If you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, hiring a personal injury lawyer to seek justice can feel a bit overwhelming. Not to mention, there are a plethora of lawyers to choose from, making it even more difficult to narrow down the search.
Hiring the right lawyer is crucial to ensure you earn fair compensation for your injuries. Most people facing a personal injury case are navigating this process for the very first time. As much as we hate to admit it, not every personal injury attorney will have your best interests in mind.
Not sure how to start your hunt for an expert to manage your personal injury lawsuit?
The good news is you can generally gauge the trustworthiness of attorney candidates by asking a handful of questions.
In this blog post, we will discuss 10 important questions to ask personal injury attorneys before hiring them for your lawsuit:1. How Do You Structure Fees?2.How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?3. What is My Role in this Personal Injury Case?4. Do You Have Experience Managing Similar Cases?5. How Will I Stay Updated on My Case’s Progress?6. How Long Will a Resolution Take?7. Should We Settle Out of Court?8. What Happens if the Case Goes to Trial?9. What Happens If We Lose?10. What Are Your Top Priorities in a Personal Injury Case?Let’s discuss them in little brief..
Asking a personal injury lawyer how they structure fees is the first step to understanding their trustworthiness. To reiterate, most victims are facing the personal injury claim process for the first time. Some attorneys take advantage of this and demand out-of-pocket costs from clients off the bat.
What many people don’t realize is that most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they make their fees via a percentage of the total settlement AFTER the at-fault party pays it out. Clients shouldn’t pay anything when hiring a personal injury lawyer.
During your meeting, ask what percentage of the settlement the lawyer will collect if the case is won. On average, most attorneys take between 25 and 40% of the total settlement as their fees – which is factored into the personal injury compensation demand. When hiring a personal injury lawyer, steer clear of any attorney that requests deposits or other upfront costs.
Another way to gauge the experience of an attorney is to ask them to estimate the value of your case. Based on the information you provide, the candidate should be able to create a reasonable estimation of your total personal injury compensation. This will include two types of damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to compensation for monetary losses incurred from the injury. This includes (but is not limited to):
Economic damages are expenses incurred that have clear price tags. You’ll need to provide your attorney with every invoice, receipt, record, estimate, etc. to properly estimate your settlement.
In contrast, non-economic damages refer to subjective losses (which don’t have price tags). This includes compensation for struggles like:
As you could imagine, adding up these non-economic damages is not clear-cut. When hiring a personal injury lawyer, their job is to determine the severity of these damages and calculate a monetary value.
Now, it’s important to realize there are no guarantees of results in personal injury cases. The figures an attorney gives you are purely estimates. If a lawyer makes bold promises about the settlement early in the process, it’s a red flag to steer clear.
When hiring a personal injury lawyer, you need to clarify what your role in the case will be to ensure you’re both on the same page from day one. Some clients want more involvement than others. For instance, some want to be involved in negotiations and depositions. Certain attorneys may allow this while others will not.
As a baseline, your involvement will be to:
Keep in mind, your primary goal is to focus on recovery. Personal injury attorneys will perform most of the work in managing the claim and legal obstacles, but you still play a role in the case, no matter what level of involvement you prefer.
This question may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s often forgotten.
Personal injury law covers many different types of scenarios. Some of the major types of personal injury cases include:
While nearly all claims involve some type of accident, the process may differ quite a bit. For example, a medical malpractice suit will vary significantly from a boating accident lawsuit.
Given the wide array of cases, you should always ask candidates about their experience with a situation like yours when hiring a personal injury lawyer. Ideally, they will have some success stories and numbers to prove it. If they waiver when asked about their experience, it may be a sign to choose another attorney.
Effective communication is crucial in every client-attorney relationship – especially during a lengthy personal injury case. Therefore, you should always ask candidates about their preferred methods of communication.
For example, some lawyers may prefer in-person meetings while others may prefer telecommunication through email or video meetings – or both. Moreover, the should introduce you to their team of assistants and paralegals. Chances are, they will manage some of the communication.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is a stressful process. Getting a complete rundown of how the firm manages communication will do a lot to put your mind at ease – and indicates a skilled, trustworthy professional.
You may be surprised to learn that personal injury settlements can take several months to several years to complete. It will take even longer if the case goes to trial.
Asking candidates to estimate how long a resolution will take can help you gauge their experience. For instance, they might tell you about a similar case they managed in the past and how long it took.
In addition, this can help you get a realistic timeline to manage your own expectations.
As with promises of monetary amounts, steer clear of attorney candidates who make bold promises regarding the timeline. There are so many moving parts involved in personal injury cases – and many are simply out of your attorney’s hands. An experienced lawyer will be upfront about this reality and never make guarantees as to how long a case resolution will take.
The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court. Only about 5% of personal injury claims end up going to trial, while the rest are typically resolved between attorneys and insurance companies.
Taking a case to trial is extremely expensive and time-consuming. It’s generally viewed as a last resort if both parties cannot come to a fair agreement. As such, your personal injury attorney should make it clear they plan to settle the case quickly – and for the maximum compensation.
As a follow-up to the previous question, you may also wish to ask about your lawyer’s protocols if the case does move to trial. Although this is a very rare occurrence, you should have an idea of what personal injury trials look like. Should your case be taken before a judge and jury, you’ll want an attorney with lots of courtroom experience.
It’s your lawyer’s job to help you win a fair settlement – in or out of court. When hiring a personal injury lawyer, be sure to ask about their experiences going to trial, their success rate, if you’ll need to show up in court, and how you can help them prepare.
For starters, a reputable lawyer will not even take your case if they are not confident they can win. To reiterate, most personal injury lawyers don’t make any money until AFTER the settlement is paid out. No skilled attorney will risk working for months (or years) on a case if there isn’t a strong chance they’ll come out on top.
In addition to lost time and revenue, losing a case is bad for the personal injury law firm’s reputation. While an attorney should feel confident in their ability to win your case, they should not charge you anything if the case is lost.
Asking about the attorney’s priorities in a personal injury case is a great way to gauge their credibility – and trustworthiness. Every attorney will have their own answers to this question, but the top priorities should be along the lines of:
In addition to priorities, these are overarching goals. Hiring a personal injury lawyer with these objectives is crucial to earning the compensation you deserve – in a reasonable amount of time.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is a difficult decision – there’s no sugarcoating it. Fortunately, gauging the trustworthiness of an attorney isn’t as difficult as it might seem; you just need to know what questions to ask and what answers to look for. By asking candidates these ten questions, you can help narrow down your search and choose a reputable lawyer.
At Mahony Law, we’re happy to answer your questions in a free, no-obligation consultation. Even if you don’t have a valid personal injury claim, we’re happy to guide you in the right direction.
Call our office at 262-331-3553, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out an online form.
Abby is the founder of Mahony Law and devotes her time to representing people who have been seriously hurt due to the negligence of others. Abby has handled injury cases of all types, including birth injury, wrongful death, automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and truck accidents.
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