Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer after an Accident
Written by greg on February 18, 2013
If you’ve been injured in an accident that was not your fault, whether you were a passenger in another person’s car or were hit at a stoplight. If you are considering retaining a personal injury attorney, here are some questions you may want to consider asking.
How do you get paid?
Most personal injury attorneys’ handle a case based upon a “contingency arrangement” where the attorney gets paid for their time and effort by a percentage of the gross recovery they achieve. In other words, if the law firm obtains money for their client they get a percentage of that money for their efforts. Additionally, law firms typically allow for reimbursement of their out-of-pocket expenses out of the client share of any recovery. In other words the out-of-pocket expenditures of the attorney do not come out of the attorneys fees typically. However, it is important that an injury victim asked specifically about how the attorney gets paid and obtains a very good understanding of the percentages charged and exactly how the fee would be calculated. These can vary depending on the law firm and the type of claim.
How many cases like this have you handled in the past?
If the case is a very serious one, this is a very important question to ask. Additionally, if the case involves a niche area of practice such as a commercial truck accident or dangerous product case, the track record of the attorney in that specific type of case is a very good gauge on their experience with that type of case. Should your case not be that serious, this question might not be critically important to ask? The more serious the injury or the more niche the practice of the more important that the family explore the past experience.
Do you handle cases other than personal injury?
Again, if you are not seriously injured it may not make much difference whether you have the most experienced personal injury attorney or one who just dabbles in cases that come in the office. But to the extent you have a very serious injury, looking for a lawyer who handles only personal injury, preferably in the niche practice, is an important consideration.
How many cases do have right now?
Whether you will be dealing with the attorney, an associate attorney, a paralegal or other employee of the law firm is an important factor in not only your case but also how you can expect your case to be handled. If an attorney is too busy to answer your questions, you can make pretty good assumptions about how it is going with your case. Some attorneys can handle upwards of 100 to 200 cases and any one time and that is a very extensive burden on an attorney to give individual attention to that many clients. If you prefer individual attention, look for a law firm that offers individual contact and does not maintain a huge volume practice.
Are you peer review ranked?
A very good indicator of the legal ability and the ethical standards of the lawyer you are talking with to represent you in a serious injury matter is whether or not they have been peer review rated. While there are many different rating agencies that give “awards”, many of those are based upon a financial relationship with the company. Although the award sounds awesome, a deeper look indicates that the award is given to most if not all of the people who do business with that company. In other words it’s a marketing gimmick. There is however a true peer reviewed alternative where other attorneys in a blind sample review and rate the law firm. These ratings are not based upon a financial relationship with the company and therefore have much more credibility.
How long have you been practicing personal injury law?
Obviously, experience matters just as the track record of success of in the individual lawyer is an important consideration for a personal injury victim. Just as it’s important to investigate the makeup of the attorneys practice, how long they’ve been practicing in personal injury is an important consideration.
Will I be dealing with you or some other attorney or staff?
Knowing up front if you can speak to the lawyer that you hire about your case or whether your communications will all go through others is a consideration about the quality of your representation and also the quality of your experience with the law firm. It is not to say that communications with non-lawyer staff or associate attorneys are undesirable, only that a potential injury victim should probably asked the question up front or they be surprised when they can get the attorney on the telephone.
Each of these questions can be evaluated to enable a person to choose the best personal injury attorney that they can select. Interview as many attorneys as required before you are comfortable with your selection.