If you are seeking compensation for injuries and other losses from a serious accident, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Never file a personal injury lawsuit or negotiate a settlement with an insurance company without consulting with a personal injury lawyer first.
Accidents are traumatic and confusing events, with the majority of victims unsure of the best way to proceed. You know you need a qualified legal representation, but how do you find the right attorney for you and your case?
13 Essential Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer
To make sure you have the right person for the job, get satisfactory answers for these questions
1 – What areas of the law are the attorney’s specialization?
There are many different practice areas for lawyers, you want an attorney that focuses their practice on personal injury work. Ask for board certification in personal injury litigation. In the firm you will likely find lawyers with varying degrees of experience in specific types of personal injury laws, such as:
Has the attorney represented people in cases similar to yours? How many? What was the result?
First match with your case with an attorney who specializes in that type of case. Next, learn about their actual experience and their record of success.
3 – Is the attorney able to handle your case?
Reputable lawyers will typically not accept cases that they do not have the time or staff to handle. Make sure the attorney you choose has the ability to devote the time and resources to know your case and fight for you.
4 – Who will be working on the case?
Sometimes the attorney you interview is not the attorney who will actually represent you. If they aren’t, ask to meet the person who will be in charge of your case. Know who your contact will be and who will answer questions you may have. Typically legal secretaries, paralegals, and junior associates do most of the work. You might want to the people doing the actual work on your account, you definitely want to know who is supervising them.
5 – Has the attorney ever been disciplined or censured by a legal or ethics committee? If yes, why?
Although the majority of lawyers will not have been the subject of disciplinary action, it is in your best interest to know. If they have, it might impact their ability to represent you effectively.
6 – What is your case worth?
You can’t expect a precise number, but a personal injury attorney should be able to give you a range of what your case may be worth based on discovery, liability, and other factors that may impact the verdict or settlement. If you interview several firms, they should all be close in their estimates. If one seems to be very high or very low in comparison, they might not be the right choice for you.
7 – What are the attorney’s fees? Do they work on a contingency basis?
The majority of personal injury lawyers work on contingency: taking a portion of money you recieve from settlement or trial to cover services, fees, and expenses. Some lawyers charge an hourly fee for personal injury cases. Whether the lawyer charges hourly or on contingency, get an estimate of costs and when they will be due and payable.
8 – Who pays the costs, and when?
There are a number of costs associated with a personal injury lawsuit, such as court filing fees and expert witness fees. If you win, you typically pay these costs. Does your lawyer expect their contingency fee before or after the fees are paid? Importantly, who pays the costs if you lose the case? Ask about your attorney’s standard policies on costs. This may be negotiable.
9 – What is the estimated time to resolve your case?
If you have been injured in an accident, you may be unable to work and medical bills may start to come due. A personal injury lawyer should be able to give you a general idea about how long your case may last based on similar cases they have worked. In their estimate, they will consider things like necessary attendance at legal proceedings and visits with investigative doctors.
10 – What does the attorney think can be done to improve your case’s chance for success?
Don’t be surprised if the attorney has a number of actions they expect you to participate in, such as talking to investigators and being examined by doctors. Be wary of a lawyer that suggests that once they are hired you can just sit back and wait for a check.
11 – How often does the attorney take similar cases to trial?
Payment for your injuries and other losses will most likely be the responsibility of an insurance company. In personal injury cases, insurance companies will often offer settlements less than what you might get if your case goes to a trial. While a settlement might be appropriate for your case, if a lawyer rarely goes to trial, it could mean that they tend to look for quick payoffs.
12 – Will the attorney listen to you if you disagree on a settlement offer?
Some lawyers want a quick payoff and will push you to take a settlement, even if you do not agree with it. Although you are never required to settle a case if you do not choose to, your lawyer should be able to show you when it is in your best interests to settle. If an attorney believes that it is in your best interest to settle and you disagree, they have the option of withdrawing from representing you.
13 – What client references can the attorney provide?
If you are in a jurisdiction that allows attorneys to provide client references, they can be a good source of information about what to expect from your lawyer including results and time frame, and what else you can expect from your attorney.
Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer
It is important that you find an attorney you feel confident in and can trust. By asking these 13 questions you should be able to find a qualified attorney that is a good fit for you and your case. You have a number of options for identifying a lawyer to ask these questions to, including:
- Internet reviews
- Lawyer referral services
- Your state and local bar associations
Many people have good luck finding an attorney through a reference from friends, family, co-workers and doctors.
Practicing personal injury law for more than 30 years, the attorneys at Dansky | Katz | Ringold have recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of clients like you. If you would like to get more information on pursuing a case, give us a call at 800-609-7577. We’d be happy to discuss your injury and answer any questions you may have during a free consultation.