5 Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer

You got hurt in a car accident or suffered injuries while using a dangerous or defective product, receiving medical treatment, or when visiting someone else’s property or place of business. You visited the emergency room after your incident, and you’ve just found out that you have a long road to recovery ahead of you, whereby you’ll need to go to a lot of doctor’s appointments and miss time from work.

What do you do next? You need to consult an attorney about the potential of recovering compensation for your losses. Below, we highlight five questions to ask a personal injury lawyer when meeting them.

Question #1: What Is Your Experience in Handling Personal Injury Cases?

While it’s likely that you narrowed in on attorneys specializing in personal injury law in Charleston, WV, when performing your search for legal counsel, it’s important to note that not all lawyers are experienced in handling all types of cases within this single practice area. For example, an attorney may regularly handle car accidents but may not be very experienced in handling product liability cases. So, in case it wasn’t abundantly clear on their website, it’s important to inquire about their specialties within this broad practice area when speaking with them.

Experience also matters. While any attorney will have graduated law school and sat for the bar to become licensed to practice law, it’s impossible to learn each and every aspect of the law and its applications, as well as practicalities surrounding court filings, in such a brief period of time. Instead, that’s knowledge attorneys gain in time.

Asking any prospective personal injury lawyer that you’re planning to work with not only about how long they’ve been an attorney but also how long they’ve specialized in this practice area will tell you a lot about how much they know about particular laws applicable, including requirements to prove negligence, all of which must be adhered to in order to have a successful claim.

Question #2: Do You Think That I Have a Provable Case?

Whether an attorney is able to tell you this as soon as during an initial consultation with them will depend on how much you tell them and the evidence you bring to your initial consultation. That’s why law firms like ours, Hendrickson & Long, PLLC, recommend that prospective clients bring any incident, police, or crash report, photographs, medical records, and other items of evidentiary value with them to meet with our legal team for the first time.

In some cases, how negligence occurred and where liability lies will be clear, and thus, the lawyer you’re consulting with can advise you right away that you have a valid claim on the spot. However, in other instances, fault and responsibility for it may not be as readily apparent, and gathering additional evidence may be necessary to reach such determinations later. And to complicate things, West Virginia subscribes to the comparative fault doctrine. A well-experienced attorney should be able to explain what this means for your case.

You can expect an experienced Charleston, WV personal injury attorney to know if a case is provable on its face or if it’s necessary to perform a further investigation to make such a determination and for them to be able to explain why that’s the case.

Question #3: How Often Can We Expect To Communicate About My Personal Injury Case?

When it comes to communicating, everyone has different perspectives and preferences regarding what’s best. During your initial meeting, it’s important that you and the injury lawyer you’re considering working with are on the same page in terms of communication styles.

Discussing these preferences will ensure alignment as far as the method and frequency of communication are concerned. For example, you need to discuss whether your expectation is to receive a phone call or email about every aspect of your case or just the big steps in it, like when a demand letter is being prepared to be sent to an insurer. It’s also important to discuss who you expect to reach out to, such as whether you’re expecting to hear from your attorney or a paralegal.

Question #4: What Is Your Success Rate in Recovering Settlements for Injury Victims Like Me?

Whether medical negligence has left you hurt, a truck driver harmed you, or you suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence in some other way, you need to know that the lawyer you’re considering hiring has a proven track record for recovering settlements, and especially in cases like yours.

Asking about their success in securing settlements for their clients also allows you to inquire if those cases were mostly resolved via negotiation out of court or whether they went to trial.

Question #5: How Much Does It Cost To Have You Represent Me as My Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you’re feeling confident that the lawyer you’ve met with is a good fit for your case, then you’ll want to ask about the fees they’ll charge to represent you. Most personal injury attorneys, like ours, work on a contingency basis, meaning they only charge to represent you when they secure a settlement on your behalf. The percentage of that amount that your legal counsel assesses may vary. Thus, it’s important to ask what percent of any award they secure for you that they will take as their fee if they do win your case.

It’s also important to note that there may be some nominal fees like court filing, photocopying, postage, and other fees that get passed on to you regardless of the outcome of your case. So, you’ll want to ask any attorney you’re looking to hire about these.

Weighing Responses a Personal Injury Lawyer Provides and Making a Hiring Decision

Making the decision to have an attorney handle your case instead of doing so on your own may seem particularly challenging, especially if you have experience dealing with an insurance company on your own before. With complex cases, meaning ones where liability isn’t clear or there are serious injuries or a death involved, it is imperative to have an attorney representing you and your interests.

Deciding to hire a lawyer in the first place is challenging, and choosing between different ones is not easy either. Hopefully, the five questions to ask a personal injury lawyer that we outlined above help you hone in on the attorney who is best aligned with your preferences and needs so that you have the potential to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.