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Key Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

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There are about 1.3 million lawyers in the United States and almost 38,000 in Ohio. Finding the best personal injury lawyer for your case should not be difficult if you know what to look for. Word of mouth still seems to be one of the best ways to begin the task of choosing a lawyer if you don’t know any personally.

There are many types of personal injury cases which arise when someone’s negligence, or carelessness, causes harm to someone else:

Typically, the insurance company covering the person, business, or vehicle at fault will be responsible for compensating you.

A personal injury lawyers role is to present your case to the insurance company or the court, resulting in a settlement or verdict in your favor. The lawyer must understand both the facts of your case and the law and demonstrate convincingly why you are entitled to financial compensation.

  • Seek recommendations from friends.
  1. You shouldn’t hire any lawyer based solely on a friend’s recommendation. However, a former client can give you a client’s perspective that you might not get elsewhere.
  2. Ask the lawyer detailed questions.

At your initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer, you’ll need to describe your claim briefly, how you were injured, the medical care you’ve received, the number of your medical bills, any planned future treatment, and how the injuries have affected your work and home life.

Relevant legal expertise

A personal injury lawyer specializing in the field relevant to your claim may be the best personal injury lawyer for your case. Most personal injury attorneys handle vehicle accident claims. Still, some may not have the resources to hire experts to reconstruct the accident or inspect any vehicle involved if a product defect is suspected. Lawyers who routinely handle vehicle claims may be unfamiliar with nursing home or dog bite claims. The more you can find out about a lawyer’s experience dealing with claims similar to yours, the more likely you will find the best personal injury lawyer to represent you.

  • Ask the lawyer if he or she has handled claims similar to yours. If the lawyer is part of a firm, ask how many other lawyers in that firm have handled similar claims.
  • Ask the lawyer how long he or she has been practicing law. You may also ask how many personal injury cases the lawyer has handled, how many (or what percentage) were settled, how many went to trial, and how many were successful.
  • Ask whether expert witnesses may be required and whether the lawyer has experience or relationships with the types of experts who may be necessary.
  • Ask what legal theories may apply to your claim. A definitive analysis requiring a closer review of the facts and legal research tailored to your claim may not be possible at the initial consultation. However, listening to the lawyer’s general observations may help you gauge his or her knowledge and how convincing a presentation the lawyer can make. Ask questions! Does this lawyer take your concerns seriously, and is he or she willing to explain legal issues to you?
  • Ask what legal theories may apply to your claim. A definitive analysis requiring a closer review of the facts and legal research tailored to your claim may not be possible at the initial consultation. However, listening to the lawyer’s general observations may help you gauge his or her knowledge and how convincing a presentation the lawyer can make. Ask questions! Does this lawyer take your concerns seriously, and is he or she willing to explain legal issues to you?

Handling of your case

How will your case be handled?

  • Ask if the lawyer you’re speaking with will be the lead attorney on your case. Ask which lawyers and/or support staff you’ll be dealing with.
  • Ask how the lawyer will be paid. Most personal injury lawyers charge “contingency fees,” which are paid only if the lawyer obtains a favorable settlement or wins at trial. The lawyer receives an agreed-upon percentage of the judgment or settlement. Some lawyers charge a higher percentage than others. Some lawyers pay all expenses—expert fees, out-of-town travel, etc.—upfront, while others charge clients as the case progresses. Most lawyers recover the up-front expenses from the judgment if they win.
  • Ask to see the retainer agreement you will be expected to sign. The fee agreement should be in writing! Everything you’ll be expected to pay should be spelled out.
  • No, Ask what will be expected of you as a client. Will you be required to appear for a deposition (a sworn interview by lawyers for both sides)? Will you need to attend pre-trial conferences, mediation, and other case-related events?

After your consultation, you should know whether you feel comfortable with this lawyer. Look for unspoken signs of a quality advocate: understanding the law and explaining it, being a good listener, being receptive to your questions, thoroughly addressing your concerns, and pointing out any weaknesses in your case.