Questions to Ask When Interviewing Slip & Fall Lawyers
If you're preparing to interview slip and fall lawyers, you may be wondering what questions to ask and how to judge whether a lawyer is qualified to handle your slip and fall case. This article suggests a number of appropriate questions to ask when interviewing personal injury lawyers, including those who handle premises liability cases, such as slip and falls.
After you start meeting lawyers and discussing the facts of your injury, you'll realize that selecting an attorney simply requires a bit of common sense. You want to hire a lawyer who:
- Is knowledgeable about personal injury law and has experience handling slip and fall cases
- Makes you feel comfortable
- Shows sound judgment and offers advice you can trust
- Has a case strategy that you agree with
- Proposes a reasonable legal fee and has a realistic award estimate
Before Hiring an Attorney, Schedule a Preliminary Meeting
Before hiring a slip and fall lawyer, you'll want to schedule a preliminary meeting with each attorney you're considering. You should use this meeting to learn more about the lawyer's background, legal practice, fees and assessment of your case. Go to the meeting with a list of questions designed to draw out this information. This article includes a number of questions you can ask, but you if you have specific needs or concerns, you should also raise those in the meeting.
Background & Experience
A natural way to begin the meeting is by asking about the slip and fall lawyer'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 slip and fall 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 can ask:
- 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?
- Do you generally prefer to obtain settlements in slip and fall cases or to take the case to trial?
Assessment of the Case
Tell the lawyer the basic details of your slip and fall accident, 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 slip and fall lawsuits do you settle each year? What percentage do you take to trial?
- What is a realistic settlement or judgment amount?
- 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?
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?
- Based on your settlement and judgment estimates, how much money would I have after expenses and fees are paid?
If you're comfortable with the answers you've received thus far in your meeting, you should move on to questions about how your slip and fall lawsuit will be managed. Consider asking:
- Will you personally manage my case and handle 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?
Concluding the Meeting
As the meeting comes to an end, be sure to ask the lawyer if there's anything else he or she wants to tell you. This gives the lawyer one final opportunity to make a pitch for your business. If you were happy with the meeting, you should also ask the attorney to supply you with the names of current or former clients who could serve as references.
If you didn't take notes during the meeting, spend a few moments immediately after it ends and write down your impressions of the lawyer. If there was one lawyer who appealed to you more than the others, you'll have an easy time making up your mind. But if you're torn between a couple of lawyers, consider contacting the references they provided and asking the clients about their experiences. Would they recommend the lawyer?
Once you've found the lawyer who best meets those criteria, you're ready to move forward with your slip and fall case.