When you’ve suffered a personal injury, hiring an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer can mean all the difference between a successful recovery and being left behind on your case. Before you hire an attorney for your personal injury matter, however, there are some important questions to ask. We recommend getting to the bottom of the following important questions:
Question: Have you handled personal injury cases like mine before?
Suggested follow-up: Do you have any client testimonials or references to share?
What to look for in the response: Consider it a red flag if the attorney has no experience with personal injury cases like yours: It is imperative that you hire an attorney who knows and understands the specific area of law involved in your case. Additionally, the attorney should be willing to share with you the reviews of former clients. You’ll want to be sure that you have a way of reviewing what former clients say about the attorney’s work, so that you may ascertain that the attorney has a good reputation.
Why this question is important: The area of personal injury is broad and vast, covering many different types of cases from a simple accident to complex toxic tort liability. Having handled a personal injury case in one specific area does not mean the attorney is well-versed in the area of law impacting your claim. Moreover, it is important to trust your case to someone whom others — especially previous clients — have trusted and found to be helpful and effective.
Question: What is the process of recovery for this type of case?
Suggested follow-up: What issues or difficulties do you see with my claim?
What to look for in the response: The attorney’s response to these two questions should show their knowledge of the law, procedures, and processes involved in recovering damages in a case like yours. They should know to analyze both sides of the case, pointing out any potential weaknesses in your claim and capitalizing on the strengths of your case. The attorney should understand not only the nuances of law and procedure involved but also investigate the specific facts involved in your case.
Why this question is important: Your attorney should be able to explain the process of recovery to you in clear, easily understandable language. Even more importantly, they should be able to discuss with you your options, rights, and next steps.
Question: What is my case worth?
Suggested follow-up: How do you handle attorney’s fees and other costs?
What to look for in the response: If the attorney responds on the spot with a specific figure, that is likely a red flag—many different factors should be considered before coming up with a valuation, and it will take some time for the attorney to investigate the facts and consider all of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. That said, the attorney should be able to give you a range or at least explain the process they will use in valuing your claim. Just as importantly, the attorney should be able to explain clearly the manner in which their fees will be calculated, as well as what costs you might expect to incur during the process, and how those fees and costs will be paid.
Why this question is important: A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer should be familiar with the process of valuing a case. Moreover, it is imperative that you understand how attorney’s fees and other costs will be calculated before you sign on with a lawyer so that you are not hit with any potential surprises.
Question: Can you devote the required time to my case?
Suggested follow-up: Will my case go to trial?
What to look for in the response: The attorney should be able to reassure you that they will spend the requisite time on your case. They should be able to discuss how they will communicate with you regarding any updates. They should be able to give you a thorough overview of the settlement negotiations process versus what happens at trial.
Why this question is important: Personal injury lawyers are busy, and cases can take a long time to resolve. While a busy personal injury attorney won’t be able to devote all of their time only to your case, it is important that they devote the time required to work on settling or resolving your claim successfully. The question about going to trial is also essential—it allows you to understand the various pros and cons of settlement versus trial, and to discuss the process that will be used if your case does end up in court.
How can FVF help?
At FVF, we want you to be equipped with the knowledge you need to make decisions about what is best for you. Feel free to ask an FVF attorney the critical questions outlined in this article and any others you personally have that may help you make an informed decision when hiring an attorney. Contact our personal injury attorneys for a free consultation about your case.