If you have been injured due to the negligent actions of another person, one of the first considerations is whether or not to file an injury claim and, if so, whether or not to hire a personal injury lawyer.
Hiring a lawyer can be costly. Although you will not have to pay the injury lawyer money up front to help with your personal injury claim, if you win your case, you may have to pay them 35–40% of the injury award. So, before determining whether or not you need legal help, there are specific questions you should ask your lawyer.
1. How much is my personal injury claim worth?
Before hiring an injury lawyer, you should schedule an initial consultation. Most injury lawyers will agree to a free consultation to review your case with you. At this consultation, they will review the evidence of your case and give you an estimate of what your case is worth.
Injury lawyers may not be able to give you a precise value for your claim, and they should not guarantee that they can win your case, but chances are that they have worked on other cases similar to yours and may have a general understanding of what your case is worth if you do win.
2. What area of law do you specialize in and have you handled a case similar to mine?
If you are considering hiring a personal injury lawyer, you'll want to hire one who has experience in handling cases similar to yours. You'll also want one who has a history of getting good results for their clients. Ask to speak to other clients and find out if they were satisfied with the work. Do not simply hire a lawyer with a high advertising budget or a nice photograph.
3. How long will my case take to resolve?
Just like you, personal injury lawyers can be victims of the current judicial system. This means that they may not be able to push your case through the court system and get you a fast trial date. They also may not be able to expedite discovery or force the defendant to settle. They should, however, be able to tell you how fast they were able to resolve other cases that were similar to yours.
4. Do they have the time to handle your case?
It is not unusual for a client to meet with a lawyer, hire them, and then have difficulty reaching them again to discuss their case. Lawyers are busy, and some personal injury lawyers may take on too many cases. Talk to the lawyer and find out how many cases they are handling, whether they will be able to speak directly to you about the case, and whether or not they really have time to handle your personal injury claim.
5. How much will it cost to hire you?
Although personal injury lawyers generally work on a contingent fee basis and will not require upfront fees to handle your injury claim, some lawyers may charge certain additional fees, or the contingent fee may vary by jurisdiction or type of claim.
Before signing any contractual agreement, make sure that you understand how much you will have to pay if the personal injury lawyer wins your claim. Find out if the fee will increase if the lawyer has to take the case to trial. Get everything in writing and review the contract before signing it.
6. If I don't want to settle my case, will you be willing to take it to court?
Although a large percentage of injury cases will be settled out of court, your injury lawyer needs to be prepared and willing to take your case to trial. Lawyers who are not prepared to go to trial may not be able to negotiate from a position of strength, and even if you do choose to settle, the compensation offered may be too low.
7. What do I need to do to prepare for my injury claim?
Personal injury lawyers are busy, and it can be a waste of time for you and your lawyer if you are not prepared—not only for the first meeting, but also for all the additional work that you will need to do to help your lawyer.
Although the lawyer may do most of the work for your injury case, you will have to gather some information. Talk to your lawyer about the type of evidence, documentation and information that they will need to expedite your case.
The information that you may need to gather could include copies of the police report, hospital records, bills, insurance information, costs about future medical expenses, employment information, and a list of important dates. Failing to gather the right information or not understanding your role in your case can unnecessarily delay your personal injury claim.
Filing a personal injury case can be difficult and time-consuming. Talk to an injury lawyer and make sure that you have a valid claim. By gathering the right information and asking the right questions, you will have a greater chance of finding the right lawyer.