October 13, 2015 No Comments SSAdmin Personal Injury , , ,

When you consult with a personal injury attorney, you’ve obviously already been through a bad experience; you want the consultation, no matter what its outcome in terms of decisions, to be a good experience.

It helps to go in with a clear head and a list of questions. Usually this is your first time in this position, and it’s not the kind of thing you prepare for unless you have to. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to prepare.

You’ll be going over the facts of your case with the attorney, of course, and it is a good idea to bring any documentation that you have with you. Over time, if this is the attorney that you choose, you will be having plenty of conversations about these facts and documents, other supporting materials, potential witnesses, and case strategy.

For now, though, acquaint the attorney with the basic, and then proceed with your interview. Because that is what you are doing: you are interviewing this attorney for a job. The attorney will be in charge of the case, but you’re in charge of the hiring.

Organize your questions for the attorney into several categories:

Background – Where and when did he (or she) obtain his legal education? What legal bar memberships does he hold? Has he won any awards or recognitions? Has he ever been the subject of any disciplinary actions? (If the attorney seems evasive about this last question, it is a bad sign – which is why you should ask it.)

Experience – How long has he been practicing personal injury law? Has he specialized in particular types of cases? Is he willing to provide references from prior clients? (He should.) What percentage of cases has he settled, won at trial, and lost at trial? Why is he better than other personal injury attorneys in this geographic area?

Money – Does he work on a contingency fee, and what is it? (Usually in the range of 25-40% of the money recovered.) Assuming that out-of-pocket costs advanced by the attorney are deducted from your portion of the money recovered (which should be the case), who is responsible for those costs if, in the worst case scenario, no money is recovered? (It shouldn’t be you.) How much are expert witnesses for a trial likely to cost?

Potential Conflicts of Interest – This is often overlooked, and it is probably the attorney who will ask you questions here, to make sure that there are no conflicts of interest (he socializes with the plaintiff, for instance) that would ethically prevent him from taking your case.

Assessment of Your Case – What is the attorney’s initial realistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case? (This is not written in stone and will develop over time.) What have been the outcomes of similar cases he has handled before? What are the respective likelihoods of settling or going to trial? What is the probable range of monetary recovery in each of those scenarios?

Timing – Is the attorney available to work on the case immediately? Will the case be filed within the month? (Avoid attorneys who wait until statutes of limitations almost run out.) If the case goes to trial, how long will it probably be until that happens? (The attorney doesn’t control that, but should have insight based on experience in local courts.)

Case Management – Will the attorney that you are speaking to handle the bulk of the case himself, or will most or all of it be farmed out to associates? How will you interacting with the law firm? Who will be your contact person? Will you receive regular progress reports? Will you have an active involvement in the management of the case? (This partly depends on your desires, of course, but also on the style of the firm.)

Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be in a good position to decide if this is the right personal injury attorney for you.