Over 45 million visits to the Emergency Department every year are the result of injuries. While some are accidentally self-inflicted, a large proportion occurs due to the deliberate or accidental negligence of others.
When this happens, the victim can bring the case to the courts to seek compensation. People or companies responsible for the negligence that caused harm may also face significant fines or operational sanctions if the court finds in the victim’s favor.
But when should you take a case to court, and how do you know you’re hiring the best attorney for your case? This guide lays out the questions to ask a personal injury lawyer to make sure you’ve got the best chance of getting compensation.
When Should I Use a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you’ve sustained an injury that you feel isn’t due to your own negligence, you may have a case to pursue in court.
Medical malpractice, dog bites, motor accidents, workplace accidents, and defective products are the most common causes of personal injury lawsuits.
If you’ve been harmed by an individual in a personal and deliberate attack, that is a criminal case. Instead of a personal injury lawyer, you’ll need a criminal law attorney to help you prosecute the perpetrator.
Vital Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer Before They Represent You
Finding a personal injury attorney is about more than qualifications and experience. You need to know your lawyer understands the extent of the impact of your injury and will fight for the very best outcome for your case. Here’s how to have a successful first initial meeting with a lawyer.
- How Long Have You Been Qualified?
A new attorney shouldn’t put you off hiring them. However, if they’ve only been qualified a few years, find out if they have a more experienced mentor assisting their case.
A more qualified attorney will have a better judgment of the realistic outcome for your case, the time it’ll take to process, and the way to build a strong argument. However, the more senior attorneys will come at a higher cost.
- Do You Have Experience with Cases Similar to Mine?
An attorney specializing in personal injury cases will have a greater understanding of legal nuances related to your lawsuit. They’ll know how to navigate the legal system to best effect and get you the outcome you deserve.
A general lawyer without specific personal injury experience may take longer or miss an important angle to present as part of your legal argument.
- Who Will Work on My Case?
A lawyer works with interns, junior attorneys, and other members of staff.
Find out if your case will be presided over by your attorney or taken on as part of their personal workload. This will determine how much contact time you’ll have with the attorney you hire, or if you should expect to be dealing with one of their team members, instead.
- What Timescales Should I Expect?
It can take several months to build a legal argument – especially if you have to attend medical appointments to gather reports of your injuries and the long-term impact they have.
Your case may not even reach court, either: a good attorney will attempt to negotiate a deal before this stage. This can also take several weeks if not months to complete.
- How Often Do You Go to Court?
A lawyer that always settles and never goes to court is unlikely to be willing to get you the very best deal. Most personal injury cases are settled out of court but your attorney must be ready to take it to court if they need to.
The defendant’s insurance company must see that you’re willing to go to court if that’s what it takes to get a fair deal. If your lawyer is known to always settle and never go to court, this reputation can discount your compensation claim.
- Is Your Work Offered on a Contingency Basis?
Personal injury attorneys often work on a contingency basis. This is also known as ‘no win, no recovery’. If your case isn’t successful, you don’t have to pay them for their services. You may, however, be liable for their out-of-pocket expenses like medical reports.
A contingency basis means your attorney will only take your case if they think you’re likely to succeed. They’ll then take an agreed percentage of your compensation to pay their fees.
- What Happens If I Disagree About a Settlement?
Your lawyer will advise you whether it’s appropriate to go to court or if you should take a settlement offered instead.
You can choose to take any settlement offered to you before you reach the courts.
However, if your attorney advises you take a settlement instead of going to trial, but you wish to take it to the court, they may suggest you find another lawyer. This is because they feel your case isn’t strong enough to win in court – leaving you with a large bill.
If this happens, and you’ve been working on a no fee, no recovery basis, you may owe fees to the attorney for their time spent on the case.
- Can You Provide Testimonials from Previous Clients?
Ask for testimonials from both successful and unsuccessful clients. You want to know how the attorney was even for the clients who didn’t win their cases.
A client who didn’t win but would still recommend the attorney for their work ethic, legal experience, and professionalism is a strong referral.
- How Can I Improve My Chances of Winning My Case?
An attorney considering your case will tell you if you have a strong legal complaint or if you need additional evidence to help with negotiations.
They’ll advise of the extra cost this could add to your claim, such as getting medical reports, and balance this against the typical increase in compensation such evidence would provide.
Time to Move On and Heal
The questions to ask a personal injury lawyer always revolve around time and money. But what about your health?
While you’re waiting for your lawsuit to come to a satisfactory close, remember there are things you can do to start moving on and healing yourself, too. From introducing a healthy diet to using meditation to cope with pain, check out our health and lifestyle blogs to start your journey back to full health after your injury.