Choosing the right lawyer is an important decision – whether you were in a car accident, suffered a slip and fall, or were involved in any other type of personal injury accident. Referrals from friends, family, or coworkers are great, but you will still be making the decision on your own, which means researching individual lawyers and determining if they are the right fit.
A personal injury lawyer, like Justin Weinstein, will typically provide a free consultation to discuss the details of your claim. During the consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask questions that will help you decide if you would like to move forward or need to continue in your search. If you’ve never hired a lawyer before, you may be wondering what types of questions to ask. Here are some of the questions to consider asking when hiring an attorney.
Have you handled this type of case?
Just as you may be nervous taking a transatlantic flight with a new pilot, you may not want to choose an attorney who does not have experience handling your particular type of case. If the attorney has handled cases similar to yours, ask follow-up questions such as whether the case went to trial, if it was successful, and any other details you may be able to obtain.
What strategies do you propose for my case?
Ask the attorney how they intend to handle the case and why they have chosen a specific strategy. Ask specific questions about the pros and cons of such a strategy.
What are your legal fees and costs?
Although it is likely that the lawyer will outline this during your consultation, be sure to ask for clarification if it is needed. If your attorney is representing you for a “contingency fee,” it means the attorney will be paid a portion of the amount recovered after a successful settlement or trial. Make sure you discuss expenses, such as investigation, photocopying or obtaining records, and other attorney costs.
How will you let me know what is happening in my case?
Ask the lawyer how often they intend to update you on the case, who will be contacting you, and who you can contact if you want more information on what is happening.
Will you need my help?
Hiring an attorney means that you will have someone in your corner every step of the way. However, this does not necessarily mean that they will not need your help. You most likely will be required to provide documents or background information, a detailed account of what happened, or any other information pertinent to your case. Find out how you can help and make sure to follow your attorney’s instructions.
How many of your cases go to trial?
One of the reasons you want to ask this question is to determine if your lawyer has trial experience. You also want to gauge how often the lawyer goes to trial. If you’re hoping to not go to trial, avoid choosing a lawyer who prefers going to trial for the majority of their cases.
Are there alternatives to going to trial?
Your lawyer should review with you the possibility of a negotiated settlement or resolution prior to going to trial. Depending on the unique circumstances of each case, mediation may be an option. Arbitration may also be used as an alternative to going to trial.
What do you believe is the likely outcome of my case?
Generally speaking, your attorney can tell you if you have a valid claim and if there is a good chance at a successful outcome. The lawyer cannot tell how much in damages you will receive but may be able to provide some insight into how long the process could take and what the process entails.
These are just a few of the questions you should consider asking when hiring an attorney. Before your consultation, take some time to write down some other questions you may have. During your consultation, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification or any questions that come to mind.
Taking the time to ask questions in the beginning will help establish a solid attorney-client relationship that will lead to the best results for your case.