Yes, personal injury lawyers should be experts in their field, but remember, this is YOUR CASE! Make sure you ask questions and feel comfortable speaking with your attorney. Here are 5 questions you should ask your personal injury attorney:
1. How long have you been practicing personal injury law and what other types of cases do you handle?
Experience matters in this area. An experienced personal injury attorney will know the value of your case, any potential pitfalls and what you are entitled to. Also, the law in this area changes all the time. You want to make sure your attormey specializes in this area and keeps up to date on the latest trends in personal injury law.
2. Will you be handling my case personally or will it be handled by an associate or paralegal?
You have probably seen commercials on TV for personal injury attorneys. If you call the 800 number listed, more than likely, you will be referred to another attorney’s office and will never speak to the attorney who appeared in the commercial. These are basically referral services. Make sure the attorney you hire for your case is going to handle it directly. You do not want a paralegal or another associate handling your case. You never met them and many times have no idea who they are.
3. What fees do you charge?
Most personal injury attorneys will handle your case on a contingency basis. What this means is that their fee is contingent upon recovering money for you. The typical contingent fee is 1/3 of the total settlement or award, plus expenses. Read the fine print. A fee may increase to 40% or more if your attorney files a civil lawsuit. An attorney is required to have a written Contingent Fee Agreement that is signed by the client and the attorney. It spells out the terms of his/her representation.
4. How much is my case worth and what factors determine the value of my case?
If you retain a personal injury attorney shortly after an accident, ask this question. BUT, there is no way at that point to determine how much your case is worth. You and your attorney do not know how long you will end up treating for; do not know the total amount of your medical bills ; do not know if your injuries are permanent; do not know how much you will loose in wages; do not know who needs to be reimbursed out of a settlement or award; and do not know what types of treatment you will end up having. These are all significant factors in determining the value of your case. When you reach a medical end result, your personal injury attorney will have a much better idea as to the value of your claim.
5. What else will be deducted from my settlement or award?
So, you settle your case for $9,000.00 and think that you will be receiving a check for $6,000.00. That may not be the case. In some circumstances, you are required to reimburse your health insuer for amounts they paid out for medical treatment. You may have to reimburse Medicare for payments they have made. You will have to reimburse your attorney for expenses incurred. If your injury was the result of a workers’ compensation accident, you may have to reimburse the workers’ compensation carrier. Make sure you know the answer to this question before you settle you claim.
In need of a personal injury attorney with over 23 years of experience?
The Law Offices of Robert D. Ahearn, P.C., with offices in Quincy, MA and Marshfield, MA specializes in Personal Injury Law.
Get the Personal Attention you Deserve for the Personal Injury you Didn’t!