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Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Personal Injury Firm

It is important to interview a personal injury law firm before agreeing to hire them. But if you've never before hired a lawyer, you may not know how to interview a firm or what questions to ask. This article includes a number of questions you should consider asking when interviewing a spinal-cord injury lawyer, automobile accident attorney, slip-and-fall accident attorney, or any other type of personal injury lawyer.

Prepare for Your Meeting

Schedule a preliminary meeting, often called an initial consultation to meet with the personal injury law firm, learn more about their expertise, and provide them with the details of your case.

You should prepare for this meeting by making a list of questions you'd like to ask. These questions are designed to help you get to know the firm and its attorneys. While this article contains dozens of potential questions, you shouldnt feel compelled to ask all of them. Also, you shouldn't hesitate to ask other questions that would help you decide whether to hire a particular personal injury law firm.

Background & Experience

A logical place to start the meeting is by asking about the firm and its attorneys' legal background, experience, and skills. Consider asking these questions:

  • How many attorneys work in your firm?
  • Does your firm only represent personal injury victims, or do you also do other types of legal work?
  • On average, how many accident victims does the firm represent each year?
  • Who would be responsible for managing my case? (If the attorney who would be managing your case is not present, insist that the lawyer join the meeting.)
  • Where did you attend college and law school?
  • When did you graduate from law school?
  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • Approximately how many personal injury clients do you personally represent each year?
  • Do you handle any other types of legal work or just injury law?
  • Which bar associations and professional organizations do you belong to?

Legal Philosophy & Style of Practicing Law

Also ask questions about the lawyer's philosophy toward practicing law. Among the questions you should consider asking:

  • How would you describe your professional style as an attorney?
  • What is your approach or philosophy in handling personal injury lawsuits?
  • What is your style when working with accident victims? Will you present all of the options and ask me to make a decision? Or, will you recommend a course of action?

Assessment of the Case

Describe the facts of your situation to the personal injury lawyer. This will help the attorney make an accurate assessment of the case. Among the questions to consider asking:

  • How would you assess my case?
  • Is my case more likely to settle or go to trial?
  • Is mediation or arbitration an option?
  • What percentage of personal injury lawsuits do you settle each year? What percentage do you take to trial?
  • What is a realistic settlement or judgment in my case?
  • Are there potential problems could affect the outcome of my case? What are they and how could they change the outcome?
  • How quickly do you think you can resolve my case?

Case Management

Now you should move on to questions about how your personal injury case will be managed. Among the questions to consider asking:

  • Will you personally handle all settlement negotiations and court appearances?
  • Who else will be working on my case? What will they do?
  • Do you provide progress reports? If so, how frequently and what is included in those reports?
  • Are you the day-to-day contact if I have questions or concerns?
  • What is the best way to reach you? How quickly can I expect you to respond?

Legal Fees

Most personal injury law firms work on a contingency fee basis, but you'll want to confirm this in each meeting. Questions to consider asking include:

  • Do you charge a contingency fee or an hourly billing rate?
  • How much would you get paid if we win the case? Settle the case? Lose the case or are unable to settle?
  • If I do not get a monetary award, will I owe you any money? What would I owe you?
  • What other expenses will you incur? Can you estimate their total amount?
  • Do you require a retainer payment?

Hiring a Personal Injury Law Firm

It's important to remember that there's no single "best" personal injury law firm. Instead, you want to hire the best personal injury lawyer for your case. After you've finished your initial consultations, you'll want to think about how each meeting went and which attorney is the best attorney for your case. Consider the following:

  • Did the lawyer answer your questions openly, honestly, and thoroughly?
  • Did you feel comfortable and confident in the lawyer? Would you have any problems trusting his or her advice?
  • Was the personal injury law firm's billing rate reasonable? Did the award estimates seem realistic?

Once you've found the personal injury law firm that feels right to you, you're ready to pursue your personal injury case.