Choosing a personal injury lawyer may be the biggest decision of your entire case. If you're looking to hire a personal injury attorney, you'll want to do some sleuthing and come prepared with all the right questions.
Welcome to our guide all about how to choose a good personal injury lawyer, including a printable form with interview questions to ask personal injury lawyers you interview. We've culled the best tips we could find here in one page you can download, print and fill out for each lawyer you speak to. Not sure how to talk to a lawyer or what to ask? We've got you covered.Download in PDF format
By this point, you should have in mind what you're looking for in a lawyer. View potential lawyers for your personal injury case through the filter of these questions we've prepared, which you're going to use to probe deeper in an interview later.
Many questions you will have to ask in person or via the phone, but some you can also get a sense just by the information available online or via word of mouth.
Really? Why not just submit your case details via the web form for each lawyer?
You could do that. Many people do.
We like the idea of the initial phone call for two reasons:
You may simply not hear back from a web form submission, and you could wonder if they even received it. Maybe they decided it's not worth pursing and so haven't responded to you. Or maybe they just take a long time to respond to inquiries.
Regardless, you want answers sooner rather than later.
At least with a phone call you may be able to elicit some sort of response immediately.
When you set up your meeting with the attorneys who may potentially represent you, be prepared with questions to ask.
Print out our interview worksheet and take it along. Make sure you're comfortable with each answer, and write down any specifics so you can compare details among attorneys later.
Here's a list of the questions and other areas to check out when evaluating personal injury attorneys:
Past client reviews: Check independent directories to see what their past personal injury clients say
Knowledge of your part of the state: Have they tried or settled similar cases in your city or county? Do they have an office near you?
Who will be assigned to your case: Make sure all the questions you ask are relevant to the specific lawyer assigned to your case. It may not be the person you are speaking with the first time.
Experience with your type of case: How many personal injury cases they have handled in your state for your type of accident or injury? Do other lawyers refer cases to them?
Overall experience and resources: Firm age, size, experience, connections with doctors and expert witnesses relevant to your case. Awards and leadership roles in organizations can also be good indicators.
Good judicial connections: Find out if they participate in the local bar association and contribute to campaigns.
Comfort with going to trial: Find out how many of their cases go to trial and the success rate of those that do.
Negotiation ability: Ask what sort of settlements they have obtained (remember, 95% of personal injury cases are settled without trial)
Your personal comfort with the lawyer: Do you feel comfortable talking to them about explicit details of your case? Do they answer your questions to your satisfaction? Are they a good listener? Ask how and how often they will communicate with you about your case.
Payment: How do they expect to be paid? Are there any fees or terms that would change if the case goes to trial, for example? Are expenses billed separately? What about costs for expert witnesses and other resources that may be necessary?
Timing: Ask specifically when your lawsuit will be filed and how long they anticipate it will take. Make sure they do not have so many pending cases right now they can't devote proper time to yours.
Your expected role: Ask the attorney what expectations they will have of you. There may be several things they will expect you to do, but some attorneys may not welcome extensive client involvement in a case.
Past problems: Has the attorney ever been censured or disciplined by any legal or ethics committees in the past?
How disagreements are handled: If you and the attorney disagree on accepting a settlement, for example, what happens?
There are a ton of articles on the topic of what questions to ask when hiring a personal injury attorney. Here is our roundup of some of the best.
Injury Claim Coach: How to Choose the Best Personal Injury Attorney for Your Case – The section on Experience contains some great points on when an attorney's experience - or lack of experience - can work for you.
Lawyers.com: 12 Questions to Ask Your Potential Lawyer – #4: Do you have any conflicts of interest? For example, if you want to sue a hospital that the potential lawyer regularly represents, there would be a conflict.
Personal Injury Hotline: Top Five Questions When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer - #1: What percentage of your practice is devoted to personal injury? You'll want to make sure the firm or at least the lawyer handling your case is thoroughly devoted and knowledgeable in your case area.
Avvo.com: Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Personal Injury Attorney - #4: Do you have the time necessary to actually work on my case now? Just a heads up that you will want to make sure your attorney has the time and resources to pursue your case immediately.
Alllaw.com: Interviewing a Potential Personal Injury Lawyer - #9: What does the lawyer mean when he or she says “no fee if no recovery”? Consumers need to be careful, because this can mean different things.
Nolo: Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer - See the section on Settlement Goal – discuss with the lawyer what you'd like to do: obtain as much compensation as possible no matter how long it takes, or seek a certain settlement with as few costs and hassles as possible, for example.