8 Important Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’re in need of a personal injury lawyer to represent you, don’t just go with the first one that you come across. Finding the right attorney can be the difference between a fair and dismal settlement. Here are eight questions to ask potential personal injury lawyers in order to find one who can best meet your needs.
1. What Are Your Fees?
Many personal injury lawyers operate on what is known as a contingency fee basis. This fee structure means that unless you recover money damages, you will not have to pay a fee. Only if your lawsuit is successful do you pay the agreed-upon percentage fee of the settlement. The percentage fee varies and can range anywhere from 24% to 40%. It can be tempting to opt for a personal injury lawyer who takes a lower contingency fee; however, they may not be the most qualified to handle your case. Thirty-three percent is a standard fee to settle your case.
It’s also important to ask about “out-of-pocket costs” or expenses. These are fees that are related to your case but not tied to the contingency fee. This cost can include things like court fees, third-party vendor fees, and administrative fees. Some personal injury lawyers will advance these costs on your behalf; however, it’s important to discuss this with your lawyer beforehand. Otherwise, you may be stuck paying these fees even if your lawsuit proves to be unsuccessful.
2. Do You Have Experience With a Case Similar to Mine?
It’s important to ask a potential personal injury lawyer whether they have handled a case like yours. If they have, ask about their results.
Working with a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the circumstances surrounding your case can prove to be invaluable. For example, if your case involves a slip and fall incident, you’ll want to make sure your personal injury lawyer has experience with slip and fall cases.
It’s also important to ask about a potential lawyer’s overall experience. Aside from a law degree, some lawyers may have a specialization or extended knowledge in one area of personal injury law. Ask potential lawyers what their skill set is and look for someone who has the experience that can serve you.
3. What Is Your Workload and Do You Have a Timeframe?
While it might sound intrusive, it’s important to gauge whether or not a potential personal injury lawyer will be able to devote his or her time to your case. Don’t be afraid to ask about the time frame regarding when your case will be filed or how many other claims they are working on at the moment. It can also be of benefit to ask how long they think it might take to resolve your case.
4. What Do You Think Is the Likely Outcome for My Case?
Even with the most complicated cases, lawyers can eyeball a case and offer an opinion of what they think their chance of success will be. Do not be afraid to ask a potential injury lawyer what they think the outcome will be. This question can help you manage your expectations, and it can be helpful when comparing one personal injury lawyer to another. This question can also speak to your potential lawyer’s level of confidence or experience in your case.
5. How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Case Like Mine?
Ask your potential personal injury attorney how long it usually takes to resolve a case like yours. Many factors can influence how long it takes to resolve a case, but potential lawyers should be able to give a ballpark estimate. This can be a helpful question for gauging among multiple lawyers as it will allow you to determine who will have the time to devote to your case.
6. Will My Case Go to Trial and What Is Your Trial Success Rate?
It can be a red flag if a potential personal injury lawyer tells you early on that the other party will settle. Instead, it can be a great benefit to work with a lawyer whose mentality is to have your case tried. This way, you can be sure that your lawyer is doing their best in collecting evidence that will prove your case. If you do enter negotiations, this will poise you to have a better standing for reaching a fair settlement. Most personal injury cases do settle rather than go to trial. Still, you should question potential injury lawyers about what percentage of cases they do win when they do go to trial.
7. How Do You Handle Communication
Ask potential lawyers how they plan to communicate with you and how regularly they plan to do so. Be sure to ask how they will handle communicating updates and new developments in your case. Communication is key to staying on the same page with your lawyer and ultimately winning your case. It’s important that you and whoever represents you have an open line of communication.
8. Can I Speak to a Past Client?
Nothing speaks to a lawyer’s credibility more than past clients. Ask potential lawyers if you can speak to some of their most recent clients. It can also be helpful to speak with clients who have cases similar to yours. Don’t rely on the names a potential lawyer gives you alone, either. Be sure to do your research to see what previous clients think of your potential lawyer. You should know, however, that the lawyer-client relationship is a confidential one, and lawyers can not give out information about a client without that client’s permission. Testimonials on a lawyer’s website or Google reviews are quick ways to gauge client satisfaction with a particular lawyer.
Are You Ready To Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Finding the right lawyer to represent you is just as important as building a strong case. If you are looking for a qualified personal injury lawyer to be on your side, reach out to get in touch with one of our qualified lawyers today. In West Virginia, call Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson at 304-263-0900 or (304) LAWYERS for a free consultation about your claim.