Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Mar 12, 2013

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Attorney at LawThere are literally thousands and thousands of lawyers. If you try googling “car accident lawyer in Phoenix,” you will get pages and pages of options. With all this choice, it’s often quite difficult to decide who to work with. The hard truth is that you often really don’t know if you’ve retained a good lawyer until after you’ve signed on the dotted line. The sad fact is, many personal injury attorneys are anxious to get you to retain them, but after that, you become a number. 

So, we’ve created a list of ten questions to ask when hiring a personal injury lawyer that hopefully will make your decision easier, and hopefully get you to an attorney who will handle your case with skill and care. Don’t be afraid to ask. Some lawyers can be intimidating and pushy, but be brave. This is YOUR case, and they are working for you. Ask them as many questions as you like, but don’t leave the meeting without asking the following:

Does your firm handle personal injury claims?

It’s best to find a law firm that specializes in one type of law or handles a significant amount of personal injury matters. That way you know they truly are experts.

What types of personal injury cases have you filed?

There are lots of different types of personal injury law cases such as:

  • Motor accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Public liability
  • Product liability
  • Serious injury
  • Wrongful Death
  • Construction Defects

Be sure your lawyer has had actual experience (and success) with your particular type of personal injury case.

What is your role within the law firm?

If you work with a big corporate law firm, you might find you’re actually meeting with a very junior lawyer straight out of law school. It’s important that your case is managed from start to finish by a senior lawyer experienced in your particular area of Plaintiff Litigation. In many personal injury law firms, you may initially meet with a senior attorney, but after retaining the firm, you may find it hard to actually speak with that attorney again. Often times your case is then turned over to a junior attorney, or a “case manager.”

Will you be handling my case or will another lawyer from your firm be handling it?

Some of the larger firms palm off smaller cases to third-party law firms. They might not be 100% upfront about this, so be sure to check that the lawyers you’re meeting are the actual lawyers who are going to work on your case.

How long has your firm been in practice and how long have you personally been in practice?

Personal injury law is becoming increasingly popular and new law firms are popping up left, right and center. Check that your law firm has several years’ experience and an excellent reputation before you sign on the dotted line.

What fees do you charge and how do you charge for services?

Check the small print. Although many law firms claim a no win, no fee promise, there’s a catch. This “promise” only applies if your case settles out of court. Should your case go to court and lose, you could be liable for thousands of dollars in charges.

Do I need to speak directly to the insurance company or will you handle this?

You should not speak to the insurance company directly if you can avoid it as every conversation the insurer has with you will be designed to save them money at your expense. Personal injury lawyers are experts at handling insurance companies on your behalf.

What information do you need from me to file my claim?

Injury attorneys need only very basic information to get the ball rolling on the claim and everything else will be gathered in the months after the claim commences.

What compensation am I entitled to?

This is a difficult question to answer, but an important one to ask. Compensation you are entitled to will depend on many factors, including the type of injury you suffered, the type, frequency and duration of treatment you required, whether or not you have a permanent injury as a result of your injury, your medical bills and associated costs, any lost wages you may have incurred, whether or not your injury will affect your future ability to earn an income and pain and suffering, to name a few. This is not an all-inclusive list. While it is not possible for your attorney to give you an exact dollar figure, these are important questions to ask.

How long will it take to settle my personal injury case?

This is another difficult question to answer. Unfortunately, most personal injury cases are not settled quickly. They can take months to over a year to resolve. Many factors go into how long it takes to settle a claim. That being said, the majority of claims are resolved without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom.

With solid answers to all of these questions, you should feel much more confident about your choice of lawyer, knowing your personal injury case is in safe hands.