When you need a lawyer, you want to make sure that you are getting the right attorney for you, and for your needs. Hiring a personal injury attorney is about more than randomly selecting a name from the phone book. You should meet with potential lawyers to find out what makes them “tick.” Not only can meeting with personal injury attorneys help you get an idea of the expertise each lawyer has, but it can also provide you with insight into how comfortable you will be working with each attorney.
As you vet possible personal injury attorneys, here are 7 questions to ask:
1. How Are You Paid?
One of the most important questions to ask a potential attorney is how he or she is paid. If you want ongoing services, you might have to pay a monthly retainer. You can also ask about a contingency fee, which means you only pay if the attorney wins the case.
2. Who Is Most Likely to Handle My Case?
Ask potential attorneys who usually handles cases. Will you actually work with the attorney you are meeting with, or is someone else likely to handle the case? Also, find out who to contact if your main attorney is out of town. Are there other members of the legal team that you need to know? Find out if you can meet them as well. You need to be comfortable with the entire legal team, and not just the head attorney.
3. What is Your Win Record?
How many cases have you won or settled? You want to make sure you are working with a personal injury attorney who has some experience with successful cases and settlements. You want to know that your attorney is able to get the job done. An experienced attorney can make a big difference, especially in personal injury cases.
4. Have You Been Disciplined?
Find out whether or not the attorney has been disciplined by an ethics committee, or if he or she has been suspended. Then, follow up and find out why the action took place. It’s important to make sure you are dealing with a reputable attorney who doesn’t engage in ethical or legal violations.
5. Do You Work to Continue Your Legal Education?
Ask what additional courses or education your attorney has taken. There is still plenty to learn going forward. What steps does your potential attorney take to keep up with what’s new in the legal profession. Also, find out whether or not your potential lawyer offers commentary and insight on what’s happening today. Keeping a finger on the pulse on the legal profession is a good sign that your lawyer is up-to-date on precedents.
6. How Do You Handle Things When a Client Disagrees with You?
Also, make sure you ask about how you handle disagreements. Find out how your attorney moves forward if you don’t agree to his or her advice. Will he or she do what you ask — and do his or her best to create the desired outcome? Many attorneys are willing to go ahead with your wishes, after cautioning you that it might not be the best course of action.
7. Can I Talk To Former Clients?
In some cases, you might not be able to talk to former clients, due to confidentiality issues. However, you can ask the attorney for references from other attorneys, or from officials and professionals who have worked with the attorney. It’s best if you can talk to former clients, but any references are good. An attorney who can provide you with the names of people who would vouch for him or her is usually a fairly safe bet.