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Questions to Ask When Hiring a Premises Liability Lawyer

If you were recently injured in a slip and fall accident, you may have considered hiring a premises liability lawyer. But if you've never before hired an attorney, the process can seem unfamiliar or even intimidating. You probably don't know what questions to ask or how to judge whether a lawyer is qualified to handle your case. This article suggests many questions that are appropriate to ask a slip and fall attorney. And once you've finished interviewing lawyers, you'll find that it isn't as difficult as you might imagine to pick the best personal injury lawyer for your case.

Preparing to Meet with Premises Liability Lawyers

Before selecting an attorney to handle your slip and fall case, you'll want to interview the contenders. This meeting, often called an initial consultation allows you get to know each attorney, and helps the attorney better understand the details of your slip and fall accident.

Spend some time preparing for each meeting, and make a list of questions to ask. You should focus on questions that help you evaluate whether an attorney is qualified to handle your case and whether you'd be comfortable working with the lawyer on an ongoing basis. This article suggests many questions, but you shouldn't feel as if you have to ask each one. And you should certainly feel comfortable adding personal questions of your own.

Background & Experience

When meeting a premises liability lawyer, a good place to start is by asking questions about their education and professional legal background. Typical questions can include:

  • Where and when did you attend college and law school?
  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • Do you only represent victims of injuries in slip and fall accidents, or do you also handle other types of lawsuits as well?
  • Approximately how many premises liability cases do you handle each year?
  • What bar associations and professional organizations do you belong to?

Legal Philosophy & Style

Also try to learn more about the premises liability lawyer's approach to practicing law. Typical questions to ask would include:

  • What is your approach or philosophy when representing slip and fall injury victims?
  • How would you describe your style of practicing law?
  • How much will you involve me in making decisions regarding my case? For example, will you list all of my options then ask me to make a decision, or will you only recommend the best course of action?
  • Do you prefer to settle cases or take them to trial? Why?

Assessment of Your Case

Take the time to describe the basic facts of your case to the premises liability attorney, and answer any questions he or she might have. Then try to get the attorney's opinion about your potential case. Questions to consider asking include:

  • How would you assess my case?
  • How large a settlement or judgment can I reasonably expect to receive?
  • Have I told you anything that could potentially damage my case? What could go wrong?
  • How likely is it that we'll have to go to trial?
  • How fast will you be able to resolve my case?
  • Is mediation or arbitration an option?

Legal Fees

Most attorneys who represent slip and fall accident victims charge a contingency fee, but you'll want to get specific details about fee arrangements. Questions to ask about the estimated cost of your premises liability 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?
  • How much are the estimated expenses if we settle the case? If we go to trial?
  • If we do not settle or win the case, will I still owe you any money? If so, approximately how much?
  • Do you require a retainer payment?
  • Can you give me some examples of how much money I would take home after your fees and expenses are deducted?

Case Management

If you're satisfied with the lawyer's answers thus far, you should ask more about how your case will be handled. Questions to ask include:

  • Are you available to handle my case?
  • What other lawyers or experts will work on my case? What are their roles?
  • Who will be my day-to-day contact if I have questions about my case?
  • Will you or another attorney manage my case?
  • Will you personally handle any settlement negotiations and court appearances, or will another lawyer have that responsibility?
  • How frequently will you provide progress reports and what is included in those reports?
  • What is the best way to reach you? How quickly can I expect you to respond?

Concluding the Meeting

End the meeting by asking the premises liability lawyer if there is anything else he or she wants to tell you. This is the lawyer's last opportunity to explain why he or she would be the best person to handle your case.

If you didn't take notes during the meeting, spend some time recording your thoughts immediately after the meeting ends. These notes will be particularly useful if you have to choose between two or three lawyers.

Hiring a Premises Liability Lawyer

Once you've had an initial consultations with each personal injury lawyer you're considering for your case, it's time to select an attorney to represent you. Your decision may be an easy one, particularly if you only met a single lawyer and were pleased with the results of your meeting. If you're choosing between a couple of lawyers, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the lawyer have the necessary skills and experience to handle my case?
  • Was the lawyer's award estimate realistic and were the legal fees reasonable?
  • Did I feel comfortable with the lawyer's proposed strategy, and do I trust the lawyer's advice and judgment?
  • Will I be happy if I have to work with this lawyer for months or more than a year?