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4 Important questions to ask a potential personal injury lawyer

  1. 4 Important questions to ask a potential personal injury lawyer
  2. How much experience do you have with cases like mine?
  3. How much do you think my case is worth?
  4. How much does it cost to work with your law firm? 
  5. How often do you take cases to trial and how much do you litigate?
  6. Injured? Talk to Herschensohn Law today

4 Important questions to ask a potential personal injury lawyer

questions to ask personal injury lawyer

If you want to get the highest amount of compensation you can after a personal injury (and honestly, who doesn’t?) then picking the right lawyer to represent you is one of the most important decisions you can make.

But chances are, if you’re reading this blog post, you aren’t a lawyer and you might not know the first thing about telling a good one from a bad one. On top of that, you may already have as much as you can handle just trying to pay your medical bills, heal from your injuries, and rebuild your life. To make matters more complicated, if you wait too long to talk to a lawyer there’s a very real possibility that critical evidence will “disappear,” statutes of limitations could be missed, or you’ll make a preventable mistake dealing with the insurance company that ends up weakening your case.

So yes, we get it—choosing a lawyer in those early days after an injury can seem utterly overwhelming. But even if you know absolutely nothing about the law, there are still several important questions you can ask an attorney before you hire them that can help you narrow down your options and find a good fit. Here are some of the big ones:

questions to ask personal injury lawyer

1. How much experience do you have with cases like mine?

what questions to ask personal injury lawyer

Most people understand that different lawyers specialize in different areas of the law—you wouldn’t hire a tax attorney or an estate planning lawyer to handle a car accident case.

But even within the field of personal injury law, there’s still a lot of different types of cases. Does your lawyer handle mostly auto accident cases? Slip and fall accidents? Defective products? You get the idea.

Although every case is unique, you ideally want to work with a personal injury that not only has years of experience in the relevant area of law, but also has worked cases that have similar circumstances to yours.

Ask your lawyer about past cases and past clients, and what the outcomes of those cases were. (They may not be able to name names but should be able to relate the basic details.) If an attorney can only give evasive and vague answers to this question, it’s a red flag. 

what questions to ask personal injury lawyer
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2. How much do you think my case is worth?

personal injury lawyer

To be clear, a good personal injury lawyer probably won’t answer this a single, specific number. In fact, it’s a red flag when a lawyer who is too confident or provides you with any kind of guarantee. At the initial consultation stages, there’s just not enough information available yet to make that kind of promise.

Instead, your lawyer should be able to give you a range based on similar cases they have worked on in the past. You want a lawyer who can give you clear and realistic estimates, explain how settlement values are calculated, and walk you through some potential scenarios for your case.

RELATED: How does my attorney determine the value of my car accident claim?

personal injury lawyer

3. How much does it cost to work with your law firm?

cost to work with law firm

The vast majority of personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. In other words, they offer free initial consultations and they don’t charge for their time or legal representation services up front. Instead, they take their cut from your settlement or jury verdict. So, if you don’t win, your lawyer does not get paid.

If a personal injury attorney does not work on contingency but asks you to pay for their time out-of-pocket, run very fast in the opposite direction.

Some related follow-up questions to ask here:

How much will I get if I win? Your lawyer should be able to give you a percentage range that accounts for both the contingency fee and any further “case costs” that are incurred.

How are additional legal fees handled? Who pays them if I lose? In addition to a lawyer’s contingency fee, there are other associated costs involved with personal injury lawsuits—filing fees, expert witness fees, and more—which don’t go to the lawyer, and you’d have to pay even if you were representing yourself.

Some lawyers will ask you to pay those fees up front out of pocket. Most will pay them for you while the case is ongoing, then reimburse themselves them from your settlement check at the end.

Things get complicated if you don’t win your case and there’s no settlement check available for the law firm to pay itself back. Many personal injury attorneys will eat those fees, meaning that you truly will pay nothing out of pocket no matter the result of your case. But not all do.

Losing a case is already miserable enough; you definitely don’t want to be surprised by hidden fees, so it’s important to get clarity on this aspect of your claim upfront.

cost to work with law firm

4. How often do you take cases to trial and how much do you litigate?

personal injury lawyer questions

There are a couple of things you need to understand here before you ask this question.

First, the reality is that the vast majority of personal injury cases settle out of court. Only about 5% of personal injury cases actually go to trial, although this certainly varies according to the circumstances. In most situations, a fair pre-trial settlement is the main goal, and a trial is only a last resort.

But second—and this is crucial—

If your lawyer always settles cases and is gun-shy about filing a lawsuit or getting in front of jury, the insurance company absolutely will exploit that. Trust us: the insurance company claims adjuster assigned to your case definitely knows which attorneys in your area are real trial attorneys and which ones aren’t. If you don’t have an experienced trial lawyer, the insurance company knows it’ll be able to play hardball and settle for less than your case is worth.

A lawyer with solid trial experience (and a successful track record) is in a much better position during settlement negotiations. Just the threat of filing a lawsuit or going to trial is enough to extract higher settlement offers in most cases. And, of course, if your case is one of the 5% that doesn’t settle, you want to make sure this isn’t your attorney’s first rodeo.

personal injury lawyer questions

Injured? Talk to Herschensohn Law today

If you’ve been hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you deserve excellent legal representation to keep the insurance companies from taking advantage of you.

Zach Herschensohn is experienced, tenacious, knowledgeable, and ready to fight. He’s won millions for clients throughout Kent, the Seattle area, and King County; has extensive trial experience; and will work aggressively to get you a settlement or jury verdict that’s truly fair and provides you and your family with the compensation you need and deserve.

From initial case evaluation to filing your personal injury claim to negotiation to settlement or trial, our law firm handles all aspects of your case and work hard to get you the best possible settlement in the shortest possible time frame, so you can focus on rebuilding your life.

If you think our law firm might be a good fit for your situation, please reach out to us today for a free consultation. Go ahead and ask us all the questions in this blog post, and any others you can think of. We will happily answer any questions you have, and give you clear, honest legal advice about your case and what we think the next steps should be.

To reach out, call our office at (206) 588-4344 or complete our simple online form.

The Law Dictionary. Pre-trial Settlement Percentage: Statistics on Personal Injury Settlements. Retrieved from: Statistics on Personal Injury Settlements.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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When you request your free consultation, Kent personal injury attorney Zach Herschensohn will listen to you, answer your questions, lay out your legal options, and give you down-to-earth legal advice.

When you work with our law office, there are no obligations, hidden fees, or fine print. It’s that simple.

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