13 Questions to Ask Your Personal Injury Lawyer
Hiring a personal injury attorney for any variety of issues can come with some concerns. It’s not always the same as handling a car insurance case where there’s a typically straightforward process. Personal injury can include anything from dog bites to medical malpractice and even abuse. What you need before you hire an injury attorney in Houston is to schedule a consultation. You should prepare a list of questions beforehand to ask the lawyer. Personal injury lawyers are skilled in their profession. Their law firms usually represent clients from time to time that would like to come to a settlement. In most cases, meeting with the plaintiff’s lawyers can help to reach a conclusion to the matter out of court. However, it may go to trial, and then, having lawyers on your side with significantly increase your chances of winning. Looking at an attorney’s record of success can clue you into how liable it is for them to win your case.
At a consultation, you’ll have the chance to dive into the meat of your case and get a feel for your lawyers. If you don’t like them, then you can move on to a different practice and find one that does fit your schedule and needs. The consultation is the best place to ask your lawyers questions regarding their previous experience in the field. Many of these lawyers have dealt with many of a personal injury lawsuit. You might want to find out more about the types of personal injury lawsuit they may have been involved with in the past. You should also discuss your financial resources with them to give them a picture of payment. But, if you ask your personal injury attorney these kinds of questions and are satisfied with the answers you should have a smooth case.
What is Their Experience Handling Your Specific Type of Injury?
Personal injury attorneys in Texas can take on anything from animal attacks to truck crashes. Usually, a personal injury attorney, however, will find themselves helping in similar circumstances again and again. That means that when you meet your attorney in Houston for a consultation at their practice, you should ask specifically about the type of cases they’ve handled. Lawyers are usually eager to discuss previous cases they worked on.
Inexperienced lawyers are to be avoided at all costs. These attorneys can harm your case and might even put you in a bad legal position because they don’t understand the best way to approach your particular issue.
You should look for someone that has experience in handling similar injuries and can clearly understand the elements at hand. For example, a dog bite injury might seem routine until you explain that you were on that person’s property, and suddenly everything more complex.
How Many Types of Personal Injuries Have They Handled?
Personal injuries come in many types. Some attorneys focus on a single of a handful of types of personal injuries. The professionals who do so tend to be the most effective in their field. For example, car accident lawyers typically focus on those cases. However, some of those same motor vehicle accident lawyers also have an interest in DUI cases, since they’re related. Some lawyers cover other types of accidents such as motorcycle or trucks, but still fall back on personal motor vehicles.
How Often Do Their Cases Go to Trial?
There’s no question that most attorneys prefer to settle their cases before trial. That’s why most of these types of cases are settled out of court. However, in some cases, trial might be the most effective way to get a settlement. Usually, the cases that go to trial tend to involve an insurance company that refuses to settle. A skilled law firm will ensure that their clients will get the settlement due to them, even if they need to go to court to do so. Trial experience counts for a lot when the case goes to court. An experienced lawyer will have a track record of victories to their name, even if a lot of them may be out of court.
What Other Costs Would Be Incurred?
Agreements for legal representation usually include clauses for the costs that the clients have to pay to the lawyer, but these costs are not the only things that need to be covered. Extraneous expenses such as expert witness fees (if they’re required) also may fall under to purvey of the client. These expenses can come up to a significant amount, which may further burden the client’s financial resources.
An experienced attorney may try to cover some of those costs if they believe that the client has a good case, but generally it falls to you to pay for these expenses. If you have medical expenses as a result of your injuries, you will need to deal with those yourself. You may be able to recoup them through settlement negotiations. You may also have to obtain a paid police report submitting in some circumstances.
The law firm that you go with are likely to have internal support staff such as paralegals that will help them construct your case, so you won’t have to pay for that. You should keep in mind that filing fees may come up to a lot, but your lawyer may cover those as well.
How Often Do They Settle for Less Than the Goal Compensation Amount?
Settling for less than the ideal amount is more common than victims realize. The factors that come into deciding if a settlement is good is whether it covers legal and medical fees and if it is more cost-effective than taking the case to court. Because attorneys in the personal injury realm work on contingency, what happens is that taking the case to court becomes much more expensive. Lawyers try to avoid having a matter go to trial if they can avoid it.
If you hire an attorney at 25% on a contingency fee but demand on taking the case to court, that fee can go up to 40%, meaning that you just lost an additional 15% or your reward. The percentage is based on what you require and how easy it is to get. Not to mention that there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a better award in court than you would have through a settlement. These settlements come with many options, including payment of lost wages to the plaintiff. Lawyers with a bit of experience tend to look for the best settlement opportunity for their client.
Settling is ideal, but if the lawyers only settle, it may be because they refuse to move cases to court. Occasionally, it may be because the firm’s financial resources don’t permit them to do so.
What is Their Contingency Fee?
Understanding a contingency fee is not as simple as most attorneys make it seem. To them, it’s a part of everyday life. You’ll be lucky to understand as much about contingency fees from your lawyers as you would about your Catalytic converter from your mechanic. A contingency fee agreement should be a crucial part of your investigation into a lawyer and should focus on the contingency fee percentage owed to the lawyer at the conclusion of the case.
Contingency fees are when a lawyer works for a portion of the settlement. Typically, in these cases, lawyers don’t get paid unless the settlement is in their clients’ favor. If the lawyer does operate on a contingency fee basis, you should find out how much of the settlement they’ll be due. This method is common for several personal injury firms because it encourages lawyers to aim for success.
A contingency fee is a percentage that a client agrees to pay out of their reward. However, your attorney is likely going to make money on the case in other ways, such as collecting through the defendant as well. Your contingency fee also does not include the actual costs that the law firm took on during the claim. It’s nice not to have to pay for medical records, or that private investor, except you are at the end of the case. You’ll pay your contingency fee and legal expenses. People who aren’t able to put down a retainer prefer this method of payment.
Will They Charge You for Meetings and Phone Calls?
Usually, contingency fee-based attorneys may not charge a client separately for communication. However, as mentioned above, Houston attorneys may be looking for many other ways to make money on the case. They may bill your insurance company for time spent waiting on them, and they may bill you for long phone calls, or meetings. These tactics may strain your financial resources significantly.
Before committing to an attorney, discuss what is reasonable for charges when it comes to communication. You should never be afraid to call because it will cost you.
Do They Have Time in Their Schedule to be Your Houston Personal Injury Attorney?
At McDonald Worley, our goal is to be upfront and honest from the beginning. Our personal injury attorneys will let you know what their schedule looks like and how much time they believe they will need to dedicate to your case. Lawyers must become masters at predicting how much time and effort a case will demand, and if you’re meeting with a Houston, personal injury lawyer, you should ask them if they even have the time available to take on your case. Keeping an eye on their success rate will suggest how busy they’re likely to be as well.
You definitely don’t want to be left on the back burner because that attorney feels that the more pressing matters to handle for the moment. Contact McDonald Worley and get in touch with a local, Houston, personal injury lawyer.