Accidents do not happen with forewarning. Victims are caught unawares. Injuries call for immediate action. But each time, we aren’t sure as to what action to take. Quick decisions are required. First thing, immediate medical assistance, and attention are needed for which we would approach the hospital or medical fraternity and for legal assistance, consult a qualified, experienced legal representation.
To that end, here are a few questions you should ask your personal injury attorney to make sure you have the right person for the job:
- What areas of law does the attorney specialize in?
Lawyers specialize in various fields, for injuries, approach a lawyer who is specialized in personal injury law.
- Has the attorney taken cases similar to this one in the past? How many? How did they turn out?
Most jurisdictions permit attorneys to provide details of their prior cases. Going through the previous cases may give you an idea of what kind of cases he may be able to handle.
- How long will it be before the case is resolved?
With time medical bills and time out of work will mount. You need to know how long it will be before you are compensated for your injuries. Knowing how long your normal life will remain disrupted by attendance at legal proceedings, investigative doctor visits, etc. will help you plan ahead. If they have the experience of handling similar cases, they will be able to give you a general estimate.
- Does the attorney work on a contingency basis?
Usually, a majority of personal injury attorneys do not charge for their services, but take a percentage from any monies you receive should you win the case; known as a contingency fee. It is known that most personal injury attorneys also pay for doctors visits and other expenses as the case proceeds but until you have received the compensation.
- Can he do something to improve the chances of winning?
It isn’t easy. He will need to do all that is within his possibility, get all the information from you and depending on how bad or good the case is may be able to help.
- Does he go to trial or settle out of court?
Cases that go to trial receive a larger payout. Insurance companies often offer settlements that are much less than what you might be able to get if your case goes to a trial. If he rarely goes to trial, it may be a sign that he is looking for a quick payoff as against getting you the maximum amount to which you are entitled.
- If you and attorney disagree on the amount of the settlement what happens?
Some attorneys just want finish it off, get a quick payoff and move on to the next case. To that end, he will insist you take the settlement and shut the matter. Don’t settle a case if you do not agree with it. Some attorneys, however, may withdraw from representing you if they believe you should take a settlement and you do not. This is important for you to know.
- Has he ever been censured or disciplined by any legal or ethics committees in the past? Reasons?
Raise a red flag if he has been. Find out what the trouble was. Will it affect his ability to effectively represent you, what about the safety of your money in their trust accounts, etc. are questions you need to ask.
- Ask for references from past clients.
If your jurisdiction allows lawyers to share references, ask for it.