Have you been recently involved in an accident due to someone else’s negligence? Such accidents often lead to devastating losses and bodily injuries. However, securing compensation after the accident can be a difficult task.
If the accident wasn’t your fault, you might need to hire a personal injury attorney to help you get a fair settlement. Your lawyer will have your best interest at heart and represent you in settlement negotiations with the insurance company. It’s advisable to always have a personal injury attorney with you when filing a personal injury lawsuit.
However, before hiring a lawyer, there are some essential questions you should ask the attorney to determine if they are the right fit. Below are 11 questions to ask a lawyer before you hire them.
1. What Is Your Fee?
Most car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not pay your attorney until the case is over and they help you get your financial compensation from your lawsuit.
After you recover your money damages, your attorney will take their cut.
Most attorneys often ask for a percentage that is typically between 25% and 40% of the compensation amount. However, when hiring, remember also to consider your attorney’s qualifications. Some attorneys often charge a lower percentage but aren’t qualified to handle your case.
2. How Many Cases Do You Handle at the Same Time?
Asking this question will help you know whether your attorney has the habit of taking on too many cases. If they take on too many cases at a time, they may be overbooked for meetings and court hearings and may not have enough time to dedicate to your case.
In such a case, it could take months to file your lawsuit.
Remember that there is a statute of limitation in your state that your attorney must abide by for personal injury cases. If this time is coming to an end, ensure you hire an attorney who has the time to handle your case before the final deadline.
Another essential follow-up question to ask your attorney is regarding their current schedule. Ask them how many personal injury cases they are currently handling. This will give you a perspective about their schedule and their ability to handle your case on time.
3. Who Will Pay for the Case Fees (And When)?
Besides attorney fees, there are other costs that you should handle. Depending on your attorney’s method when handling your case, you might incur other out-of-pocket costs.
These legal costs could include:
- Information-gathering fees
- Expert witness expenses
- Administrative expenses
- Court filing fees
When filing a personal injury case, your attorney will incur the above costs. Ensure you ask in advance about who will cover these costs to avoid future unwanted surprises. Ask if the attorney prefers these costs to be paid at the start of the case or after the verdict is given.
Another consideration is who should be responsible for these additional costs. Depending on your agreement with your attorney, the strength of your case, and your financial situation, ensure you find a lawyer who will absorb these costs in case you lose.
However, if the attorney asks you to pay for these expenses, try to renegotiate your contingency fee.
4. How Experienced Are You in Courtroom Proceedings?
Most civil litigation doesn’t end up in a courtroom despite what you see in legal-based movies and TV series.
However, even the best personal injury lawyer has had a few cases that end up in a courtroom. You wouldn’t want to hire an attorney who has very little courtroom experience if your case ends up in front of a judge.
5. Can I Speak to Some of Your Past Clients?
Never hesitate to ask your potential lawyer for references and testimonials. Ask for at least three contacts of satisfied clients. Never depend on promotional materials and website reviews; the attorney could edit them.
Ask their former clients about their personal and professional experience with this attorney. How effectively did they communicate the progress of the case? Remember to ask if the client was satisfied with how the attorney handled the case and the outcome.
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6. Who Will Be Handling My Case?
If you have hired a firm to handle your case, the lawyer might pass you over to another more qualified lawyer.
On the other hand, some law firms often parade senior partners in front of potential clients to win them over. However, after winning over the clients, they pass the cases over to less-experienced juniors.
During the initial meeting, ask who will be handling your case. This will help you know who to contact if you need information about the progress of your compensation claim. Remember also to ask who will be supervising them.
7. Have You Handled Any Similar Cases to Mine?
Never assume that an experienced personal injury attorney has handled a case that’s similar to yours in the past. Ask your potential lawyer about their experience and results handling a case such as yours.
Personal injury is a huge umbrella with numerous types of cases under it. Some of these cases include:
- Car accidents
- Assault and battery
- Slip and falls
- Animal bites
- Products liabilities
- Medical malpractice
Most of the above personal injury categories can be further subdivided into other categories. For example, medical malpractice can be divided into surgical errors, traumatic brain injuries, misdiagnosis, and birth injuries.
Most attorneys will handle related categories in the above list. However, some personal injury categories require an extra level of experience and knowledge, such as medical malpractice.
If your injury case involves a car accident, you wouldn’t want to hand it over to a lawyer who has only handled slip and fall accidents. Similarly, you don’t want to work with an attorney who deals with collisions if you have a worker’s compensation case.
8. How Long Will It Take to Resolve My Case?
If your attorney has handled similar cases to yours, ask them how long it takes to get it resolved. While every case might be different, your attorney may give you an estimated timeline.
However, certain factors could influence the length of your case.
Some of these factors could further complicate your claim, which could lead to your case taking longer than it should. Ensure you choose an attorney committed to resolving your case as soon as possible despite the circumstances.
9. What Is My Claim Worth?
A reputable personal injury attorney should have at least an estimate of how much your claim is worth.
They should give you a spectrum of how much to expect. They should also be able to explain how certain factors such as pre-existing medical conditions, liability, and discovery affect your settlement offer or final verdict.
Before meeting with a lawyer, ensure you do your research and use your intuition and best judgment to evaluate their claims. Beware of attorneys who make big promises or offer unrealistic estimates.
10. How Often Will You Keep Me Updated About My Claim’s Progress?
Good communication skills are an essential aspect to look for in a potential personal injury attorney. While you don’t need your lawyer to hold your hand throughout your case, it’s nice to have an attorney who keeps you in the loop about what is going on.
Your attorney may not have time to call you every day. However, they should take the time to discuss your case’s progress as it goes through the legal system. This gives you peace of mind and helps you relax, knowing that your case is in good hands.
Steer away from attorneys who take a long time to respond to your calls or emails. They will frustrate you throughout the litigation process.
11. Have You Won Any Awards of Honors?
Are you dealing with a serious injury resulting from another individual’s negligent actions? You will want to hire the best attorney to represent you. Ensure you look for a top-level attorney to handle your case.
One sign of a top-level attorney is the honors and awards they have been given in their specific field of practice by legal organizations. One such honor is the leadership of bar associations. Attorneys who have been elected to leadership positions tend to be more reputable and work harder, which attracts the admiration of their peers.
It would be best if you considered an attorney with a few awards or honors. They would be better suited to work on your case.
Are You Ready to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
Personal injury cases can be expensive, taxing, and complicated to handle on your own. Thus, you will need a personal injury attorney to work with you on the case. Depending on the specifics of your case, your attorney will know the best tactics to use to get you a fair settlement.
Ensure you ask your potential personal injury attorney all the above questions to determine if they are a right fit. Google “injury lawyer near me” to get started with your search!
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