Questions to Ask a Lawyer in an Interview

Hiring a Kansas City injury attorney is no small matter. You will trust this person to handle your case professionally to the best of his or her ability and guide you to a successful result, so you want to know your case is in good hands. Many attorneys offer free case evaluations or consultations to potential clients, and such a consultation is a great opportunity for you to ask important questions about your claim. While the purpose of a consultation is for an attorney to better understand your claim, it is also important for clients to ask several questions about a potential lawyer during this time.

Ask About Experience

You want a lawyer who will focus on your case, so you should first gain an understanding of the lawyer’s professional background and qualifications. Ask how long the attorney has been practicing law, particularly in the field that pertains to your claim. You should also ask about past successful cases and noteworthy outcomes for other clients with claims like your own.

You should also ensure that the attorney is familiar with the laws that apply in your case. For example, medical malpractice claims are different than car accident claims, so you will want to know that your attorney understands the state’s laws and federal statutes that pertain to your claim. If you have a complex medical malpractice claim that involves extensive damages, you may need to find a lawyer who specializes in malpractice lawsuits instead of a personal injury attorney who may typically handle only car accident claims.

Understand the Attorney’s Approach

Some attorneys excel at the settlement negotiation table while others look for victory in the courtroom. Every case has two potential values: the settlement value and the trial value. In any case, it’s in both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s best interests to settle the matter quickly, and many personal injury claims end at the negotiating table. Attorneys from both sides will attempt to reach a mutually agreeable solution to the plaintiff’s complaint, and the case will end there if they succeed.

Settlement is not possible in some cases, such as when the defendant refuses to accept liability for the plaintiff’s claimed damages. These cases will proceed to trial, where the stakes are much higher. The settlement value of a case is typically lower than the potential trial value, because both parties will want to settle the matter quickly, and this may make it difficult to determine the full extent of the plaintiff’s damages. For example, a plaintiff who suffered a back injury in a car accident may settle for the cost of immediate medical treatment and vehicle repairs only to discover an internal injury or physical disability that manifests symptoms a year later. Since most settlements are contingent upon the plaintiff agreeing not to pursue further legal action upon accepting a settlement, the plaintiff in this situation would not have the option of suing the same defendant again.

Ask your attorney about his or her approach to representation. Will the attorney attempt to settle your case as quickly as possible or prepare for trial? The attorney should not only be able to explain his or her approach to cases like yours, but also provide sound reasoning for this decision based on the facts of your claim. Ask about alternative remedies to your situation, too. The attorney may be able to suggest out-of-court remedies and less-expensive methods of recovering your damages.

Clarify Billing

You’ll likely notice many attorneys offering contingency-fee billing. This system means the attorney only collects legal fees if you win your case. This helps clients with strong claims who couldn’t otherwise afford legal representation and helps attorneys select the cases with the highest chances of success. During an interview with a potential attorney, ask about his or her billing structure and attorneys’ fees. Your contract with an attorney should be clear in terms of billing and how much of your settlement or case award will go to the attorney after you win a case.