If you’ve been in a serious accident and sustained injuries you weren’t liable for, you’ll likely want to press charges. Filing a personal injury lawsuit can be an ideal way to make up for lost wages, high medical bills, and even a change in your quality of life.
Most attorneys will offer free consultations prior to agreeing to represent you, which can be the perfect opportunity to see if a legal team is a good fit for you and your case. Here are a few questions to ask a personal injury lawyer before you hire them.
Have you handled cases like mine before?
Experience is one of the most important things to look for in any lawyer. Particularly in personal injury cases (where multiple parties could be at fault and liability must be determined), it’s crucial that you find out what past successes your lawyer is bringing to the table.
Personal injury law is a broad topic, and some lawyers may specialize in cases like vehicular accidents or medical malpractice suits. Even in the vase of vehicular accidents, there are different intricacies to a car accident as opposed to a motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, or even a snowmobile accident.
Finding a personal injury attorney with a substantial record of successful suits which are similar to your own can be pivotal to your case’s success.
How are you paid?
Some lawyers charge an hourly rate, while others require a retainer or offer a subscription model for legal protection. With the average hourly rate for an attorney in the United States resting somewhere between $200 and $500, it’s important to talk about price before you sign anything.
Thankfully, many personal injury lawyers offer contingency fees, rather than charge upfront costs. A contingency fee basically means that the money an attorney receives is paid for out of the settlement your case reaches. In other words, you will not pay any fees until your case is won.
If you can find a lawyer with a contingency pricing agreement, you’ll probably stand a good chance at winning your case, too. A firm won’t take on a case they don’t think they can win in these kinds of situations.
What sort of time frame should I expect for my case?
While some court cases take only a day or two, personal injury cases have the potential to run on much longer, even stretching to the two or three year mark. This largely depends on the complexity of your case, since some personal injury trials require a variety of expert witnesses and other testimony, which can be hard to pin down and schedule in a neat timeframe.
Because of this, it’s always a good idea to ask your lawyer if they think that a settlement will be able to be reached outside of court, or if the case will need to go to trial. Both of those avenues have different time frames, so getting that kind of estimate from an attorney can be helpful in figuring out how much time of your life you will need to devote to your case.
Once you have a good estimate about the duration of the proceedings, it’s also a good idea to discuss how much time the legal team can dedicate to your case. If the personal injury lawyer you’re talking to is swamped with other cases, it may be worth picking a different attorney who can focus more on you.
Picking a personal injury lawyer can be an overwhelming decision to make, so you should be informed before you pick representation. Asking the above questions is a good way to start a conversation about what to expect from your trial and your legal team, and will ensure you find a good fit for your case.