It’s hard to watch TV, listen to the radio, or surf the internet without seeing ads for personal injury attorneys. If you’ve experienced an injury due to the negligence of someone else and are considering hiring a personal injury attorney, you don’t want to hire the first one you find in your Google search or the one you can remember from a commercial.
Rather, you should focus on their experience, effectiveness, and a few other characteristics to make sure you are hiring someone who can best represent you. Before you hire a personal injury attorney, ask them these questions. This will help ensure that you are hiring someone who will look out for your best interests.
Most attorneys will provide a free consultation regarding your case. You should take this opportunity to ask the following questions to get a feel for their experience and whether you think you can work with them.
1. Have You Taken Similar Cases Before? How Many?
Before hiring an attorney, ask them about their experience with cases similar to yours. How many cases have they tried where their client had an injury or situation he same, or similar, to yours. Just because they claim to specialize in a certain area of law doesn’t always mean they are actually good at it.
They might be new to the field or just not a great lawyer. Not only should you ask about how many clients like you they’ve represented before, but you should ask about the outcome. Is their success rate greater than the number of cases they’ve lost? What kinds of settlements have they gotten in similar cases?
Past practice is not a guarantee of the outcome of your case, but a successful attorney will instill much more confidence than one who loses more than they win.
2. What Are Your Fees?
Most personal injury lawyers only charge a fee if they win, but don’t just assume this is the case. This is referred to as working on a “contingency basis“, which means that you don’t pay anything unless you win your case. If you win your case, your attorney will receive a percentage of your settlement.
Any other expenses incurred during the progress of your case, such as doctor visits or expert testimony will often be paid by your attorney and then reimbursed from your settlement. The percentage that they receive varies, but 33% or 1/3 of your settlement is a common fee.
3. What Is My Case Worth?
Before hiring an attorney, ask them what they realistically think your case is worth. If it’s not a lot, it might not be worth the time and trouble it is to go through with it. They should provide you with a realistic estimate of what you might expect to get if the case is successful and whether they think they can win your case.
Since they work on a contingency basis, personal injury attorneys will be picky about the cases they take and will often take ones they are confident they can win.
4. Do You Have Experience With Trials?
Many personal injury cases result in settlements, but if you and your attorney can’t agree on a settlement amount with the responsible party or parties, the case may go to trial. Typically, your attorney is negotiating with an insurance company. Insurance companies are looking out for their bottom line and will often offer settlements that are much lower than what you may deserve.
Remember that they want to spend the least amount of money possible to settle your case. If this is the case, and your attorney thinks that going to trial is in your best interest, you’ll want someone who is experienced with trials.
5. How Long Will The Case Take to Resolve?
Unfortunately, the legal system doesn’t work very quickly, and as someone who is facing mounting medical bills, time out of work, and disruptions to your daily life, you likely want the case to wrap up quickly. While your attorney can never guarantee how long it will take, if he or she is experienced, they can give you a general estimate of how long it might take to resolve based on past cases.
The attorney should also give you an idea of what kinds of obligations you can expect, such as depositions, investigative doctor visits, or other legal obligations related to the case.
6. How Do You Communicate and What is Your Turn-Around Time?
When considering an attorney, ask them about their communication preferences and make sure you are comfortable with it. If they prefer email or text message, but you prefer phone calls, it might not be the best working relationship.
You should also ask about their typical turn-around time. If you are going to wait days to hear back from them, again, it might not be the best working relationship. While it’s unrealistic to expect them to be available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s not unreasonable to expect to hear back from your attorney within 24 hours if you contact them during normal business hours.
7. What Do Your Past Clients Say About You?
When putting together a shortlist of potential attorneys, do your research ahead of time. Read online reviews, check with your state bar association to see if any complaints have been filed, and ask friends and family for recommendations. Use this research to put together a shortlist of potential attorneys and then meet with each of them.
Many attorneys will even put these testimonials and reviews on their website so you can review them before you even meet.
Feel Confident in Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
Make sure your case is in good hands with an experienced personal injury attorney who is looking out for your best interests. You don’t want to find out in the middle of your case that you’ve selected an ineffective attorney that you can’t work with.
At Sweet Lawyers, we have attorneys experienced in personal injury cases of all types. If you are in need of representation, contact us today. We can provide a free and confidential evaluation of your case.