Dealing with the aftermath is difficult when you suffer serious injuries from an accident that was not your fault. Aside from the injury itself, you will also be facing expensive medical bills and a possible loss of income. To successfully recover compensation from the responsible party, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side.
A lawyer will help you navigate the complexities of the legal system and protect your best interests. This is why it’s crucial to find a lawyer you can trust to handle your case. Asking the right questions is a crucial step of the process.
Here are ten questions you can ask a personal injury lawyer for valuable insight into them and their practice.
1. Have You Previously Handled Cases Similar to Mine?
The scope of personal injury is a broad one. It covers car accidents, slip, and fall accidents, medical malpractice, dog bites, wrongful death, etc. Each type of case comes with its own set of considerations. Most personal injury lawyers take a range of cases, but you might find that they specialize in a certain type.
It is in your best interests to work with a lawyer who has experience handling cases similar to yours. First, you want them to have experience handling them. They have secured settlements for past clients. This will help you trust their capability to handle your case.
One last thing to keep in mind: you do not have to immediately rule out a lawyer who has no experience with similar cases. If they have a stellar track record otherwise and are supported by other experienced attorneys in their firm, they may still be able to do well.
2. Do You Have the Time and Resources To Handle My Case?
This is a question you should ask early on. Personal injury lawsuits require a significant amount of time, effort, and money. You want to know that the lawyer you hire will handle your case with the care and attention you deserve.
Good lawyers understand that they cannot spread themselves too thin. Therefore,theyy should have no problem telling you upfront whether or not they can handle your case.
If your case is relatively minor, it is best to go to a smaller firm. While availability issues may be more common, you can also trust that your lawyer will not be handling several cases at once.
Larger cases, like those involving catastrophic injuries, will typically include large expenses that only a big firm can handle. These firms will often have multiple attorneys and a solid team of legal assistants, paralegals, and other administrative staff. More hands working on a single case may be necessary for more complicated cases.
3. Do You Foresee Any Problems or Difficulties With My Case?
Each personal injury case has its own set of circumstances. Sometimes, these circumstances can potentially make a claim harder to win. For example, an inexperienced lawyer might promise that your case will be an open-and-shut case with no major difficulties. However, an experienced lawyer will be able to describe what difficulties they foresee and point out exactly what they are.
Resolving a case is rarely straightforward. When complications arise, you want a lawyer on your side with an objective view of the situation. Regardless of the cause for these complications, whether external factors or your own actions, you want a lawyer willing to confront them.
4. Will You Be Able To Take My Case to Trial?
This is a question that most people will not think to ask. You might assume that every lawyer has court experience based on what you have seen in the media. That is untrue. Some law specialties go to court less often than others. Personal injury cases, in particular, are usually resolved by negotiating settlements with the insurance company.
If you are offered a fair settlement during negotiation, there is no need to go to court. However, insurance companies are notorious for paying as little as possible. If they refuse to settle for a reasonable amount, a trial will be necessary.
Do not be afraid to ask your lawyer about their willingness to take your case to court. You want a lawyer willing to do everything they can to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
5. What Fees Do You Charge?
Lawsuits are expensive. Most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. You do not have to pay upfront, and you only pay when they win your case. The payment comes from a fixed percentage of compensation.
The typical range is 20% to 40% of your compensation. It is best to clarify with your lawyer the exact percentage so you do not get blindsided later on.
6. Will I Have To Pay Case-Related Costs if We Lose?
Litigation can be an unpredictable process. Therefore, you should set realistic expectations and be prepared if you lose. As your lawyer will likely be working on a contingency fee basis, they will be handling expenses during the proceedings. These expenses can include police report fees, medical record retrieval fees, filing fees, and witness fees.
If your case proves to be particularly complicated, these expenses can add up quickly. Be sure to clarify who will be responsible for these case-related costs beforehand.
7. What Is My Case Worth?
Now, there is no definite answer to this question. The value of a particular case hinges on many factors, but an experienced lawyer should at least be able to give you an estimate. Ideally, they should also tell you how your circumstances, along with negotiation and trial, could affect the resulting settlement.
If a lawyer is making vague promises for a million-dollar settlement, exercise caution and ask them for a breakdown of their estimate.
8. Will You Share Case Updates with Me?
Sometimes, the lawyer you first consult with may not be the only one working on your case. It is good to ask who exactly will be handling your case and how you can communicate with them. You want a team ready to answer your questions and willing to share updates.
Make sure to find out who should be your main point of contact, their preferred method of communication (e.g., emails or phone calls), and the best time to contact them.
9. What Is My Role in the Case?
Do you want to be hands-on in your case, or would you prefer to let your lawyer handle everything? Every attorney-client relationship is different, as both parties will often have their preferences. Some lawyers might expect you to be very involved, while some prefer you stay on the sidelines. It is important to clarify your working relationship with your lawyer to make the overall process smoother.
10. Can I See Testimonials From Past Clients?
Going through a personal injury lawsuit is difficult for anyone, so your lawyer should be someone you can truly trust. Past clients’ experiences are the best indicator you have for deciding whether or not a specific lawyer will be a good fit. Do not rely solely on advertisements or website copy to judge a lawyer’s work — these are designed to be promotional. You want to know about their services from people that have worked with them. Most lawyers will have testimonials displayed on their website, but feel free to ask them for some if they do not. You might also consider asking if you can speak directly to a past client.
Other than client testimonials, you can also ask them if other lawyers have previously referred cases to them. This is another good indicator of their quality of work.
Find the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
It pays to be thorough when searching for a personal injury lawyer. When you’re already dealing with the pain of injury and its associated costs, the last thing you want is a lawyer that adds to the burden.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, feel free to reach out to us at the Law Offices of John J. Perlstein. We have over 25 years of experience standing up for victims and ensuring they receive their justice. Call us at (213) 252-1070 or contact us to schedule a free consultation today.