Frequently Asked Questions When Hiring a Lawyer
Personal injury cases often have a great deal at stake for both the injured and the defendant. With your future in the balance, you are likely to have many questions related to your case. Here are a few of the most common frequently asked questions when hiring a lawyer.
Q: Is education or experience more important when selecting a lawyer?
A: Education is an important part of any lawyer’s success, and you want to select a lawyer who is educationally qualified. However, all attorneys must pass a standardized exam before receiving a license to practice law. Ideally, an attorney with more years of education will be better equipped to handle your case more effectively. It is important to know the educational background of any potential lawyer, since obvious differences (such as an Ivy League education or a dual degree in medicine) may influence your decision.
Experience is a more important factor over education when selecting a lawyer to handle your claim. If a lawyer has a proven record of wining personal injury cases, he or she can put that experience to work for you. Be sure to ask any potential lawyers if he or she has handled cases similar to yours in the past, and if the outcome was a victory or loss.
Q: Do I need any money to get my case started or to secure legal services?
A: The Bernard Law group handles all personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that no up front payment is necessary. We only get paid when we win your case. This may or may not be the practice of other personal injury lawyers and you will need to check with each one individually.
Q: Will I have to go to court or testify in front of a jury?
A: While many personal injury cases never see the inside of a courtroom, it is important to prepare each case for the potentiality of a trial. This means that even when we expect an out of court settlement, we prepare for the possibility of a trial hearing. Most personal injury plaintiffs are not required to go to court or testify in front of a jury, but if it becomes necessary, your lawyer will prepare you for the process in advance.
Q: How long will it take to settle my case?
A: No lawyer can provide a guarantee of when your case will be settled. However, a skilled personal injury lawyer may be able to provide you with an educated guess on a length of time for settlement, depending on the details of your individual case.
Q: What will my lawyer expect me to do?
A: Your lawyer will work with you to uncover evidence for your case, gather details about the accident, your injuries, and your lifestyle before and after the accident.
In addition, you will be required to attend any mediation meetings, court dates, and legal proceedings. You will also be responsible to forward any pertinent correspondence about your case to your attorney and be available for questions or clarification as your case progresses. You work as a team with your attorney during your settlement process. Your attorney performs the hard work, and you provide support in the form of information and communication.
What Should You Ask a Lawyer Before Hiring Him or Her?
Before selecting an attorney to represent you in your case, there are a few questions you should ask to ensure you are prepared to make an informed choice about your legal representation.
- Do you specialize in cases like mine?
- How much experience do you have in representing clients in personal injury cases?
- How successful have you been in winning personal injury cases to date?
- Have you ever had any action taken against your license or had any formal complaints filed with the State Bar Association, in this state or any other?
- Do you have any personal beliefs that would impair your ability to try my case fairly?
- Who handles your cases if you become ill or injured, take a vacation, or have an emergency that prevents you from working?
- Do you think you can successfully prosecute my case?