When you get injured in an accident, you may look into hiring a personal injury lawyer. They could get you the compensation you deserve by negotiating with the defendant for a settlement and perhaps taking the defendant to court if they are not willing to negotiate in good faith.
If you’ve never met with a personal injury lawyer, then you may be wondering what questions to ask them.
Here are some important questions that will help you decide which lawyer you want to choose:
Do You Provide a Free Consultation?
Most personal injury lawyers will offer a free consultation to potential clients. During this initial meeting, they will ask you what happened when you got injured, if you have any proof such as witness statements, medical and police records, and photographs of your injuries, and whether or not you accepted a settlement already from the defendant or their insurance company (if you did, note that you may not be eligible for another settlement). After the initial consultation, you and the personal injury lawyer will decide if you want to work together. If by chance they do not offer a free consultation, then it is best to move on to the next one.
What Is Your Experience?
It is always best to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who has worked on cases like yours before. You could also ask if they have any case results they could show you. For instance, you could ask – what types of settlements have you been able to secure for clients in the past? Though they won’t be able to tell you exactly how much you could receive, they may be able to provide you with a ballpark estimate based on their past experience.
How Do You Typically Work With Clients?
You can ask your personal injury lawyer about their process when working with clients. For example, are they going to be in touch via email? Will they contact you regularly with updates? You could also ask if they usually settle with defendants or go to court. Even if they usually settle, you should inquire whether or not they would be willing to go to court for your case. FYI – most personal injury cases are settled without the need for trial as this is generally in the best interests of all parties involved. However, your attorney should be ready and able to litigate the case if necessary.
How Much Do You Charge?
Typically, personal injury lawyers don’t charge you any attorney fees unless they get you a settlement. If they do secure compensation for you, they will collect the contingency fee (percentage of your settlement) that you and the attorney previously agreed on. Your attorney will also need to recover any expenses that they incurred in pursuing your claim, such as hiring an expert witness to attest to the seriousness of your injuries.
Do You Believe I Have a Solid Case?
This question is critical because you want your personal injury lawyer to be honest with you and not just tell you what you want to hear. If they tell you that you do not have a strong case, then you can ask them why. For example, maybe there was a lack of sufficient evidence that the other party was negligent. If, on the other hand, the attorney is willing to take your case on a contingency fee basis, this means that they believe you have a reasonable chance of securing a settlement.
How Long Will the Claims Process Take?
Though your personal injury lawyer won’t know exactly how it will take to settle your claim, they can explain the steps involved. For instance, they will likely tell you that you should follow all of your doctor’s recommendations and follow through on all of your medical appointments. Once you are well on the road to recovery or maximum medical improvement (MMI), they will total up the medical bills and other damages and negotiate a settlement.
In general, you can expect the claims process to take several weeks or in some cases several months or longer in order to recover maximum compensation. There is a negotiation involved with this that will take some time to complete, and you usually do not want to except the first settlement offer that the other side gives you.
What Types of Damages Could Apply?
In a personal injury case, different damages could apply and be counted towards your settlement. Medical bills are always applicable and could include money you paid to go to the doctor, pay for prescription medicines, buy medical equipment, or undergo surgery. If you had to take time off of work to receive medical care, you could get money for lost wages. If you’re facing a lifelong injury, you could ask for a settlement to cover your future medical care as well.
Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment may be factored in too. Your lawyer will calculate all of the damages that will apply in your specific case, so they can get you the settlement you deserve.