One of your main purposes in scheduling a consultation should be to discover whether you should hire a lawyer. Following are some questions you could consider asking your prospective attorney to help clarify this matter.
You definitely need an attorney who focuses on personal injury law. A “jack of all trades” lawyer who represents a criminal defendant one day and negotiates a personal injury settlement the next probably lacks the experience you will need. Don’t even consider hiring an attorney who doesn’t focus primarily on personal injury law.
You also need an attorney with experience handling your particular type of case. For example, a lawyer who handles toxic torts and product liability claims is not necessarily qualified to handle your motorcycle accident claim. Following is a short list of some of the different types of personal injury claims for which you might seek a lawyer. Proving each type of claim requires a different set of skills and resources.
Research your candidates on the internet, narrow them down to a shortlist, and at your consultation, ask them to provide you with detailed information on their experience.
Some lawyers act as ”settlement mills.” Settlement mill lawyers work on a high volume/low return system. They typically settle cases for less than they are worth because they are eager to move on to the next case. The way that you identify such lawyers is to ask them about their experiences at trial. Settlement mill lawyers have little or no experience at trial because they settle almost all of their cases.
Instead, select a lawyer with experience in both settling cases and taking them to trial. Ideally, your lawyer should have a fearsome record of success at the trial level. This applies even if you don’t want to take your claim to trial; defendants will quickly settle cases when they don’t want to face the lawyer in court. Remember, however, that simply because the lawyer filed a lawsuit doesn’t mean they took the case all the way to trial.
Nevertheless, don’t ignore settlement experience because this is important too. As long as the lawyer has significant trial experience, it is preferable that they also have experience settling cases. The reason is that you probably will want your case to be settled, and you’re going to need an attorney with skill and experience negotiating personal injury claims.
Don’t just sign on the dotted line. The fee agreement that your lawyer offers you might be filled with legal terminology and difficult-to-understand wording. don’t let this deter you. You need to fully understand the terms of your agreement with the lawyer before you hire them.
Almost any personal injury attorney will offer you a contingency fee structure where legal fees are calculated as a percentage of the amount of money that the attorney wins for you, either in court or at the settlement table. If you find a personal injury attorney who seeks to charge you based on an hourly fee, refuse to hire that attorney.
Personal injury attorneys typically charge contingency fees of 30% to 40% of your total recovery. These fees tend to be higher if the attorney needs to go all the way to trial on your behalf. Your attorney might also agree to advance your case expenses. Case expenses are additional expenses such as expert witness fees and court fees. Find out who initially pays these fees because your lawyer may or may not agree to pay them in advance.
In a sense, this is a trick question. The reason why you might categorize it as a trick question is that if the lawyer attempts to guarantee you that you will win your case or that you will win a certain amount of money, you should terminate the consultation immediately and seek another lawyer.
On the other hand, one of the main reasons you might schedule a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer is to find out how much your case is worth. The lawyer should question you and then use the information you give them to arrive at a ballpark estimate of the value of your claim. If they answer by providing you with a range of values and then tell you that it is only a ballpark estimate, they might provide you with valuable information.
The average personal injury claim takes between a few weeks and a few months to resolve. Nevertheless, your claim might not be typical. The larger your claim, the longer it is likely to take to resolve. Likewise, the complexity of your claim could add to the time you need to resolve it. Finally, anytime there is a trial, you are likely to have to wait a long time to get your money.
No credible lawyer will guarantee a particular time frame. For example, “I can resolve your claim in three weeks” should ring alarm bells. The lawyer should gather information from you and express the timeline of your case in terms of a range of values.
Ideally, the lawyer will give you two different answers. The first answer should tell you about how long it will take to settle your case. The second answer will tell you how long your case will take if it goes to trial.
Lack of communication is one of the most common complaints that clients level against their lawyers. Try to pin the lawyer down on how they will communicate with you and how often they will do so. Observe just how much the lawyer will offer you without you pressing them too hard. That is more likely to be an accurate indicator of how much communication the lawyer will actually offer you.
Hiring the wrong Portland personal injury attorney could be a disastrous move on your part. However, scheduling a free initial consultation with Tillmann Law Personal Injury Lawyers has very little downside. Since you’re not obligated to hire the lawyer, your risk is almost zero except for the time you spend. Call (503) 272-8986 today!