Knowing the right questions to ask a personal injury lawyer helps you find a lawyer who is right for you and can pursue your case properly. Coming prepared with relevant questions will make sure that you are educated on your options and are getting the best representation possible.
Personal Injury Claims in the United States
Each year, around 30 million people across the United States are injured and in need of medical help. While about 3% to 4% of these victims go to trial, a significant percentage of civil litigation cases are personal injury claims. According to a 2005 study, about 60% of real property, contract, and tort cases involved some form of personal injury. While some personal injury cases do make it to trial, the majority are settled outside of court. You may consider what questions to ask a personal injury lawyer to make sure that you find the right one to help you reach a favorable outcome.
Do You Know What Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you have suffered an injury at the hands of another party’s negligence, you may consider filing a claim. To help you know what to look for in a personal injury lawyer, and to know what to discuss with him or her, we have outlined five questions to ask during your initial consultation below.
- What is your experience in working with personal injury cases?
It helps to hire a firm and lawyer who handles cases like yours. You wouldn’t see a family doctor to perform a specialized surgery or a dentist to treat a hearing problem. In the same way, you wouldn’t select a criminal defense lawyer to represent a personal injury claim. Your chances of success increase when you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your claim.
- What experience do you have in working cases like mine?
Even in the field of personal injury law, there are specific subsets. Personal injury lawyers can work mostly with car accident and slip and fall injury claims, or claims relating to medical malpractice. If you were injured in a vehicle crash, it is important to get a lawyer for a car accident who works mostly in car accident claims. You should consider hiring a lawyer experienced in your specific type of personal injury case who has a proven track record of success with similar cases.
- Should I pursue my case?
Not all injuries cause damages that can be recovered in a lawsuit. Asking whether you should pursue this case will let you know immediately if your claim is winnable, so that you can make a decision before embarking on a lengthy legal process. It will also allow you to see whether your lawyer is understanding your situation. You will be able to discuss personal issues that you are facing. This will let you know whether you feel comfortable with your lawyer and if he or she is giving your case attention and respect. It helps to have a lawyer that you feel comfortable with and trust.
A lawyer may decline to take on your case, even if you want to pursue it. This could occur if the case doesn’t seem viable, or seems particularly difficult to win. In this situation, he or she may still give you advice detailing your options, such as accepting an already-offered settlement from an insurance company.
- What is my personal injury claim worth?
Your personal injury lawyer should have an idea of what your case may be worth and provide a range of what damages you can expect. Damages in a personal injury claim include economic damages to compensate for medical treatment, lost income, and costs for physical therapy, as well as non-economic damages to compensate for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Your lawyer should also be able to explain whether there are any issues, such as pre-existing medical conditions, that can impact your claim.
- How much will a personal injury lawyer cost?
It is important to know what you might be getting yourself into financially before beginning what could be a lengthy process. Most personal injury lawyers do not charge upfront. They usually work on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t pay unless your lawyer is successful in recovering monetary damages or reaching a settlement. The fee that your lawyer gets under this type of arrangement is a percentage of the money that is awarded. You should find out from your lawyer whether you will have to cover any fees, or if you will be working on a contingency arrangement. You also should find out what percentage of your awarded damages or settlement your lawyer will take under the contingency agreement.
When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
You should hire a Las Vegas personal injury attorney if you have suffered harm caused by another party or person. These injuries can be physical or emotional. They can be intentional or unintentional, result from negligence, or a defect in some product. A personal injury lawyer will help you claim compensation for your injuries.
The first step in deciding whether to hire a personal injury lawyer is to consider the cause of your injury. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, you may consider a Nevada motor vehicle accident attorney. You may consider hiring a lawyer if you have injuries resulting from a:
- Motor Vehicle Accident, bicycle accident or motorcycle crash
- Pedestrian-car Accident
- Commercial Bus Accident
- Defective Product
- Dog Bite
- Slip and fall accident
- Medical error
You will also need to pay attention to the nature and severity of your injuries. Damages in a personal injury case are aimed at putting you back in the position you were before the injury, and are a requirement of personal injury lawsuits. Some injuries are minor and heal on their own or with very little medical attention. The consequences of these injuries may not suffice for a personal injury lawsuit.
Other injuries can be far more severe, including neck and spinal injuries and head trauma. To assess whether you have suffered enough damages to warrant a personal injury lawsuit, you can answer the following questions:
- Did your injury incur hospital or medical expenses?
- Did the injury cause you to lose income?
- Has your ability to work been affected by the injury?
- Has the injury caused you significant suffering and pain?
- Has the injury caused you significant mental distress?
- What other financial loss has the injury caused you?
Damages are aimed at restoring you to the position you were in before the injury. Some damages can be ascertained by considering financial loss caused by the injury through medical bills and loss of income. Others are more difficult to assign a value to by their nature. These include disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Other circumstances difficult to put an exact monetary value on are future damages for ongoing care because of disability or impairment. Nevertheless, if you have suffered these, you may have a claim for damages caused by your personal injury. Having a lawyer will help you determine what damages you can claim for your injuries. He or she can get medical, financial, economic, and other experts to assist in placing a value on your damages to ensure that you receive maximum value for your claim.
Other instances where you will need a lawyer are:
When There Is Disputed Liability
For a successful claim, you must have suffered an injury by another person’s negligence or wrongdoing. If you cannot prove that the person is responsible for your injuries, such as causing your car accident, you cannot recover compensation. While you may feel certain, the other party or person may not take responsibility and dispute liability.
There may also be instances where it is not clear who is liable. These include accidents with rideshare services where passengers distract a driver and cause a collision, or multiple drivers share fault by all acting negligently. You need a lawyer on your side who can conduct an investigation, gather evidence, and develop a legal strategy to determine and prove liability.
When the Insurance Company Is Not Acting in Good Faith
Insurance companies should pay for damage and medical expenses after an accident. They may not always act in good faith, however, and sometimes use tactics to avoid paying a claim. These tactics include failing to investigate a claim properly, making untrue allegations of contributory negligence, misrepresenting the terms of the policy, simply refusing to pay a claim, or requiring paperwork that is burdensome and unnecessary to delay a claim.
A personal injury lawyer will be aware of these tactics, as well as the laws. Having a lawyer will make an insurance company more likely to act in good faith. It will also allow you to proceed with a lawsuit where an insurance company is refusing to negotiate a fair settlement for your claim.
When Multiple Parties Are Involved
If multiple parties are involved, there may be multiple defendants and additional issues get raised. This can be common in cases that involve multi-vehicle accidents, medical malpractice claims, and product liability claims. There will be arguments raised about who is responsible. Your personal injury lawyer will be able to develop the case to protect you in this circumstance.
If you are unsure about whether you should proceed, the best thing to do is seek the advice of a lawyer as soon as possible. This is because each state of the U.S. has a statute of limitations, which is a deadline for filing your case. Once the allotted amount of time has passed after your accident, you will no longer be able to claim compensation for your injuries. In Nevada, you have two years from the date of the accident in which you can file a personal injury claim. Cases involving property damage allow for three years.
To build your case, you need plenty of evidence and documentation. This includes photos and videos of the accident, damages, and injuries. It can also include the police report, names and contact information of any witnesses, medical records, and driver information. You will also need to prove the damages that you have suffered, including non-monetary damages like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of amenities of life. This may require expert testimonies from relevant professionals to present as evidence.
Once all the evidence has been gathered and your lawyer has built a strong claim, he or she will file this claim with the insurance company that represents the other party. Then, negotiations for your claim can begin between the insurance companies and lawyers. This can take months or years to complete. Sometimes, these cases may not settle, requiring a lawsuit. In other instances where the matter is more complex, such as where it is difficult to determine who is liable as there are many parties involved, the matter may also end up in court. If you take too long to file your claim and the time period in the statute of limitations passes, you will not be entitled to compensation. It is important to get a lawyer as soon as possible, to act fast and increase your chances of success.
If you have been injured because of irresponsible or negligent behavior, having a personal injury lawyer on your side and guide you through the process can make the claims process go more smoothly. It helps to make sure you have asked the relevant questions so that you find a lawyer whom you trust and are comfortable with. If you have asked the right questions and connected with him or her properly, you will be able to feel confident in having him or her by your side to take you through the process and get proper compensation for your injuries.