Questions to ask a potential Florida lawyer during an initial meeting about your accident or injury case
Most personal injury lawyers offer an initial consultation for free to potential new clients who might already be suffering the financial consequences of a personal injury. This first meeting not only gives the lawyer a chance to evaluate the case, but it’s also a time for you to learn more about their experience and methods for handling cases.
Since many people have never met with a lawyer before, the initial consultation can sometimes feel a little intimidating. If you are worried about making the right choice, then we suggest using these questions to begin preparing for your consultation:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- What types of clients do you typically work with?
- What kinds of cases do you handle the most?
- What is your negotiation style?
- What do you think my case is worth?
- How do you bill your clients?
- How will we work together?
- How soon can you start on my case?
Let’s take a look at why these questions are helpful when choosing the right lawyer for you and your case.
How long have you been practicing law?
As a general rule, lawyers tend to gain valuable knowledge and experience over time, picking up new skills with every case they handle. That’s not to say you can’t win your case by hiring a lawyer who is fresh out of school, but you’re generally better off choosing someone with a proven track record of success.
If you do prefer to hire a new and young attorney whom you can relate to, consider hiring one who works at a firm with older and more experienced attorneys—that way they can get counsel and advice about your case from their veteran colleagues.
What types of clients do you typically work with?
There are many factors that influence how a lawyer handles a case, including their client’s demographics. Are you seeking help to secure compensation from an accident or injury at work? You might consider hiring a lawyer who specializes in helping working people get compensation, rather than a corporate attorney who spends most of their time working with businesses.
If you are an individual who was hurt in an accident and are now seeking compensation, then you should look for a plaintiff’s attorney. These lawyers specialize in representing the best interests of plaintiffs (accident victims) like you, as opposed to insurance companies and businesses.
What kinds of cases do you handle the most?
This is one of the most important interview questions for a lawyer because personal injuries cover a wide range of situations. Your injury may be work-related or it could be due to being forced to travel on dangerous roads. You may have an injury that you are expected to fully heal from or your injury could have devastating long-range consequences for your life, such as the loss of a limb.
These factors change how your lawyer operates. For instance, a case against a city development department will be very different from one that involves a coworker. Make sure that your lawyer is capable of handling your specific case, especially if it veers into other areas of specialization.
Just like doctors specialized in different areas of medicine, lawyers and attorneys focus their practice in certain areas of law (known as “practice areas”). You wouldn’t see a dentist about a broken bone, right? Similarly, be sure to look for a legal expert who specializes in the type of case you have.
What is your negotiation style?
Some lawyers emphasize their cutthroat mentality to intimidate everyone who is not on your side in the case. Others prefer to create a more open atmosphere that fosters communication. Both styles have their pros and cons, and you’ll need to think about which type of negotiation tactic you think can best help your case.
Choosing the right lawyer means you might find one who knows how to start out amicably and apply pressure if the situation requires it.
What do you think my case is worth?
Although no one can say for sure in the beginning how much your case might be worth, a lawyer should be able to put together a rough ballpark estimate based on the facts of your case. Be wary of any attorney who spouts off a large number that is far more than anyone else without a clear explanation.
Also, watch out for lawyers who estimate your case extremely low, especially if the amount they say wouldn’t even begin to cover the medical costs you’ve already accumulated.
How do you bill your clients? (What is the fee structure?)
Many lawyers offer their services on a contingency basis. This means that they do not charge you a fee until they have successfully secured your settlement. Any fees they charge should be discussed beforehand, but they are typically based upon a percentage of the settlement.
Being upfront about fees helps ensure that you don’t get hit with hidden costs when your case is resolved.
How will we work together?
Finding out how to ask a lawyer about your case also involves learning about their communication style. Today, we can conduct a lot of legal business online, which can streamline the process. For instance, your lawyer might suggest sending documents online. However, they should offer you alternatives if you are not tech-savvy.
Make sure you’re aware of how this lawyer likes to communicate and whether it will match up with your own style. Your case may not turn out as well as you’d like if you’re unable to properly communicate with your lawyer.
How soon can you start on my case?
Time is of the essence when you have bills stacking up, you’re missing work and are dealing with painful injuries. Some lawyers accept clients and sit on the cases for months.
Lastly, find out if the lawyer is ready to actively begin working on your case from the moment they receive a signed contract. While your lawyer can’t always change things out of their control such as long waits for court dates, they should be prepared to keep your case moving along.
We believe interviewing a lawyer should feel comfortable. The right personal injury lawyer for your case will be able to handle all of these questions with ease, and you should leave the consultation feeling well-informed of their background and ability to handle your case.