Questions to Ask When Meeting a South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer
Before hiring a South Carolina car accident lawyer, you'll want to interview the lawyer to make sure he or she is the best person for your case.
If you've never before hired a personal injury attorney, you may not know what questions to ask. This article suggests dozens of questions that are appropriate to ask South Carolina car accident lawyers. Don't feel compelled to ask every question; instead, focus on those that will help you decide whether to hire the lawyer.
Criteria to Consider When Hiring a South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer
Before meeting with an attorney, take the time to think about your requirements for an attorney. Each car accident victim will have his or her own criteria, but typical requirements would include:
- The lawyer has experience representing clients with South Carolina car accident injury claims
- The lawyer suggests a case strategy you agree with
- The lawyer provides a realistic estimate of your case's value
- The lawyer's fee is fair and estimated expenses are reasonable
- You would feel comfortable entrusting the lawyer with your case
- You have confidence in the lawyer's advice and judgment
If you should add to this list any specific requirements you might have, such as a lawyer who offers evening appointments or one who speaks Spanish.
Use your personal requirements to make a written list of questions you'd like to ask each South Carolina car accident lawyer you meet.
The purposes of these preliminary meetings, or initial consultations, are to find the attorney who is the best person to represent you and to familiarize the lawyer with your case.
Background, Professional Skills & Experience
To start each meeting, ask the lawyer about his or her background, professional skills, and experience representing South Carolina car accident victims. Typical questions to ask include:
- Where did you go to law school? Where did you get your undergraduate degree? When did you graduate from both schools?
- How long have you practiced law in South Carolina? How long have you been representing automobile accident victims?
- Do you have any special experience representing victims of auto accidents who have back injuries, neck injuries, or other injuries that may cause life-long medical problems?
- Do you only represent car accident victims, or do you handle other types of lawsuits as well?
- Do you belong to any bar associations or professional organizations? If so, which ones?
- On average, how many automobile accident victims do you represent each year?
- How many auto-accident injury lawsuits do you settle each year? How many do you take to trial each year?
Assessment of Your Case
Take some time to describe the circumstances of your automobile accident, and then ask the attorney for his or her impressions about your potential lawsuit. Questions to ask include:
- What is your assessment of my case?
- What kind of financial settlement or jury award can I realistically expect to receive?
- What factors in my case work in my favor? Which factors could potentially cause problems?
- How often have you handled a case similar to mine?
- Is my case likely to go to trial?
- Is mediation or arbitration an option? Should it be?
- How long do you think it would take to resolve my case?
Legal Philosophy & Style
Talk to the lawyer about his or her approach to handling litigation. Not every attorney approaches each lawsuit the same way, and you want to make sure the lawyer's strategy and style align with your own. To find out, ask:
- What is your legal philosophy and style when it comes to practicing law?
- How do you typically handle auto accident injury cases?
- How do you prefer to work with clients? Will you present me with options and ask me to make decisions, or will you tell me what I should do?
- Do you prefer to take car accident cases to court or settle before going to court?
Some questions to ask about how your South Carolina car accident lawsuit will be managed include:
- Will you personally manage my case, or will it get handed off to another attorney to manage?
- Will you personally handle negotiations and represent me in court?
- Who will be my day-to-day contact?
- If other attorneys are to work on my case, what exactly will they be doing?
- Will you provide progress reports? How regularly? What will they include?
- What is your preferred method of communication? How quickly do you return phone messages or emails?
Most South Carolina auto accident law firms work on contingency. With a contingency fee, the lawyer takes a percentage of any financial award you receive and is paid nothing if the case cannot be settled or won. However, you should confirm that each lawyer you meet works on contingency and make sure you are clear about the financial arrangements. Some relevant questions to ask are:
- Do you charge a contingency fee or an hourly rate?
- Is there a retainer fee?
- Approximately how much will I pay in legal expenses if the case settles? If it goes to trial? If I do not receive a cash award?
- Can you do the math and show me some examples of how much I stand to make after legal fees and expenses if I settle? If I got to trial?
- Will I owe you any money if the case does not settle or is lost at trial?
Deciding Which South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer to Hire
Before ending the meeting, ask the lawyer to put you in contact with prior clients. Talking to someone who has firsthand experience working with the lawyer may help you decide which attorney to hire.
Once you've met with each lawyer you're considering for your case, it's time to select your attorney. To do so, ask yourself some questions:
- Which lawyer has the most experience representing car accident victims?
- Which attorney's style meshed best with your own? Whose judgment and advice would you feel most comfortable following?
- Which attorney offered the most realistic award estimates?
- Which attorney's proposed fees seemed the most reasonable?
Ultimately, you should select the lawyer with whom you are most comfortable. Once you've done that, you're ready to move forward with your automobile accident lawsuit.