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Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer Before You Hire Them

April 25, 2024 | By Emily Chimenti

When it comes to hiring a personal injury lawyer, you have seemingly endless choices. Whether you’re still shopping around or you’ve made an appointment to meet with someone, you’ll want to be prepared for the next steps in your case. Before you discuss your case and its merits, you’ll want to know if the person across the desk is the right attorney for you.

When you walk into your free initial consultation with an injury lawyer, be sure to ask the following questions:

How long have you been practicing personal injury law?

Inquire about the number of years they’ve been practicing personal injury law, their success rate, and their staff. Which practice areas do they focus on? Can they help with complicated claims, such as medical malpractice cases? Do they work collaboratively with other partners?

You will want to be familiar with anyone who will potentially work on your case, as well as the extent of resources the law firm can devote to your claim. How many attorneys are at the firm? Is there a mix of traditional and new ideas? How does the firm decide who gets the cases that walk in the door?

Have you handled cases like mine before?

Look for a lawyer with a track record of successful personal injury cases similar to yours. Ask for specific examples of cases with details in common that they’ve successfully resolved with settlements or verdicts in favor of their clients.

Additionally, inquire about their experience dealing with insurance companies and their familiarity with the legal nuances of personal injury cases in your jurisdiction.

Can you explain your fee structure, including upfront costs and contingency fees?

Ask questions about the lawyer’s fee structure—whether it’s contingency-based (where they only get paid if you win) or hourly—and discuss any additional costs, such as court fees or expert witness fees.

If the lawyer works on a contingency fee basis, ask about the percentage they will take from your settlement or verdict and who will pay filing fees. Make sure you fully understand the financial arrangement, including payment for out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the legal process.

What are the potential strengths and weaknesses of my case?

The attorney should give you a frank assessment of your case, including identifying the strengths or anticipated difficulties. For example, if you have compelling evidence, such as medical records, photographs, or eyewitness testimony, it may be harder for the insurance company to refute the extent of your injuries. Alternatively, if you contributed to the accident or your injuries in any way, it could reduce the amount of compensation you’re entitled to under comparative negligence laws.

All cases have some strengths and weaknesses. The point of the question is to determine whether your attorney will rise to the challenges in your type of case. Do they seek expert testimony from doctors or accident reconstructionists? Can they track down missing pieces of information supporting your version of events?

How do you typically communicate with your clients?

Clear and open communication is essential for a successful attorney-client relationship, so you must be comfortable with the lawyer’s communication style. Understand how frequently you’ll receive updates and how the lawyer prefers to communicate—email, phone calls, in-person meetings, etc.

Ask about the lawyer’s availability to answer your calls and address your concerns throughout the legal process. You should know the best way to reach the lawyer or their staff if needed and how long it will take to get a response.

Will you personally handle my case, or will it be passed off to another attorney or paralegal?

Clarify whether the lawyer you speak with will represent you throughout the case. Some law firms may assign cases to junior attorneys or paralegals, so it’s important to understand whether the lawyer you’re speaking with will be directly involved throughout your representation.

If your case requires collaboration with other legal professionals, inquire about their qualifications and experience to ensure you’re comfortable with the team handling it.

Can you provide testimonials from clients with similar cases?

Ask for recent testimonials from past clients to gauge the lawyer’s client satisfaction. A reputable personal injury lawyer should be willing to provide references from real people who are willing to share their experiences working with the law firm.

You can also look for reviews online or on third-party platforms. Watch for patterns or recurring themes in the feedback to help you decide whether the lawyer is the right fit for your case.

How often do your cases go to trial, and what is your success rate for securing favorable settlements?

Make sure the lawyer has experience both in negotiating settlements and litigating cases in court. It’s important to hire a lawyer who is prepared to take your case to trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached. Ask about their trial experience, courtroom demeanor, litigation strategy, and track record of success in front of judges and juries.

Are there any potential conflicts of interest that affect your ability to represent me?

It’s your attorney’s duty to prioritize your best interests above all else. If the lawyer has any other clients or personal commitments that could divide their loyalty, they should inform you and direct you to another attorney.

Even potential conflicts should be disclosed so clients have the opportunity to seek other counsel. For example, your attorney may have a personal connection to the at-fault driver in your case or have done legal work for the insurance company you’re seeking compensation from. If a conflict of interest arises that would compromise their ability to represent you, they should let you know as soon as possible.

How do you approach negotiations with insurance companies or opposing parties?

Most injury claims are resolved through settlement negotiations. Inquire about the attorney’s success rate in negotiating favorable settlements with insurance companies and their experience taking cases to trial when necessary.

What strategies do they use to maximize client compensation? Can they present a compelling legal argument and demonstrate the impact of your injuries on your life? How involved do they expect you to be in this process?

What is your strategy for maximizing compensation in personal injury cases?

Discuss the lawyer’s approach to building a strong case and pursuing the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Inquire about the types of damages you could receive, such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future rehabilitation costs. Ask how the lawyer plans to gather evidence, determine liability, and talk to the insurance company or opposing party to secure a favorable outcome for your case.

Can you provide an estimate of the potential value of my case?

Every personal injury claim is unique, and the value of your case depends on the specific circumstances and applicable laws in your jurisdiction. That said, an attorney should be able to provide an initial estimation based on your economic damages, their experience, and their knowledge of similar cases.

Your economic damages include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and property damage. These tangible losses can be quantified using bills, receipts, and financial records. Non-economic damages—such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, emotional distress, and lost enjoyment of life—are more subjective.

Compensation also depends on the extent of your injuries, the expected duration of your recovery, and the impact on your daily life and relationships. Aggravating factors, such as gross negligence, reckless behavior, or punitive damages, may also potentially increase your case’s value.

How long do you anticipate my case will take to resolve, and what factors could impact the timeline?

While it’s difficult to predict the exact duration of a personal injury case, an experienced lawyer should be able to provide a general time frame based on your injuries and the complexity of your case. Ask for an estimate of the timeline for your case based on the lawyer’s experience and workload.

Keep in mind that the length of your case may vary depending on factors beyond the lawyer’s control, such as court scheduling or the availability of witnesses. Ask about any potential delays or obstacles that could affect the timeline and how the lawyer plans to navigate them.

Get the Answers You Need

The personal injury lawyers at Wilson Kehoe Winingham are standing by to hear your story and answer any questions you may have. Call us today at (317) 920-6400 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation.

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