The lawyer you choose for your case could make a huge difference in the outcome you achieve. The right lawyer for your case might get you a better settlement or a greater damage award. The lawyer might even turn failed negotiations into a win at trial.
Most people will go through life without ever hiring a lawyer. Even those that do hire attorneys might not know how to pick the right lawyer for their case. Instead of choosing a lawyer with the qualities they need, they pick the lawyer with the catchiest advertising.
Here are six questions to ask a personal injury lawyer during a free consultation so you get the right lawyer for your case.
Choosing the Right Lawyer
The right lawyer for your case will have many qualities. They should be:
- Easy to work with
- A good communicator
- Knowledgeable about the law
Each client’s expectations for their lawyer will vary. The right lawyer for you and your case will be the lawyer who meets your expectations and shares your goals for your case.
Some questions you can ask to gauge your compatibility with a lawyer include:
- How Much Do You Charge?
Many disputes between lawyers and clients arise from fees. You should have a conversation during the free consultation about:
- Lawyer’s fees
- Case expenses
- Billing procedures
Most injury lawyers charge a contingent fee. The lawyer takes a percentage of your compensation after they win or settle your case. A typical contingent fee will range from 25% to 40%. You should ask upfront how much the lawyer will charge for your case.
You should also discuss expenses. During your case, the lawyer might pay some expenses on your behalf. Lawsuit filing fees, court reporter fees, process server fees, and expert witness fees can amount to thousands of dollars. You should ask the lawyer who will bear those costs, particularly if you lose.
- How Much Experience Do You Have With Cases Like Mine?
Experience matters. But relevant experience counts for more.
Every lawyer learns tort law in law school. Tort law covers most of the issues that arise in an injury case. But this does not mean that every lawyer has the knowledge and skills to handle an injury case.
A lawyer must anticipate the issues that will arise in a case. The lawyer must know where to find expert witnesses that will support your claims. The right lawyer might even know the insurance claims adjuster and insurance defense lawyer opposing your claim.
These skills and knowledge come from experience handling injury cases like your case. Car accident cases have nuances different from slip & fall cases. A lawyer with the right experience will often produce better and faster results.
- What Range of Outcomes Can I Expect In My Case?
This question has two purposes. First, you should understand the factors that go into evaluating your case. This will help you set your expectations for an eventual settlement or damage award.
Understanding the value of your case will also help you assist the lawyer in maximizing its value. For example, you might feel embarrassed to talk about the symptoms of depression you experienced after your injury. But knowing that your depression might increase your compensation will help you overcome your embarrassment.
Secondly, this discussion will help you evaluate the lawyer’s ability to communicate. Most of a lawyer’s job involves communication. The lawyer might need to:
- Explain your case to a claims adjuster
- Argue before a judge
- Persuade a jury
Through all of this, the lawyer must present your case clearly and logically. If you have problems understanding or following a lawyer during the free consultation, a claims adjuster, judge, or jury might have similar difficulties.
- Do You Anticipate Any Problems with My Case?
A lawyer must give you objective legal advice and analysis. This means that the lawyer must identify any potential problems in your case and discuss them with you.
Without objective advice, you cannot instruct the lawyer on how to handle your case. You could get blindsided in your case if an insurance adjuster, judge, or jury does not find in your favor.
This question also helps you evaluate your lawyer’s ethics. Unscrupulous lawyers might take marginal cases, hoping to win enough to keep the fees rolling in. You deserve to know if your case has problems so you can decide whether to proceed with it.
- Who Will Handle My Case?
Large law firms often have a large staff of associate lawyers who work on cases brought in by partners. As the client, you deserve to know whether the lawyer who handles your free consultation will also handle your case.
Associate lawyers might have different qualifications and experiences than the partners. You need to know who will handle your case so you can review their backgrounds and ensure they meet your expectations.
- How Will I Get Updates About My Case?
The top cause of disputes between lawyers and clients usually centers around communication. Lawyers get busy, and sometimes clients feel neglected. These problems can escalate quickly, particularly with clients who rely on their cases to get them out of a financial hole their injuries caused.
You should understand how to reach your lawyer. You should also ask who else will know your case if you cannot reach the lawyer. The lawyer will probably have paralegals and legal secretaries you can reach.
You should understand how often you should expect updates and how quickly the lawyer will return your calls and email messages.
Discussing your expectations about communication will help both you and the lawyer understand the boundaries of your relationship.
Interviewing a Personal Injury Lawyer
You should approach the free consultation like you would approach a job interview. You should discuss what the lawyer can do to help you. You should also discuss what the lawyer expects from you as a client.
Laying this groundwork early in the relationship should help you and your lawyer get the best possible outcome for your case.
With a solid partnership with a lawyer you trust, you can enjoy the kind of compassionate, knowledgeable legal representation that you deserve. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer, contact Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys. We’ll discuss the facts of your case, help you to explore your legal options, and help you to understand your chances of success in the legal system.