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What Questions Should I Ask My Personal Injury Lawyer?
Posted in Personal Injury on November 14, 2019
There are many personal injury law firms and attorneys operating throughout Washington state – when it comes time for you to hire someone to represent your case, how can you make a decision as to who to hire?
You want to ensure that the lawyer you choose can provide the highest quality legal representation and who is willing to work with you each step of the way. Here are a few crucial questions you should ask a potential personal injury lawyer before you decide to hire him or her.
#1: Do You Operate on a Contingency Fee Basis?
Attorney fees are notoriously expensive, and very few people can afford to pay their lawyers out of pocket. Most personal injury firms understand this, and operate on a contingency fee basis. Simply put, the lawyer will take an agreed-upon percentage of your final settlement as payment, limiting how much you pay directly.
This arrangement is important for a number of reasons: maximum affordability for you, and an incentive for your attorney to collect compensation on your behalf. If a firm does not operate on a contingency fee basis, they may not see enough successful cases to afford this payment system. Try to find a firm who does offer contingency fees.
#2: What Courtroom Experience Do You Have?
Different cases result in different outcomes: many cases settle outside of the courtroom during negotiations with the insurance company, while others proceed to civil court for a judge to preside over them. In a personal injury case, you want to convince the insurance company that you are willing to enter the courtroom for maximum settlement.
An attorney who does not have any trial experience or does not have a strong track record of courtroom success could lead to less credibility during negotiations. If your lawyer focuses on settling your case quickly instead of fighting for maximum compensation, you won’t receive the funds you need to recover. Ask your attorney about his or her trial experience to determine whether or not you should find someone new.
#3: What Is Your Settlement Track Record?
You want to ensure that the attorney that you hire has a track record of successful settlements and verdicts. If a firm has very few cases that actually result in a positive outcome for the client, you probably won’t see an adequate settlement at the end of your lawsuit or insurance claim. After all, if an attorney cannot provide past results, how can you expect him or her to adequately represent your case?
Ask your potential attorney about outcomes in his or her recent cases, and what his or her record of successful settlements are. Your attorney should have mostly positive outcomes – if he or she indicates otherwise, find another firm.
#4: Who Will Be Handling My Case?
A personal injury lawsuit is, by nature, very personal. You want an attorney who will take the time to learn your side of events and what you are suffering from as a result of the accident. If your lawyer hands the case off to a case manager and you spend very little time actually communicating with him or her, you won’t be able to share these details – and as a result, your case will not be as strong as it could be.
You want to find an attorney who will work and communicate with you directly. Some firms are busy and you may have to spend time communicating with a less experienced associate or employee, but your lawyer should still devote a significant amount of his or her time to learning about you. Find out what your relationship will be like before you hire the firm.
Hiring the right attorney for your personal injury case could mean the difference between a successful settlement and none at all. These questions can help you separate attorneys who could work well for your case and those who you would rather pass on. Once you have narrowed down your list to the top contenders, you can use the answers they give to make your final decision.