If you've suffered an injury due to someone else's negligence and plan to pursue those responsible, you will need to hire a personal injury attorney. But if you want to receive compensation, there are some important considerations to make. Your personal injury lawyer will likely be working on your behalf for years, and his or her experience, efficiency and business practices will determine not only whether you win your case, but also how much you receive. Read ahead to find out 7 questions you need to ask before hiring a personal injury attorney.
1. Do You Have Experience With This Kind Of Case?
Personal injury lawsuits are desirable cases for most lawyers, hence the intense competition and ubiquitous advertisements. But just because an attorney advertises personal injury representation doesn't mean they know how to best handle your specific case. Ask for details about your attorney's results and experience. You wouldn't purchase a new vehicle without learning if it is reliable and suits your needs, hiring an attorney should be no different.
2. Do You Have Time To Start My Case Right Now?
A well-known attorney is also a busy attorney. Too many times, personal injury lawyers take on cases and sit on them for extended periods of time before filing suit. Ask your potential lawyer how many cases they're currently working on and how much time they have for your case.
3. What Is Your Contingency Fee?
Personal injury cases generally work on a contingency fee, wherein your attorney earns a negotiable fee of 25 to 40% of your settlement. The contingency fee agreement stipulates that no legal fees will be charged unless there is a recovery. If you have a good case, you can find a personal injury attorney to work on contingency. But know ahead of time that the more severe the injury and the stronger the case, the more room there is to negotiate the numbers.
4. Will I Have To Pay Advanced Case Costs If We Lose?
On top of the contingency fee, some lawyers also charge costs advanced. These can grow to a large sum if your case is prolonged. In your initial agreement, you should ask for a guarantee that you will not be responsible for out-of-pocket expenses—with all legal fees paid out of your reward.
5. How Soon Will My Lawsuit Be Filed?
Ask for dates and give them a deadline. Without one, many lawyers will delay filing your case as long as they can. This not only accrues advanced costs in some cases, but also allows the attorney to develop a deep backlog of future work. If you have a good personal injury case, the sooner you file the better. Ask your potential lawyer if your case can be filed within two weeks.
6. Will I Have To Go To Trial?
If your potential attorney responds that the case will likely settle, be very careful about the amount you're settling for. If your attorney plans on settling, it is possible that he or she is not fully prepared to take your case to trial, which means a reduced likelihood of winning when and if the case is called into court. If the case is going to trial, try to establish a timeframe. Many personal injury cases can be resolved in three years and a proactive attorney working under a deadline can oftentimes get it done sooner.
7. What Is My Case Worth?
If your lawyer has experience, they'll be able to give you a ballpark figure. It may be a broad range based on liability, discovery, medical issues and other factors, but your attorney should have a figure in his or her head. Not only should they be able to tell you an approximate worth of your case, but they should also explain the unknowns. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.