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Questions to Ask a Boat Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one was recently injured in a boating accident that was someone else's fault, you've probably thought about hiring a boat accident attorney. But if you haven't before hired a lawyer, you may not know what questions to ask or how to judge whether an attorney is qualified to handle your case. This article will provide some pointers and suggest questions to ask.

Once you start interviewing personal injury lawyers and maritime law attorneys, you'll discover that the process isn't as complicated as you might have imagined. Ultimate, you'll rely on some common-sense criteria when selecting an attorney to handle your case. Does the attorney have the necessary skills and experience? Would you feel comfortable working with the lawyer and trusting his or her judgment? Did the lawyer's recommended strategy make sense, and were the award estimates realistic?

Interviewing a Boat Accident Attorney

Before agreeing to hire a boat accident attorney, you should schedule a preliminary meeting, also called an initial consultation. Use this meeting to tell the lawyer more about your case and to interview the lawyer about his or her experience, professional style, assessment of your case and legal fees.

This article contains dozens of questions you can consider asking each boating accident lawyer you meet. Sort thought this list of questions when preparing for each meeting, and select the questions that will help you determine whether the lawyer is qualified to handle your case. (Feel free to add other questions that are important to you.) You should write down the questions you'd like to ask, and bring writing materials so you can take notes during the meeting.

Background & Experience

Begin the meeting by asking about the boat 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 boating accident law?
  • Does your practice consist solely of representing boat accident victims, or do you do other types of personal injury legal work as well?
  • On average, how many boating accident victims do you represent each year?
  • How many boat 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 boat 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 boating accident and associated injuries, then ask the boat 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 boat accident law?
  • What is your approach to handling boating 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 boating 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 boat 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 boat 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?
  • What other expenses will I have to pay? Can you estimate their total?
  • Can you 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?

Finishing Your Meeting

At the end of the meeting, ask the boat 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 make some notes and 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 a Boat Accident Attorney

After you've finished your initial consultations with boat accident attorneys, it's time to hire one to handle your boating 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 boat accident attorney to handle your case.