Questions for a Personal Injury Attorney Before You Hire Them
1. How long have you been practicing, or…have you handled cases like mine before?
Ideally, you don’t want your case to be “practice” for someone who is still learning the ropes. Ask them about their track record for cases like yours and what kinds of issues or roadblocks they expect to deal with in your case, and how they plan to overcome those roadblocks.
2. Who will be handling my case?
Is it a legal assistant, case manager, paralegal, or the attorney themselves? With proper supervision and communication, there’s nothing wrong with attorney staff handling certain aspects of your case, but the attorney should be involved in critical things like talking to witnesses and negotiating with insurance companies and defense attorneys. Also, you should be able to talk to the attorney when you have questions about your case.
3. Do you specialize in personal injury or do you handle other cases too?
Personal injury is a specialty that includes medical malpractice, auto accidents, slip and falls, defective products, dangerous drugs, and more. Just like you probably wouldn’t go to your general family doctor for heart surgery, you might want to think twice about hiring an general practice attorney that doesn't focus their practice on personal injury alone.
4. How much do you cost?
Most personal injury attorneys take a percentage of the total settlement or judgment (contingency fee). This compensates them for their time and effort in your case. Any costs that the attorney has to spend in your case (this is separate from the fees mentioned above) is also typically taken out of the settlement. So you should ask about the fee percentage, as well as if they require a retainer or advance for future case costs (some attorneys do, some don’t). You might also ask the attorney what kinds of costs they predict for your case…will you need an expert or two? Depositions or Court expenses if the case doesn’t settle?
5. What is my case worth?
I don’t blame people for asking this question…it’s just human nature, but some attorneys can be dishonest and misleading with their answer. An attorney who makes up some random number is just trying to impress you so you’ll hire them. There are no formulas in personal injury cases and there is absolutely no way an attorney knows the value of your case until after you’ve received all the medical care you need (which may take several months), until after they’ve talked with witnesses, researched potential issues in your case, and until after they’ve reviewed all important documents like your medical records, bills, income documentation, police investigation reports, and insurance coverage documents.
A more honest answer to this question is to explain the types of things you can receive compensation for under Colorado law and how the attorney plans to prove those things in your specific case. The attorney's answer should also include an explanation of how things like insurance limits, damage caps, comparative fault, attorney fees, costs, and unpaid medical bills can all potentially reduce or limit the amount of compensation you get in the end. The more you understand about your own case (inculding the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly), the more you can potentially help your attorney maximize your settlement compensation.
Gama Law Firm, LLC, in Aurora, CO offers free consultations regarding your serious personal injury matter and you will never be pressured into hiring us. If you think you have a case, or just have questions, feel free to speak with experienced attorney Richard Gama at no charge by calling 720-819-6261.