- March 24, 2016
- Personal Injury Law
What are the right questions to ask a personal injury attorney?
Finding the right personal injury lawyer for your case involves asking the right questions. You probably want answers to your big questions like “How much is my case worth?” Such questions usually don’t have specific answers, only estimates. Other questions, like “Will my personal injury case go to trial?” might have concrete answers. Discussing these issues with your attorney at your initial consultation can give you an idea of how your case might go and what results you can reasonably expect. Here’s a list of 5 questions to ask a personal injury attorney.
Have you handled cases like mine before? What was the result?
This is one of the most important questions to ask a personal injury attorney. You want to make sure that your lawyer has the experience needed to handle your case, especially if you have a unique or uncommon case. If they have been successful in the past with cases that are similar to yours, it’s a good indicator that they are competent and diligent, although it does not guarantee that your results will be the same.
How many cases have you taken to trial? What was the result?
The vast majority of personal injury cases settle. This is actually a good thing for most clients, because they can retain their privacy and receive their money more quickly than they would if they took their case to trial.
It may be beneficial to go to trial if your attorney thinks your case is much more valuable than what the insurance company is offering. An attorney who is willing to go to trial is an attorney who is willing to do what it takes to make sure your expenses are covered and your needs are met.
What possible issues do you foresee in my case?
Few cases are completely airtight. A good attorney will tell you what roadblocks might be in your future instead of focusing on getting you to sign the representation agreement no matter what. This gives you a heads-up on what to expect and gives you a realistic picture of what your results might look like. It also lets you know that your attorney is willing to be open and communicate with you about whether you have a good personal injury case.
How long will it take to file suit?
Most cases take a significant amount of time to develop. However, your attorney should be able to give you regular updates about what they are doing, like talking to insurance adjusters, and why. It’s not uncommon for attorneys to get clients in the door and then hold their cases for months before filing their complaints. This puts clients at an extreme disadvantage because it delays their cases’ resolution. It can also put them too close to the statute of limitations to seek other representation if they wish to.
Have you ever been disciplined by the state bar? Why?
North Carolina attorneys must follow the North Carolina State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct. These rules are established to protect clients, and violations could result in discipline. This might mean they receive a formal reprimand, their license may be suspended, or they may even be disbarred. The penalty depends on the severity of the violation.
While a disciplinary record does not necessarily mean you’re dealing with a sleazy lawyer, it’s a good reason to at least consider hiring another attorney to handle your case.
You may be wondering how you’ll know if an attorney is telling the truth about their disciplinary record, or you may simply want more details about a violation they told you about. The North Carolina State Bar has a NC attorney discipline search that will give you disciplinary information about any attorney who has been reprimanded, suspended, or disbarred.
Any attorney you talk to should be forthcoming with answers to any questions you have. Most personal injury attorneys will answer questions like these at your initial consultation with them, which is usually free.