When you’ve been injured due to another person’s negligence, such as a car accident, a slip-and-fall, medical malpractice, or some other type of injury, it’s critical to have the wise counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney. After a serious injury, you’re likely dealing with medical expenses, employment issues, and changes to your lifestyle caused by the negligent incident. An attorney can help you file a claim for compensation.
Questions to Ask an Attorney During a Free Consultation
Before hiring legal representation, research your options carefully, and take advantage of opportunities such as free consultations. These meetings provide the perfect opportunity to receive essential answers to your questions and gain valuable insight into an attorney’s skills. These consultations also allow a personal injury lawyer to explain the basics of your case and their strategy for helping you fight for your rights.
How Many Cases Have You Handled Similar to Mine?
A law firm cannot guarantee a specific outcome for your case based on similar cases they’ve handled in the past. Every personal injury case is unique, with a particular set of challenges or complexities. Many factors affect your claim’s outcome, too, including the severity of your injuries, the available evidence, and how much time has passed since the injury.
However, your attorney can tell you about their firm’s experience with cases like yours, along with their overall track record, which you can use as a guide for choosing the best firm. This may increase your chances of winning and receiving the compensation you deserve.
How Are You Paid?
In the United States, most personal injury law firms work on a contingency fee basis rather than an hourly or retainer fee schedule. A contingency fee arrangement means the law firm doesn’t receive payment unless they win your case and you get a settlement for your claim. This makes representation by a personal injury attorney accessible to all people, regardless of wealth and resources. It also provides peace of mind to injured individuals already dealing with increased expenses to not have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for an attorney.
A typical contingency fee, which is a percentage of the settlement, is how attorneys recover costs for their efforts. For example, Missouri law doesn’t impose a maximum percentage an attorney can receive, but the Missouri Supreme Court (Rule 4-1.5(c)) states that the contingency fee must be agreed upon in writing and signed by both parties. According to the American Bar Association, contingency fees average 33–to–40 percent of your compensation.
During your consultation, ask about the contingency fee percentage and if there are any additional costs or fees you’re responsible for during or after your case process.
How Much Contact Will We Have Throughout the Case?
You want to be sure you have an attorney who’s attentive and responsive to your needs and addresses your questions or issues as they arise throughout the case. Most attorney’s offices have many additional staff members—such as paralegals, case managers, and junior attorneys—who work on your case and may communicate with you as well.
Ask your attorney about:
- The people on their team they delegate key responsibilities to.
- Who to contact when you have specific questions.
- How often they will contact you.
You may meet some of these people in your initial consultation and can gauge how responsive they are by how they interact with you.
Also, ask about their preferred communication methods, such as email, phone, or text, and how you best respond to each. Finally, If you have certain expectations of a personal injury attorney, it’s important to be upfront about them.
How Often Have Your Cases Gone to Trial?
Most personal injury claims are negotiated and settled with the insurance company for the negligent party before a case goes to trial. A settlement is the fastest way to handle the case, usually resolving the issue in a few months. But it still has to be rightful compensation for your tragedy. Often, especially early in your case, an insurance adjuster offers an amount to settle your claim. This amount is often a lowball offer and doesn’t adequately compensate you for the full amount of the damages you have now—or in the future—due to the accident.
Ask your attorney how they determine a value for your case and when to settle. Also inquire about the circumstances that warrant taking a case to trial, such as stalled negotiations, debated evidence, or a need to pursue punitive damages in your claim.
Although going to court isn’t common, you want an experienced trial attorney who won’t hesitate to represent you in court to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Can You Provide Me With References from Former Clients?
When you meet with a potential attorney, ask for references from former clients. Experienced legal teams should be able to connect you with clients they’ve served in similar cases. You can also browse the firm’s website and other social media accounts for testimonials and reviews. Additionally, look at a firm’s Google reviews to gain insight into its reputation. This makes it easier to determine if this lawyer and firm will be right for you.