If you’ve been injured, it’s critical to take several steps to protect your claim and ensure your wellbeing. The first is to seek medical attention and begin treatment for any injuries. The second is to find an experienced personal injury attorney who is well-versed in cases like yours to provide legal counsel as you file a claim for your injuries. Finding the right lawyer, however, is often easier said than done. After all, many people are not familiar with the complexities of personal injury law, and may not know what questions to ask potential attorneys to find out if they’ll be a good fit for the case. At Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A., we’re here to make this process easier by sharing 10 questions you should ask before hiring a personal injury lawyer.
1. What Are Your Fees?
Many, many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means they won’t get paid until they win a favorable settlement or verdict for you. Ask about the percentage of your award they will take as a fee, and ask how flexible they are. It is typical that an attorney will charge a fee between 25% and 40% of the total amount recovered. If you have a very solid, simple case, it is likely that they can be negotiated down to a lower fee percentage.
2. Will I Be Responsible for Any Advanced Case Costs If We Lose?
In addition to your attorney’s fees, they may also charge you for advanced case costs, which are out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the case, such as filing fees. These costs can be quite substantial, but they often will be taken from the client’s share of a settlement. If you lose, however, you may find yourself on the hook for these expenses, even if your lawyer isn’t collecting a fee. Be sure you will not be required to cover these expenses in the event that your case doesn’t prevail, and get it in writing.
3. What Is Your Experience with Cases Like Mine?
No two personal injury claims are the same, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be similar. When claims happen in similar circumstances, there may be specific laws that apply or precedents that can work in your favor. If your attorney doesn’t generally work with claims like yours, such as car accidents or slip-and-fall injuries, they may not be as familiar as they should be with all the details of your case, and may not be as capable of representing you as another lawyer would be.
4. Do You Have Time to Take My Case On?
It is possible that your lawyer may be willing to sign you up for their services, and then wait to file your claim until they have more time. Because many states have a longer statute of limitations, some attorneys may queue up cases and only file them when it is close to expiring. As a client, this practice is terrible for you. Not only does this delay your compensation, but it also can harm your chances of receiving compensation.
5. When Will My Claim Be Filed?
This question is a great follow-up to the last question. You can ask for a specific deadline to be provided, so you know when your case will begin. Unless there is a justifiable delay in filing your case, you should expect that your lawyer will provide you with a date in the near future.
6. What Will Happen If My Case Goes to Trial?
Your attorney should approach every case as if it will go to trial, but also be familiar with what cases are better to settle. If your case does go to trial, however, it’s important to discuss what the next steps will be. Some lawyers don’t handle litigation and will refer you to another attorney to handle your trial. Obviously, starting from scratch with a new lawyer is a frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive process.
7. What Is My Case Worth?
Obviously, your lawyer cannot tell you an exact amount your claim is worth, but they should be able to provide an educated guess, based on the factors of your accident. These factors will include your medical treatment, lost wages, and other expenses as a result of your injuries. They also should be able to explain the unknowns to you and help you understand how they came up with the value they gave you.
8. Who Will Actually Be Handling My Case?
While a team of paralegals, assistants, and interns can be extremely helpful to help attorneys manage their cases, you will want to ensure that your lawyer will actually be handling your case, not passing you off to a junior member of the firm. Find out who will be contacting you, how you can get in touch with them, and who will be doing most the work on your case.
9. What Will Be Expected of Me?
Lawsuits are about teamwork, so it’s critical that you understand where you stand on the team. Understand what your attorney expects your role to be, and be sure that you can meet their expectations. If you want to be more involved in your case, you won’t be happy with a lawyer that keeps you in the dark. Similarly, if you want to be hands-off with your case, you won’t want to be handling question after question from your attorney as your case progresses.
10. Why Should I Choose You Over Other Attorneys?
This is a great time to compare lawyers. Can they confidently explain their experience, education, training, and anything else that makes them more qualified to handle your case? Or do they resort to trashing the competition to make themselves look better? This is also a good time to get a feel for their personality and decide if they’d be a good fit for you. At Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A., we take pride in our role as a voice for injured victims. Our experienced team of Toledo personal injury attorneys is well-versed in a variety of injury case types, from car accidents to defective products. Let our team assist you with your claim today.