Finding someone to represent you in a legal case takes a lot of trust. And if you’ve been injured in an accident, hiring a personal injury lawyer who is qualified, affordable, and trustworthy can seem daunting.
But asking the right questions goes a long way when hiring a personal injury attorney. It’s an opportunity to learn about their experience and skill, as well as their motivations. It also demonstrates your knowledge of the matter at hand.
Keep reading to learn the 10 essential questions to ask before hiring a personal injury lawyer.
1. “What’s your area of expertise?”
The most important criteria to look for when finding a lawyer is what type of law they practice.
Just like doctors and other medical professionals, attorneys specialize in different types of law. If you have an immigration case, for example, you wouldn’t call an attorney who practices patent law.
Even among personal injury attorneys, lawyers specialize in different types of cases. Make sure the personal injury lawyer you hire is well versed in the type of case you have, whether that be a car accident, wrongful death, or drowning incident.
2. “How many similar cases have you represented?”
After establishing that you’re speaking with the right type of lawyer, ask how often they’ve represented cases like yours.
Studying a subject isn’t the same as having real-world experience. Are you willing for your injury case to act as your lawyer’s guinea pig?
Do your due diligence to find a personal injury attorney who has tried (and won) cases similar to yours. After all, the best indication of future results are past ones.
3. “Who will be working on my case?”
When hiring a personal injury lawyer, ask whether they’ll be the ones personally taking your case. If a firm has more than one attorney, they may pass your case off for another lawyer to handle.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In many cases, it works out in your favor, since you will be assigned to the person with the unique set of experience, knowledge, and skills to handle your particular case.
4. “How long do you think the case will take?”
Your case will not be the only one your lawyer is working on (especially if s/he is successful). They will likely be juggling dozens, if not hundreds, of other cases at the same time.
While no attorney can predict exactly how long a case will take to resolve, asking this question will help you judge how much of a priority your case will be.
5. “How often do your cases go to trial?”
It’s common for insurance companies to offer an out-of-court settlement in personal injury cases. But accepting this offer—while it can mean a swift end to your legal battle—can result in you getting less than you’re entitled to.
Of course, it might be preferable to you to put the whole business behind you and get back to your life. But it’s important to have this discussion with any lawyer you’re meeting with.
6. “What are your fees? / Do you work on a contingency fee?”
Many personal injury lawyers (including us) work on a contingency fee. That means they only get paid if you’re successful in your case.
Some firms charge out-of-court costs regardless of verdict. Some work on a combination of both.
If they do work on a contingency, ask what percentage they take from the money you recover and if there are any other additional costs that you need to know about.
7. “What is my role in the case?”
Winning a personal injury case starts long before you ever reach the courtroom.
Advising clients and presenting your case before a judge are important steps, but researching, investigating, and negotiating are what make those steps successful.
Get a clear idea of what exactly your personal injury attorney will do for your case and what your role will be.
8. “What’s your success rate?”
While it may seem trivial (or even rude), it helps to ask how successful your lawyer is.
By itself, a win/loss record is no indication of how “good” a lawyer is (some lawyers are more focused on representing all clients, regardless of how “winnable” their case is). But how your lawyer answers this question will help you gain greater insight into how they work and how they view your case.
9. “Have you ever been censured or disciplined?”
Disciplinary action against a lawyer, while unlikely, is definitely worth knowing about.
An incident like that will have repercussions on their reputation, as well as offer insight into your experience with them.
While it’s possible to find out on your own whether an attorney is in good standing, it can be informative to find out how they answer this question. Do they own up to their mistake? Do they feel justified in their behavior? Or do they try to explain it away?
10. “Can you provide references?”
Finally, ask if you can speak with any past clients.
The willingness to share this with you will tell you a lot. Any hesitation or reluctance to provide a reference is cause for concern.
Get the Representation You Deserve
If your injury is serious enough to warrant hiring a personal injury lawyer, it’s important enough to get it right. Find someone you can trust get you the verdict you deserve.
Medical appointments and bills, pain, and a change in your “normal” have already upended your life and your schedule. However, knowing the right questions to ask your potential lawyer will help simplify the process.
If you’ve recently been injured and need to speak to a lawyer, let us help. We are available for both English- and Spanish-speaking clients in our Mt. Dora and Maitland offices and we will do whatever it takes to give you the representation and the justice that you deserve.