Prepare to meet you lawyer with these eight questions to ask a personal injury lawyer. Learn more about how to get ready.
Personal injury cases can be critical for the financial survival of a victim. Compensation for a personal injury claim can end up being the difference between financial distress and completely covering all medical costs and long-term consequences.
As such, it’s essential to pick the best representative for the job. Regardless of whether you’re aiming to settle out of court or take it to the final inning, having the best team on your side can do a lot to improve your chances. That means asking the right questions.
Why Make a List of Questions To Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Quality matters more than cost here. Most law firms specializing in personal injury claims are compensated through a percentage of your settlement or final compensation, so getting the most experienced, competent, and qualified people should be your primary goal.
To that end, you need to be thorough when identifying and interviewing your choices. Let’s go over a few critical questions.
How Long Have You Focused on Personal Injury Law?
Ideally, pick an attorney or law firm specializing in personal injury claims. Ask them how long they have been specializing in personal injury law. Ask them about their track record and number of cases, as well as the combined years their firm has been tackling personal injury claims. The more cases and the more years an attorney have under their belt, the more likely it is that they’ve had a case like yours.
Do I Have a Case, To Begin With?
Experienced attorneys still need time to research the specifics of any given case before answering a question like that. But given the broad strokes, they may be able to provide you with an answer with a few factors or caveats attached to it. They might say that you could have a case, given factors A and B are fulfilled.
This is also a great way to catch someone who might be more interested in selling you their services than providing the best possible service they can. An experienced attorney would never guarantee you a win without having all the facts first.
Who Would Handle My Case?
When meeting as a prospective client, you may be speaking with some of the most experienced lawyers in the firm.
But when it comes to handling your case, these lawyers may have minimal involvement, which is especially true for much larger law firms.
It’s important to ask who will end up taking care of the bulk of your case and how much involvement your attorney will end up having in the case.
How Would You Estimate the Value of My Case?
Again, no attorney would give a specific answer without all the facts – but experienced personal injury attorneys may be able to provide an estimated range based on similar cases they’ve closed in the past.
By asking multiple different attorneys, you can get a more accurate range – and you can identify outliers who tend to overpromise for the sake of landing a client.
How Will You Be Compensated?
Different attorneys and law firms command different fees and compensation. Know up-front what you should expect to part with and any other case-related fees that you might need to pay regardless of the outcomes of the case.
Some law firms shoulder these costs as well, with the caveat that they command higher contingency fees (i.e., a more significant total percentage of the final compensation).
Who Will I Be Communicating With?
Litigation can be a long and complicated process. You will undoubtedly have questions, and it would be nice to know who to contact to ask these questions and how.
When can you contact your lawyer? Will you speak with them directly, or should you set up a call through their assistant or secretary? Do they prefer email, chat, video call, or voice call? How quickly can you usually get a physical appointment, if at all (given COVID)?
What Time Frame Are We Looking At?
Personal injury cases can vary significantly in terms of timeframe. While it’s not possible to give you a perfect answer, most experienced personal injury attorneys will be able to provide you with an estimate based on similar cases they’ve worked on.
They may be able to tell you roughly how soon you might be able to expect an out-of-court settlement or how long the average case of this kind might take when it’s taken to court.
What Happens If I Lose?
It’s important to prepare for the worst, both in terms of court decisions and overall costs. Most personal injury lawyers are only paid when they win via contingency fees. These are equal to a percentage of the total compensation awarded to you at the end of the case.
While you might not need to compensate your attorney for anywhere near as much as you would if you win your case, there might still be other case-related fees and costs not associated with the actual win that you could be stuck with. Will your attorney shoulder these costs as part of their compensation scheme? Or will you be asked to pay these out-of-pocket?
Remember to Conduct Multiple Interviews
You might feel compelled to work with the first lawyer who makes a good impression on you. But don’t forget that good first impressions and impeccable customer service and essential skillsets for any lawyer – and neither speak to their overall competence or experience.
No matter how great you feel about your first pick, always take the time to consider other options before circling back to whom you felt most comfortable with. You may find a better lawyer to represent you for this case if you shop around a little first.
These are just some of the things you should remember to ask a prospective representative for your injury case. You don’t want an idealist – look for concrete, realistic, and experienced professionals who are interested in being straightforward and who share an excellent track record.
Making a great first impression is good, but brutal professionalism is even better. You want someone who will be frank about your chances, who will concisely explain your role in the process, and who will help guide you through the ins and outs of litigation. With these questions to ask a personal injury lawyer, you will get closer to making your best informed decision.