Questions to ask a Personal Injury Lawyer
After a gruesome accident, it can be challenging to secure compensation for expensive medical costs and even more so for pain and suffering. In most cases you need to hire a personal injury lawyer to truly acquire what you are owed in a settlement from the defendant’s insurance company. In most cases, with a good personal injury lawyer, you can resolve your claim without filing a lawsuit. If you’ve been injured in an accident, and you are considering legal representation, there are some essential questions you should should ask the lawyer you might seek to hire .
Your injury lawyer will work with you throughout your case, so it’s important that you feel comfortable with them. It is advisable that you interview at least two attorneys, before deciding on one. Below are some questions to help you determine if the personal injury lawyer is a good fit for you:
What sort of expenses am I facing with my accident claim?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means the attorney won’t receive any payment for services rendered unless they aid you in successfully resolving your claim, pre-lawsuit, or in the more rare instance, pending litigation.
If your lawyer successfully recovers monetary and non-monetary damages (known as pain and suffering) for your claim, they are paid a percentage of that recovery typically ranging between 2o% to 40%. The rest of your settlement may go to repayment of medical costs you incurred as a result of the injury, and an in-pocket amount goes directly to you. You might also ask about expert witness fees, other case costs, and look to past clients to help establish a proven track record.
In order to have the best outcome with your personal injury claim, it is crucial to hire a reputable and experienced personal injury attorney that has your best interests in mind. A good lawyer can be worth every penny. Attorney’s fees can seem steep, but it has been proven that people with an attorney fare better than those without representation, because insurance companies will always find a way to pay you less than what you are owed, and can take advantage of claimants that don’t know the laws that protect them.
What if I lose?
You may wonder, what happens in the event that I lose my case? Some personal injury attorneys may charge for case-related costs, prior to resolution of your claim or settlement, aside from contingency fees which are only paid at the end if you receive reimbursement from the at-fault insurance company. Be sure to ask your lawyer about the “out-of-pocket costs,” which are costs other than the contingency fees if you lose your case and your claim is not brought to resolution. At Acadia Law Group, you can rest easy to know that if we do not resolve your claim or settle your case, you will owe nothing, even if case-related costs are incurred in the process.
Are you experienced handling personal injury cases similar to mine?
Not all attorneys are created equal. It’s best not to assume that your prospective attorney has handled personal injury cases similar to yours. This is an important topic to explore during your free consultation. Don’t be shy to ask as many questions as necessary to understand what kind of experience the attorney has, in order to gain trust and feel confident with both the attorney and law firm handling your case.
How Devoted Will You be to My Case?
Many personal injury law firms have hundreds of cases, their practices do not function in a manner to have only one at a given time. It is important to gain a sense of trust in their ability to manage their practice, and to recognize that they value you individually as a client. Discuss openly with them to understand your role as the client, in managing your case, and their responsibility in properly handling your claim as part of a case load, and also maintaining the integrity to value your individual claim and handle your case optimally to ensure you get the best outcome. You should ask your injury lawyer how your case will be prioritized among the others.
A proactive conversation can ensure that there is productive movement on your case. The initial consultation with your attorney should help set fair expectations and give you an idea of case costs, other possible legal fees, client involvement required on your end, but should also provide an estimated time frame for you to follow. Each case is unique and there is no standard timeline to reach resolution, but a good attorney should help by keeping you regularly updated with important information and next steps. Conversations early on help set expectations, and regular communication throughout your case will make the process more effective and enjoyable for you as the client.
Will My Case Go to Trial?
While researching options for legal representation, it is also important to consider what will happen if your case goes to trial, and to ask your attorney about their success rate if that scenario should arise. You should select a firm that is prepared to litigate your case all the way through trial if necessary. However, it is important to understand that a trial does not always indicate the best outcome for a case.
Most personal injury cases settle well before litigation, and if they do go into litigation they often settle before a trial takes place. It is important to work with your attorney to weigh the costs and benefits for you individually, to determine if a more lengthy and expensive litigation process is the right choice for your claim. Sometimes litigation will be necessary, but you won’t know in the beginning of the case, this is a decision you will make with your attorney as the case progresses.
At Acadia, we aim to prepare all our cases for trial readiness well in advance of litigation. With proper documentation, we believe we achieve the best results for each claim by obtaining the strongest medical evidence (including future care for unresolved injuries), and supporting evidence to demonstrate an impact on your life, including diminished earning capacity, and pain and suffering (compensable as general damages). With this approach, we always strive, and often succeed in our ability to get the maximum compensation for our clients without the hassle of litigation.
What is My Case Worth?
While each case is unique and it is impossible to predict or guarantee an outcome, your attorney should have an idea of what your case is worth. Importantly, they should be able to discuss factors that impact case value. Value drivers include: type of injuries and related treatment, permanent impairment or restrictions in daily living, wage loss, and future medical care and costs.
Case value will also be determined based upon what insurance policies are available for coverage. Partial liability decisions, use of personal health insurance, and strong documentation are among the factors that impact the ultimate outcome of your case. Again, good communication is key to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your individual case so that you are prepared when it comes to the settlement.
Who will be Handling My Case?
During your free consultation ask which attorney and paralegal will be handling your case. Each law firm is different in how they make this determination. Ultimately the firm will try to match you with an attorney who is the best fit for your particular case.
Among the different structures of law firms, at Acadia we have a whole team of staff members supporting you. We work together closely as a team to offer the most full-serviced support possible. You may talk to different personnel at different stages of your case, or specialized to help you with specific items. You will have one primary attorney in charge of your case, and other key members to help for expert support or in case of litigation.
What is My Responsibility in My Case?
Before going to the trial and even before filing a case, you must clearly understand the police reports, your point, and what role you play in your lawsuit. Some people like to be highly involved in their cases.
If this sounds like you, make sure your lawyer knows this and ask them how often you will receive updates on case progress. Most clients like to be on the side while their potential personal injury lawyer handles the case on the frontend. Make sure that you completely understand the process so you and your lawyer can be on the same page from the beginning.
Can I Contact Past Clients as a Reference?
While doing your research do not forget to ask about previous clients and if you are able to contact one or two as a reference. Never solely rely on the promotional material and advertisements of the personal injury firms because they can be biased and heavily edited.
What Issues do You See With My Case? Are There Potential Issues I should be Aware of?
Every personal injury case and claim is different, and so are the factors associated with each patient. If you are connecting with an experienced attorney, they can quickly point out out-of-pocket costs, how to reach settlements, and what will be the medical records retrieval fees, each unique to your case.
And also, pointing out the issues is not enough. The lawyers must also have the solutions for them. For example, how to reach a settlement with the defendant’s insurance company in the case of serious injury? Keep in mind that contingency fee agreements can be different for different lawyers.
If your injury lawyer claims that your case will be smooth like a bun or there will be no problems, then it’s a red flag. Remember, nothing is that simple or easy.
The legal system is quite complex, and any attorney who has a track record of several clients can quickly tell that. In a nutshell, an honest attorney-client will be straightforward with you about the issues and the problems and will propose a solution accordingly.
What would be the period for resolution?
It may take time to properly negotiate your settlement, especially if the injuries are severe and or complex. Your attorney may have a good idea about the time needed for your case, but of course, even he can’t tell an exactly how long it will take.
A good relationship of communication can help to avoid future frustrations about how long things are taking.
In a personal injury lawsuit, there are many things to consider, chances for settlement, going to trial, court calendars, bringing a strong case against the opposing party, just to name a few.
Your best bet is to search for a personal injury attorney who is equipped with the tools and experiences to succeed in such cases.
Do yourself a favor and ask potential personal injury lawyers the questions outlined in this article.
Doing so will help ensure that you find a lawyer well suited for your particular case. If you had a car accident, make sure the lawyer is an expert in auto accidents. If you were injured at work find an attorney with a background working with these situations.
Last but not least remember to investigate their experience and success rate. Following these guidelines are the key to your success.