Sustaining an injury or illness due to someone else’s negligence is a difficult experience. While no amount of money can undo what you’ve suffered, filing a personal injury claim can provide financial compensation to support recovery. This requires working closely with a personal injury lawyer you trust to represent you.
Choosing the right attorney is imperative – it directly impacts your chances of success and potential settlement amount. You want a lawyer who is compassionate yet aggressive, highly experienced, and willing to take cases to trial if needed. Conducting a consultation allows you to know the lawyer better before formally hiring one. Come prepared with probing questions to ensure you pick the best attorney.
This article reveals the most critical questions to ask personal injury lawyers before handing over your case. Read on for what to ask upfront to choose a trustworthy advocate ready to fight for what you deserve.
1)How Much Experience Do You Have With My Specific Injury Case?
One of the most important questions to ask prospective lawyers is about their experience with your specific type of personal injury case. Personal injury is a broad practice area encompassing many kinds of accidents, illnesses, and situations with varying legal nuances. You want to find a lawyer who is an expert regarding the details and unique processes relevant to obtaining compensation for your particular injury or condition.
For instance, complex asbestos-related diseases like malignant mesothelioma require lawyers with extensive knowledge of how asbestos exposure leads to diagnosis later in life. The lawyer should understand latency periods, proving companies’ knowledge of asbestos dangers, occupational exposure sites, and more. Many lawyers focus their entire practice on asbestos litigation and have handled hundreds of mesothelioma settlements. This level of specific experience translates directly into better case outcomes compared to lawyers handling a wider variety of personal injury cases.
If the attorney does not have significant experience handling your particular injury type, you may want to keep looking for someone who specializes in that area of personal injury law. Lawyers who repeatedly handle cases just like yours will know the intricacies and strategies that give you the best chance of success. Specific experience is a key indicator of expertise.
2)What Is Your Legal Strategy for My Case?
It is imperative to understand the legal strategy a lawyer would use for your specific case. Every personal injury case requires a customized strategic approach based on the circumstances and type of injury or illness. Ask the lawyer to walk through their prospective strategy for building and arguing your case successfully.
Gauge if the attorney seems truly engaged in discussing the strategy details versus giving vague answers. Listen for a demonstration of strategic thinking around key components like establishing liability, proving causation, calculating damages, evidence gathering, selecting expert witnesses, anticipating defenses, and other case specifics.
The lawyer should also ask you probing questions to identify the unique strengths and weaknesses of your situation in order to determine the ideal approach. For example, the strategy for a mesothelioma case would focus on proving that asbestos exposure from certain products or worksites directly caused the development of cancer later on.
An informed, customized legal strategy tailored to the particulars of your case gives confidence that the lawyer has the skill and commitment to represent you effectively. If the attorney does not explain their strategic analysis of your case specifics, they may not be the best advocate for your claim.
3)What Resources Does The Firm Provide?
Understanding what staff and resources a firm dedicates is important for assessing case support. Large firms may have advantages like extensive legal teams, in-house medical experts, investigators, and legal support staff. However, boutique firms can provide more personalized attention.
Ask how many other lawyers may work on your case and what team members handle tasks like preparing filings and exhibits, contacting medical professionals, conducting research, or attending depositions. Also, discuss what experts and evidence resources would be utilized. Determine the level of partner involvement and internal brainstorming about your case.
4)How Do You Calculate Your Fees?
The financial structures personal injury lawyers use range from hourly rates to contingency fees based on settlement amounts. Contingency fee rates for most standard injury cases fall between 33-40% of the total settlement. However, a contingency fee means that if your lawyer loses the case, they wouldn’t be entitled to any money. Understand precisely how the lawyer charges and calculates the fees.
Standard expenses like filing fees and copying costs are typically included, while experts, investigation, and travel may involve additional fees. Compare fee structures between lawyers.
5)What Is the Claims Process and Timeline?
Managing expectations around the claims process is vital. Personal injury cases often take months or years, depending on complexity, especially if going to trial. Understand the general phases from investigation, pre-trial motions and discovery, settlement talks, to potential trial.
Ask about the lawyer’s role during each phase and your involvement. Discuss an estimated timeline and major milestones based on case specifics. Transparency about the road ahead allows you to mentally prepare for the process. However, the lawyer should explain that unforeseen factors can delay timelines.
The case timeline impacts one’s life, so understanding the length of each phase helps set expectations. For instance, complex illness cases involving extensive medical evidence review, expert testimony, and scientific causation can understandably take longer through the pre-trial and discovery processes.
6)Can You Provide References From Past Clients?
Speaking with a lawyer’s prior clients offers invaluable insight. A reputable lawyer should be willing to share client references you can contact or testimonials from cases similar to yours. After permissions are granted, reach out to previous clients about their experience.
Ask former clients questions like: Were you satisfied with the outcome? Did you feel supported during the process? Was communication timely and clear? Did the lawyer display knowledge, compassion, and commitment? Feedback directly from someone who worked with the lawyer on a case clarifies strengths and weaknesses.
If speaking directly with references seems intrusive, lawyers may provide written testimonials from former clients describing the lawyer’s dedication, legal expertise, and the positive impact they had during the case.
Questioning personal injury lawyers thoroughly before hiring one is crucial for maximizing the chances of a successful claim and compensation. While every lawyer has different approaches, there are fundamental boxes that must be checked to give your case the best chance of success. Don’t rush the decision – take time interviewing multiple attorneys before choosing one. With a reputable and experienced personal injury lawyer by your side, you can get the financial compensation you deserve.