Questions to Ask a Lawyer Before You Hire Them
Whether you’ve been in a car accident or have found yourself injured as a pedestrian due to a vehicle collision, there’s a lot to think about. It can seem overwhelming. In the process, you may need to hire a personal injury lawyer to make sure you’re properly compensated and cared for.
Here are several things to consider and questions to ask to make sure you’re hiring the best lawyer for your case.
1. Why do you think I have a good case?
The answer to this question will be very telling. They don’t need to give you a 10-point breakdown or anything like that, but you do what to get a feel for why they believe your case is worth taking on. If nothing else, it’ll show you a bit about their mindset and strategy.
2. What are the weaknesses in my case?
This question is equally as interesting – if not more. An attorney who tries to tell you that there are no weaknesses in your case is most likely lying to you. You want an attorney who clearly lays out the top weaknesses, what’s troubling about those aspects of the case, and how these vulnerabilities can be neutralized or covered.
An attorney who is honest about your case is most likely also very confident in their abilities.
3. How many similar cases have you handled?
You never want to be an attorney’s guinea pig. You want to know that the attorney has worked on similar cases to yours in the past and won. It's also worth asking about the timeline of these cases. Has the attorney worked on similar cases in the past 12 months, or is all of the experience from five or 10 years ago? Laws change, and it’s imperative that they’re current with what’s happening right now.
4. How many successful verdicts have you won in court?
You definitely don’t want your case going to trial if you can help it. Ideally, it will get settled before that point. Not only does this speed up the resolution, but it eliminates the stress and unknowns of a trial. Having said all of that, you should always account for the worst-case scenario. If your case does go to court, does the attorney actually have experience winning verdicts in a courtroom?
Getting a successful verdict in a courtroom trial requires an entirely different set of skills than negotiating with other attorneys in a boardroom. Ideally, your attorney is comfortable doing both.
5. Who will be handling my case?
Believe it or not, you have to ask this question. It’s not uncommon for you to meet with one of the firm’s partners initially, only to find out later that your case is being delegated to another attorney at the firm. There’s nothing technically wrong with this – that’s just the way a lot of firms work – but it’s nice to know how the case will be handled ahead of time. You deserve to know who your specific attorney within the firm will be.
6. How many other clients are you working with right now?
Attorneys, like other professionals, can easily become overworked. This is why it’s a good idea to inquire about how many client cases the attorney handles at a time.
On the one hand, having a lot of clients at one time is a good sign that the attorney’s services are in high demand. On the other hand, each additional client takes some time and focus away from your case. There’s certainly a balancing act in play.
7. What is the fee structure?
Finally, inquire about the fee structure. You’ll notice that this wasn’t the first question on the list, and that’s simply because most personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay unless you recover some monetary damages from your lawsuit.
With a contingency fee, there’s no payment upfront. Instead, you give them somewhere between 33 to 40 percent of the damages after they’re paid. (Be sure to inquire about the exact percentage before signing any agreement.)
Adding it All Up
Hiring a personal injury attorney is a serious decision that you shouldn’t take lightly. By asking thoughtful questions during the due diligence period, you can make sure you end up with the right person on your side. While time is certainly of the essence, there’s nothing beneficial about rushing into a hiring decision. Wait until you’ve had a chance to ask the right questions and gather all of the necessary information to make a choice.
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