Questions to Ask Your Personal Injury Attorney
Selecting a personal injury attorney is a challenging process. How will you choose when the pool of potential lawyers seems so deep?
You’re right to be cautious. Not because Florida is full of incompetent injury lawyers, but because the stakes are high if you’ve been seriously hurt in an accident. You want the right attorney by your side — and making that choice is a very personal decision.
Tips for Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
During the attorney selection process, it can be tempting to choose the first lawyer who calls you back. Life after an injury is hard enough without having to shop around, right?
Interview at least three personal injury attorneys before making a choice. You’ll find that each attorney may approach your case from a different angle. One lawyer might even tell you that you have no case, while another agrees to take it on.
Personalities matter, too. You want an attorney whose attitude and goals match your own.
Important Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Attorney
Ask your prospective lawyers these questions during your interview:
How much experience do you have handling claims like mine?
Although every case is different, you want a lawyer who works exclusively on personal injury claims. However, not all personal injury lawyers are created equal.
There are many sub-categories that fall under the umbrella of personal injury law (e.g., car accidents, workers’ compensation, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, defective products, etc.). Some lawyers narrow their focus down to one particular field of personal injury law, and you want one who handles cases like yours. For example, if you were hurt by a defective product, you probably don’t want to hire an attorney who dedicates most of his or her practice to helping injured workers.
How heavy is your current caseload?
The right lawyer will have time to give your case the attention it deserves. Being organized and timely matters. Lawyers with a heavy caseload may not have the time to represent you properly. For example, you never want to run the risk of missing out on compensation because your attorney was busy and failed to meet crucial filing deadlines.
That being said, having a heavy caseload is not an automatic disqualifier. If you have concerns about whether an attorney you like will be overloaded, ask how much time they expect to dedicate to your case.
Will you be the one representing me?
You should be sure that you have the opportunity to speak with the attorney (or attorneys) who will be working directly on your case. Sometimes, you meet with a senior partner and then have your case handled by a junior attorney. You may also want to confirm whether the law firm will actually be handling your case or refer your case out to another firm, which happens sometimes.
Do you have the necessary resources to represent me well?
Complex cases may require significant resources, such as access to credible experts who will provide testimony to support your case if needed. Ask whether the law firm has the right personnel, technology, and financial resources to pursue your case to its fullest extent.
Are you prepared to go to trial?
Most personal injury cases resolve through settlements with the insurance company or at-fault party. However, it’s a good idea to hire an experienced trial lawyer who is prepared to take your case to court if a fair agreement cannot be reached during settlement talks.
Ask for an honest assessment of your chances of winning at trial. While trial is typically the last resort in personal injury cases, you want a lawyer who is willing to take that step if he or she believes you have a valid case for more compensation than you have been offered.
What are your fees?
Most Florida personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee basis. That means that the client pays no upfront costs to have the attorney work on the case. The lawyer only collects a fee if he or she wins compensation on your behalf. That is usually a percentage of the gross recovery, which you will discuss before signing a fee agreement.
The system works to the client’s advantage because it places the risk on the lawyer. A personal injury attorney will only take on a case that he or she believes is strong.
With that said, no lawyer should ever promise positive results. If you interview a lawyer who guarantees a win, walk away immediately.
Will I be responsible for any fees and costs if we don’t win?
It is essential to know what costs you will be responsible for in the event that you do not recover compensation. Depending on the law firm, that may include court filing fees or the costs involved in hiring experts to support your claim. Either way, Florida Bar rules mandate that these terms are provided in a written contract to the client before representation begins.
Learn more about the Florida Bar’s rules regarding fee arrangements here.
How long will it take to resolve my case?
Many factors influence how long it takes to resolve an injury claim. A personal injury attorney with experience handling your specific type of case may give you a rough estimate of how long it might take to reach a resolution. However, he or she should also tell you that cases evolve, so if something unexpected arises or you decide to go to trial, you should expect it to take longer.
Will my case go to trial?
A diligent attorney will prepare your case with the expectation that it will go to trial. Having a fully prepared case makes it more likely that you will receive a full and fair settlement offer from the other side. If it is necessary to go to trial, it’s also smart to ask for the attorney’s track record of success in the courtroom.
What is my case worth?
Every personal injury attorney gets asked this question, and it’s a good one. After reviewing the facts of your case, an experienced attorney will be able to put a rough value on the case based on the nature of your injuries, who was at fault, the outcomes of cases similar to yours, and all of your losses.
The attorney should also explain how various factors — such as the evidence, preexisting medical issues, and the risk of losing at trial — could affect the maximum compensation you could receive in a settlement or verdict. Beware of attorneys who promise that you will receive compensation far above the financial losses you already know you have incurred.
What am I expected to do?
You should be on the same page with your attorney about your level of involvement in your case. Ask the prospective attorney whether you will be responsible for some matters, like obtaining your medical records, or whether the firm’s staff will handle that.
You’ll find that personal injury attorneys can handle much of their clients’ cases with minimal disruptions to their lives. Oftentimes, that is preferable because it gives accident victims the chance to heal and relieves the pressure of haggling with insurance companies to hammer out a settlement. But if you want to be more involved, a skilled attorney will be able to explain how you can help.
Do you have references?
Think of hiring a personal injury attorney like a job interview. It’s reasonable to ask for references rather than relying on the attorney’s word or from online testimonials.
Knowing When a Lawyer Is Right for Your Personal Injury Case
Like many life decisions, you’ll have a “gut feeling” when you’ve met the right personal injury attorney for you. Choose the one who gave the best answers to your questions. Think about whose personality meshed well with yours. Review their track records and the responses from references.
Keep in mind that you are never obligated to pick any of your initial interviewees. If you didn’t feel comfortable with the lawyers you interviewed, there’s nothing wrong with shopping around until you find the one that suits you.
Is Brooks Law Group Right for Me?
At Brooks Law Group, we welcome questions from prospective clients. It’s important for us to understand your needs so that we can customize our representation to pursue the best possible outcomes for you.
The good news is that we offer free consultations to potential clients, with no strings attached. We’ll listen to your story, answer your questions, and provide honest feedback about your legal options.
Call 1-800-LAW-3030 or contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.