When you are injured, your choice of a lawyer can make a huge difference in your financial recovery. Many lawyers handle personal injuries, but choosing the right one can be difficult. When you are trying to decide who to hire, ask these five questions first.
- What Kind of Personal Injury Experience Do You Have?
Some lawyers may bill themselves as personal injury lawyers, but their practice may also handle family law, estate law, and a handful of other types. If they handle more cases of family or estate law than they handle personal injuries, they might not have enough experience.
Another concern is whether they handle your specific kind of personal injury. For example, a car accident is very different from a slip and fall in a store, for example, and you should be aware of the particular types of personal injury cases they handle and their success rates.
- How Much Are My Injuries Worth?
This is something of a trick question. You should get an answer, but the answer you get should tell you whether to keep the lawyer in the running or cross them off your list immediately.
Any qualified lawyer should be able to give you a ballpark figure for how much you might be able to expect. The key, however, is that it is an estimate and the use of the word “might” or some variation of it. They may also be able to give specific examples of similar cases they have handled and the amounts received.
If they give you a precise figure with a guarantee that you will win that much, you should cross them off your list immediately. No lawyer should make any guarantee about the outcome of your case, and if they do, you do not want to work with them.
- Who Will Be Handling My Case?
Unless the attorney is a one-man operation, with nothing more than a paralegal and a receptionist, chances are there are other attorneys in the firm that handle the same kinds of cases. That means that the person you are meeting with may or may not be the one who handles your case.
If you are comfortable with the person you are meeting, that will likely play a significant role in your decision to hire them. If there is a chance they will not be handling your case, you need to know that before you make the decision. You should also ask to meet whoever would be handling your case so that you can see how you feel about them. If it does not feel right with that person, you may decide not to hire that firm.
- How Much Do You Expect Me to Participate?
You are hiring a lawyer because you are not qualified or equipped to handle your case yourself, so you should expect that your lawyer will take the lead and do most of the work. But they should expect some involvement from you.
What they expect from you can vary, depending on the attorney, of course, but if they tell you that they do not need any input from you, that is a huge red flag. As the client, you are the boss, and your attorney works for you. Your input and involvement are required for a successful outcome.
- Is Going to Trial an Option?
Many personal injury cases are settled out of court. If you and the other party, with the assistance of your attorney, can reach a fair settlement, there is no reason to go to court, but many settlement offers are far too low. Additionally, insurance companies often know which lawyers will settle and which ones will go to trial, and if they know your lawyer will settle, they are much more likely to offer you less.
A good lawyer will prepare for trial in every case. If you are told that preparing for trial is not necessary, or that the lawyer never or almost never goes to trial, you should probably cross them off your list. Having a lawyer that you know will go to trial, if necessary, will make a huge difference in your case’s outcome.
You should also ask any other questions that come to your mind. Hiring a lawyer is an important and complicated decision that requires a lot of information. When you know more information, you can make an educated decision on which lawyer to represent your personal injury case.
Alex is a contributing writer for Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with his family.