If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you will be facing many important decisions in the days, weeks, and months following an injury.
Finding the “right” Dallas personal injury lawyer to represent you is often the most critical factor in a successful recovery.
Like most important decisions, you may want to do a bit of shopping around and research when talking with lawyers near you. Our advice? Ask them questions when you meet with them during your consultation.
Asking the right, hard-hitting questions could mean the difference between winning your case or going home with significantly less than your case is worth.
Here are nine questions to ask a Dallas personal injury lawyer during your initial consultation before choosing to work together formally.
1. What Do You Charge for Your Services?
Most personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. That means you won’t have to pay anything unless you recover monetary damages in your personal injury lawsuit.
In a contingency fee agreement, you pay no legal fees or costs upfront. Instead, your personal injury lawyer will take a fixed percentage of the recovery you’re awarded plus costs incurred when the case is resolved.
You’ll want to make sure and ask what that percentage is. In most cases, it will range between 33.3% – 40%.
2. How Long Have You Been Practicing Personal Injury Law?
One of your biggest concerns should be making sure you choose an experienced attorney who has several years of case preparation and trial experience with cases like yours.
You can think about your attorney’s legal experience in the same way you feel about your doctor’s. When you have a problem with, say, your right foot, you’ll likely seek the help of a foot specialist over the neighborhood general practice. While the generalist undoubtedly has the foundational knowledge of what ails you, a specialist is the better option to give you the best possible service.
When talking with a Dallas personal injury lawyer, be direct. Ask them how many years of experience they have working on personal injury cases like yours.
And while you’re on the subject, ask them about the success rate.
3. Have You Handled Personal Injury Cases Like Mine Before? If So, Did Any Go to Trial?
Just because an attorney has experience working on cases like yours doesn’t automatically make them a superstar lawyer. You want someone who has taken similar cases to trial and won. Many times, ideally.
Suppose an attorney can show you a list of case results that are similar to yours. In that case, you’ll know they have the expertise to deal with complex legal issues and understand the types of settlements they have successfully secured for past clients.
While most cases are settled before they ever go to trial, you still want to make sure your attorney has adequate jury trial experience should the case be taken to court. Many people don’t think to ask this question since they don’t ever assume they’ll be in a situation where they’ll have to go to court. It’s a common misconception that all attorneys know how to try a case in a court of law. This is simply not the case. So when asking your questions, find out whether or not they have adequate experience trying a lawsuit in court.
4. What Issues or Difficulties Do You See with My Case?
In every personal injury claim, there will be issues and difficulties unique to the case. An experienced lawyer will be able to point these out to you quite easily.
If the attorney tells you that your case will be smooth-sailing, with no problems whatsoever, that should be a serious red flag. There is no such thing as an easy or straightforward case. The legal system is very complex, and an attorney who has a track record of successfully resolving different types of cases will be upfront with you about this.
In short, a reputable Dallas personal injury attorney will be direct and upfront with you about the issues and difficulties of your case at the initial consultation and throughout the process.
5. How Will You Keep Me Updated on the Progress of My Case?
Will someone be available to take your calls? The attorney? A paralegal or a secretary?
Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship and is an essential component of a personal injury case. Some clients want to be involved every step of the way, while others are ok with only the occasional update on their case’s progress. Everyone is different.
Whichever you prefer, you want to get clarity from your attorney on what role you have in the process and what is expected of you. Whether you want a more active role in the process and wish to have frequent meetings and phone calls, or prefer to sit on the sidelines, you should ask what the relationship might look like should you work together.
6. Do You Have Testimonials or References from Past Clients that I Can See?
Just as you’d want proof of past results and case relevance, you might also be interested in seeing previous clients’ experiences.
Many attorneys will have client testimonials publicly available on their firm’s website, their Google My Business page, and even Yelp, but if they don’t, it’s a good idea to ask.
While seeking legal representation, you want to make sure you’re picking someone people enjoy working with. You may be going through a difficult time physically and emotionally, so choosing someone with a reasonable bedside manner can make all the difference.
7. How Much Time Can You Devote to My Case? What is Your Current Bandwidth?
If you’ve suffered a serious injury, then you want to make sure your legal representative can handle your case with the amount of attention and care you deserve.
In some cases, your initial consultation will be with a senior attorney at your local personal injury firm. And even though they were your initial contact, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be the ones managing your case the closest.
When asking your questions, find out who will be handling your case. Is it a senior attorney, or will less experienced associates be bearing the brunt of the work? If the latter, ask about their qualifications, their experience, and how they will be supervised.
Ultimately, you want peace of mind and confidence, knowing that the right lawyer is working on the right case—your case.
8. What Happens If My Case Goes to Trial? Will the Fees Change? Will You Take My Case To Trial Yourself?
Insurance companies typically attempt to offer you a low amount of financial compensation, in hopes that you will take the money and run. It is in everyone’s best interest to try to settle the case, but if for some reason the insurance company refuses to settle, or you aren’t satisfied with the settlement amount on offer, then a lawsuit will be filed and your case may be tried in court.
Your attorney should be fully capable of fighting for maximum compensation for your case. They should know how to negotiate effectively with insurance adjusters to arrive at a fair settlement. If your case is brought to court, you want to ensure your attorney can handle it.
If a lawsuit has to be filed in your case, the original contingency fee will increase. So, make sure to ask for clarity on this topic.
9. How Long Will a Settlement or Resolution Take?
Settlement negotiations can take quite a while, especially if the client has suffered severe injuries and damages.
Your attorney may have a rough idea of the time frame for your case, but it isn’t easy to provide an accurate estimate.
There are so many variables to consider: the opposing party’s behavior and willingness to settle, the complexity of the case itself, and more. The best approach is to retain a personal injury attorney who has significant experience with cases like yours, in which case they can speak from experience about how long it could take to resolve.
Talk to a Dallas Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Case Today
When looking to partner with a potential Dallas personal injury lawyer, do yourself a favor and ask them the questions you just read about in this article.
Ask whether they operate on a contingency fee basis or something else. Ask if you stand to receive compensation to cover the costs of medical bills, damages, and injuries. Ask about their experience, above all else.
The Dallas personal injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare have decades of combined experience and will fight tooth and nail to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today and schedule a free consultation to ask all of your questions about your case—we are here for you from the moment you walk in our doors to the day you finally recover.