10 Most Important Questions to Ask Your Personal Injury Attorney
1. Do you have experience with cases like mine?
The best PI attorneys are the ones with the most experience. However, the field of PI law is vast. There are auto claims, premises liability, products liability, and medical malpractice. Each subcategory has its own set of rules. To get the best settlement, you should find someone familiar with cases like yours.
2. What is your fee?
Most personal injury attorneys work with contingency fee agreements, where the client pays them a percentage of the settlement, if and when the case concludes. However, not all attorneys are the same. Some attorneys will ask you to pay certain costs up front.
3. Do you have time to work on my case now?
In PI work, time is of the essence. You are racing against a statute of limitations to get your medical care and try to settle your claim out of court. Make sure your attorney has time to make your case the priority it needs to be.
4. Will other attorneys be working on my case?
This information should be in your representation or fee agreement. Usually, attorneys collaborate with other attorneys in the same firm, and they use paralegals, secretaries, and assistants to help them as well. Often your case will be seen by several sets of eyes. However, you want to make sure that the attorney you meet with will be doing most of the work on your case. It is important to have a good working relationship with your attorney.
5. Do I have a winning case?
Some claims are just not going end up with a settlement for the plaintiff. The case may have bad evidence or you may partially at fault for the accident. You do not want to waste time and money fighting for a claim you will not win. Ask your attorney if he or she thinks you have a case supported by good evidence so that you will not be disappointed by the end result.
6. How long will this case take?
Your attorney may not be able to give you a definite answer on this point. Each case is different, but your attorney should be able to tell you what to expect whether it be a year or several years.
7. Will I have to take the case to trial?
If the facts of the case are clear and the statute of limitations is not close to expiring, you most likely will not end up in court, but some cases are destined to be difficult. Your lawyer should tell you what to expect during your first appointment.
8. Will you settle the case without asking me first?
Technically, it against the rules of legal ethics to accept a settlement offer without speaking with our client first, but some attorneys can be more involved than some people are comfortable with. Before you start a working relationship, make clear how much or how little you want your attorney to act for you.
9. How will we communicate about my case?
Working on a PI case requires contributions from both the attorney and the client. You will need to tell your attorney about your injuries, medical care, medical bills, and quality of life as time passes. Before hiring an attorney, ensure that he or she is someone you can communicate with.
10. What do you need from me to get started?
May PI cases languish in the to-do pile because the attorney is waiting on the client, to sign a release, bring in a document, or contact the attorney. After you have decided to hire an attorney, always ask what you can be doing to keep it moving. Comply with all requests and bring in as many documents as possible.