What questions should you ask a personal injury lawyer? If you are the victim of a car accident, a slip and fall, or another injury incident that was caused by the negligence of someone else, and you are considering filing a claim for damages, you may be entering territory that is unfamiliar to you. To make sure you hire the right attorney and to ensure your concerns are addressed as your case progresses, there are various questions you should ask.
What Questions Should You Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer During Your Initial Consultation?
The key to finding the best Indiana personal injury lawyers to handle your case is asking the right questions during your initial consultation. Attorneys should provide straightforward, honest answers that help you learn more about their experience, fees, level of participation, communication style, and ability to help you win. The most important questions to ask a personal injury lawyer include:
Do I Have a Viable Personal Injury Case?
The fact that you were injured in a car crash, slip and fall, or other incident does not necessarily mean that you have a viable claim or lawsuit. For your case to be successful, the defendant must have owed you a duty of care. The defendant must also have breached that duty. Third, the defendant’s action or omission must have caused your injury. And finally, you must have suffered a loss because of the defendant’s action or omission. If those four elements do not exist, there is no evidence to prove they exist, or there is no source of financial recovery, like an insurance policy or substantial assets, the lawyer may not take your case.
What Are Your Fees?
One of the most common questions victims ask is, “How do I pay for a personal injury lawyer?” Most personal injury lawyers in Indiana provide legal representation on a contingency fee basis. If this is the case, you will not need to pay attorney fees upfront. Instead, your lawyer will subtract a percentage of his or her fees from your award if you win in court or your case is settled. Most of the time, you will not need to pay for your attorney’s services if you do not recover money damages.
Keep in mind that some lawyers in Indiana advertise contingency fees that are significantly lower than others. This is common with settlement mills that take on clients’ cases by the masses with no intention of fighting for the victims’ rights. They are quick to push clients to settle for less than what their claims are worth. This way, they can collect their fees and move on to the next batch of cases.
Who Pays the Costs Associated with My Case?
Attorney fees are not the only costs that accumulate as your personal injury case proceeds. Your lawsuit will most likely include court filing fees, the cost to hire investigators and experts, and administrative fees. If you win money damages, these fees will come out of your settlement or jury award. Make sure to ask your attorney how much you should expect to pay, and what happens to these expenses if your case is not successful.
Some attorneys charge higher contingency fees and absorb the out-of-pocket costs whether you win or lose. Other lawyers require that you pay these expenses regardless of what happens with your case.
How Many Cases Have You Handled That Are Similar to Mine?
Finding the right attorney is about more than searching for a lawyer with experience. You need to hire legal representation with the right kind of experience. While car accident attorneys in Indiana may have a successful history of handling motor vehicle collision claims, for instance, the attorneys may not be familiar with the nuances of handling a complicated slip and fall injury case.
When meeting with your potential lawyer, be sure to ask questions about the types of cases the law firm has handled, the firm’s success rate in handling those cases, and request examples of claims or lawsuits that are similar to yours.
Do You Have Trial Experience in Personal Injury Cases?
Some injury attorneys will go their entire careers without litigating a personal injury case. In fact, approximately 90% of personal injury lawsuits settle outside the courtroom without going to trial. If the insurance company fails to offer you a fair settlement, however, you and your injury lawyer will need to be prepared to bring the case to court.
Winning in the courtroom is as much about preparation and experience as it is about skill. Be sure to hire a lawyer who will prepare your case as if it is going to trial, who has successfully litigated cases like yours in the past, and who knows what it takes to help you win.
Who Do I Contact if I Have Questions for My Personal Injury Lawyer?
Your chances of winning money damages significantly improve if you have open lines of communication with your personal injury attorney. This helps ensure that messages about new evidence, settlement offers, and case updates are relayed appropriately and that your concerns are adequately addressed. Consistent communication also ensures that your legal team is familiar with you and your story, not just the documents that make up your case.
Your contact person may be a paralegal, an assistant, or the attorney you hire. Make sure to get that person’s full name, position with the law firm, direct phone number, and email address, and keep the contact information in a safe place.
What Questions Should You Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer as Your Case Progresses?
It is not uncommon for questions and concerns to arise as personal injury cases progress through the legal system. This is especially common when victims have complicated claims or lawsuits that take longer to resolve. Some of the most common questions people ask their personal injury lawyers include:
What Is a Good Settlement Offer for My Personal Injury Case?
You can use the internet to find the answers to general questions, like the amount similar types of claims settle for on average. The value of your personal injury case, or whether the insurance company is making a good settlement offer, however, is going to be unique to your situation.
When determining what a good settlement offer is for your personal injury case, your attorney will consider:
- Your economic damages, like medical bills and lost wages
- Your non-economic damages, like pain and suffering
- The sources of financial recovery (multiple at-fault parties, high net worth defendants, businesses, etc.)
- The amount of insurance coverage available
Why Is My Injury Case Taking So Long to Settle?
Most cases take months or even years to resolve. The judicial system is not a quick process. Delays happen for a lot of reasons. Determining fault, for instance, may be especially difficult in your case. The insurance company may be intentionally delaying your claim. You might be waiting on test results or even the reports from expert witnesses. If your case is taking longer to resolve than you expected, you might ask your personal injury lawyer what is holding things up.
What Role Will I Play in My Lawsuit?
Knowing your level of expected participation in advance can help ensure that your case goes smoothly. Make sure to ask your personal injury lawyer if there is additional information he or she needs from you. Find out what to do if you remember details about the incident. Ask if you should sit in on depositions.
It is important to remember that you and your attorney are on the same team. While some lawyers prefer that their clients stay highly involved as the case proceeds, others ask their clients to remain on the sidelines.
Navigating the Legal System After an Injury Is Not Something You Should Do On Your Own
Hiring a personal injury lawyer to handle your case is to your advantage. Without legal representation, you will be left to face the insurance company’s team of lawyers alone. Your attorney will be able to answer your questions, address your concerns, and handle challenges that arise along the way. He or she will also be able to represent you in court if your case goes to trial.