Have you recently sustained a personal injury?
Perhaps you were involved in an auto crash that left your spine twisted. Or your neighbor’s dog went rogue and bit your leg. Or, somehow, your doctor made a surgical error that caused you a serious injury.
Regardless of the nature of your injury, one thing is clear: another person is to blame. And when this happens, you’re entitled to sue the at-fault party for compensation. This is why you’re now looking for a personal injury lawyer.
However, choosing personal injury lawyers isn’t a straightforward task. There are thousands of injury lawyers, so how do you know who to trust?
We’re here to help you find the right one.
Continue reading for some of the questions you should ask a lawyer before hiring them.
1. What’s Your Injury Specialization?
Personal injury cases aren’t all the same. Some are easy to pursue and others can be complex and lengthy.
You need a lawyer who specializes in the specific type of case you’ll be filing. For example, if you were bitten by a dog, you need a dog attack attorney. If you were injured in a truck accident, you need a personal injury lawyer who specializes in truck accidents.
You would need a medical malpractice attorney if your injuries arose from a mistake your doctor made. And if you were injured while out shopping in a mall, you need a premises liability lawyer.
Yes, there are injury lawyers who’re more of generalists (can handle any type of personal injury case) but this isn’t the kind of lawyer you want on your side, especially if your injuries are severe and you’re pursuing a large settlement. You stand a better chance of winning the case when you have a lawyer who has specific training in cases like yours.
2. Are You Licensed to Practice in My State?
Every active lawyer in the United States must carry a state-specific law license.
Ask whether your lawyer has a license to practice in your state. This is particularly important when you’re searching for a lawyer on the web. If you don’t specify your location, it’s possible that the search engine will lead you to lawyers in various parts of the country.
You also don’t want to get scammed.
It’s not uncommon for unsuspecting clients to end up paying a consultation fee to people who have never even been to law school. In other instances, the scammers are people who are lawyers by training but were kicked out of the bar for professional misconduct.
And, don’t just take “yes, I’m licensed in state X or Y” for an answer. Verify the details they give you with your State’s Bar.
Also, look at the time the license is due for renewal. If it’s expiring soon, take that as a possible red flag. If it expires while your case is ongoing, you might be left without proper legal representation while your lawyer renews their license.
3. How Many Personal Injury Cases Have You Won?
You got hurt because of somebody’s negligence or carelessness. You’ve probably suffered a lot of pain and spent a sum of money on healthcare expenses. Whoever hurt you has to pay up.
However, there’s no guarantee that they’ll admit liability and fish out their checkbooks for you to write the amount. Even if they have liability insurance, their insurer isn’t going to happily write you a settlement check.
The person you’re suing will fight back and the burden of proof is squarely on your shoulders.
Do you see why you need to ask for their experience with cases before hiring them? You stand a better chance with a lawyer who has won the vast majority of cases they have taken on.
This isn’t to say a lawyer with a poor win rate won’t win your case (some cases are a walk in the park), but they won’t inspire your confidence. And the last thing you want is to go home without a settlement.
4. How Many Clients Have Filed Complaints Against You?
When you ask this question, you’re aiming at two things: To evaluate the lawyer’s honesty and to determine their professional reputation.
If you want to know whether anyone has filed a formal complaint against the lawyer you want to hire, you can find the info at your State’s Bar. So, if a lawyer isn’t truthful with the complaints they have received, you can easily bust them and move on to another lawyer.
Reliable lawyers who focus on providing quality and satisfactory services to their clients aren’t likely to receive any complaints. Or the complaints and negative comments will be few and far between.
You want a lawyer with a good professional reputation; a lawyer who will defend your interests until the case closes. But if you choose a lawyer with a poor reputation, you just can’t know what to expect. Maybe they’ll delegate your case to their assistants or even drop it before it concludes, leaving you stranded.
5. What Percentage Will You Take From the Settlement?
Most personal injury lawyers bill clients a contingency fee. This means they take a certain percentage of money from the settlement amount.
Ask the lawyer how much they’ll take before they accept the case.
Rates vary from lawyer to lawyer, but industry-wide, the cap is at 33 percent for most cases. However, in cases with lawsuits involved, the rate can go up to 40 percent.
If you feel that you’ll be left with an inadequate amount of money after the lawyer takes their fee, you can negotiate on the rate or find a cheaper lawyer.
Choosing Personal Injury Lawyers Made Simpler
Choosing personal injury lawyers isn’t an easy task.
You have to interview a handful of lawyers and consider several factors before settling on one. But with this guide, your task is now simpler, no doubt. You know the questions to ask.
Good luck and keep reading our blog for more tips and advice.