If you were hurt in an auto collision, a slip and fall, or a workplace accident, you may want to consult a personal injury law firm.
When you meet with a lawyer, consider asking:
- Do I have a valid personal injury case?
- Have you handled cases like mine?
- What’s your success rate with cases similar to mine?
- What types of compensation can I receive?
- What payment structure do you use?
- What services do you offer?
- How much involvement will I have throughout my case?
- Will we have to go to trial?
- How long will my personal injury case take to complete?
You may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of hiring a personal injury lawyer. Yet, the answers to the questions listed above may put your anxieties at ease. You can get the details you need to make informed decisions when you start a free case review.
Do I Have a Valid Personal Injury Case?
During your first consultation, a legal representative can review your case and determine its eligibility for compensation.
In turn, they may ask you some questions, such as:
- How long ago did your accident happen?
- What led to your injuries?
- What injuries did you sustain in the accident?
- Have you already filed an insurance claim?
- What damages do you hope to recover?
- How have your injuries affected your day-to-day life?
The answers you offer give the law firm insight into your options moving forward.
Have You Handled Personal Injury Cases Similar to Mine?
You want an attorney to have experience handling cases similar to yours. Still, even if they practice personal injury law, they may not take on every sort of personal injury case.
For example, let’s say you slipped and fell at a grocery store and suffered injuries. A personal injury firm might only take car, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian, and bicycle accident claims, but it might not take slips, falls, and other premises liability cases.
If a lawyer has managed premises liability cases, ask them about what the claims process was like, what evidence they needed, and if there are any nuances unique to a specific practice area.
What’s Your Success Rate With Cases Similar to Mine?
Many personal injury law firms list their case results on their websites. But, if they don’t, or you want to find out more about cases similar to yours, it’s always good to ask during your consultation. While they might not give specific figures, they can give you insight into what outcomes they’ve secured for others in your situation.
Another way to find out about a law firm’s track record is to check out its testimonials. Many law firms offer feedback on their websites. You can also check Google Reviews and various social media platforms for more insight into a law firm’s customer satisfaction.
What Types of Compensation Could I Receive?
Ultimately, the types of compensation you can receive depend on many factors, including:
- The type of accident in which you were hurt
- The nature, types, and seriousness of the injuries you sustained
- Your medical care and prognosis
- Your current and projected working status
- Your emotional and mental well-being
These details can help your personal injury lawyer determine which specific damages you can collect. Although they are unique to injured claimants’ situations, common damages in personal injury cases include:
Past and Anticipated Medical Treatment Costs
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may have incurred medical costs for:
- Mobility aids
- Hospital stays
- Physical therapy
- Diagnostic tests
- Follow-up doctor’s appointments
Your attorney may meet with your doctor to determine what treatment you will require long-term and factor these costs into your claim.
Lost Income and Future Loss of Earning Capacity
If you had to reduce your hours at work or stop working altogether, this could put you in serious financial straits. You could miss out on earning commissions, tips, benefits, hourly pay, promotions, and other forms of revenue. Your lawyer can evaluate your line of work and how your injuries affected your earning ability. Then, they can include those expenses in your claim or lawsuit’s overall value.
Loss of Future Earning Capacity
Should your injuries be so severe that you can’t work for several months or ever again, your attorney can seek financial recovery for loss of future earning capacity.
A negligence-based accident can impair your quality of life and cause inconvenience. The law allows you to seek reimbursement for each way your injuries have affected your life.
A significant portion of your claim may comprise these hardships, which may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Emotional trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
Your lawyer can assess your situation to determine how much you can seek for each of these losses.
Property Damage Expenses
If your property was damaged in an accident, you may seek financial recovery to repair or replace it. This goes for damaged or totaled vehicles in traffic accidents, as well as other personal belongings. For example, if your glasses broke when you slipped and fell, you may include the costs to repair them in your claim.
What Payment Structure Do You Use?
Many personal injury law firms work on a contingency-fee basis. That means they don’t charge clients anything hourly, upfront, or out of pocket.
When you meet with your attorney, the two of you can agree on a pre-determined percentage they could deduct from your settlement as payment. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), this percentage must be reasonable and not overshadow the cost of your losses.
Many clients prefer this payment structure because it allows the law firm to promptly get started on their cases. Clients also limit their financial risk, and the firm finances the entirety of their case, from its initial filing to its consulting.
What Services Do You Offer?
If you’re facing a long recovery period, you may want your personal injury lawyer to manage every aspect of your case. That way, you won’t stress and can totally focus on your recovery.
In general, when you ask the attorney what services they provide, they should list their services, which may include:
- Gathering and presenting evidence, including the accident or incident report, photos of your injuries and the accident scene, available video footage, medical records, witness statements, and/or accident reconstruction analysis
- Naming the negligent and liable parties in your case
- Taking on all communications and correspondence with other relevant parties
- Assessing your damages and requesting a fair amount from the liable insurer
- Negotiating a settlement if the insurer doesn’t give a fair offer
- Going to trial if you cannot reach a settlement during negotiations
You may ask about other case-specific services not listed above.
How Much Involvement Will I Have Throughout My Case?
Before you hire a personal injury lawyer to manage your case, you should ask questions about your role and what they expect from you throughout the claims process.
Depending on their answer, this question may call for some follow-ups, such as:
Should I Speak to the Insurance Company at Any Point in My Case?
Their answer should be a hard no. If the insurance company ever calls you, refer it to your attorney immediately. Oftentimes, the adjuster may ask you about your account of the accident, use whatever you say to their benefit, and possibly undervalue or deny your case.
Your personal injury lawyer should have experience dealing with insurance companies and preventing its representatives from acting in bad faith. That way, they can help ensure you receive fair compensation.
Also, speaking to the insurance company can become tedious and frustrating due to the constant back and forth. Your lawyer should keep track of all correspondence with the involved entities, so you don’t have to.
Do You Need Me to Bring You Any Evidence?
Usually, the attorney can order a copy of the incident report, request medical records from your doctors, and interview eyewitnesses and expert witnesses. However, if you took any videos or photos of the injuries you sustained or the accident scene itself, give them to your lawyer. Any shred of evidence could bolster your case’s outcome.
Will You Consistently Update Me Throughout My Case?
Whenever something changes or your case advances, your attorney should notify you right away. After all, this is your case. You should have the final say when making important decisions, such as whether to accept compensation.
They must remind you that since this is your case, you should have the final say in how your case progresses. For example, if the insurance company offers you a settlement, your lawyer should call you right away and ask you if you want to accept it. Although part of their job includes advising you on what constitutes a fair and unfair settlement, it’s your decision.
If the lawyer doesn’t give you a straight answer to this question, you may want to reevaluate and work with another firm.
Will We Have to Go to Trial?
Most cases settle without going to court, and yours may very likely fall under this category. However, your personal injury lawyer should treat your case as if that’s what will happen.
This mindset can help them gather enough sufficient evidence demonstrating that you qualify for a certain amount of damages and that the other party bears responsibility without question. That way, settlement negotiations could go in your favor.
If the lawyer says your case may go to trial, ask them follow-up questions about their success rate and how long that process usually takes, especially with your specific situation.
How Long Will My Personal Injury Case Take to Complete?
An honest law firm won’t have a standard response to this question. Its representative should be honest and answer: It depends on your situation. Some personal injury claimants may receive a settlement within a few weeks of filing their claims. Others may have to wait years.
Multiple factors play a role in the length of your case. For example, the more severe your injuries and the more intensive your medical care, the longer your case will last.
Also, the insurance company’s cooperation can influence this. In the event they resist paying you a fair amount, don’t answer your calls or emails, and/or drag out the negotiations process, the longer you will spend in this process.
You Can Explore Your Options During a Complimentary Case Review
As noted, many personal injury law firms offer free case reviews where interested parties can learn more about their options. During your consultation, you can do more than get the answers to your questions; you can also get a feel for how a law firm operates.
Here are some between-the-lines things to take notice of:
- Whether the law firm promptly answered your call. If you have a hard time reaching a law firm and starting your consultation, you may face issues with communication throughout your partnership. This could prove especially frustrating in the long run.
- Whether you felt rushed. You shouldn’t feel stressed out when sharing your story with a legal representative. If you feel rushed to get off the phone, then the firm may have more clients than it can handle. You want to feel like you’re a top priority, not another case file in a sea of other clients.
- Whether you felt pressured. It’s your decision whether you want to work with a lawyer. You shouldn’t have to decide about hiring a firm immediately after connecting with one. If you feel that the other party feels aggravated at your hesitance or otherwise pressures you, think twice about partnering with that firm.
- Whether you were satisfied with the answers to your questions. It’s okay for a legal representative not to immediately know the answer to your questions. However, they should follow up with their findings in a timely manner. They shouldn’t say, I don’t know, and leave you feeling uncertain.
When you ask a personal injury lawyer questions, their answers only tell some of the story. Trust your gut. If you feel unsure about partnering with a firm, you’re within your rights to keep exploring your options.