According to the US Department of Justice, there are over 400,000 personal injury claims every year.
No one wants to find themselves in a position where they need a personal injury attorney. This is generally a point where people are at their most vulnerable. They’re facing enormous medical bills, lost wages, and all the hardships that come with recovering.
There are many, many questions to ask a personal injury lawyer before choosing to work with them.
The attorney should provide the first steps to seeing light at the end of the tunnel. More importantly, they should help you find comfort in your situation. Attorneys are everywhere, but not all of them have your best interests in mind. The key is knowing what to look for in a trustworthy professional.
Chances are, you’re in this sticky situation for the first time. You may not know what to look for in your search. Fortunately, by asking a handful of questions in the consultation, you can get a good idea of whether or not they are a good fit.
In this post, we want to go over 10 questions to ask a personal injury lawyer – and the answers to look for. Let’s dive in!
1. How Long Have You Been Practicing Personal Injury Law?
Most personal injury lawyers will be happy to talk about their background in the field. You will probably see their diploma and other certificates on the wall of their office.
The process of choosing a personal injury lawyer generally starts online. Now, a big misconception is that the number of years a firm has been around is directly correlated to experience. Seeing that a firm was recently launched might deter you from reaching out.
Keep in mind, just because a firm is new DOES NOT mean the attorneys are inexperienced.
Starting a firm fresh out of law school with no experience is very, very difficult. Most attorneys spend years working for other firms before starting their own.
When you get into the consultation, ask the lawyer about their journey in the personal injury space. They should have no problems telling you about their education, experience, challenges, and the success they’ve had.
2. Have You Worked on Similar Cases?
This is one of the most important questions to ask a personal injury lawyer. Keep in mind, personal injury is a broad section of the law. Before you even reach out for a consultation, you need to be sure the firm handles cases for the type of injury you have.
As a general rule, if they don’t specifically advertise services for your type of injury, don’t have them represent you. If the attorney insists they can handle your case – they might not have your best interests at heart.
Now, say you found a lawyer who specializes in the injury you or a loved one has faced. Tell them about your situation and ask if they’ve worked on similar types of personal injury cases.
- What were the challenges?
- What was their strategy to overcome those challenges?
- What was the outcome of the case?
- How long did it take?
Every personal injury case is different. While the attorney probably hasn’t seen an identical case, they should be able to give you some insight on their process with a similar one.
3. How Long Will It Take to Resolve My Case?
This is a question that won’t have a clear answer – especially in the initial consultation. It’s more of a question to help gauge the personal injury lawyer’s trustworthiness.
Based on the details you provide; the attorney should have a ballpark estimation for how long it will take. Additionally, they should tell you everything you can do to speed up the process. What you need to be wary of here are bold guarantees. No attorney can give you an accurate timeline this early in the game. If they do, they are more than likely telling you what you want to hear to sign you as a client. This is a giant red flag.
4. What Challenges Do You See in My Case?
All personal injury cases come with a unique set of challenges.
Once you explain the details of your situation in the consultation, you need to get a feel for the road ahead – and the obstacles. The attorney should be brutally honest with you here. The best attorneys do not sugarcoat the truth.
More importantly than just telling you the challenges, they should discuss how they would tackle them. A good personal injury attorney has a solutions-focused mindset, no matter what the challenges may be.
5. How Will You Keep Me in the Loop?
This is arguably one of the most critical questions to ask a personal injury lawyer. A client-attorney relationship should be built on trust – and trust starts with good communication.
Ask your personal injury attorney how they usually keep in touch with clients. A trustworthy lawyer will be more than happy to tell you how they do this. They should also tell you how often they typically check in with clients and what they can expect during these discussions.
At the end of the day, clients should never be left wondering what’s going on with their injury case.
6. What Are Your Fees?
The biggest mistake people make is choosing a personal injury lawyer from cut-rate firms due to the low price tag. These firms usually don’t have their clients’ best interests in mind – or they lack the expertise needed to win cases.
Keep in mind, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they get paid a percentage (usually between 33% and 40%) of the compensation you are awarded after you win the case.
You don’t pay a penny out-of-pocket. In other words, ANYONE can work with a high-end personal injury attorney.
Personal injury lawyer fees might sound high – but it’s because the attorney is confident they can win and earn the maximum benefit.
Another thing to remember in your search is that most attorneys work on client referrals. If clients leave thinking they could have gotten more money with a different firm, they won’t get those precious referrals.
Moreover, the best legal firms have a reputation to maintain. They will not take a case unless they know they can bring extra value to the client.
7. Will We Win?
This is another one of the questions to ask a lawyer during the consultation to gauge their trustworthiness. To echo our last point, a good attorney won’t take a case unless they think they can win. However, no attorney can guarantee they will win – and no good lawyer will promise this to their client.
Once you tell the personal injury lawyer your situation, they should be confident, but cautiously optimistic. Just like timelines for personal injury cases, bold promises of a positive outcome are a red flag.
8. What All Do You Need from Me?
This is one of the questions to ask a personal injury lawyer to immediately get on their good side.
An important thing to remember about personal injury cases is you and the attorney both want the same things: maximum compensation and quick resolutions.
For either to happen, you and your attorney need to function as a team. Your primary job is to make sure they get all the information they need to build the case. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Documentation of the accident (police reports, witness statements, etc.)
- Records of payments made towards medical bills.
- Documentation of lost wages.
- Records of doctor visits.
- Future medical requirements.
After the consultation, the attorney should provide you with a list of everything they need to start building the case. Try to be proactive here. The more you can provide your attorney in a timely manner, the stronger your case will be.
9. What Happens If We Go to Trial?
If a personal injury lawyer tells you in the initial consultation that the case will settle, this is your cue to head for the door. Now, the vast majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court. But a skilled attorney is always prepared for a case to go to trial. This is so you can enter the negotiations with as much evidence as possible to earn the maximum amount from the personal injury lawsuit.
In terms of timelines, there are no guarantees here. The attorney should give you a general timeframe for how long similar cases take before they are tried in court. This estimate is based on knowledge of the local courthouse – and the inner workings of personal injury law.
10. Can I Contact a Past Client for a Reference?
Testimonials and reviews are the lifeblood of good law firms.
Attorneys work extremely hard to earn good sentiment from past clients. They will be more than happy to share any of them with you. Even better, some will offer to put you in touch with a past client to discuss their experience.
If a firm is brand new, the attorneys more than likely have clients they’ve worked with at some point who will vouch for them.
If the attorney seems hesitant or shy in providing any sort of review, it’s a red flag.
You have lots of options when hiring a personal injury lawyer.
The initial consultation should be an interview of sorts to understand the value they can provide. It all comes down to asking the right questions early on and gauging the response. While there are many questions to ask a personal injury lawyer, the 10 we’ve provided will help a lot in finding the perfect attorney to manage your case.
If you have any concerns about personal injury law or how your situation factors in, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Midwest Injury Lawyers. Give us a call at 312-786-5881 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even if you’re not sure you have a case, we are happy to answer your questions.