Jill Kolodner | September 5, 2020 | Personal Injury
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is an important step to making sure you have the representation you need to collect the compensation you are due for your injuries. Because a qualified personal injury lawyer can be an invaluable asset to helping you win your personal injury case, it is crucial you take the time necessary to vet your lawyer properly.
Just because you have set an initial appointment or consultation with a lawyer doesn’t mean you are necessarily going to hire them. You need to be willing to walk away if you don’t get the answers you are looking for.
Unfortunately, not all lawyers or law firms are equal. While there are plenty of great personal injury lawyers out there, it is a sad reality that there are also plenty who are only out for themselves and don’t give their clients the time and attention they deserve. If you are contemplating hiring a personal injury lawyer, or have already done so, here are six questions you should ask them.
How Many Years of Experience Do You Have?
Experience is one factor that sets lawyers apart. By asking how much experience your lawyer has, you can get an idea of whether or not they can handle the kind of case you have. In addition to giving you the length of their career and where they went to law school, they should also be able to rattle off several cases they have had that are similar to yours.
On top of courtroom and settlement experience, you can also ask about which associations or organizations, if any, they are a member of to get a picture of their level of professionalism.
What Areas of the Law Do You Specialize In?
The law is complex and there are many different areas lawyers can focus on. Even if the attorney you’re considering has decades of experience they might not be the best fit if that experience is in an area of the law that is irrelevant to your case.
Feel free to ask the lawyer if they specialize in the type of injury you have sustained. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you’ll want an attorney who specializes in car accident cases. Similarly, if you’ve been injured as result of a surgical error, you might want to think twice before hiring a lawyer who has never handled a medical malpractice lawsuit before. If the answer is no, maybe they can refer to a lawyer who does focus on that injury and knows it well.
Do You Work on a Contingency Basis, If So, What Percentage Do You Take?
Many personal injury lawyers work on contingency, meaning they don’t charge upfront costs and only collect a fee at the end of the case. That fee is based on a certain percentage. You should ask your lawyer what percentage they charge and make sure you get a contract in writing before you hire them for the case.
While it can range significantly depending on several factors, many personal injury lawyers charge between 33.3 and 40 percent.
What Kinds of Damages Am I Entitled To?
The type of law that governs personal injuries in many states is known as tort law. In this type of law, there are usually three categories of damages plaintiffs might be entitled to. The first is economic damages, which includes:
- medical bills
- lost wages
- reduced earning capacity
- physical therapy, etc.
The second category of damages is known as non-economic damages and includes pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other intangibles.
Though it is much rarer, plaintiffs might also be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded when a defendant’s actions or lack thereof were done or not done with malicious intent.
To help you understand your case better, ask your lawyer which kinds of damages your case might be eligible for.
How Long Will My Case Take?
No two cases are the same, and the length of your case depends on several factors and variables. A case can take as little as a few weeks if it is relatively straightforward, there is only one defendant, and the two parties reach a settlement.
However, if you have to undergo significant medical treatment or the case is headed to court where the losing side will have the chance to appeal, it could be years before all matters are resolved.
What Guarantees Can You Make About My Case?
This is really a trick question and designed to help you weed out the bad lawyers from the good. If the lawyer answers this question with lofty promises and guarantees you a huge verdict or settlement, you might want to continue your search.
There is too much outside of your lawyer’s control and yours for any promises to be made. All your lawyer can guarantee is that they will work hard and give your and your case their utmost attention and care.