So you have been in an accident and have questions as to whether or not the insurance company is treating you fairly. You are not alone. However, it can be daunting to look through the phone book and see the crowded field of personal injury lawyers.
They are on the TV, radio, billboards and now are invading the internet. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. in this article, I will outline just a few of the main kinds of questions you will want to ask a personal injury lawyer to make sure you find the right fit.
1. LEVEL OF EXPERIENCE
You can find lawyers that will promise you the sun, moon, and stars, but if they haven’t been to battle with the insurance companies or in the courtroom, then you are taking a huge risk on your case. Remember, you have only “one bite at the apple” and you want someone that knows how to play the game.
First, ask your potential lawyer about their specific experience on your case. (car accident, sl, p and fall, dog bite). You should look for an attorney that has worked the type of case you have from start to finish and has experience in negotiating with the insurance company that you are fighting. Experience means more than just common knowledge in the area.
It means that he/she is familiar with the common legal issues as well as connections with investigators, medical personnel and experts to help on your particular case.
Second, ask your potential lawyer if he/she has ever been to a jury trial on the type of case that you have. While it is true that most personal injury cases do not go to trial, you don’t want a “newbie” or a “novice” taking the wheel on your case. The reason is simple.
If your attorney has no reputation of going to trial or is fearful of the courtroom (trust me, some lawyers are), the defense and the adverse insurance company will take note and make a lower settlement offer and not take your case as serious. Next, sometimes winning your case isn’t so much about skill as it is experience.
A seasoned attorney who has been to trial knows the rules of evidence and how to navigate through the judge’s rulings and how the present the case in front of a jury. Most of the time, this is learned through the good old fashioned school of hard knocks and trial and error.
In short, find a lawyer that knows what to do and that can take your case all the way to trial if it so requires.
2. HOW MUCH IS MY CASE WORTH
This is the “million dollar question” right? Keep in mind that there is no formula or exact science to determine what the value of your case might be at the beginning. Be very wary of an attorney that promises huge $$$$ on your case right from the get-go. Personal injury cases can be very unpredictable and lots of things can happen, even in the middle of a trial that can affect the value of your case.
However, your potential lawyer should be able to provide a rough prediction regarding your chances of winning and what type of settlement or verdict you can expect. (Keep in mind that an attorney is not going to take your case if he/she doesn’t think he/she can recover $$$ on your behalf. Lawyers don’t work for free).
WHAT IS YOUR FEE?
Nearly all of the personal injury cases are handled under a contingency fee agreement. That simply means that the lawyer will not be paid unless they can recover money on your behalf. It is standard in the personal injury field for the lawyer to take a fee of 33% of your total gross settlement.
In simple terms, if you settle a case for $100,000.00, your lawyer will take $33,333.00 as a fee for the work. Most of the time, case expenses, medical expenses, and medical reimbursements are then deducted before you will receive your final amount. ALWAYS talk to your potential lawyer about questions you may have in this area.
3. DO I LIKE THIS POTENTIAL LAWYER?
This is a person that you will be spending some time with on the phone, and likely in person. Ask yourself, do you want this person on my side? Do I trust this person? Is this potential Lawyer a good fit? If you have doubts, then pay attention to your feelings.
Ask lots of questions and try to get a good read on his/her genuine responses. Also, make good mental notes and hold the lawyer to what he/she committed to do from the outset.
The mark of a good lawyer is following through with what he/she promised to do for you and that they keep you up to date on what is going on with your case. Ask what the Lawyer intends to do to keep you fully advised as to progression on your case.
Warren W. Dowdle has established himself as one of Idaho’s best trial lawyers. He represents people who are injured by the negligence and carelessness of others. He also defends clients who have been sued and are in need of representation. Mr. Dowdle has been lead counsel on 40+ jury trials and has tried case throughout the state of Idaho.