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22 Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer

Table of Contents for Specific Topics

Choosing representation for a personal injury claim is an important decision and not something to be taken lightly. You want to know that you have the right person for you and your case. When consulting with potential attorneys it is important to ask questions that will give you an understanding of how they and their firm operate as well as what you can expect from them for your specific situation. We will explore many of the questions that will help you make an informed decision when hiring a personal injury attorney.


Why Finding the Right Lawyer is Critical to Your Personal Injury Claim

Personal injury lawyers are worth it because they handle the majority of the work that goes into building your case. They help you find treatment, they communicate with the insurance companies, and they calculate the best compensation. When a settlement can’t be reached, a personal injury lawyer fights for you in court. In addition to doing all the heavy lifting, they also increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome. Studies using sampled data have shown that personal injury cases that are represented by an expert personal injury lawyer received payouts 91% of the time with the average compensation being 3 times more than claims that did not have legal representation [1].


Important Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

When collecting information about a prospective personal injury attorney, you want to be thorough and efficient. There are many important questions you can ask during your initial consultation to give you a well-rounded idea of who you would be working with. This includes questions about the extent of their experience, the operating procedures of their firm, and the way they communicate with their clients.


Can You Handle My Personal Injury Case?

Every case comes with its own obstacles and variables that affect how much time and work will be required. Some cases are straightforward and simple, and others can be arduous and time consuming. Sometimes, a firm may have too large of a caseload to take on more complex cases. Some firms have paralegals and assistants handling much of the simpler work while others have the attorney handle every aspect of the case. It is important to know if the prospective attorney and their firm has the time and resources to give your case the attention it needs for the best possible result.


How is Your Payment or Fees Structured?

One of the first things people want to know when hiring a lawyer is how much they charge. Fortunately, the majority of personal injury attorneys work on what is known as a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorney is paid out of the settlement or award money at the end. If the attorney does not win anything for their client, they do not get paid either. A contingency fee usually starts at 30-40% and could potentially increase if the case goes to litigation. There are also additional administrative fees for expenses such as record retrieval and expert witnesses that will need to be covered. There are also often fees that a client would be responsible for if they changed their mind after work had already been done on the case. It is good to have this information before you get started so you know what to expect.


Is There a Good Chance of Winning My Personal Injury Claim?

There is no way to know for sure what the final outcome of a case will be. However, lawyers can generally tell if a case is worth pursuing and estimate the odds of a favorable outcome. This can often be determined by things such as:

  • Details of the accident
  • Applicable personal injury laws
  • Amount of evidence
  • Level of cooperation of the other party

A good attorney will never guarantee a specific outcome, but they can often give you an idea of how difficult or easy it should be and why. They can also prepare you for different potential outcomes based on this information as well. This is also a good opportunity to discuss any steps you can take at that point to help your case.


How Long Have They Been Practicing Personal Injury Law?

Navigating the legal system can be complicated and difficult for people who are not familiar with it. Real life experience and practice are vital to ensure that an attorney knows how to face any complications that may arise. You want to know that your case is being handled properly and efficiently by someone who knows what they are doing and what to expect. Many attorneys are upfront or even advertise the extent of their experience. You can also ask more specifically about their experience with your specific type of situation as well as their litigation and courtroom experience.


What Areas of Law Do You Specialize In?

Just because someone is a personal injury lawyer does not mean that they will be able to handle your specific personal injury claim. Personal injury law encompasses a myriad of categories and subcategories that each have their own unique rules and procedures. Most attorneys will specialize in a few specific types of personal injury cases, so it is important to know up front if your case is something they can take on. Different types of personal injury claims include but are not limited to:

  • Car Accidents
  • Dog Bites
  • Slip & Fall
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Workplace Accidents
  • Product Liability


Have You Handled Personal Injury Claims Similar to Mine?

Just because an attorney specializes in the type of claim you have does not necessarily mean they have experience with your specific type of situation. A lawyer may have years of experience handling car accidents; but has only had a few cases involving law enforcement vehicles or public transportation. Another lawyer may specialize in animal attacks; but only ever really handles dog related claims and has never had a client who was bitten by a venomous lizard or trampled by a horse. It is important to give a prospective attorney all of the relevant details and variables of your situation and confirm that it is something they are familiar with.


What Issues, Obstacles, or Difficulties Do You Foresee with My Personal Injury Claim?

It is always wise to hope for the best but plan for the worst. Personal injury claims can be complex and stressful to begin with, so you want to know what potential issues to be prepared for going forward. These things do not necessarily mean that you have a bad case or a lower chance of winning; simply that certain aspects may be more difficult or time-consuming. Variables that can complicate a personal injury claim might include:

  • Multiple Parties
  • Government Entities
  • Lack of Evidence
  • Uncooperative Defendants
  • Unreliable Witnesses
  • Overlapping Claims
  • Plaintiff is a Minor
  • Defendant is a Minor
  • Shared Liability
  • Assumption of Risk
  • Statute of Limitations
  • Insurance Policy Limits


Which Attorney in the Firm Will Be Handling My Case?

Each law firm has its own structure. Some lawyers have a solo practice and handle every aspect of every claim on their own. Some firms have multiple lawyers, paralegals, assistants, departments, and teams. There are pros and cons to every arrangement, and it is good to know who you will be working with. The attorney who handles your case may not be the attorney who runs the firm or the one you speak to for your consultation. Because most cases are settled out of court, a firm might also have a specific attorney who handles all of the cases that go to litigation.


Who Will Be My Point of Contact Throughout My Personal Injury Claim?

Many attorneys prefer to have most things go through their assistants so that they can focus on the case itself. It is common for attorneys to assign a case manager to handle much of the administrative work and client communication. They are generally assigned after the case is opened, so the attorney may not be able to tell you who exactly you would be working with in your initial conversation. However, they can tell you if you will be communicating with them personally, a case manager, or multiple assistants within a team or department.


How Do You Keep Your Clients Updated on Their Personal Injury Claims?

Unfortunately, it is not always feasible for an attorney to provide clients with daily updates. However, a good firm will have protocols for ensuring that their clients are well informed and taken care of. Civil procedures often involve waiting periods, and it’s not uncommon for there to be stretches of time with no new developments. You can always ask how often you should expect to hear from them and even make reasonable requests such as a check-in email during any long stretches between updates.


How Can I Reach You?

You always want to know how to get in touch with the people handling your case. Most attorneys will have a business card with their contact information. This may include their email address, direct number, or the main number for their office. If you are assigned a case manager, they will provide you with their contact information as well. There may also be specific numbers for text messaging, fax numbers, and department managers. You will also want to ask when the best times are to reach out and which method is best for receiving a quick response.


What is Expected of Me in My Personal Injury Case?

It is important to know exactly what your role and responsibilities will be moving forward. There are some things that may need to be handled by you directly and there are deadlines you may need to be aware of. There are also things you may need to avoid doing as well. Your attorney may want you to update them on how you’re feeling and get your input regarding treatment options. There are also things you may be asked to keep track of such as ongoing financial losses and the impact of your injuries on your daily life.


What Do You Need from Me Before and During My Personal Injury Case?

While your attorney and legal team will be handling most of the work, there are many things they may need from you. This may include:

Providing Information

  • Details of the accident
  • Details of your injuries, treatment, and medical bills
  • Insurance information for all parties
  • Photos, videos, incident reports
  • Contact information for witnesses
  • Loss of earnings evidence

Things to Do

  • Making appointments
  • Going to treatment
  • Staying off social media
  • Arranging property damage repairs
  • Attending depositions or mediations


What is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?

There is no definitive way to calculate exactly how much a case will be worth at the beginning. There are too many unknown variables to give any kind of guarantee. However, an attorney may be able to give you some possible estimated outcomes and ranges based on different aspects of your situation. They can tell you what kinds of treatments you might need and how much it usually adds up to. They can tell you what the average policy limits for certain kinds of coverage usually are. They can sometimes tell you if your case has the potential for a larger settlement to be possible or if it is unlikely to be above a certain range. They can also tell you how much they have won for similar types of claims.


Do You Think Insurance Will Provide an Acceptable Settlement?

This is another question that is subjective and impossible to answer definitively but is still good to ask to get a better understanding of what you can expect. The attorney can tell you if the company involved in your case is usually easier or harder to deal with. They can also tell you if there are aspects of your case that could make them more or less likely to offer a fair amount. They can also tell you if there are laws that would apply to your case that would reduce the amount you can recover. For example, California state does not allow uninsured drivers to recover for non-economic damages in almost all car accident claims. It is also a pure comparative negligence state, which means total recovery can be reduced by the percentage of fault you share for the accident.


Do You Have Trial Experience?

Not every personal injury attorney has trial experience. This could be for many different reasons, both good and bad. Either way, it is something that is good for you to know ahead of time. It is also an opportunity to ask follow up questions if the answer is no to give you more information about the attorney and how they handle cases. If the answer is yes, it is an opportunity to ask more about how they handle litigation.


What Happens if We Don’t Settle and the Claim Goes to Trial?

Most attorneys will make every effort to negotiate a fair settlement out of court. Unfortunately, sometimes, it is necessary to take the claim to trial. Every firm has its own way of handling litigation. Experienced litigators will have no problem going to court while some others may transfer the case to another attorney or even outsource it to another firm. It is good to be prepared and know what to expect from the beginning.


If the Claim Goes to Trial, Will the Compensation Fee Change?

Some of the main reasons why attorneys and insurance companies prefer to settle out of court is because litigation is expensive, labor intensive, and time consuming. These are also the reasons why most firms will increase their fees if the case goes into litigation. This includes trial preparation, which is why there is usually an increase if the litigation process is started and then the case settles before actually going to court.


If We Go to Trial, What is Your Success Rate?

Going to trial can be very risky. With a settlement, even if it is not as much as you were hoping for, it is still something. If you lose at trial, you can end up with nothing at all. You want to know that if you end up having to take that risk, you have an attorney who can give you the best odds of winning. This is another question that you can follow up for more information. It may also be helpful to ask them what kinds of cases they had the most success with and what happened in the ones they lost.


If We Lose, Will I Be Responsible for Case Related Costs?

It’s always good to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. With personal injury cases, there are some expenses that fall outside of the base percentage for the attorney. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Medical Liens
  • Administrative Fees
  • Record Retrieval Fees
  • Court Filing Fees
  • Expert Witnesses

If the case is lost and nothing is recovered, you want to know if you will be responsible for any of those expenses. Most firms have their own protocols for those situations and can walk you through them.


How Long Will the Personal Injury Claim Take to Resolve?

Some personal injury claims can take months while some can take years [2]. There is no way to know for sure when you can expect things to be resolved. However, the attorney can give you a general idea of how long certain things generally take and if there are any factors in your case that they can see will likely prolong or speed up the process. They can also give you an idea of how long different treatment plans can generally be for similar injuries.


Can I Speak with a Previous Client?

Due to confidentiality and attorney-client privilege, it is unlikely that they will be able to give you contact information for someone. However, you can give them permission to give your contact information to a previous client who had a similar situation to see if they feel comfortable providing a testimonial. In the event that a personal testimonial can’t be secured, you can also look at Yelp and Google reviews for testimonials from past clients.


Contact Mesriani Law Group to Discuss Your Personal Injury Claim

Choosing the right Personal injury attorney is an important decision. You want to be sure that you have found someone who has the skills, experience, and dedication to serve your best interests. It is also important to have a rapport that you are comfortable with. Our attorneys and legal assistants strive to maintain clear and consistent communication with our clients. We believe that it is our job to ensure not only your financial security but also your peace of mind. We have an office in Santa Monica and provide legal representation to Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California. If you have been injured in an accident, call Mesriani Law Group today for a free consultation.

About the Author
Rodney Mesriani
Rodney Mesriani

Rodney Mesriani is the principal partner of the Los Angeles and Santa Monica based Mesriani Law Group. He specializes in personal injury and employment law while also being an accomplished litigator and trial attorney. Rodney is an aggressive negotiator and a well-known and respected attorney in the areas of practice he specializes in.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University Northridge before attending Southwestern School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate. While being an accomplished personal injury and employment lawyer, Rodney Mesriani has made it a point to attend numerous State Sponsored MCLE events and seminars over the years as a law practitioner to be informed of the latest laws and litigation strategies.



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