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Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Florida Auto Accident Lawyer

If you've never before hired an attorney, you may not know what questions to ask a Florida auto accident lawyer when interviewing him or her. The importance of the initial consultation (which is your opportunity to question the lawyer before hiring him or her) cannot be underestimated. This meeting helps you familiarize an attorney with the details of your case and learn more about his or her education, professional background, suggested strategy for handling your case, award estimates, and legal fees.

Interviewing a Florida Auto Accident Lawyer

This article suggests many questions that you can ask when interviewing Florida car accident lawyers. Don't feel compelled to ask every question in this article; instead, focus on those questions that will help you decide whether a lawyer is appropriate for your case. And don't hesitate to ask questions of your own that can help you evaluate whether the attorney is right for you.

Background & Experience

A logical place to begin the meeting is by asking about the car accident lawyer's education and professional experience. Suggested questions include:

  • Which law school did you attend, and when did you graduate?
  • How long have you practiced auto accident law?
  • On average, how many auto accident victims do you represent each year?
  • Does your practice consist solely of representing car accident victims, or do you do other types of personal injury legal work as well?
  • How many Florida car accident injury lawsuits do you settle each year? How many cases do you take to trial each year?
  • Have you frequently handled cases similar to mine?
  • Do you belong to any bar associations or professional organizations? If so, which ones?
  • Do you have any special experience representing victims of car accident who have back injuries, neck injuries, or other injuries that may cause lifelong medical problems?

Assessing Your Case

Take some time to describe the details of your auto accident, associated injuries, and medical treatment plans. Answer any questions the attorney may have, and then ask for the lawyer's opinion of your case. Relevant questions to ask include:

  • What is your assessment of my case?
  • What kind of financial award can I realistically expect to receive?
  • What factors work in our favor? What factors could work against us?
  • Is it likely that we'll have to go to trial?
  • Is arbitration or mediation an option?
  • How long do you expect it will take to complete my case if we go to trial? If we settle the case?

Legal Philosophy & Style

Discuss the lawyer's approach and style when it comes to practicing law. Among the questions to consider asking:

  • How would you describe your philosophy in practicing Florida personal injury law?
  • What is your typical approach when handling auto accident injury cases?
  • What is your style when working with clients? Will you ask me to make decisions, or will you to tell me what I should do?
  • Do you prefer to settle auto accident lawsuits or take them to trial?

Case Management

If you're happy with the answers you've received so far in the meeting, move on to asking questions about how your car crash injury lawsuit will be managed. Questions might include:

  • Will other attorneys in your firm or experts work on my case? What work will they do?
  • Will you personally manage my case, or will another attorney manage it?
  • Will you handle negotiations and court appearances?
  • Will you be my day-to-day contact?
  • Will you provide progress reports? How frequently? What will be included in progress reports?
  • What is the best way to reach you? How quickly do you typically respond to messages or emails?

Legal Fees & Expenses

Most Florida auto accident lawyers work on contingency fee, which means they take a percentage of any settlement or judgment you receive. Questions to ask about the estimated cost of your case include:

  • Do you charge a contingency fee or hourly rate?
  • If we do not get a settlement or win the case, will I have to pay you any money?
  • Do you charge a retainer fee?
  • What other expenses will I have to pay? Can you estimate their total?
  • Can you do show me some examples of how much money I would take home after legal fees and expenses if we settle the case? If we go to trial?

Wrapping Up Your Meeting

Before leaving the lawyer's office, ask him or her if there's anything else you should have discussed, but didn't. If you were happy with the results of the meeting and would consider hiring the attorney, ask for the names of past clients who could serve as references. You may want to contact these people if you are undecided between two Florida auto accident lawyers.

If you didn't take notes during the initial consultation, spend a few minutes immediately after the meeting to record your impressions. What did you like and dislike about the attorney? What is the attorney's recommended strategy for handling your case? How much did the attorney estimate you could win, and how much of that would you get to keep?

Hiring a Florida Car Accident Attorney

After you've finished your initial consultations with Florida car accident attorneys, it's time to decide which one to hire. If you're having trouble making a decision, ask yourself the following questions about each attorney:

  • Did I feel comfortable with the lawyer? Can I trust this lawyer's judgment and advice? Would I be happy to work with this lawyer if my case did not settle quickly?
  • Does the lawyer have the necessary skills and experience to handle my case?
  • Were the lawyer's past clients satisfied with the lawyer's handling of their cases?
  • Did the attorney's award estimates seem realistic? Are the estimated legal fees and expenses reasonable?

After answering these questions, you should be able to identify the Florida car accident attorney who's right for your case. Once you've hired that attorney, you're ready to move forward with settlement negotiations.