Given the number of person injury cases annually in the United States, it is obviously important to ensure the right personal injury attorney for your case is selected. Dealing with the stress of injury is enough for most people without having to deal with the stressful work of also selected an attorney who will advocate and fight for your rights in Court.
As a recent article in LegalZoom indicated, the first step in the process is the ‘research phase when you need to start with the names of a number of lawyers and, as with any other service, check with personal referrals and check with those friends and associates you trust to provide advice.
Similarly, the State Bar in our State or area, as well as online resources are useful. Take care to ensure that the much-heralded law firms, particularly in personal injury law, are as good as they say.
At our firm, Fasigbrooks.com, we offer a free consultation for clients to make their own assessment. As with many firms, we encourage the questions below to be asked to ensure you are dealing with a trustworthy and competent attorney who can best handle your case. Having confidence in your attorney is a cornerstone to achieving a successful outcome for your claim and having the right questions is equally important.
Many lawyers offer free initial consultations to people who have been injured so that they are able to take an opportunity to learn about how the law firm operates, the types of successes that the firm has had in the past, and what they can do for you moving forward.
What is your experience with cases similar to mine?
While past experience is not a guarantee for future performance, it can give you a good idea of the level of comfort that this attorney will have while moving forward with your own case. New or unproven lawyers may be able to get you exactly the settlement that you hope for, but you should be able to make the decision to work with them based on a lot of information that you will consider.
How confident are you that we can get a fair settlement?
Of course, you would like to get an absolutely certain answer from your attorney about how they expect your case to go, but this is never going to be the case. However, there is something to be said about a lawyer who is extremely confident in your prospects and the work that you two will be able to get done together.
What types of settlements have you won for other clients?
Knowing more about the types of claims and the settlement amounts that the attorney has successfully represented can give you a great indication of what you can expect with your own work together. Of course, there is no certainty that their past results will guarantee your own, but they will give you an indication of their level of experience and professionalism.
Do you think that we will be able to reach a settlement, or will we need to go to court?
Again, there is no guarantee for your case one way or another, but it is always good to get an idea of the degree of confidence that the attorney has before you decide to work with them. You want to be confident that your attorney is engaged in your case, is working hard to get you the outcome you deserve and will be transparent with you each step of the way. If you feel that the attorney is not being straightforward with you, or that they seem to be unrealistic in their projections, this could be a red flag.
How do you charge for your legal work?
Although it is always uncomfortable to discuss money, it is a very important (in fact, the MOST important) issue around your case – both for your settlement and the amount that you will be paying the attorney. Most personal injury lawyers operate on contingency fees, meaning that you will not pay unless they win (essentially, their pay comes out of your settlement as a percentage). Knowing exactly what you will and will not be expected to pay out of pocket is very important, especially if your earning ability has been impacted by your accident.
Author: Stephen Fields writes on consumer law issues including for the law firm of Fasig Brooks and for legal publications on matters affecting consumer rights and the law.