Questions to Ask to Find the Best Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Case

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Questions to Ask to Find the Best Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Case

Hiring an attorney after a devastating incident is a daunting and emotionally fraught task. How can you be sure you’re hiring the best personal injury lawyer possible? Selecting a law firm to represent you means asking some insightful questions up front, before you sign up. In addition to helping you vet attorneys, it can also put your mind at ease. Knowing what to expect will make the entire process easier on you. Here are some questions we suggest you ask.

Although these questions are good for a personal injury claim, they can apply to any sort of attorney-client relationship, whether it is for business matter, domestic relations, or anything else. Good communication is key to any successful attorney-client relationship.

How much experience do you have? Asking an attorney how long they have been practicing law is a common question. However, a raw number doesn’t give you a complete picture of how well they know the area of law you’re hiring them for. Law degrees can be very flexible, and it is not unusual for attorneys to practice in more than one area of law over the course of their career. Knowing an attorney has been practicing law for twenty years is useful information, but it’s more useful to know how long the attorney has been working personal injury cases specifically, if that’s what you need.

What sort of outcomes are possible? Although the media likes to portray dramatic jury trials as the normal way to resolve legal disputes, most cases settle before trial. Indeed, many cases are finalized in a conference room, not a courtroom. In addition to representing you, the best personal injury lawyers also educate and guide you through the process.

Depending on your type of case, your attorney may tell you to expect one or more of the following procedures:

  • Negotiated settlement: The parties come to an agreement between themselves and their attorneys without the need to bring in a neutral third party to help resolve the conflict. A negotiated settlement is the eventual outcome for most personal injury claims.
  • Mediation. The parties bring their unresolved issues to a neutral mediator who, after hearing the issues and the evidence, will usually make a recommendation the mediator deems fair to all concerned. Mediators should be well-versed in the applicable law. Because mediation is non-binding, mediators can suggest more creative solutions than may be available in court.
  • Arbitration. Arbitration is more like a courtroom procedure, because the arbitrator hears the evidence and makes a decision that is often binding upon the parties. One feature of arbitration that sets it apart from other forms of dispute resolution is that the parties have agreed to it in advance of any potential dispute (whether they know it or not.) Contracts, service agreements, and terms of service for software usually include arbitration language.
  • Pre-trial settlement. Cases are filed in court often settle before trial.
  • Trial. Trials are either bench trials (the judge hears the evidence and decides the outcome) or jury trials. Jury trials are not available for every kind of case. For example, domestic disputes and probate cases do not go before juries.

How much do your services cost? Make sure you understand how the attorney’s payment will be made, as well as how it will be calculated. Does the attorney charge by the hour or will they be paid through a contingency fee? Is a retainer expected? What kind of expenses are typical in your kind of case?

Who will be working on my case? Some lawyers do everything themselves. Others work within teams comprised of lawyers, paralegals, and support staff. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, as every practice is different. But make sure you ask so you know what to expect. You want as few surprises together.

When and how should I contact you? Some lawyers prefer phone calls, others prefer email or fax, still others respond well to text messages. Knowing the best way to reach your lawyer can save you some frustration down the road.

It also helps to know when you should reach out to your attorney to inform them of something. For example, your personal injury attorney will want to know if you have started treatment with a new medical provider or received a diagnosis.

Finally, don’t be shy about asking these questions. This is your case, and your attorney works for you. If you are considering hiring a personal injury attorney in St. Louis, Kansas City, or the surrounding areas, contact us today for a free consultation

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