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Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Ohio Car Accident Attorney

Before hiring an Ohio car accident attorney, you should consider scheduling an initial consultation, or preliminary meeting, with the lawyer. This meeting-which most Ohio car accident lawyers offer for free-gives you the chance to:

  • Share the details of your accident with the lawyer, so he or she can suggest a strategy for handling the case
  • Learn more about the lawyer's education, professional skills, and experience representing Ohio automobile accident victims
  • Decide whether you'd like to hire the lawyer to represent you in your automobile accident case

Preparing to Meet an Ohio Car Accident Attorney

Before meeting with an attorney, take the time to prepare a written list of questions you'd like to ask the lawyer during your meeting. As you create this list of questions, think about your personal requirements when hiring a lawyer. How much experience should the lawyer have? How much are you willing to pay? Do you want to hire someone who works in a large firm or for themselves? Do you need a lawyer who offers evening or weekend hours?

This article suggests dozens of questions that are appropriate to ask an Ohio car accident attorney. Don't feel compelled to ask every one of these questions. Instead, focus on the questions that help you determine whether the attorney meets your personal requirements.

Educational Background & Professional Experience

Begin the meeting by asking about the car accident lawyer's education and professional experience. Suggested questions to ask include:

  • Which law school did you attend, and when did you graduate?
  • How long have you practiced automobile accident law?
  • Does your practice consist solely of representing Ohio auto accident victims, or do you do other types of personal injury legal work as well?
  • On average, how many automobile accident victims do you represent each year?
  • How many 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 accidents who have back injuries, neck injuries, or other injuries that may cause lifelong medical problems?

Assessment of Your Case

Take some time to describe your automobile accident and associated injuries, then ask the car accident attorney for his or her 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 would 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 or approach to practicing personal injury law?
  • What is your approach to handling automobile 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 automobile accident lawsuits or to take them to trial?

Case Management

If you're comfortable with how the meeting is going, 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

Most Ohio car accident attorneys work on a 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?
  • Based on your estimate of how much money I could recover from the other driver, how much would I pay in legal fees and expenses? Would this amount vary if we settled the case instead of going to trial?
  • How much money would I take home after legal fees and expenses if we settle the case? If we go to trial?

Finishing Your Meeting

At the end of the meeting, ask the Ohio car accident lawyer if there is anything important you didn't have the opportunity to discuss. This is the attorney's last chance to convince you that he or she is the right person for the job. You can also ask the attorney for references from past clients.

If you didn't take notes during the meeting, don't forget to record your impressions about the lawyer while the details are still fresh in your mind. What did you like and dislike about the lawyer? Did the attorney tell you anything particularly memorable? How much did the attorney estimate you could win, and how much of that would you get to keep?

Hiring an Ohio Car Accident Attorney

After you've finished your initial consultations with car accident attorneys, it's time to hire one to handle your automobile accident injury case. You may already know which attorney you want to hire, but if you're having trouble making up your mind, ask yourself the following questions about each lawyer:

  • Did I feel comfortable with the lawyer? Is this someone whose judgment and advice I could trust? Would I be happy to work with this lawyer for a couple of years if my case dragged on?
  • Does the lawyer have the necessary skills and experience to handle my case?
  • If you spoke to any past clients, were they satisfied with the attorney's performance and handling of their cases?
  • Did the attorney's award estimates seem realistic? Were his or her estimated legal fees reasonable?

With any luck, after asking yourself these questions one lawyer will stand out as the best car accident attorney to handle your case.