Four Must Ask Questions When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
There are obviously many questions that you’re going to ask when trying to decide which personal injury lawyer to hire for your case. Some of those questions are fairly obvious, such as asking about an attorney’s experience and results. Other questions might not be so obvious to you if you’ve never been through the process of hiring a lawyer for an injury case. Nonetheless, here are four very important questions that you should ask prior to hiring an injury attorney that might not be so obvious to you.
- Do you handle injury cases? In my opinion, this is one of the most important questions that you can ask a potential attorney. Injury law is complex and is constantly changing as new laws emerge. As a result, an attorney’s strategy may have to change. It’s is really hard to keep up with current legal trends and the latest strategies if your attention is split between several different areas of law. That’s why I always recommend hiring an attorney that concentrates in the area of law that you need, rather than a “jack of all trades” type of lawyer.
- Will you be handling my case personally? Many law firms hire associates and junior partners to handle cases. So it is possible that the attorney that you initially meet with will be referring your case to another attorney at the firm that you’ve never met. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should expect to work with only the senior partner. There are plenty of qualified associates and junior partners. However, if you are going to be working with that person, you should ask to meet them prior to hiring the law firm. A firm’s reputation is important to the success of your case. But equally important is the knowledge of the person handling your case. Therefore, make sure that you’re comfortable with both.
- Will you be starting a law suit in my case? Hiring an attorney is no guarantee that the attorney will be starting a law suit on your behalf. Many attorneys will not start law suits right away, relying on trying to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company instead. Some may never start a law suit on your behalf. If they are unable to reach a settlement, they may just decide to discontinue the claim. In New York, we have a three year statute of limitations for starting a law suit. That can amount to a lot of wasted time. That’s why starting a law suit early on in the process is so important. It will likely reduce the amount of time it takes to settle a case. But, it’s important to mention that starting a law suit in some cases may not be the best strategy. For example, if it is uncertain how serious your injuries are, it may be best to wait a few months to see how you recover. But nonetheless, it’s a good idea to know if the lawyer is starting a suit or if he’s not and if there is a strategy as to why the lawyer is proceeding in one direction or the other.
- Do you try your own trials? Many injury attorneys are not willing to try their own cases and refer them to trial attorneys, if a settlement cannot be reached. This is a disadvantage to you as the attorney that will be trying your case doesn’t even know you. One of the most important aspects of an attorney-client relationship is finding a rapport with that attorney. How can you know if you have that rapport with an attorney that you meet days before your trial? And if this happens, what can you even do about it on the eve of trial? Not much. Therefore, make sure ahead of time that you know who will be trying your case.
Finding an injury attorney can be difficult. It seems that almost every attorney is willing to try their hand at personal injury law because the right case can be lucrative. Unfortunately, the right case in the wrong attorney’s hands can be a disaster. Therefore, do your research and read about the attorney’s experience. Check out their off website reviews and don’t forget to ask these four key questions during your initial consultation.
About the Author
Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.
His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.