You got injured and are now in pain and out of work. The last thing you feel like doing is finding a personal injury attorney, much less researching and interviewing dozens to find the right one. And ads promoting potential attorneys are everywhere — TV, radio, social media. So, how do you know how to find the best personal injury lawyer to meet your needs?
If you have been hurt in an accident through no fault of your own, you will need legal representation that will fight on behalf of you and your case. Knowing the right questions to ask a personal injury lawyer can help you find the right fit. We put together this guide of questions to help you determine how to find the best personal injury lawyer for you and your case.
When you first start looking for a personal injury lawyer in your area, you will probably notice that most of them will offer a “free consultation.” A consultation with a personal injury attorney enables the attorney to assess your situation and determine if you have a strong case or not, as well as help you assess whether or not the attorney would be a good fit for you. You should also use this time with the attorney to ask the below questions to learn more about their qualifications, experience, track record, and philosophies to help you determine if they would be the right attorney for you.
Depending on the state that you live in, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning you will not be charged unless your attorney wins your case. The fee is based on a percentage of the amount you are awarded in the suit. It’s important to ask what the law firm’s percentage is in regards to the contingency fees they will take out as well as any other added on costs you would be responsible for. While some law firms may charge for things like copying documents and mailings, others may absorb the costs instead so it’s vital to find out what you would be held accountable for financially.
You should also ask what will happen and what you still may be responsible for financially in the event that you lose your case. Will you still be expected to pay attorney and courtroom fees? If so, can your lawyer give you an estimate? While you should always approach your case from the perspective that your attorney will do everything in their power to win for you, it’s a good idea to beware of the worst-case scenario up front to help eliminate any surprise fees down the road.
Some attorneys are general practitioners who cover a little of everything throughout the field of law, including personal injury. Such attorneys may get a case here and there for medical malpractice, personal injury, or a case against drug manufacturers, while they will also handle other types of cases in different areas of law and therefore do not specialize in the area of personal injury. Other lawyers will specialize specifically in the field of personal injury and will therefore, only handle those types of cases.
Think of assessing a personal injury attorney as similar to the way you might choose a doctor. Would you want to see your family general practitioner to help treat serious heart issues? You would most likely want to be seen by a cardiologist who is the most familiar with that field of medicine to help ensure you will get the best treatment . The same goes with selecting a lawyer — if they don’t work on personal injury cases day to day, you could be at a disadvantage. It takes a specialist in any legal field to know that field inside and out to be able to practice at the highest skill level and obtain the most favorable results for the client.
Most lawyers who handle personal injury cases charge their clients the same “contingency” fees no matter how long they’ve practiced the field of law. If a lawyer with five years of experience will charge you the same fees as someone with 20 years of experience, you would most likely prefer to hire the more experienced lawyer over the less experienced one.. How experienced your lawyer is in the field of law can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
While it may not be necessary to ask for an extensive assessment of your case, what you should focus on is asking if your case is strong and why you may or may not have a good chance at obtaining the fair compensation you deserve on behalf of the suffering you faced as a result of your personal injury due to no fault of your own.
Just like you should ask about the strong parts of your case, you should inquire about the weaknesses of your case as well, so you can best know how to prepare to still set your case up for success. It’s better to be aware of these potential areas of concern sooner rather than later.
It’s normal to have weak spots in your case and during your consultation, it is an excellent time to discuss them with your prospective personal injury attorney. If a lawyer tells you that your personal injury case will be easy-peasy, that they are all for intents and purposes, 100% confident they can win your case and that your case does not appear to have any problems whatsoever, this could be a red flag. The legal system is complex, and not everything is cut and dry. An experienced attorney with a track record of successful settlements should always be up front in regards to letting you know of any potential issues they perceive in your case.
You don’t need to necessarily rule out lawyers who have not handled a large number of personal injury cases, especially if they have the support of more experienced attorneys in the firm to use a resource. With that being said, you probably don’t want your case to be the first personal injury case that a new personal injury attorney will be handling particularly if they work independently of other more experienced lawyers.
Having sufficient background in the field of law in general is essential, but so is the amount of experience that an attorney has in a particular area of law. Therefore, just because a law firm has been in business for a while doesn’t mean they necessarily have extensive knowledge of your type of case. Finding out this information is a great segway into the next important question we will cover.
It’s important to understand that many personal injury cases don’t ever even reach court if all parties are able to reach a fair and reasonable settlement before trial. However, if both parties can’t agree upon compensation, a trial may be inevitable.
Whether or not your case is likely to go to trial, it’s crucial to establish trust in your legal representation that he or she is prepared to fight on behalf of your case for the maximum amount of compensation you can potentially win under the law by preparing for your case as if it were to go to a jury trial. (The maximum amount can vary from state to state.) Or simply put, you should feel confident in your potential personal injury lawyer’s ability to win your case in the event that it goes to trial.
Of course, you aren’t expecting to receive a play-by-play throughout the litigation. However, you should expect your lawyer to keep you informed of the progress as your case moves its way through the legal system. Be sure to get clear expectations from your prospective attorney when and how often you can anticipate receiving updates in regards to your case.
The same goes in regard to finding out how you can get access to updates on your case periodically. Will someone be available to take your calls? Will you be speaking directly to the attorney, or would you be in contact with a paralegal or secretary? Effective communication is the foundation of any strong relationship and it is also integral to the success of your personal injury case.
It’s also important to get clarity from your attorney in your regards to your role in the legal process. Whether you want a more active role or to sit on the sidelines, you should have a good idea of what the relationship might look like if you were to work with that attorney on your case.
If the attorney is already over-booked with cases, it could take months for your suit to even be filed. Keep in mind that each state has a statute of limitations after a personal injury incident takes place. If that time is getting closer, you should choose a lawyer who has the time to file a suit well in advance of the final deadline.
An important follow-up question to ask a personal injury attorney is how many personal injury cases they are currently working on to give you a better idea of their schedule. Your attorney should be upfront and honest whether or not they have sufficient time to take on your case.
While attorney/client privilege doesn’t usually allow the lawyer to share certain specifics with you, most personal injury attorneys should have success stories and/or client reviews they can share with you.
During the initial consultation, your prospective personal injury lawyer probably can’t give you an exact figure of how much your case is worth due to unknowns such as liability, discovery, and medical evidence. However, they should be able to tell you if you are legally entitled to compensation for areas such as your medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, etc. as a result of the personal injuries you sustained due to no fault of your own.
While you should be aware that certain variables may affect the range of settlement amounts you can expect to win, an experienced lawyer can help you understand the general range.
Insurance companies often make low-ball offers in the hopes that the plaintiff will take the money and run before they ever even have the opportunity to meet with a personal injury attorney to potentially win a better settlement that would account for all of their damages. Don’t let this happen to you.
Expert personal injury lawyers should also be skilled negotiators when it comes to dealing with surance companies. And while they probably can’t give you a definite answer as to whether or not an insurance company will settle your case, they should be able to provide you with insight into how the process would work if it is.
If your case needs to go to trial, you will want an attorney with experience in the courtroom who will strongly advocate for you if the insurance company refuses to settle your case or their offer is unfair.
When choosing a personal injury lawyer, it is crucial to have a list of questions to ask during your initial consultation. It is also helpful to ask your prospective attorney to give you general advice they typically give people in similar situations.
Attorneys are accustomed to receiving all types of questions, so do not hesitate to ask whatever is on your mind. The more informed you are, the more prepared you will feel in regards to your case, and the more confident you will feel that you can make the right choice to choose the personal injury attorney who will work best on your behalf to win you potential compensation that you may deserve.
If you are suffering from a personal injury due to the negligence of another party and no fault of your own, contacting a reputable and experienced law firm is imperative. The attorneys at IPG Law Group are here to help you get the compensation you deserve. We have years of experience working on personal injury cases in and out of the courtroom and are ready to help you get the best possible settlement for your case.