What Should I Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer?
When you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you can expect to face many difficult decisions in the days, weeks, and months following your injury. Finding the right personal injury lawyer to represent you after an accident can help you secure proper compensation to cover the costs associated with your incident, including medical treatment, lost wages, property damages, etc. It’s important to avoid hiring an inexperienced personal injury attorney by asking the right questions.
So what questions should you ask a personal injury lawyer?
Here are the top 7 questions to ask before hiring a personal injury attorney.
What is your experience with my specific legal problem?
Before hiring a personal injury lawyer, you should first find out how much experience the attorney has handling your specific type of case.
There are many law firms with a wide array of legal cases, while others have specific specialties. If you have a serious personal injury case, you may prefer to work with a law firm that has cases like yours on a daily basis, because their experience can speed up your case as they are up-to-date on the latest developments in your specific type of case.
Before hiring a personal injury lawyer, you should first find out how much experience the attorney has to handle your specific type of case. You should ask if you will win your case, and what kind of compensation you can expect — keeping in mind that this is an estimate, as personal injury cases are unpredictable.
How are your fees structured?
Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you receive an acceptable settlement or win a judgment in court. The percentage your attorney will take is typically between 25% – 40%, with 33% being standard. This is something you should not be afraid to ask prior to hiring your attorney and continue to ask for clarification when needed, as changes in cases can bring higher or lower fees.
Have you tried any personal injury cases like mine in court to a jury before? What is your track record of success?
While most people believe that personal injury attorneys try cases in court on a regular basis, there is actually a significant percentage of lawyers claiming to be personal injury trial lawyers who, in actuality, have little to no jury trial experience.
This is important because you’ll need an experienced attorney who is prepared to present a compelling case in front of a judge and a jury.
Do you have any peer reviews?
There are several organizations and sources that rate attorneys based on what their peers say about them. This can provide you with valuable insight into what a lawyer’s reputation is among his or her peers. The Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory has peer-review ratings of lawyers, where potential clients can identify, evaluate and select the most appropriate lawyer for their legal issue. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. These resources can help take the guesswork out of choosing an experienced lawyer to handle your case.
Who will actually handle my case?
Who at the firm will handle the different aspects of your case? This is an important question to ask because some law firms tend to advertise their senior partners like the ones who will represent the potential clients, and then the clients never see or meet with the partners again once the agreement is signed. Determining who will be your contact and who you can expect to speak with when you have questions about your case will help you understand what to expect.
What is my role in my case?
You may want to be very involved in your case, or you may prefer to let your attorney handle all the details. Before hiring a personal injury lawyer, be sure you understand your role in the lawsuit and what will be expected of you. If you want to be involved, attending depositions and other meetings, find out if your lawyer will allow this, as some lawyers don’t. Ensure that you and your personal injury lawyer are on the same page about what your relationship will look like. Who will communicate with you, and how often? These are things you’ll want to be clear about before hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Can you provide me with references from other clients?
Ideally, your personal injury lawyer can and will provide you with references from other clients. You should be able to contact them directly via phone or email, as many online references or reviews have been edited or don’t even exist.