Questions to Ask When Interviewing Injury Attorneys
If you've been injured in an accident that was someone else's fault, you've probably thought about hiring an injury attorney. But if you've never before hired a lawyer, you may not know where to start and what questions to ask. Whether you're hiring a traumatic brain injury lawyer, a boating accident attorney, dog bite lawyer, or any other kind of personal injury lawyer, this article suggests questions you can ask when talking to injury attorneys.
In most cases, these questions don't have right and wrong answers. Instead, you should be looking for an injury attorney who responds thoughtfully, openly, and honestly. These answers should help you decide whether the attorney has sufficient experience and is someone you can trust to handle your case.
Preparing to Meet Injury Attorneys
Before hiring an injury attorney, you'll want to set up preliminary meetings, called initial consultations with all of the injury attorneys you're thinking about hiring. These meetings are designed to help you learn more about the lawyer's background, experience, and skills, while also allowing the attorney to learn more about the specifics of your case.
In preparation for the meeting, make a list of questions you'd like to ask the lawyer. Don't feel as if you have to ask every question in the list below, and feel free to add other questions that are important to you. Your goal is to ask questions that will help you decide whether you want to hire the attorney.
Background & Experience
Start the meeting by asking about the injury attorney's background, experience, and skills that are relevant to your case. Consider asking these questions:
- Where did you attend college and law school?
- When did you graduate from law school, and how long have you been practicing law?
- About how many personal injury clients do you work with each year?
- Do you only represent personal injury victims, or do you also do other types of legal work?
- Which bar associations and professional organizations do you belong to?
Legal Philosophy & Style of Practicing Law
Also ask questions about the lawyer's philosophy and approach toward practicing law. Among the questions you should consider asking:
- How would you describe your personality as an attorney?
- What is your approach or philosophy in handling personal injury lawsuits?
- What is your style when working with accident injury 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
Tell the lawyer the basic details of your case, and answer any questions he or she might have. This will help the lawyer make an accurate assessment of the case. 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?
- 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?
Now you should move on to questions about how your personal injury lawsuit will be managed. Consider asking:
- Will you be the lawyer who personally manages my case, and handles all settlement negotiations and court appearances?
- Who else will be working on my case? What will they do?
- Will 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?
Most injury attorneys charge their clients a contingency fee, but you'll want to confirm this in each meeting. Consider asking:
- Do you charge a contingency fee or an hourly 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?
Selecting an Injury Lawyer
Once you've met with all of the injury attorneys you're considering for your case, it's time to select and hire a lawyer. Think back to your meetings. If one lawyer stood out from the rest, your decision may be an easy one. If not, ask yourself:
- Did the lawyer answer my questions thoroughly, openly, and honestly?
- Did I agree with the lawyer's assessment of my case and suggested strategy?
- Do I feel as if I could have faith, trust, and confidence in the lawyer?
- Was the award estimate realistic, and are the legal fees reasonable?
- Does the attorney have the necessary skills and experience to handle my case?
Once you've found an injury lawyer who meets those criteria, you're ready to hire him or her and move forward with your personal injury case.