Most Important Questions to Ask Your Personal Injury Lawyer
Being injured at work or in an incident of any kind causes aggravation and stress. Stress can create confusion leading to decisions made based on emotions instead of facts. It can also cause you to overlook important details crucial to receiving adequate compensation for your injury. Personal injury lawyers are trained to help you win your case, but before hiring one you need to know which questions are most important to ask.
Personal injury lawyers are educated professionals. There is no reason to hesitate when asking questions about your case, their fees and most importantly, your rights as a victim. It is important to remember you are in charge and delegating the tasks at hand to a layer being paid to win your case. With so many questions in your head after a serious injury, how do you know which ones are the most important to ask?
The type of injury you incurred and where it happened affects which questions to ask. Beyond that, many important questions are similar for each lawyer you consider hiring. Read on to learn the most important questions to ask your personal injury lawyer.
Do I Have a Case?
Personal injury lawyers almost all offer free consultations. If they are not available to speak to directly, someone in their office most likely will be. Whether you speak directly to an attorney or their assistant, the first thing needing to be determined is whether or not your personal injury case is worth pursuing.
Accurately determining the viability of your case is dependent on variety of factors. During a free consultation, lawyers want to assess your information quickly and move on to the next step with brevity. The next step could be verbally accepting your case. It could also be determining your case is not viable and ending the conversation.
Your first priority and responsibility is to gather all information as accurately and organized as possible. Make a list including dates, times, locations, hospital visits and people involved. Notate the symptoms you are suffering and if the injury has cost you the ability to work and earn a living. Indicate whether the injury occurred at work and any other information relative to your potential case. Leave nothing out, but keep the information succinct. The lawyer will sort out what can be used to make a case or not. The more your information is organized, the faster a personal injury lawyer can determine if you have a case.
What Are My Legal Rights?
Once it is determined your case is viable, the next questions are about your legal rights as an injury victim. The discussion might be largely different if the injury happened at work. Work injuries must be handled through the Workers Compensation Commission. There is a federal commission and a commission for every state. Unless you are an official employee of the federal government your case will go through the Workers Compensation Commission for the state in which you live.
Your legal rights when dealing with a work injury can be quite different than your rights in non-work-related cases. There are many laws and regulations in workers compensation cases not applicable to other case types. Still, some general but pertinent questions about your legal rights can include:
- Am I entitled to financial compensation for my injury?
- Is compensation for my injury short-term, long-term or both?
- Am I entitled to damages for emotional and personal duress?
- Can I be reimbursed for travel and medical expenses related to my injury?
- Can I settle without going to a hearing?
- How much compensation is my injury worth?
What Are the Fees?
Personal injury lawyers are working professionals paid to do a job. Unless a lawyer agrees to take your case pro bono, they expect to be paid. Fortunately for you, most personal injury lawyers only get paid if your case is won.
In many instances lawyer fees are taken as percentages of compensation as decided by a court or an outside settlement. It is important to ask up front what percentages a lawyer will take, and when. Understand the manner in which a lawyer handles your money and the amount he or she takes for fees can help you decide if the lawyer is a comfortable, good fit for you and your case.
How Long Will My Case Take?
Personal injury cases, especially those involving the Workers Compensation Commission, can take an unfortunately long time to be resolved. Ask your lawyer how much time he or she anticipates your case will take to be resolved. Ask when to expect your first hearing date and what information needs to be provided by you in preparation for said hearing.
Understanding how each personal injury case is unique in some ways and therefore fluid pursuant to timeframes can help bolster your patience. The nature and severity of your injury will play a part in how long your case takes to be resolved. Some aspects of compensation can only be delivered when you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) from your injury. Knowing what to expect and when can help you stay calm and focused as your case progresses.
How Many Cases Has the Lawyer Won?
It is fair for you to directly ask about the success rate of each lawyer in consideration for your case. There are also ways to research this information online. The official United States Courts website offers a search engine helping you to find the winning and losing records of attorneys from the case information provided. Yelp is a word-of-mouth review site where clients post their experiences with personal injury lawyers, good and bad alike. Knowing how successful lawyers have been in the past can help you decide which one to hire.
What Will My Lawyer Do for Me?
A good lawyer will guide you on how to present yourself in court. He or she will also file all related paperwork and forms pursuant to your hearings, possible workers compensation records and more. Most importantly your lawyer will develop a strategy for pursuing the most compensation possible and protecting your rights as an injured victim. Remember, the lawyer works for you and will handle all the legal aspects you cannot. It is up to you, however, to provide the best information and ask the most important questions pursuant to winning your case.