12 Questions You Need to Ask Before Hiring an Injury Lawyer

Insurance companies have the financial means to hire skilled attorneys specializing in defending personal injury claims. The expertise and capabilities of your attorney will greatly impact the compensation you receive.

It is a common misconception that the most successful personal injury attorneys charge exorbitant fees. In reality, their fees are comparable to those of inexperienced lawyers with no track record of success in the courtroom.

It is important not to rely solely on advertisements when choosing a personal injury lawyer. There are unethical attorneys who prioritize settling cases quickly for whatever amount the insurance company offers, as they work on a “high volume” and “quick turnover” basis. Every community also has numerous aspiring personal injury lawyers who may be eager to handle your case and settle it quickly for a low amount, providing a high return on their investment of time.

Steps to Take in the Lawyer Selection Process

1. Evaluate their experience.

Having an experienced lawyer in personal injury law can increase the chances of success in your case. This is because experienced lawyers have encountered various challenges and obstacles before and know how to handle them effectively. They can navigate complex cases involving catastrophic injuries and are well-equipped to handle the tactics of insurance companies who may try to manipulate the situation. Therefore, it is advisable to seek the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent your case.

2. Ensure they have a strong track record for success.

It’s important to note that there are numerous attorneys who possess years of experience in their profession but lack a solid history of successful cases. This can be due to their reputation for accepting inadequate settlements from insurance companies, or they may not have a proven record of winning difficult and high-value cases. Therefore, it’s essential to carefully consider an attorney’s track record before hiring them for legal representation.

3. Pay attention to how they engage with you.

It’s crucial to have confidence in your own decisions when it comes to choosing a lawyer for legal representation. The attorney-client relationship is a significant one, and it’s essential to feel comfortable with the way your potential lawyer communicates and treats you. Therefore, it’s recommended to take the time to assess whether you like the lawyer’s communication style and how they interact with you before making a hiring decision.

4. Understand their payment model.

To avoid any unexpected costs or fees in the future, it is important to carefully review the payment structure of a new attorney before hiring their services. This includes reading and understanding the fine print or details of the payment model they have in place.

5. Consider what additional resources they offer.

When looking for a personal injury lawyer, it’s essential to consider the range of resources they can offer. Certain law firms can provide more comprehensive support throughout different stages of the case, which can result in a more streamlined and less stressful experience for you as the client. It’s worth exploring these additional services and assistance when selecting an injury lawyer.

What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do

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The tasks carried out by personal injury lawyers vary depending on the type of case, their area of expertise, and the stage of the legal proceedings. These attorneys may undertake several activities to aid in the success of your case, such as:

Investigating Claims

Personal injury lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only charge their clients if they win the case and secure a settlement or a jury verdict. Since they often cover the expenses of the case themselves, they carefully screen potential clients and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the case before taking it on. This ensures that they only take cases that they believe have a good chance of success, and are likely to result in a favorable outcome for the client.

Gathering Evidence

When someone experiences a personal injury, they may need to gather evidence to support their case if they decide to pursue legal action. This typically involves obtaining any police or incident reports related to the incident. The person may also reach out to witnesses and collect their statements about what happened. Additionally, they might take photographs of the scene or instruct a photographer to do so. Any physical evidence, such as property damage or camera footage, could also be retained as evidence for the case. Collecting this information is crucial in building a strong case and proving the plaintiff’s claim.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

Negotiation is not a common occurrence in most people’s daily lives, but for personal injury lawyers, it is a regular part of their work. They are experienced in negotiating with insurance companies to ensure their clients receive fair compensation for their injuries. Personal injury lawyers have the expertise to assess the policy details and identify the maximum level of compensation available based on the specific circumstances of the case. Additionally, they take care of all communications with the insurance company, preventing the injury victim from taking any action that could potentially harm their case, such as providing a recorded statement.

Sending Demand Letters

A personal injury lawyer may choose to send a demand letter to an insurance company as part of their legal strategy. Prior to drafting this letter, the lawyer would have conducted a thorough investigation into the details of the incident. The demand letter would typically include a clear and concise statement of the facts related to the accident, as well as a specific request for a particular amount of compensation that the lawyer believes is appropriate for the injury or harm caused by the defendant.

Preparing Pleadings

If an insurance company fails to provide a reasonable settlement, a personal injury lawyer may take legal action against the defendant by preparing a complaint. This complaint details the legal arguments supporting the defendant’s responsibility for the accident and also includes the specific amount of compensation the client is seeking.

Conducting Discovery

During a legal case, the lawyer representing the person who has filed a lawsuit (plaintiff) can start a process called discovery. This process involves various methods to gather information and evidence from the opposing party (defendant). One such method is sending interrogatories, which are written questions that the defendant is required to answer under oath. Additionally, the lawyer may conduct depositions, which involve questioning parties, witnesses, and experts in person, under oath, and in the presence of a court reporter who transcribes the entire proceeding. These methods of discovery can help the plaintiff’s lawyer to build a strong case and gather important information needed for the trial.

Representing Clients at Trial

A personal injury lawyer offers legal representation in a court of law if a case goes to trial. They possess knowledge of the customary practices and procedures in court and can guarantee that these steps are accurately adhered to.

Contact a Lawyer for Assistance

If you have been hurt in an accident that was caused by someone else, it can be beneficial to have a personal injury lawyer assist you. This is particularly important because the other party involved in the case may have their own legal representation. By having a lawyer on your side, you can have an equal footing in the legal process. Additionally, your lawyer may utilize additional resources such as expert witnesses or private investigators as needed to strengthen your case.

What You Should Know About Your Lawyer

1 The sources that rate personal injury lawyers

If you need to find a highly skilled lawyer to represent you in a serious personal injury case, there are several resources you can use to help you make an informed decision. One of the most trustworthy methods for evaluating a lawyer’s qualifications is to consult sources that rate personal injury lawyers based on feedback from their peers and competitors. It’s important to note that there is no official rating system for personal injury lawyers, except for peer review by other lawyers. Therefore, you should consider checking out the following peer-review rating systems to assist you in your search for a top-notch lawyer:


2 What percentage of your cases?

To discover the top personal injury lawyers in your community, it is advisable to seek recommendations from other lawyers who practice in the same locality. It is important to inquire whether a lawyer receives a significant number of referrals from other lawyers as this can be a sign of their expertise in handling personal injury cases. In many professions, those working within the field typically have an understanding of who is considered exceptional and who is not. If you have a lawyer or a friend who practices law, they can be a helpful resource for identifying a top personal injury or malpractice lawyers who are recognized by their peers in the community, even if they do not handle injury cases themselves.

3 Why Do You Send “Solicitation” Letters to Home?

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In recent times, an increasing number of personal injury lawyers have started employing “runners” or assistants to acquire traffic accident reports created by local and state law enforcement officials. The law firm’s staff then carefully examines the report to locate the name and address of the accident victim. After this, the law firm sends a letter of solicitation to the victim, informing them that the law firm is willing and prepared to represent them in a personal injury case.

It’s not uncommon for accident victims to receive numerous solicitation letters, with some receiving between fifteen to twenty such letters from different law firms in their community. In southern Indiana, there’s even a law firm that sends solicitation letters to every traffic accident victim in the state where there’s a police report. Some law firms may continue to send solicitation letters even after the initial one is sent and may even follow up with a phone call to the victim to inquire if they received the letters.

Most law firms that rely on solicitation letters for business operate on a “high volume, quick turnover” basis. These firms often struggle to attract referrals from satisfied clients or other lawyers, leading them to resort to sending out hundreds or thousands of solicitation letters in the hopes of receiving responses. It is unlikely that injury victims who choose an attorney based on a solicitation letter they receive in the mail have thoroughly researched the law firm they are hiring. As a result, many states are in the process of implementing regulations and laws to prohibit lawyers from sending solicitation letters to accident victims.

4 personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation

When people come across advertisements for personal injury law firms through various mediums such as TV commercials, yellow pages, internet sites, and direct mail solicitation letters, they tend to notice that most of these firms tend to make similar offers.

  • “No fee if no recovery.”
  • “Free initial consultation.”
  • “We will visit you at home or in the hospital.”

It is common for lawyers who specialize in personal injury cases to provide a “free consultation” to prospective clients. Additionally, they often operate on a “contingent fee” basis, which means that they will not charge any fees unless the case results in a recovery for the client. Therefore, it is not unusual for a lawyer to make this type of offer.

5 no fee if no recovery

Most personal injury lawyers typically work on a contingent fee basis, meaning they only charge a fee if there is a recovery in the case. The fee is usually a percentage, typically around 33.33%, of the amount recovered. This fee arrangement may sound straightforward, but it is crucial for personal injury victims to exercise caution when selecting a lawyer for their case. It is essential to thoroughly review and understand the terms of the contingency fee agreement before hiring a lawyer to ensure that the client’s interests are protected.

If you hire a lawyer to handle your injury case on a contingency fee basis and the lawyer loses the case, you will not owe them any attorney fee. This is because the fee is based on a percentage of the amount recovered, and if there is no recovery, there is no fee. However, it is important to note that there are other expenses associated with a personal injury case that are separate from the attorney fee. These expenses are incurred in order to properly prepare the case and can include fees for expert witnesses, court reporters, medical records, physician reports, filing fees, and other costs. These expenses are typically paid to third parties and can be significant, so it is important for consumers to understand the difference between attorney fees and case expenses.

Different law firms handle case expenses in varying ways. In a typical motor vehicle accident case that results in a settlement of less than $100,000, case expenses usually amount to less than $5,000. However, in cases that involve serious personal injury resulting in permanent or catastrophic injuries, or in medical malpractice cases, litigation expenses can exceed $50,000. The handling of ongoing litigation expenses varies between firms, largely based on the firm’s philosophy and financial resources.

  • A common practice in legal proceedings is to have the client bear the expenses of the litigation, either fully or in part, at the beginning or during the course of the case. However, this approach can potentially cause significant financial burdens for the client.
  • An alternative approach for lawyers to cover case-related expenses is to pay for them as the case progresses and have their clients reimburse them for any potential settlement recovery after the lawyer’s contingency fee has been deducted. For instance, if a settlement of $270,000 is reached with the client and lawyer agreeing on a one-third contingency fee, as well as reimbursement of the lawyer’s expenses, and the lawyer has already paid $10,000 in expenses, the final disbursement would involve deducting the contingency fee and the $10,000 in expenses, with the remaining balance being paid to the client.
  1. – you will receive $170,000
  2. – the lawyer will receive $90,000 for his attorney fee;
  3. $10,000 will be paid back to the lawyer to reimburse expenses.

If a legal case is lost, there may be expenses incurred that need to be paid. The policy regarding reimbursement of these expenses varies among lawyers. Some lawyers may not expect their clients to reimburse them for out-of-pocket expenses, while others may require full reimbursement in the event of a lost case. As a consumer, it’s important to inquire about the lawyer’s policy regarding expense reimbursement in the event of a lost case. It’s also important to be wary of lawyers who claim to have never lost a case, as even the best lawyers may experience losses from time to time.

6. Does this lawyer have the financial and staffing resources to take on my case?

Legal cases involving serious or catastrophic personal injuries can be quite expensive to litigate. For instance, in medical malpractice cases, multiple medical specialties may be involved, and each specialty requires an expert witness to deal with the specific issues involved. Similarly, in serious injury cases against trucking companies, accident reconstruction experts and trucking safety experts, as well as experts who can testify about the client’s injuries, such as treating physicians, life care planners, vocational experts, and economists, may be required. When a lawyer lacks the resources to fund a case adequately, it can lead to corners being cut, which can harm the client’s case. Additionally, the client may be pressured to accept an insufficient settlement. To avoid these potential problems, it is advisable to hire a lawyer who has the financial resources to take the case all the way to trial, if necessary.

8. How long has this lawyer been handling personal injury cases?

Typically, personal injury or medical malpractice lawyers charge their clients a “contingent” fee, which is usually around 33% of the settlement or award. While this fee remains constant, the experience level of your lawyer can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. For instance, a lawyer with 25 years of experience and over 100 personal injury jury trials under their belt may be better equipped to handle your case than a lawyer with only 3 years of experience. In fact, studies have shown that experienced lawyers are often more successful in securing higher settlements or awards for their clients.

9. Does this lawyer try lawsuits in court?

Contrary to common belief, not all personal injury lawyers have extensive experience in going to court and trying cases. Many lawyers who claim to be “trial lawyers” or “personal injury lawyers” may have very limited or no experience in jury trials. As a layperson seeking legal representation, it is important to ask your potential lawyer about their courtroom experience and how often they have taken cases to trial. This is a crucial inquiry that many people often overlook.

Lawyers who specialize in defending personal injury cases are familiar with other lawyers who specialize in trying such cases, as well as those who do not. Insurance companies use this knowledge to assess the level of risk associated with a particular case. When a significant claim is made, one of the initial inquiries an insurance adjuster will make is to ask about the plaintiff’s legal representation.

To receive the maximum compensation for your legal case through a settlement, it is essential that the insurance company perceives your lawyer as competent and ready to proceed to court. Hiring an attorney who has a reputation for always settling and never taking a case to court may result in a reduced settlement amount. Thus, it is important to choose a lawyer who has experience and a track record of successfully litigating cases in court.

10. Does this lawyer teach other lawyers?

Lawyers who frequently lecture at legal education seminars, which are known as Continuing Legal Education (CLE), are held in high regard by their colleagues in the legal profession. These lawyers are often invited to speak at CLE seminars because other attorneys value their expertise and knowledge. Additionally, lawyers who regularly write articles for legal publications are considered authorities in their field and are respected for their understanding of the subject matter.

For personal injury lawyers, it is common practice to list the topics of their speaking engagements or publications related to personal injury law on their website. If you are interested in finding out if a lawyer teaches other lawyers about developments in personal injury law or writes articles on personal injury litigation, it is advisable to check the lawyer’s website or request a copy of their resume. This information will provide you with a better understanding of the lawyer’s level of expertise and knowledge of personal injury law.

11. Is this lawyer a member of legal organizations that specialize in representing injured people?

There exist national and state organizations comprising of lawyers who are committed to representing individuals who have sustained injuries. These organizations provide support by sponsoring legal publications, offering legal education programs, and advocating for the rights of consumers through lobbying activities. The American Association of Justice (AAJ) is the most prominent national organization, while the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) is the leading statewide organization in Indiana. Plaintiff attorneys who are members of ITLA are devoted to protecting the rights of individuals who have suffered injuries. While it is possible to find a lawyer who is not affiliated with any of these groups, it is advisable to choose a lawyer who is a member of such organizations to represent you in a serious injury lawsuit.

12. Is this lawyer a “board-certified” civil trial lawyer by the National Board of Trial Advocacy?

Board certification is a system utilized by the medical profession to test and evaluate physicians’ expertise in a particular specialty or sub-specialty of medicine. Recently, the legal system has adopted a similar process for civil trial lawyers. The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) is a national organization that offers board certification to attorneys as “civil trial attorneys” after they have demonstrated extensive courtroom experience and the ability to prepare cases for trial. To receive NBTA certification, an applicant must pass an all-day examination in addition to meeting the experience requirements. The NBTA is part of a larger organization, the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, which offers certification in various legal specialties.



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