Facing any type of personal injury lawsuit can be a daunting situation. You may not know where to turn for help, and finding the right attorney to represent your interests can be a serious challenge. If you find yourself in need of a personal injury attorney, it’s crucial to know several key questions to ask before agreeing to representation.
Preparing for Your First Consultation With an Attorney
It is essential to come prepared for a consultation with an attorney. Many attorneys offer free consultations to prospective clients, but nothing requires them to do so. If you plan to meet with an attorney for a consultation, take time to prepare accordingly. Gather and any all paperwork related to your claims such as hospital bills, police reports, correspondence with insurance companies, or anything else that may have bearing on your claim. Before your consultation, prepare a list of questions that cover all the concerns you have about your claim.
Ask About the Attorney’s Qualifications
Start interviewing a potential attorney by asking the attorney about his or her qualifications.
- How long have you practiced law?
While some fresh attorneys may be extremely talented, you want to know your attorney has the experience necessary to navigate you to a positive result.
- How much experience have you had with this type of claim?
You would not want to hire a medical malpractice lawyer for an auto accident claim, nor would you want an employment attorney for a dog bite case. Make sure your attorney has experience with your type of claim.
- What special credentials do you hold?
See if the attorney has obtained certification from any legal associations or professional organizations, especially those pertaining to your specific claim type.
These are just a few examples. Remember, the attorney is going to work for you, so you need to ensure you hire the best person for the job and feel confident about your decision.
Ask Your Attorney About Your Damages and Potential Compensation
Your attorney should be able to give you an idea of the compensation available for your claim.
- What type of economic damages can I recover?
Your attorney should be able to address obvious economic damages like medical bills and lost income, but a good attorney will also explore additional avenues of compensation that you may not have considered, such as lost valuation on investments after a family member’s wrongful death.
- What do I do about my expenses until I receive a settlement or case award?
Your attorney should be able to offer guidance for handling mounting financial issues while you await a result in your case.
Request an Honest Opinion of Your Claim
Many personal injury attorneys offer contingency fee billing as a means of preserving their winning track records and ensuring satisfying results for their clients. With a contingency fee, the client pays nothing in legal fees unless his or her attorney wins the case. After winning, the attorney’s fees come out of the case award or settlement.
- What type of billing do you use?
If the attorney offers contingency fee billing and offers to take your case, this is a good sign you have a valid claim. An attorney will not risk wasting time and resources on a case that is likely to fail.
- Do you think I can win?
Your case may appear straightforward at first, or there could be elements in play working in your favor you may not have realized. Your attorney should be able to provide an accurate assessment of the strength of your claim.
- How long will my case take?
The vast majority of personal injury claims settle out of court, so the attorney should let you know if he or she sees any indication your claim could take longer and identify potentially complicating factors.
These are just a few examples of questions you should ask a potential attorney. Ultimately, you need to feel confident about your choice of lawyer, so take time to develop more questions unique to your case so you can come to your first case review prepared.