasoned lawyer will likely have dealt with all of the major insurance providers as well as numerous smaller ones. A lawyer who has dealt with the insurer of the other party before may have an easier time getting your claim heard and settled.
8. How well do you know the community where my injury happened, or will my case go to court?
There are many ways in which hiring a lawyer familiar with the area can help your personal injury claim. An attorney with local knowledge has a leg up on the competition when it comes to gathering evidence. Your case will likely proceed more smoothly if your attorney is familiar with the judges and court staff in the jurisdiction where it is being heard.
If you’re interviewing potential lawyers, you might want to:
- For how long have you been a part of this neighbourhood?
- In this court, how many cases have you filed or tried?
- Do you know any of the other lawyers, doctors, or witnesses who are part of my defence team?
9. How long do you expect my case to take?
You probably want your personal injury case to end quickly. In most cases, a seasoned personal injury attorney will be able to give you a ballpark estimate of how long your claim may take, depending on the specific circumstances. Just don’t count on your attorney for an exact timetable. A personal injury claim’s length can be affected by a number of factors that an attorney likely won’t be able to foresee at the outset.
Read More: Proof of Obligation in Personal Injury Cases
10. Are there any deadlines I need to meet?
In most cases, filing a valid personal injury claim requires you to act within strict time constraints. There may be deadlines by which you must inform an insurance company of your injuries or file a lawsuit. Your rights may be forfeited if you miss the deadline.
Hiring a competent personal injury attorney can help you avoid the financial consequences of missing a deadline. You can learn how much time you have to hire an attorney and what steps you may need to take immediately to protect your rights by asking the lawyer about these deadlines.