Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Birth Injury Attorney
If you need to interview and hire a birth injury attorney, you may not know where to start. What questions should you ask? What answers are you looking for? Ultimately, there are few "right" answers. Hire a birth injury attorney who makes you feel confident in his or her experience, skills, and judgment. You also want a lawyer who is realistic and trustworthy. And you want to hire a lawyer who can persuade the responsible party-or a judge or jury-that you and your family deserve to be compensated for your injuries or the injury to your child.
Meeting with Birth Injury Lawyers
Before hiring a birth injury attorney, schedule a meeting (also called an initial consultation) with each birth injury law firm you're thinking about hiring. The purpose of the initial consultation is to allow you to learn more about the attorney's background and experience working with birth injury victims. It also gives the lawyer the opportunity to learn more about the specifics of your situation.
Come to the meeting with a prepared list of questions you want to ask the lawyer. These questions should help you get to know the birth injury attorney and decide whether he or she has the skills to handle your birth injury case.
This article contains a number of questions that are appropriate to ask birth injury lawyers. Don't feel compelled to ask every question, and feel free to ask questions that aren't included in this article. Focus on asking the questions that will help you decide whether to hire a specific lawyer.
Background & Experience
Begin the consultation by asking the lawyer about his or her legal background, experience, and skills. Questions to consider asking include:
- What college and law schools did you attend? When did you graduate?
- How long have you been practicing law?
- On average, how many personal injury victims do you work with each year? Are they all birth injury victims, or do you handle other types of personal injury cases, too?
- What percentage of birth injury lawsuits do you settle each year? What percentage do you take to trial annually?
- Do you belong to any bar associations and professional organizations? If so, which ones?
Legal Philosophy & Style of Practicing Law
You'll also want to learn more about the lawyers professional style and approach to practicing law. Questions to consider asking include:
- What is your approach to handling birth injury cases?
- How would you describe your personality as a lawyer?
- What is your style when working with clients? Will you spell out all of the options or simply recommend the best course of action?
Assessment of the Case
Review the details of your case with the lawyer. This will help the attorney give you a thorough assessment of your case. Questions to consider asking include:
- How would you assess my case?
- How much could we realistically receive in a settlement or judgment?
- Are there potential problems that could hurt my case?
- Are we more likely to settle or go to trial?
- Is mediation or arbitration an option?
- How long would it reasonably take to conclude this case?
If you're satisfied with the answers you've received, consider asking questions about how your birth injury case will be managed. Questions to consider asking include:
- Are you available to handle my birth injury case?
- Who else will work on my case? What will they do?
- Will you personally manage my case, or will another lawyer have that responsibility?
- How frequently will you provide progress reports? What is included in those reports?
- Will you personally handle all settlement negotiations and court appearances?
- Are you the day-to-day contact if we have questions or concerns?
- What is the best way to reach you? How quickly can we expect you to respond?
The Cost of Hiring a Birth Injury Attorney
Most birth injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, but you should confirm this with the lawyer. Questions to consider asking include:
- Do you charge a contingency fee or an hourly rate?
- How much would you get paid if we win the case? Settle the case? Neither win nor settle?
- How much, if anything, will we owe you if we do not get a settlement or win the case?
- What other expenses will you incur if we settle the case? Go to trial? Can you estimate their total amount? Will I be responsible for those expenses if I do not get a financial award?
- Do you require a retainer payment?
Hiring a Birth Injury Attorney
Once you've had at least one initial consultation, it's time to think about hiring a birth injury attorney. Review your notes from each meeting, and think about which attorney is best qualified to handle your case. Among the factors to consider:
- Does the attorney have the experience and skills necessary to handle your birth injury case?
- Did you feel comfortable with the attorney's judgment?
- Can you trust the attorney's recommendations and feel confident relying on their advice?
- Are the legal fees reasonable and is the award estimate realistic?