If you are considering hiring a personal injury attorney, it is very important that you ask certain questions before you sign a fee agreement. Asking these questions and listening carefully to the answers can save you a great deal of trouble and help you hire the right attorney for your case.
8 Important questions to ask a Personal Injury Attorney
1) What areas of law do you specialize in?
We have all heard the saying that someone may be a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none. A personal injury attorney should ideally focus their practice almost exclusively on handling personal injury matters. The problem with hiring an attorney who handles multiples areas of the law such as bankruptcy, criminal cases and real estate closings in addition to personal injury is that they may not have the expertise to handle your case like an experienced attorney who dedicates his practice to personal injury. An attorney who focuses only on personal injury has not only the experience but also the network of resources to maximize your case’s potential.
2) How long have you been practicing law?
It is important to hire an experienced attorney. An attorney who is just starting out may be eager to take your case but, does he or she have the experience and know-how to handle the trial of a complex personal injury case? Personal injury law is extremely complicated and ever changing. It is important to hire someone that has experience in handling your claim in order to receive fair and just compensation.
3) Have you handled any cases similar to mine? What was the outcome?
It is important to know if the attorney you are considering has handled cases involving the technical details of your type of injury. For example, if you are suing a railroad, you want an attorney who has handled railroad cases in the past. If your case involves a trucking accident, or medical malpractice, make sure you consider hiring an attorney who knows how to handle the particular type of case you have.
4) How do you communicate with your clients and how often?
This is a very important and often overlooked aspect of the attorney-client relationship. If your attorney is too busy to call you or answer your questions, you will quickly become frustrated.
5) How busy are you? Do you have time to handle my case?
It is difficult to get an honest answer to this question from an attorney; most will say that they have plenty of time for your case. However, you can watch for signs, including does the attorney meet with you personally or simply send an associate or even a paralegal to handle the initial meeting?
Meeting with a potential client is crucial in my view for several reasons. First, as the attorney responsible to help the client you want to ask all the questions you feel are important in evaluating if you have a potential case. Second, there may be a need to take immediate action to preserve evidence. When it comes to preservation of evidence it makes sense to have an attorney make that initial call, not someone else. Last, important matters such as providing statutory notice of claims or locating witnesses while the events are fresh in their mind is something best left up to the attorney at the initial hearing.
6) Are you prepared to take my case to trial if the insurance company offer is not acceptable?
One concern is if it appears your attorney is more concerned with settling a case quickly rather than getting you the best results. It is perfectly acceptable to ask an attorney what percentage of his or her cases proceed to trial. While this number may be low as most cases are settled prior to trial, the attorney should ideally have some trial experience, indicating that he or she is not afraid to proceed to trial if that is in the best interests of the client.
7) Has your license ever been suspended? If so, why?
You want to ask has the attorney ever been suspended or disciplined by the bar association or another group? If so, why?
8) What is your contingency fee?
The contingency fee is the amount of money the attorney will take from your settlement. This is usually expressed as a percentage, but be careful: contingency fee agreements may outline a percentage to be paid after all expenses, such as court reporter fees and investigation fees, are paid. This could leave you with substantially less money than you think you will recover.
The attorneys at David & Philpot, P.L. have over 2 decades of experience handling Personal Injury cases. We have worked for insurance companies in the past defending cases. We understand the strategies insurance companies use to deny victim claims. We use that experience against them to obtain fair and just compensation for our clients. We are also experienced in trial and will not hesitate to take your case to court and try it in front of a jury if that becomes necessary.
If you have been hurt in an accident and need someone to talk to, please give us a call at 800.360.7015 or fill out our free case evaluation form. . The consultation is free. We will take the time necessary to learn about your case and advise you on the best plan of action.