Successfully mounting a personal injury case can be very challenging. Only half of all personal injury lawsuits result in a favorable outcome for the injured individual, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics. The difficulty of pursuing a personal injury case to a successful conclusion underscores the need to retain an experienced, capable, and tenacious personal injury attorney. There are a series of key questions you need to ask a prospective Milwaukee WI personal injury lawyer before you make a decision to sign a retainer agreement.
What is Your Background in My Type of Personal Injury Case?
General experience as an attorney, more specifically in the area of tort or personal injury law, is a start. However, being a generalist in the realm of negligence cases may not be enough when it comes to providing you with the most effective representation possible.
When learning more about a prospective personal injury lawyer, find out what his or her background is in representing clients with your type of accident and associated injury. Find out how those clients fared when it came to insurance settlements or judgments in lawsuits.
How Do You Assess Fees in a Personal Injury Case?
One likely given in regard to a personal injury attorney is that he or she will charge a contingency fee. On the surface, this will suggest that the attorney will not charge a fee unless he or she is successful in your case. With that noted, the application of a contingency fee agreement does vary from one attorney to another. You must understand these nuances up front.
You should also find out how an attorney you are contemplating hiring deals with the expenses associated with the case. Will you be billed for certain types of expenses as the case progresses, even though no actual fee will be due unless you obtain a favorable resolution? Will costs be deducted from the settlement at the successful conclusion of the case? Will you be responsible for costs, even if there is no settlement or judgment in your favor?
Ask the attorney for specific information about the exact amount that will be assessed in the way of a fee. A contingency fee ends up being a percentage of what is obtained in a settlement or judgment, but this percentage can vary from firm to firm. Some attorneys use a sliding percentage. For example, you may pay a higher percentage of a judgment than a settlement, because the case progressed to trial. The percentage could raise again if the case ends up being appealed for one reason or another.
What Happens if You Discharge a Personal Injury Attorney?
You cannot presume that the day will never come that you feel the need to terminate a personal injury attorney’s representation of you. You should question a lawyer you are considering hiring about what happens if you terminate that individual’s representation. What will you owe in the way of fees? Will you need to reimburse costs at that juncture? Will the lawyer place a lien on any settlement or judgment you end up receiving, in the case that he or she is terminated and another attorney is hired?
Who Will be the Primary Contact for Your Case?
Some attorneys assign a paralegal or legal assistant to serve as a case coordinator. If that is the structure used by an attorney, it is not necessarily a bad concept. You just need to understand who your primary point of contact will be during your case. Many people do prefer that to be the attorney. Other individuals appreciate that some issues likely can be addressed easily through a designated case coordinator.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim, SC for their insight into questions to ask your lawyer.