If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to assist you with your case. However, there are some steps you should take to ensure you’re choosing the right attorney to handle your case.
Take advantage of free initial consultations and find out what to ask before hiring a personal injury lawyer, which are offered by most reputable attorney offices in New York. If possible, meet with your prospective attorney in person. You may also need to ask some key questions to make an informed decision on which lawyer is right for your case.
What is your level of experience handling my type of case?
Since “personal injury” is a large umbrella practice area, there are a number of different types of cases that can fall under it including:
- Motor vehicle accidents; also including motorcycles, pedestrians, bikes, trains, trucks and boats.
- Slip and fall accidents
- Animal bite injuries
- Product liabilities
- Workplace accidents
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Medical malpractice
- Assault and battery
Most personal injury attorneys will handle several of the case types that fall within the scope of personal injury, but almost none will handle every type of case listed. Some categories above are unique and are handled by attorneys who solely focus on those types of cases.
You should look for a personal injury attorney who has extensive experience handling your type of case. Experience means familiarity with common legal issues that may arise as well as connections with experts and investigators who can help you with your case.
Who will do the work on my case?
While this may seem like a silly question to ask when hiring a personal injury lawyer, many attorneys won’t personally handle every aspect of your case. It’s common practice for an attorney to work with a paralegal or legal assistant who will help to answer questions, file paperwork and handle preparation of letters. This gives your attorney time to work on some of the “bigger picture” parts of your case like investigations, hiring of experts and negotiating with the insurance companies.
Although uncommon, you may also want to ensure that the attorney you are meeting or speaking with will be handling your case. You may speak to an attorney with a reputation for receiving great outcomes in cases like yours, but that may not help you if the case is passed to someone else at the firm.
What is your fee for taking my case?
The majority of plaintiff personal injury attorneys work under what’s called a contingency fee agreement, meaning they don’t get paid unless they can obtain some sort of recovery for their clients. Most personal injury attorneys charge 33% of what you recover if your case is won.
It’s important that you work with a reputable lawyer who is upfront and transparent about any fees involved in the legal process. If the lawyer you are talking to is evasive about fees or asks for an upfront payment, you may want to consider speaking to other lawyers before signing any agreements.
Who pays for costs incurred during the case and when are they paid?
Besides a contingency fee percentage, you may also want to know how other costs incurred during the case are paid and who pays for them. Other costs during you case may include:
- Court filing fees
- Expert witness fees
- Administrative fees
You as the client are responsible for these costs. In most cases, the client will choose to have the law firm pay the costs upfront and then reimburse them for those costs out of the settlement amount. This allows the client to proceed with his or her case without having to outlay any money to do so.
Another consideration is who will pay these costs if you lose your case. The answer depends on the agreement you have with your attorney. You should try to find an attorney who will absorb some or all of the legal costs incurred during your case, even in the event that you lose.
What is your level of courtroom experience?
Although most personal injury cases will settle before they go to trial, it’s important to know what your attorney’s level of experience is in the courtroom. This can be important for a number of reasons.
First, insurance companies keep records of attorneys’ performance. If your attorney has a reputation of accepting low settlement offers, insurance companies can use that against you and your attorney. They can be slow to make offers or offer lowball offers to avoid a higher payout if they know your attorney wants to avoid going to court.
Second, if your case does make it to court and your attorney has very little trial experience, you may not receive the maximum compensation you’re entitled to. If the insurance company can sense that your attorney does not have the confidence, skill or experience necessary to perform in the courtroom, they may push for a lower settlement offer to avoid a trial all-together.
If your attorney has a reputation of taking cases to trial when necessary and pushing for the highest compensation possible for his or her clients, you have a better chance of receiving a reasonable settlement offer from the insurance companies in a shorter amount of time.
The Attorneys at Cellino Law Are Here To Answer Your Questions
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence and still not sure what to ask before hiring a personal injury lawyer, the New York personal injury attorneys at Cellino Law are here to help. Our experienced trial attorneys are here to answer any questions you might have surrounding your injury and next steps in pursuing your case. Call us 24/7 at 800-555-5555.