Finding the right personal injury attorney to represent your interests after an accident is essential. If you are injured by the negligence of another there are specific considerations that can help you select an attorney that fits your needs.
For example, in personal injury cases, an attorney’s earnings are generally a percentage of how much a client receives if there is a settlement or a favorable verdict.
Because of this, a skilled attorney will generally cost you about as much as an unskilled attorney if there is a favorable outcome. As a result, it is important for clients to perform their own investigations regarding the qualifications of any attorney they wish to hire.
Below are 10 questions you should ask before you hire a personal injury attorney.
1. What kind of experience in this type of personal injury case do you have?
Due to the varying types of law, and the broad areas of practice that are available to attorneys, it is important to ensure that the attorney you select has experience in dealing with the type of personal injury case you are involved in. Some of the different types of personal injury cases include automobile or bicycle accidents, products liability cases, and even slip-and-fall cases. An attorney who has experience in a specific type of personal injury case would provide you with much more value for your money and would provide you with more security than one who sporadically handles personal injury cases. You can even ask for past client references, or ask about which legal organizations the lawyer is involved in, in order to get an idea of what kind of lawyer you are working with.
2. What is your contingency fee?
Most personal injury fee agreements are based on contingency fees, which means that there is no legal fee without a monetary recovery. This recovery can be obtained either through settlement or through trial. Typically, legal fees in a contingency fee agreements are negotiable, but range from 25% to 40% of the monetary recovery.
3. Who is responsible for advance case costs if I lose?
Another monetary concern when hiring an attorney is the issue of advance case costs. Some attorneys do include advance costs in their fee agreements, which can eat away at a client’s potential recovery. Such costs can include out-of-pocket expenses. It is important to ensure that the client will not be responsible for the costs, even if the case is unsuccessful.
4. Do you have the time to take on my case?
While there are some exceptions, most attorneys who practice in personal injury cases will already have a number of cases on their hands. However, it is always important to make sure that the prospective attorney has enough time to properly handle your case. You would not want an attorney who takes your case on and then waits ten or so months before dealing with it. You want someone who can handle your case at the right time. Some other things to consider are how many cases the attorney is currently handling, and whether the attorney has the financial and staffing resources to take on the case.
5. When will my lawsuit be filed?
It helps to have a clear idea of when major events in your case will take part. More importantly, it helps to know what your attorney will do with your case. There’s nothing worse than being left in the dark, only to find out that your attorney neglected your case.
6. How long does it typically take to resolve a case like mine?
While no attorney will be able to give you an exact answer to this question, an attorney can give you a clearer idea of the timeline of your case. It can also inform you as to the experience the attorney might have, since the attorney’s familiarity with the subject matter would allow the attorney to get a rough idea of how long things might take. It is important to keep in mind, however, that life does not stop just because you have filed a suit, and that there are plenty of situations that might skew the estimated timeline of your case.
7. What is your assessment of my case?
It is easy to believe that we should be compensated for our injuries. However, there are times when the law, or the facts of the matter, might prevent an in-court recovery. It is at times like this when it is very helpful to have an unbiased party to examine your case. In addition, you can also get an idea of how much your case is worth. That being said, it is important to be weary of unrealistic promises, since some attorneys might oversell a case in order to get more work.
8. Who is the attorney who will actually handle my case?
This can be a particularly tricky detail, since the person you are speaking to might not be the attorney who brings your case to court, or might not even be the attorney who handles your case. Some attorneys might only deal with settlement negotiations, and would pass the case onto another attorney. In firms, even though you speak to the head attorney, your case might be passed onto associates. Be clear on who your contact will be in your case, and who will actually do the work on your case.
9. How often will you communicate with me about the case?
Communication in any case is vital. You don’t want an attorney who will leave you in the dark for months at a time, only to let you know of a big event at the last minute. Be clear on how frequent you can expect communication, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your attorney if you have not heard anything for some time.
10. What are my responsibilities in this case?
It is important to be aware of any responsibilities you might have in order to ensure the success of your case. For example, in a personal injury case, one such responsibility might be regular doctor visits. While a big part of a successful personal injury lawsuit is the cooperation between the attorney and the client, it is also important to keep in mind that you have hired the attorney to deal with the case. Clearly stating what each party is responsible for at the beginning can prevent misunderstandings in the long run.