James V. Murray
4 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
When you're injured in an accident for which another party is responsible, your first step should be to seek out medical attention. But after you've taken care of your physical health, you'll need to take precautions to protect your rights. That means it's time to find a lawyer who can represent your best interests if and when you file a claim. But before you hire a personal injury lawyer, you'll want to conduct some thorough research and explore all of your available options. That process includes asking your would-be attorney some essential questions, including the ones below.
What areas of law do you have experience in?First of all, it's important to find a lawyer who practices the category of law that's most relevant to your case. In other words, you wouldn't hire a timeshare or real estate attorney to take on your personal injury case. But even among personal injury attorneys, you'll still want to ask this question. The majority of personal injury lawyers will handle popular types of cases. For example, the five most common types of personal injury claims involve auto accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, and wrongful death. But even though all of these circumstances fall under the umbrella of personal injury, that doesn't mean that every personal injury lawyer will have ample experience in every circumstance. If they're relatively new to personal injury law or haven't taken on many cases that involve your situation, you may want to think twice about working with them.
How many cases have you taken to trial?Simply put, some cases don't need to be taken to trial -- but that doesn't mean your attorney shouldn't be ready for that if it's in your best interests. Some attorneys will convince their clients to take a settlement, even if it's a potentially winnable case, just because they don't have a lot of experience in the courtroom. Others may not have the best track record at trial and therefore might encourage their clients to settle. Sometimes, agreeing on a settlement may be the best strategy; however, it shouldn't be the only strategy. Find out more about their experience in court before making a final decision. Even if it doesn't come to that, you'll probably feel a lot more secure in their abilities to represent you.
Who will work on my case?When you find a lawyer to handle your personal injury claim, you need to feel secure in the knowledge that they'll be able to give your case the time it deserves. Opting for a small firm can be an asset in some ways, as it might allow for more individualized attention from just one attorney. But that lawyer could also be overwhelmed by an enormous caseload, which could force them to cut corners in ways that won't benefit you. Working with a large firm can allow you to get in touch with someone about your case, but you may have to deal with several lawyers and other staff members in the process. You'll want to know for certain that your lawyer will be communicative and on top of your claim throughout this process.
How long will it take to resolve my claim?While there are a lot of unknowns that come with the territory of filing a claim, your lawyer should have enough experience to give you an estimate of how long your case will take to resolve. You shouldn't hold your lawyer to this exact timeframe, as there are a lot of factors that could slow down your case's resolution. However, given that you'll probably have significant medical bills to worry about, your attorney should want to resolve your case in a timely manner and in a way that offers the best possible outcome for you. A lawyer who feels uncomfortable providing you with at least an educated guess may not have the motivation or the expertise you require.When it comes time to find a lawyer for your personal injury case, you'll probably feel much more prepared if you keep these questions in mind. Once you have your answers, you can be truly confident about your choice in legal representation.