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Questions to Ask When Hiring an Ohio Injury Lawyer
Before agreeing to hire an Ohio injury lawyer, you should schedule an initial consultation. This preliminary meeting, which is usually free, gives you the opportunity to interview the lawyer about his or her qualifications in an effort to help decide whether the lawyer's qualified to handle your case.
Even if you've never before hired a lawyer, you'll discover that common sense can help you decide whether a lawyer is right for your case. As you talk to Ohio injury lawyers, you're looking for an attorney who has experience representing Ohio injury victims, who seems knowledgeable, and who takes the time to patiently answer your questions. You want to hire a lawyer who gives you a realistic award estimate, whose case-management strategy you agree with, and who charges fair and reasonable legal fees.
This article suggests dozens of questions that are suitable to ask Ohio personal injury attorneys. You should certainly add any questions that address your specific needs, and don't feel as if you have to ask every question included in this article. Instead, focus on those that will help you decide whether to hire an attorney.
Background & Experience
Begin the consultation by talking to the lawyer about his or her professional experience and background. Questions to ask include:
- What college and law school did you attend? When did you graduate?
- How long have you practiced personal injury law in Ohio?
- Do you only represent personal injury victims or do you work with other types of clients as well?
- On average, how many personal injury clients do you represent each year?
- What percentage of injury cases do you settle each year? What percentage do you take to trial?
- What can you tell me about Ohio personal injury laws?
- Do you belong to any bar associations or professional organizations? If so, which ones?
Legal Philosophy & Style
You should also ask questions that help you learn more about the attorney's approach and style when it comes to representing accident injury victims. Questions to ask include:
- How would you describe your personality as an attorney?
- What is your approach to handling injury cases?
- What is your philosophy or style when working with clients? Do you present the options and ask me to make a decision, or will you tell me what I should do?
- Do you prefer to take personal injury cases to court or settle before going to trial?
Assessment of Your Case
Describe how your accident occurred, who witnessed it, what kind of injuries you suffered, and whether any property you own (such as an automobile or clothing) was damaged in the accident. Know that any details you share will remain confidential even if you hire a different Ohio injury lawyer.
Once you've described the details of your accident, ask for the lawyer's opinion of your case. Questions to ask include:
- Do you frequently handle accident injury cases similar to mine?
- What is your opinion and assessment of my case?
- What kind of financial award can I expect to receive?
- Do you see any potential problems with my case? If so, how could they affect its outcome?
- What is the likelihood that we'll be able to negotiate a settlement and avoid trial?
- Is arbitration or mediation an option?
If you're happy with the answers you've received up to this point, you should ask more specific questions about how your case will be managed. Questions to ask include:
- Are you available to handle my case?
- Will you personally manage my case, or will another attorney have that responsibility?
- Will other attorneys or experts be working on my case? What responsibilities will they have?
- How frequently will you provide progress reports, and what will be included in those reports?
- Will you personally handle my case negotiations and court appearances?
- Will you be my day-to-day contact?
- What is the best way to reach you? How quickly can I expect you to respond?
Most Ohio injury lawyers work on contingency, meaning they charge no money up front but take a percentage of any financial award you receive. Don't assume, however, that every attorney is willing to handle your case on contingency. Make sure you understand the details about each lawyer's fee arrangements. Questions to ask about the estimated cost of your lawsuit include:
- Do you charge a contingency fee or an hourly rate?
- If you charge a contingency fee, do you take a fixed percentage of any award? How much is that percentage?
- Do you calculate your fee based on the amount of the award before or after expenses are deducted?
- What are the estimated expenses if the case settles? If it goes to trial?
- If we do not settle or win the case, will I still owe you any money? If so, approximately how much?
- How much money would I take home after your fees and expenses are deducted?
Hiring an Ohio Injury Lawyer
After meeting with each Ohio injury lawyer you're considering for your case, it's time to select a lawyer to hire. Ultimately, you want an attorney who has the skills and expertise to handle your case, who offers good advice that you trust, who has a strategy you agree with, and who has a realistic award estimate and reasonable legal fees.
Take time to consider how each lawyer answered your questions and which attorney made you feel most confident in his or her abilities. Once you've found that lawyer, you're ready to move forward with your injury case.