What Questions Should I Ask a Personal Injury Attorney?
Being injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness is an incredibly frustrating experience and it can be very traumatic for you and your family. If your injuries are severe, it’s unlikely that your first thought is about hiring a lawyer. However, it’s a good idea to consider speaking to a Jersey City personal injury attorney as soon as you feel well enough to do so. There is a deadline by which you must file a claim, so don’t wait too long to find a lawyer or you could miss out on compensation that you’re legally entitled to. Finding a lawyer can be intimidating, though, especially if you don’t have any recommendations from people you know and trust. When deciding which lawyer to hire, consider asking the following questions to try to get a feel for who will be the best fit for you and your case.
- What is your fee structure?
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means they don’t collect any money from you upfront; they only get paid if they win or settle your case. While this is the norm, there are always going to be lawyers who stray from this and charge an hourly fee or a flat fee. Make sure you know how they plan to charge you before deciding to hire them.
- Am I responsible for any costs if we lose my case?
You might think that a lawyer who works on a contingency fee basis would never charge you anything if you lose, but some attorneys will charge you certain expenses regardless of the outcome of your case. Will you be responsible for filing fees, expert witness consultations, or the price of obtaining medical records even if you lose? This is something you want to know before you make your decision.
- What is your experience with my particular type of case?
Hiring a lawyer who has a lot of experience in practicing law is great, but it’s important to know what type of cases they usually handle. Hiring an attorney who typically deals with criminal cases isn’t going to do you much good, even if they’ve been a lawyer for 20 years. You want someone who is familiar with personal injury cases, and particularly your type of personal injury case.
- How many personal injury cases have you taken to trial and how many of them did you win?
The majority of personal injury cases settle before they ever get to trial. While there’s nothing wrong with this, you want to make sure you hire a lawyer who isn’t afraid to go to trial and who has the knowledge and experience to take the case to trial if necessary. If you hire someone who has only dealt with settlements in the past, you could find yourself being pushed to accept a settlement offer that is far less than what you truly deserve.
- Will I be able to communicate with you throughout the process?
Many personal injury attorneys are very busy. This sometimes means that when you have a question or concern about your case, you’re pushed onto a secretary or paralegal who isn’t directly involved in your case. This can be incredibly frustrating when the person you really want to speak with is your actual lawyer. Ask any potential lawyers how they handle communication with clients. Are they available to speak on the phone? Are they available via email? It’s important that you feel comfortable with your lawyer and that you can have easy and open communication with them.
Hiring a personal injury attorney is an important decision, so make sure you know what you’re looking for and ask the right questions to find the lawyer best suited for you and your case.