10 Questions To Ask When Choosing an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer
When you’ve sustained a personal injury that warrants compensation, you shouldn’t hire just any attorney. This person will be representing your interests legally – possibly in court – and you want to be sure you’re not only correctly represented, but that your attorney has the experience and ability to help you receive the full amount to which you are entitled.
Choosing a personal injury lawyer may be the biggest decision in your entire case. As such, you’ll want to be prepared when it comes to determining which attorney to work with. In this article, we’ll cover 10 of the most important questions to ask when vetting an Atlanta personal injury lawyer and provide a printable form with the questions so that you can use it as a handy reference during your interviewing process.
Finding a Personal Injury Attorney
Before you begin interviewing attorneys with the filter of questions we’ve prepared, you’re going to need to find potential attorneys to approach. Here are a few places to find personal injury attorneys to contact:
- Ask friends for referrals.
- Ask lawyers you know or have worked with on other matters.
- Do a Google search for personal injury law firms in Atlanta.
- Check out social media sites, like Facebook.
- Search independent legal directories.
Search until you find 3 to 5 attorneys you would like to approach. Schedule a free initial consultation over the phone (or in person!) with the law firm.
Now that you have your meetings set up with the attorneys who may potentially represent you, the next step is knowing what questions to ask. At the end of this article, we have compiled an interview worksheet that lists all of these important questions so you can be sure you ask your car accident attorney and get the answers you need to make an informed decision. Print out our interview worksheet (provided below) and keep it with you during your consultation. Make sure you’re comfortable with each answer provided and write down any specifics so that you can compare details among attorneys later on.
Here are the questions you need to ask when choosing an Atlanta personal injury lawyer:
#1. What is Your Experience in Dealing With My Type of Injury Case?
Some lawyers are general practitioners, which means they do a little of everything including personal injury practice. You need to be certain that you attorney has definitive experience in the practice of personal injury law. You wouldn’t hire a brain surgeon to deliver your baby just because they’re both doctors. Similarly, you should not hire an attorney who does not focus their practice on personal injury lawsuits to handle your case. Find out how long your attorney has been practicing law, and how much of their practice is devoted to personal injury.
Also, ask the attorney about specific cases like yours. “Personal injury” is a large practice with a number of different kinds of cases found under it. These types of cases include:
- Medical Malpractice
- Car Accidents
- Animal Bites
- Slip and Fall
- Products Liability
- Assault and Battery
You should never assume that a personal injury lawyer has handled a case similar to yours before. For example, a dog bite injury will be handled differently than a work-related injury and a personal injury attorney who has only ever worked on car accident lawsuits should not handle a slip-and-fall accident lawsuit.
It is important to find an attorney who has experience handling your type of case. Experience means familiarity with common legal issues that may arise in your suit, as well as connections with investigators and other experts who can help with your case. If you’re not comfortable with the attorney’s level of experience, move on.
#2. What Are Your Fees?
Most personal injury firms – Sutton Slover Law included – work on a contingency basis. This means they do not charge a fee unless you collect money damages in your lawsuit. This fee is often a percentage of the settlement, typically between 25 percent (25%) and 40 percent (40%).
However, it’s important to know and agree to the fee up front so there are no surprises. If the attorney can’t give you a clear answer on this question, that’s a red flag.
#3. How Many Cases Like Mine Have You Brought to Trial, and What is Your Success Rate?
This question is important because when you settle out of court, the settlement is typically lower than if you go to court and win. In some cases, out-of-court settlements are preferable, but if the attorney has a propensity for avoiding court, they’re likely not getting as much money for their clients as they should.
Be wary of any personal injury lawyer who tells you early on that your case is going to settle outside of court. A skilled attorney should expect for every case to have to go to trial and prepare as if your case will be tried before a jury. This will help ensure you receive the fairest settlement possible.
However, it is important to note that most civil cases do not go to trial. Therefore, even a very experienced attorney may only have a handful of cases that made it to court.
Still, there is always a potential your case will go to trial. Be sure you’re comfortable with the attorney’s answer, as well as their rate of success in court, before moving forward.
#4. How Long Do You Expect My Case to Take?
It is beneficial to ask this question for two reasons:
- to get a realistic time frame in your mind, and
- to hear how the attorney answers it.
As medical bills and time out of work begin to pile up, it is important to get a feeling for how long it will take before you are compensated for your injuries.
However, there are no guarantees on the timeline of a personal injury case. Many factors can influence how long it takes to resolve the lawsuit, but an experienced personal injury attorney should be able to give you a rough estimate.
The most important thing to note is whether or not the attorney dodges the answer. If they do, chances are they don’t have a lot of experience with this type of case and may not be the best attorney for you.
#5. How Many Cases Are You Handling at the Moment?
Again, there are two purposes for this question:
1.) to gauge how much time the attorney has for your case and 2.) to gauge the demand for the attorney’s services.
You want the attorney to be able to devote a fair amount of attention to your case, but you don’t necessarily want to be the onlycase on their books. A happy middle ground is “busy but not too busy.”
#6. Will I Be Able To Reach You Directly Concerning My Case, and How Often?
Attorneys are busy, so sometimes you may need to speak to an assistant. However, you should be able to have a direct conversation with the lawyer from time to time. The answer to this question not only ensures the lawyer’s personal commitment to you but also tells you whether or not they will be mentally present and engaged.
(Hint: Consider it suspicious if the attorney sends someone in their place for your initial consultation. The first contact should always be the attorney.)
#7. Will Other Attorneys Be Involved in My Case?
Many personal injury attorneys do not handle every aspect of a client’s case. They may have legal secretaries or paralegals assist in the preparation of letters and legal documents. A senior attorney may also have a junior associate handle much of the work, with your attorney only handling the more complicated legal concerns.
Having multiple attorneys is common, especially for big cases, but if the answer to this question is yes, you have the right to know the experience levels and involvement of each lawyer.
Ask who at the firm will handle the various aspects of our case. Ask who will be your contact and whom you can expect to speak with when you have questions about your case. Ask whether less experienced associates will be handling your case and, if so, who is responsible for supervising them.
Make sure you’re comfortable with the attorney’s answer.
#8. What Associations Do You Belong To?
Most good attorneys belong to several professional associations, and this works in your favor because these associations typically provide support and accountability to ensure their lawyers are meeting certain standards of excellence. Get the names of any associations your attorney belongs to, and feel free to look them up to make sure they’re in good standing.
#9. Have You Ever Been Censured, Disciplined, or Suspended From the Practice of Law?
This question may feel awkward to ask (and in most cases, the answer will be no) but if your attorney has had problems in the past, you have the right to know the context before deciding to hire them.
If the answer is yes, you will want to know what they did to get in trouble and why. These details can affect things like the attorney’s ability to effectively represent you, the safety of your money in their trust accounts, and more.
#10. Do You Have Any References I Can Call?
Do not hesitate to ask a potential personal injury lawyer for past references. Many jurisdictions allow attorneys to provide references from past clients. If you are in one of those jurisdictions, client references can provide a wealth of knowledge in regards to the attorney’s performance, as well as results obtained and time frame in cases similar to yours.
A reputable attorney will have no problems referring you to some of their other clients. Get several and call them up. Ask about their experiences with the lawyer and whether they would recommend them.
You should never rely on website copy or promotional materials as a valid reference alone. These responses may have been heavily edited.
The personal injury lawyer you choose could make or break your entire case. When you hire a car accident attorney, you need to be confident in the choice you make. Asking all the questions listed in this article will help you get the answers you need in order to hire a qualified and knowledgeable personal injury attorney who will get you the compensation you need – and deserve – after being involved in an personal injury accident.
After being injured, it can be easy to forget some of these important questions. So, we’ve created a personal injury attorney interview sheet just for you. Print out the form below to use as a reference guide when interviewing personal injury attorneys.
At The Law Offices of Sutton T. Slover, personal injury law is the only type of law we practice, and we don’t take a fee unless you get paid. If you’ve been injured and need an Atlanta attorney, call us at 404-585-3583 for a free case evaluation today.