Finding the right representation for a personal injury claim is no easy task. You need to know a lot about them and how their services work. If you’ve never hired a lawyer before, it can be difficult even to know what questions to ask.
In this guide, you’re going to get a complete introduction to the queries that matter most when you’re seeking legal representation. You’re going to learn what to ask about, why it matters to your defense, and some sample queries to ask depending on your injury.
You need to query your lawyer about their experiences, their firm’s policies, and the strategies they prefer to get justice for their clients.
Query them about their experience
During your initial consultation, you need to make sure that you query your lawyer about the experience that they bring to your case. You need to understand the firm’s experience and any lawyers’ experience working the case.
Why does it matter?
Your lawyer’s experience matters because it gives you an idea of how prepared they are to deal with a case like yours. Even within the narrow area of personal injury law, there are serious differences in how the courts treat types of injuries.
All of the following personal injuries may require a different approach by your lawyers:
- Malpractice injuries
- Dog bite injuries
- Slip-and-fall injuries
- Injuries resulting from negligence
No matter what type of injury you have and what circumstances surround it, you want a lawyer who has dealt with similar cases. The more cases they’ve tried in that specific area, the better.
Even if you’re only working with one lawyer, it’s typical for lawyers to go to their partners for advice or support. That’s why the experience of the firm also matters. If other members of your lawyer’s firm have also handled cases like yours, you’ll get the benefit of even more experience.
The following questions can help you understand more about your lawyer’s experience:
- “How many cases have you/your firm tried?”
- “How many times have you handled cases about [my injury]?”
- “How many cases have you won?”
- “What percentage of cases do you win or settle?”
Query them about their policies
You should query any law firm about their policies so that you know what to expect from their services. It’s important to understand how they handle communication, case expenses, and payment.
Why does it matter?
Policies matter because they control how you and your lawyer will work together. Some firms make the process of trying a case very hands-off for their clients. Other firms will expect their clients to be available often to keep the case moving.
Expenses are another area where policies will make a huge difference. Many types of injuries need to be investigated—for example, by medical specialists who can provide expert testimony. Some law firms may require their clients to cover these expenses.
Not all law firms will expect payment on the same schedule.
Most personal injury lawyers work on contingency. That means that they collect their payment from the settlement after winning the case. This arrangement works well for patients without money to spend on a case—especially since it means they don’t owe anything if they lose.
- “How much do I need to pay up-front”?
- “What type of expenses am I responsible for?”
- “What percentage of any settlement do you collect as payment?”
Query them about their strategies
You should query any law firm that you’re considering about the strategies that they prefer for personal injury cases. Law firms may prefer to end cases as soon (and as reliably) as possible by settling. Or, they may prefer to go for the largest award possible by going in front of a jury.
Why does it matter?
Your lawyer or firm’s preferred strategy matters a lot, depending on what you need from the case. For example, if you have a short-term injury that has seriously damaged your financial situation, you may need to settle as soon as possible to get your life back on track.
On the other hand, if your injury is likely to affect you for the rest of your life, then you’ll likely care more about getting the highest possible amount. That way, you can keep your existing lifestyle even if you’re forced out of work.
You need to make sure that your law firm shares your priorities. If they don’t, you may end up with a resolution that doesn’t work for you, even if you win your case.
- “What percentage of your cases have you settled?”
- “What percentage of your cases have you taken to trial?”
- “Do you prefer to fight cases to the end or go for an early settlement?”
Get better representation by making the right queries
The key to the best representation is making the right queries during the initial consultation. Now, you’ve learned some of the ways you can do that. You have all the tools you need to find out what your lawyer values and what they might expect from their time working with you.
Use what you’ve learned to prepare a set of questions about your lawyer’s experience, policies, and strategies. When you have the answers, you’ll know if you’ve found a good match for your case.