Personal injuries occur every day, under a variety of circumstances. You may have been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone’s property, a car accident, or a dog bite. Obtaining compensation for your injuries is not easy. You may need to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle your claim. Before you retain a lawyer, you should ask questions to determine if he or she is the right fit for you and your case. Your case is important, and you should feel comfortable asking any questions that you have. Your questions may include:
1. What kind of cases do you generally handle?
There are lawyers for all kinds of legal problems. Some are general practitioners who handle a wide variety of legal matters, including personal injury work. You may like the lawyer personally. Perhaps your neighbor used this lawyer to handle a real estate matter. But personal injury cases are often very technical and may require experts to prove your case. You want to make sure your attorney knows this type of law very well and can perform at the top of his or her game.
2. How long have you been working in the field of personal injury law?
Many personal injury lawyers charge a contingency fee, which means that your lawyer will only receive payment if you recover compensation, whether through a settlement or court judgment. So for the most part, there are attorneys with relatively little experience and attorneys with many years of experience essentially charging the same fee. In addition to legal skills, an experienced attorney will have established a solid reputation with the judges and courts, which may benefit your case.
3. What percentage of your cases are settled out of court or referred to other lawyers?
Some firms act as a clearinghouse. They bring in many clients and then try to settle the cases quickly or refer them to other lawyers for trial. There is nothing wrong with collaborating with other lawyers on cases, as they may bring unique skills to your case. Experienced trial lawyers also settle cases out of court. However, they willingly try cases in court and are not as likely to settle for less than you deserve.
4. What is your record of verdicts and settlements?
Most lawyers are happy to share the battles they have fought and the verdicts they have won. Successful case results are not only a good omen; they are reassuring. Insurance companies who regularly defend personal injury cases know which attorneys will take a case to trial and win. That information may affect an insurance company’s willingness to negotiate a favorable settlement.
5. Who will work on my case?
Is the person you are meeting with the person who will be working on your case? Many top attorneys have a skilled support team who will work on routine aspects of your case, and even other attorneys may collaborate, but you want to know who is ultimately in charge. It is great to have a team working on your case, but you need to know how the team functions. No matter how impressed you are by the attorney you meet, you want to know the attorney who will be primarily responsible for your case.
6. How do you communicate with your clients?
With this question, you are really asking about the attorney’s client service. Some clients want regular updates; others only want to hear about significant developments. If you call with a question, who will return the call and how long will it take? How will you generally communicate, for example, by phone call, email, or other means? Knowing what to expect can help prevent misunderstandings later.
7. How do you charge for your services?
You may be injured, out of work, or otherwise unable to pay for legal services. Even if that is the case, you should consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. It is important to understand that nearly all personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that the lawyer’s fee is a fixed percentage of the damages recovered by the client. If you do not recover compensation through a settlement or trial, neither you nor the lawyer will get any money, but you will not need to pay your attorney for the work done on the case. The fee should be explained in a written attorney-client fee agreement. Read it completely and ask any questions you may have before signing. Contingent retainer agreements are guided by Nevada law.
Contingency fee agreements are intended to allow everyone access to the courts. For someone who has suffered an accident, paying hourly legal fees upfront may be impossible. The contingency fee arrangement allows the victim to pursue compensation from the person who caused their injuries.
8. Are you or other members of the firm active in organizations?
There are many local, state, and national organizations that provide continuing legal education for their members. Also, if an attorney’s practice focuses on a particular type of injury, such as traumatic head injuries, he or she may be active in civic organizations for people who have those injuries.
9. Have you received any awards, media coverage, or leadership positions?
There are a lot of lawyers out there. You want to learn as much as you can about your lawyer and what he or she has accomplished. Honors such as leadership positions in legal or civic organizations may indicate that the attorney is exceptional.
10. Do you have the financial and personnel resources to take on my case?
Personal injury lawsuits are complex and expensive to take to court. They typically involve a great deal of preparation and may require the testimony of several experts. You need someone with the financial resources and support to take the case to trial, if necessary.
If you were harmed in an accident, you need experienced legal representation to get the best possible outcome for your case. Look for a personal injury lawyer who offers a free consultation and works on contingency who can answer your questions.