The attorney you select to represent you during the claims process will have a significant influence on the outcome of your case and your future. It’s important to vet your potential personal injury attorney to the best of your ability.
You’ll want to find a personal injury attorney who:
- Is knowledgeable in your personal injury practice area
- Has a reputation for success
- Has a focus on client-attorney relationships
- Is located near you
- Is accessible and available
- Is equipped with financial resources to carry a case to trial
- Has positive client reviews
Some of the questions you ask will aim to determine the above information, while others will work to determine if a lawyer is otherwise a good fit for your case. Below are some questions should ask your personal injury attorney in Atlanta at your first meeting.
What Is Your Experience Working Personal Injury Cases Like Mine?
This question not only refers to their practice area but also to the details of your case. If you have a premise liability case, you’ll want a lawyer who has handled premise liability cases before, not just car accidents. At the same time, there are multiple types of premise liability cases, and even within the same practice area, the specifics of the cases vary widely.
If you were filing a claim for compensation in which a neighbor’s dog attacked your child, you’d want an attorney with experience in child dog bite cases. A dog bite lawyer who has never dealt with this type of case may not be as effective as one who has. Finding out the lawyer’s experience can give you confidence in their ability to win your case or nudge you to find someone else.
Can You Explain the Legal Process in My Case, As Well As Any Legal Issues Involved?
The right personal injury attorney can explain the legal process to you in a clear, concise way. They can simplify the legal concepts, issues, and options so that you can understand them and make an informed decision.
Their ability to do this indicates their level of knowledge and comfort with the subject and the laws pertaining to it. You don’t want an attorney who has to refer back to a law book or look up a statute whenever you have a question.
What Is Your Strategy for Handling My Personal Injury Case?
If they have experience working personal injury claims like yours, the attorney will usually have a general game plan in mind. They should be prepared to provide their basic strategy. At this juncture, any strategy they provide will not be concrete or detailed, but it should clearly indicate their goals.
You should pay close attention to whether your attorney is proactive or reactive in their approach to handling a claim. A proactive attorney can save you time and money and will likely have a more aggressive way of dealing with insurance companies, which could work in your favor.
What Is Your Attitude Towards Settling Cases in Negotiations and Going to Trial?
Every personal injury lawyer has a style and preference. Some may prefer to settle a case in negotiations. Others prefer to file a personal injury lawsuit and take the case to trial immediately. Some lawyers don’t litigate cases at all. You need to know what your injury lawyer’s inclinations are so that you can prepare for where your case might end up.
Ideally, you’ll have an attorney who is prone to problem-solving and willing to work with the other party. At the same time, you want someone who won’t shy away from a court battle if that’s the best option. A lawyer who is uninterested in litigating is probably not willing to fight for you the way you need.
How Do You Charge for Your Service?
Some lawyers work at an hourly rate, while others charge you a retainer or flat fee for a certain number of hours or a specific set of tasks. However, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis.
They only charge you if they win your case. Under this arrangement, there are usually no upfront or out-of-pocket costs. Instead, they take a pre-determined percentage of your settlement or court award. It’s usually 30 to 40 percent of your total compensation.
How this arrangement is set up depends on the law firm, so you’ll want to ensure you understand the specifics. What percentage of your compensation will they take? Will they charge you for court costs and administration fees if you cannot settle? What other fees or payments come out of your compensation? Understanding how the personal injury lawyer cost works upfront helps avoid unwanted surprises or misunderstandings later.
What Is the Process for Terminating Our Client-Attorney Relationship?
Unfortunately, even after you go through the process of asking questions and vetting a personal injury lawyer, it might not turn out to be the right fit. You may discover later on that the attorney is not handling your case to your liking. Find out how to end the attorney-client relationship. You also need to ask about any fees or outstanding costs you need to pay if it comes to that.
Don’t forget to request your case file. It’s a great idea to get a digital copy of your documents, but the law firm may only offer a hard copy. If you need to move on to new counsel, having the case files already can make the transition smoother.
How Will You Communicate With Me Throughout the Case?
It’s important to know the law firm’s methods of communication. Will they contact you by phone, email, or text message primarily? How do they prefer you contact them if you have a question or concern? Will you have the attorney’s direct line? What are the hours of availability?
The inability to reach your attorney is frustrating and demoralizing for clients, so it’s important to know what you can expect upfront. Try to find a law firm that prioritizes client communication.
How Frequently Do You Provide Case Updates?
Many law firms take on clients and then forget about them. They might be working on your case, but they fail to keep you informed of how it’s proceeding. At your first meeting, be sure to ask how frequently the firm will provide case updates. Your attorney should provide timely updates without you requesting them. If the only time you hear from the law firm is when you call to get an update, it may be a red flag.
At the same time, be aware that your attorney can’t control the pace of the courts or the opposing counsel. You may not receive updates if there is nothing to report. However, you should know upfront what the attorney’s plan is for filing motions, submitting documents, and contacting the opposing party, as updates will usually correspond to these events.
Even if your lawyer has nothing new to report after several weeks, just receiving a call to check in can put your mind at ease and build your confidence in them.
What Are Some of the Results You’ve Achieved for Personal Injury Clients With Similar Cases?
While case results vary from one client to the next, knowing how much compensation your attorney has won for others can give you an idea of their level of success with your type of case. It can also paint a picture of how aggressively they fight for their clients.
How Much Compensation Do You Think I Can Recover?
A personal injury lawyer won’t be able to tell you for certain, but they can give you an idea about how much they think you can recover for your case based on the information and documents you provide at your first meeting. This question also serves to elicit honesty from your lawyer and determine whether or not they see value in your case.
Who Will Handle My Personal Injury Case?
You may be surprised to know that the attorney who handles your consultation may not be the attorney that ultimately represents you in your personal injury case. Find out who will actually handle your case and how you can contact them if needed.
Sometimes, paralegals and attorneys’ assistants handle portions of a case like research and communication, while a lawyer handles things like negotiations and court appearances. Knowing exactly who to contact when you have a question or concern can put your mind at ease and foster a strong relationship.
Do You Have Experience Working With the Insurance Company Involved in the Case?
Many personal injury claims involve the same insurance companies. Given the sheer volume of cases an injury lawyer is likely to handle in their career, your attorney has probably faced various insurers, or at least the major players operating in their geographic area.
If they have experience with the insurance company involved in your case, they can explain how aggressive or cooperative the adjusters are, how quickly they tend to respond to claims and settle cases, how they evaluate claims, and what some of their tactics are.
What Is Your Educational and Professional Background?
Ask the attorney to explain their background to get an idea of the experience they bring to your case. You want someone who has years of experience in law, ideally. However, relevant experience can go beyond the legal arena. Some personal injury lawyers previously worked for insurance companies. Others may have experience working in government.
Their prior experience may provide additional insight into how to handle personal injury claims, deal with insurance agencies, or present a case for trial.
How Long Does It Generally Take to Resolve a Personal Injury Case Like Mine?
While your attorney can’t give you an exact timeframe, they can provide a rough estimate of the amount of time it typically takes them to resolve similar cases. Many civil cases take more than a year to resolve, so you should know going in if that is a possibility for you.
Cases may drag out or resolve faster than they expect, but you should have an idea of how quickly you might reach a resolution. You don’t want someone to give you false hope; however, you want them to be committed to recovering your compensation as quickly as possible.
Can You Refer Me to Your Past Clients I Can Speak To?
When searching for a personal injury lawyer, it’s important to remember that you are hiring someone to perform a service. Asking the attorney questions is necessary, but you should not hesitate to find out what their past clients have to say about them as well.
Website testimonials may be edited, and Google reviews can be vague. See if the attorney can provide the contact information for at least one or two happy clients who you can speak to about their experience.
Learn More About Questions You Should Ask Your Personal Injury at Your First Meeting
You might be considering several attorneys to handle your case. It’s important to know what you should be looking for prior to meeting with them. The questions provided here are designed to help you make an informed decision about the person you may be entrusting your case to.
The answers to these questions can give you a good sense of the injury lawyer you are hiring, but never underestimate the power of your gut instinct. The right attorney will connect with you in a way that lawyers can’t, even if their answers to your questions are not exactly what you want to hear.
Many personal injury law firms in Atlanta offer free, no-obligation consultations to potential clients, so don’t be afraid to contact multiple firms to get started.