No one plans to be injured in an accident. As a result, most people have not given much thought to hiring a personal injury lawyer and the questions they need to ask.
If you or someone you love was hurt in an accident, you may feel like your world has been turned upside down. You may not know where to turn or what to do next. The first thing you need to do is to seek medical attention. Then seek the advice of a qualified, experienced personal injury lawyer.
Here is a list of suggested questions to ask a personal injury lawyer during a consultation, and what to look for to find the best personal injury lawyer for you.
1. How long have you been practicing personal injury law?
When you’re interviewing a personal injury attorney it’s important that you find someone who has experience handling cases like yours. You don’t want to be working with a lawyer who is learning on the job.
The law is vast and complex, and different lawyers specialize in different areas of practice. Just like you wouldn’t want a podiatrist handling your heart transplant, you don’t want to hire a divorce lawyer for a complex medical malpractice case. Find a personal injury attorney who has handled cases similar to yours.
2. What types of personal injury cases do you handle?
If you’ve been hurt in an accident, you want to work with a lawyer who knows the law that applies to your case and can anticipate and plan for potential obstacles. While personal injury cases share many similarities, there are important differences between, say, a medical malpractice case and a truck accident claim. You want to work with someone who has been there before, knows how to win, and won’t be surprised by what the other side does.
3. Have you ever had your license suspended or been the subject of professional discipline?
As a member and former chairman of the Ethics and Professionalism Committee of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, I take professional ethics seriously. Working with a lawyer who has been subject to professional discipline can be a big red flag. If your lawyer has been subject to discipline, it’s important that you understand what he did and why. You can search the Ohio Supreme Court’s Attorney Directory to learn whether a lawyer has a history of disciplinary action or administrative sanctions or suspensions. If the lawyer has been subject to professional discipline, it’s important to follow-up and ask about the circumstances that led to disciplinary action being taken.
4. Do you work on a contingency fee?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee. They do not charge for their services upfront but will be paid a portion of any monies that are recovered for you.
We offer a no-cost review of your claim. Of the cases that we accept, most are handled on a contingency fee. This means that if you do not get a recovery, you will not be charged legal fees.
5. Do you handle pedestrian accident injury cases?
Accidents involving cars and pedestrians can have catastrophic, even deadly consequences. Pedestrians who are hit by negligent drivers are defenseless, and an accident involving a car or truck and a pedestrian can result in serious injuries. Pedestrians, just like other motorists, have a right to seek financial compensation for the injuries they sustained. It’s important that you hire an experienced pedestrian accident personal injury attorney who can thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and your injuries, and who will fight for the compensation you deserve.
6. What about car accident injury claims?
Car accident injury claims, even “minor” ones, are complicated. You need a lawyer who will fight with the other driver’s insurance company for the largest settlement, and aggressively negotiate with your health insurance carrier, medical providers, and your auto insurance carrier to maximize your financial recovery.
When negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company, a good personal injury lawyer will make sure that the insurance company compensates you for all of your injuries, as well as for the cost of future medical care and treatment and any permanent limitations you may face.
Once your case is settled, your lawyer should also negotiate with your health insurance carrier and other medical providers to reduce the amount of money you must repay them (their lien). This will maximize the amount of the financial recovery that ultimately is disbursed to you.
7. What is the average personal injury settlement amount?
Every personal injury case is unique, and average personal injury settlements vary greatly depending on the cause of the accident and the nature and severity of the injuries. The value of your case will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of your injuries, your medical bills, whether your injuries are permanent, and whether you lost any time from work. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine how much your case may be worth and will help ensure that you get the maximum settlement for your claim
8. What is the personal injury claim process?
Once you hire a personal injury lawyer, he will notify the other driver’s insurance company that he represents you. The insurance company should stop contacting you. All communications regarding your personal injury case should go through your lawyer.
Once your personal injury lawyer has completed his investigation of your case, he will submit a demand package to the other driver’s insurance carrier. The demand package will include documents that support your claim, such as photographs of your injuries, medical records, medical bills, proof of lost wages, the cost of future medical care, and information that establishes the pain and suffering you endured and may endure in the future. This information will be reviewed by an insurance adjuster who will make a settlement offer. Your lawyer will discuss the settlement offer to you and negotiate with the insurance company to maximize your financial recovery.
9. How do you settle a personal injury claim?
If you and your lawyer receive a favorable offer from the insurance company your case will be settled. Your medical bills will be negotiated and paid with settlement funds, your lawyer will be paid and reimbursed for any case expenses that he advanced, and he will issue you a check.
If the insurance company does not make a reasonable settlement offer, your lawyer will prepare and file a lawsuit.
10. What if you need to file a personal injury lawsuit?
If we cannot settle your personal injury claim we will file a lawsuit. The lawsuit begins with a Complaint that identifies the other driver and how they were negligent and requests compensation.
Once the lawsuit is filed, the lawyers will exchange discovery to obtain evidence from another and to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s case.
Many personal injury cases are resolved through negotiation or mediation after a lawsuit has been filed. If the case cannot be resolved it will be scheduled for trial where a judge or jury will evaluate the facts, determine who was at fault, and award damages.
Robenalt Law — Ohio Personal Injury Lawyers Fighting for You
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing doctors, hospitals, corporations, and insurance companies at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and their families secure compensation when they have been injured by someone else’s negligence.
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