Choosing the right attorney is one of the most critical steps to take before you can recover fair compensation for a catastrophic injury. Although your time should be spent recovering from what happened to you, it can be challenging to do so with mounting medical bills, an inability to return to work, and potentially denied insurance. This guide reviews what to know before hiring a personal injury lawyer and what questions you can ask before and during a consultation.
If you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident or had a slip and fall that resulted in a serious injury, you can follow these steps to determine what to do next regarding how to hire a knowledgeable and compassionate personal injury lawyer.
Gather Relevant Information
Before you begin interviewing attorneys, gather any information possible that can make it easier for them to determine the validity of your case. For example, if you were in a car accident, you should ideally have access to the photos of both cars, whether you took them yourself or they were taken by your insurance company. In the best-case scenario, you would also have the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident, although this isn’t always possible. Regardless, your medical records are of utmost importance as they will show the damage done to you and your treatment process. Finally, obtaining the police report can be helpful as well.
Some other information many people forget to gather includes the following:
- Paycheck stubs that establish what your income was before the injury in the event you’ve lost your job or were forced to take time off
- Repair estimates for your vehicle or other damaged property
- Pictures of your injuries that show their extent before you received medical care
- Any written communication you’ve received from insurance companies about the matter
It’s also a good idea to keep a private journal to highlight the mental and emotional impact of your injuries during your recovery. This can support fair compensation for any pain and suffering you’ve gone through due to the other party’s actions.
Book a Free Consultation
If you’re wondering what to know before hiring a personal injury lawyer, you should start by conducting your own research to find a firm that might suit your needs. This can be an increasingly stressful period in time, so connecting with a practice that is approachable and understanding can make the process easier.
While you are searching for law practices, you should avoid looking up similar cases to your own. Although there is a lot of information available online, each claim is unique. Without knowing the specific details or having the opportunity to ask questions, you might find misinformation or inaccurate content that has no direct correlation to your lawsuit.
There are limitations that govern how long you have to act after you’ve been injured, so you should be aware of your time constraints. Even if you feel your time to bring forth a case has expired, a seasoned personal injury lawyer may be able to file a motion in the courts to allow the suit to move forward due to extenuating circumstances. At Bergeron Clifford, we offer a free consultation to help better understand your needs and provide you with information that is accurate and relevant to your potential case.
Ultimately, an injury law claim can last many years. As the plaintiff, it is paramount that you feel comfortable working with a lawyer and their team. You will entrust your lawsuit to them, so ensuring they have strong communication skills, and are passionate about your case, will help set your mind at ease. This might come from the level of experience they have with trial proceedings, the community support they offer or service providers they work with, or client testimonials that speak to their credibility and humanity.
When you’re considering an attorney, you should feel comfortable asking questions about their career history. Have they taken on similar cases with success before? What types of law do they have the most experience with? Create a list of questions you plan to ask before arranging your first meeting or call. This guide offers some questions to ask, but you can feel free to add your own based on what’s most important to you.
Questions to Ask
Your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer can be nerve-wracking. However, it shouldn’t be. Remember, this is just a conversation for your personal injury lawyer to gain more information on the events that happened and your current condition, and with our firm, it’s a free consultation. It would be best if you asked the following questions when arranging your first meeting and during your consultation to determine whether you want to work with this specific attorney. These questions can help ensure you have found the correct person that you feel comfortable with to take on your claim.
At Bergeron Clifford, our legal team will make you feel at ease during your first meeting, and every one thereafter. We understand that everyone’s journey can look a little different, and we are here to listen to your concerns and answer any questions you might have.
Do You Offer a Free Consultation?
Some lawyers only offer a phone consultation or direct you to a paralegal or case manager. You shouldn’t need to commit money to an attorney you don’t want to hire yet, so be wary of lawyers that won’t meet with you to discuss the details and validity of your case. A free consultation allows you to learn more about an attorney and their methodology to see if you’re a good match.
What Do You Think My Case is Worth?
A reputable lawyer may not be able to give you a definitive answer to this question but can reassure you that the compensation is fair. Many factors influence the value of a personal injury case, including the following:
- How severe your physical injuries are, and the cost of medical treatment
- Whether you lost property in the incident
- How the accident affected your ability to work and support yourself
- Whether you suffered emotional or mental trauma during the event
- What degree of negligence was involved
There are two aspects of a legal case to consider when determining a settlement or case amount. These are general and special damages. General damages focus on the pain and suffering an individual endured and their loss of enjoyment in life. There is a maximum available to be won for these circumstances, which increases every year with regard to inflation. However, the range for what can be awarded varies based on numerous factors. Often, the more severe the injury, the higher the amount paid to the victim.
On the other hand, there is no maximum amount relating to special damages. These can often form the largest part of a claim. These are awarded based on provable losses past, present, and future that are the direct result of the victim’s injury. Overall, the compensation awarded in this case will help the individual and their family receive the treatment and support that they need.
What Are Your Fees?
All attorneys structure their fees differently, so paying attention to how they’re paid is important. Many personal injury attorneys, including the ones at our firm, work on a contingency basis. This means they earn a portion of your settlement or judgment, typically 30%, and you don’t need to pay them unless you recover compensation. Other attorneys may charge you an hourly rate and include court costs or disbursements. This can be particularly difficult for victims seeking fair compensation as they likely don’t have the immediate means to pay for these expenses, which can range from $350 to $850 per hour.
A retainer is essentially down payment you need to make before an attorney represents you, so ask whether your attorney requires one and how much it is. Some lawyers that work on a contingency basis still require a retainer but will deduct your retainer from their pay if they recover damages for you. Ensure you know exactly how your attorney’s fees are calculated and how much they earn if they settle or win your case.
How Long Will My Case Take?
A follow-up to this question could be, “what is your process?” Personal injury cases may take some time because experienced lawyers, like our team, follow a specific legal process that involves gathering evidence, speaking with witnesses and then offering the defendant a chance to settle with you before filing your lawsuit in court. Reputable attorneys know how long they have to bring your case to court and will let you know whether they can prepare your claim within the statute of limitations.
Keep in mind that some factors can speed or slow the process, such as how willing an insurance company is to settle or whether the defendant wants to try their luck with the court. If your case is settled out of court, it could take less time than if you need to proceed to a trial. In general, cases tend to take approximately two years from initial filing to settling on fair compensation.
Who Will be My Attorney?
Law firms employ multiple attorneys, so you may want more information about the person who will be personally taking on your case. You can ask if they’ve worked on similar cases in the past, their success rate with personal injury claims, and how long they’ve been with the firm. It’s also important to ask how much attention your lawyer will give to your case since it often takes a team of professionals, including paralegals and other legal staff, to structure a suit. These individuals may contribute to many cases at any given time.
If you are considering moving forward with this firm, ensure you know who is responsible for each aspect of the case. Then decide if you’re comfortable with how involved your lawyer will be in the process. At Bergeron Clifford, we take the time to detail each piece of your claim and how we plan to go about pursuing it. You’ll have our complete attention throughout the process as our legal team works together to strengthen your case. We’re here for you every step of the way.
Understanding Their Track Record
A firm’s track record is an essential detail regarding what you need to know before hiring a personal injury lawyer. Ask detailed questions about the other cases your lawyer worked on before and if they were able to win fair compensation for their clients. Take the time to review that your attorney’s experience is relevant to your case, as many attorneys work in more than one area of expertise.
Other Factors that Influence Your Decision
When considering hiring a personal injury lawyer, it’s okay to meet with more than one before you make your decision. You want to know how each person you meet with will treat your case and if they’re qualified based on their experience and history. A couple of other factors to consider are the following:
If you want to know what it is like to work with a personal injury lawyer, see what other people say about their experiences. Reputable attorneys won’t be afraid to show you reviews and testimonials from their satisfied clients. Another way to see how people feel about a specific law firm is to Google them.
Through these reviews, you can also learn what types of cases an attorney has taken in the past. For example, reviewers may mention that they helped with an auto accident case or won them fair compensation for a slip and fall case. If you don’t notice any reviews that are relevant to your claim, the lawyer may have little experience with lawsuits like yours.
Specializations in Different Practice Areas
Attorneys often specialize in multiple areas of law, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are experts in all of them. Personal injury law is a vast and unique practice area that many lawyers may focus on; however, it is up to you to find the best for your case. It’s much better to work with lawyers that focus on a single aspect of the legal system than those who divide their time among different specialties. The reason is that they won’t have as much relevant experience as someone who has done nothing but help personal injury victims throughout their whole career.
Our Specialty is Personal Injury Law
If you are searching for a personal injury lawyer to represent you, arrange a free consultation with us today. It will help us review your case’s details and develop the right legal plan for you. If you have any questions regarding our expertise, contact us. We’d be happy to share our insights with you.