There are a number of questions to ask before working with a personal injury attorney. The right lawyer for a case is typically one who has the experience necessary to win a particular case, and has trustworthy judgment and advice. An experienced attorney is there to help a client understand their options.
The time to ask these questions is during an initial consultation. A scripted checklist of questions organized can help keep things organized. Below are a number of questions that should be asked Variations of the questions and others can be found on sites like Avvo.
Lawyer background and experience
- How many personal injury cases have you handled?
- How many personal injury cases have you taken to trial? What were the results? Do not assume by any advertising that the lawyer has handled or tried your type of case. Ask for a lawyer’s experience and results. The longer the lawyer’s list of successful case outcomes, the better it is for the client.
- What state bar associations and professional organizations have you been admitted to?
- Have you ever been suspended from practice of law? If yes, why?
Assessment of your case
Describe the facts of your case to the personal injury attorney. From your description, a lawyer can make an honest assessment of the case. Questions to ask may include:
- What is your honest opinion and assessment of my case?
- How long does it usually take to resolve similar injury cases?
- Are there any alternatives to litigation, such as mediation or alternative dispute resolution?
- 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 go to trial?
- Do you know the various arguments and defenses available for my case?
- What problems do you foresee with my case?
- What is the estimated amount of monetary damages that I may realistically be entitled to receive?
- Will you get me more money than other attorneys? Why?
Questions about how your personal injury case will be managed may include:
- Have you ever handled a case like mine?
- What is the rate of success for clients in similar cases?
- How many cases are you handling currently? Do you have time to handle my case?
- How would you go about handling my case? What is the process?
- How often will you communicate with me about my case? Will I be able to speak directly with you if needed?
- If I am not satisfied with the insurance company’s offer to settle my case, will you be the actual attorney filing a lawsuit on my behalf and taking the case to trial?
Legal fees and other money matters
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, but you’ll want to confirm this in each meeting. Questions to consider asking include:
- Will you be working on a contingency fee basis or an hourly rate?
- What out of pocket expenses are anticipated?
- What is your estimate of how much the entire case will cost, including fees?
- If I do not get a monetary award, will I owe you any money?
- Do you require a retainer payment?
- Do you advance out of pocket costs?
Finishing the initial consultation
At the end of the meeting, ask the lawyer if there’s anything else you should have discussed. Does the attorney have anything else he or she wants to tell you before you make a decision?