Top 8 Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer
There are a ton of questions to ask a personal injury lawyer during the vetting process. In fact, there are so many questions that you may not know where to begin. This can prove to be overwhelming. However, as a top Houston personal injury lawyer, we’ve compiled what we believe to be some of the most important questions to ask before selecting a lawyer.
These questions can provide you with much-needed insight on how to interview a personal injury lawyer and ultimately, select the right one for your situation.
1. What is your overall experience?
This could be the most important question you ask any personal injury lawyer: What is your experience? Keep in mind, however, simply asking about their experience probably won’t get you very far. You need to ask specifics. Here are just a few of the experience-related questions we recommend asking:
- Do you have any awards or recognitions or are you part of any organizations?
- Can you tell me about your success stories?
- Can you tell me about times you didn’t succeed and why?
- Will you be handling my case or will it be handled by another lawyer in your firm?
- How often do you work on personal injury cases? How many years have you been practicing personal injury law?
- Do you often go to trial with personal injury cases? How often do you settle out of court?
- Do you always prepare to go to trial?
You’ll want to keep an eye out for personal injury attorneys in The Woodlands and Houston who can point to specific awards and success stories, and who have been practicing personal injury law for several years.
Additionally, close-knit firms like Grimes & Fertitta won’t pass you between lawyers tend to provide a better experience for their clients; you won’t end up feeling like “just another case number” or just another file folder buried in a pile on somebody’s desk (or desktop).
Finally, law firms that always prepare to go to trial even if you intend to focus on settlement negotiation tend to have your best interests more at heart. Being trial-ready signals to whomever you’re dealing with that you and your legal team are taking your case seriously.
2. Do you have any experience handling cases like mine?
When it comes to questions to ask your personal injury lawyer, it’s crucial to drill down as much as possible. While a lot of this will boil down to overall experience handling personal injury cases, you’ll also want to determine if they’ve dealt with cases similar to yours.
For example, if you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, you should ask the lawyer if they’ve handled any cases with motorcyclists. (Check out some of the best questions to ask your motorcycle accident attorney.) Or if your case involves the death of a loved one, you may want a law firm that has experience handling serious personal injury cases involving wrongful death.
3. What does your caseload look like?
You will want to make sure that you’re working with a lawyer that has the time and resources available to dedicate to your case. If they don’t, you could be investing in an overworked, overbooked lawyer that could contribute to a poor outcome.
4. What are my personal injury lawyer fees?
When you’re looking for a personal injury lawyer, odds are you’re already racking up a lot of other expenses and likely dealing with insurance adjusters. Fortunately, trustworthy personal injury lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you don’t pay them until your case is settled or won at trial. If you encounter a personal injury lawyer that claims not to work on a contingency fee basis, that’s rarely a good sign.
That said, there may be additional fees that you incur along the way, and it’s important to understand exactly what you’ll be responsible for when it comes to legal fees.
This question is two-fold:
- Will you be charged various fees throughout the process? There are miscellaneous fees (out-of-pocket costs) that can accrue during the legal process (for example, copying and printing documents). Some lawyers will charge you for this once everything is said and done, while others will not. Make sure you ask any potential lawyer how they handle these miscellaneous charges and whether or not you will be responsible for them.
- What percentage of the settlement will the lawyer take? If you are awarded a settlement, then your lawyer will take a percentage (if they work on a contingency fee basis — which most do). This percentage can land anywhere between 25% and 40%. Don’t be alarmed if the lawyer does charge around the 40% mark. You’ll want to compare their contingency fee with their success rate and experience. If they do charge a lower percentage, ask why and be somewhat wary.
5. Do I pay any fees if I don’t get a settlement?
Again, most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. This being said, if you aren’t awarded a settlement, then you shouldn’t be required to pay your lawyer a fee. However, keep in mind, some lawyers who may absorb those out-of-pocket costs may charge you for those fees if you end up with no settlement. Make sure you clarify before moving forward with a lawyer.
6. How long do you anticipate the entire process will take?
While every case is different, an experienced personal injury lawyer can often give you a pretty decent estimate of how long it will take to conclude your case. However, here are some things that can hinder or speed up the process:
- The resources the law firm has available
- The law firm’s caseload (how many clients do they take on at one time)
- The law firm’s experience with different types of personal injury claims
And as with anything in life, unexpected roadblocks may pop up during the settlement process or trial. More experienced personal injury lawyers will be better at anticipating and avoiding these issues, however. Retaining a lawyer who has handled your kind of case before can potentially shave months or years off of your case.
7. How much is my case worth?
You should definitely ask your potential personal injury lawyer what your case is worth. However, you shouldn’t expect your personal injury lawyer to provide you with an exact dollar amount. If they do, be wary. Instead, your lawyer should be able to give you an estimated dollar range. Again, every case is different — but your lawyer can use their professional experiences coupled with your individual circumstance to build that estimated range for you.
It’s also important to be cautious of lawyers that provide you with very high or very low settlement estimates. This is another reason why you want to have a consultation with at least a few different personal injury lawyers, so you can determine where (if any) questionable outliers exist.
8. What is my role during the process?
Aside from determining your lawyer’s qualifications, it’s also important to question and determine what your role is in the process. This usually just involves communication.
You’ll be required to communicate with your lawyer regarding what happened (and what’s currently happening), and you’ll also be required to provide any necessary documentation and records for the case (medical bills, employment records, lost wages, etc).
On the flip side, you will want a lawyer who communicates effectively with you. They should be responsive to your needs and questions and be able to tell you how they prefer to communicate during your consultation.
Remember, not every lawyer is created equal. Ask your lawyer to provide you with very specific details regarding your personal responsibilities in the case and their communication outlets and parameters before moving forward.
Get started with a top personal injury lawyer today
As top personal injury lawyers in The Woodlands and Houston, the Grimes & Fertitta firm is considered the go-to firm for all types of personal injury claims. From defective products and workplace injuries to trucking accidents and nursing home abuse, we have experience handling a variety of cases and can help you secure the settlement you deserve.
If you have questions regarding our experience as top-rated personal injury lawyers or if you’d like to learn more about your options, we’d love to talk. Give us a call at 713-224-7644 or contact us online to schedule your free personal injury consultation today.
More Helpful Articles by Grimes & Fertitta: