If you’ve been personally injured because of someone else’s negligence (or malice), you’ll want to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer will be able to help you with every step of the process, from initially assessing your case to negotiating and, if necessary, arguing for you in court. Choosing the right lawyer, and making sure they can fight for you adequately, is of paramount importance.
But what exactly should you tell your lawyer? And what questions should you ask them?
The Most Important Questions to Ask Your Lawyer
These are some of the most important questions to ask your lawyer:
- Is this case a good fit? One of the first things you’ll want to ask is whether or not this case is a good fit for the firm. Some legal firms and practices specialize in certain types of cases, so they may be willing or unwilling to take you on based on the nature of your claim. Personal injury lawyers will also typically avoid taking on cases they feel don’t have a strong chance of winning; this is your chance to get an initial assessment of the strength of the case.
- Do you have experience with this type of case? Ask if this lawyer or firm has had experience with this type of case in the past. Ideally, you’ll be working with a professional who has dealt with many similar cases previously; with more experience comes greater confidence and greater abilities.
- How have you assessed my case? Once you talk a bit more about your case and the details associated with it, ask your lawyer how they have assessed your case. Do they think you have a strong chance of winning a significant settlement? How much do they think you could win? Are there any obstacles or challenges that stand in your way?
- What are your fees? Make sure you ask about legal fees. For the most part, personal injury lawyers won’t charge you anything if you don’t win a settlement or if you otherwise “lose.” However, if you win a settlement, you’ll probably be responsible for a few different types of fees. Work to understand these fees before you accept the arrangement and move forward.
- How involved will I be? How involved are you going to be throughout this process? Your lawyer can do many things without you, including managing legal processes, negotiating, and drafting paperwork. But you may need to step in at certain points during negotiations and during a trial.
- What if we lose? Understand what happens if you lose this case. We already discussed the importance of understanding fees, but you should also know whether there are any alternative options for you in the event of a loss.
- Could this case go to trial? The vast majority of personal injury cases never make it to trial, since both parties are usually motivated to avoid a trial. Still, occasional cases make it to court, and you should know whether this is a realistic possibility for your case.
- Who will be handling my case? The person you initially speak with may or may not be responsible for handling your case, specifically. This is especially true if you’re working with a large firm. Inquire whether this person or someone else is going to take over your case, and if you’re going to be working with another lawyer, see if you can get some details on them. Ideally, you’ll be able to meet them before they begin work on your case.
- How long could this take? It could take months for your personal injury case to resolve, and if it’s especially complex, it could take years. It all depends on the variables in play. Your lawyer will have a much better sense for how long it could take for your specific case to resolve.
- What else do you need from me? Your case will go much smoother if you’re active and cooperative whenever your lawyers need you to be. Before leaving, figure out if there’s anything else you need to do or provide at the moment.
Finding the Right Fit
At this point, you should have a good idea of whether or not this lawyer is a good fit for you and your case. Pay attention not only to the fit of the case and the answers your lawyer has provided, but also the ease of communication you experienced and how you feel in this environment.
If you’re not comfortable moving forward with this lawyer for any reason, consider working with a different lawyer. You’ll need to go through the same steps of discovery and inquiry with another candidate.