Wondering what questions to ask a personal injury lawyer? Here is what you need to know.
So you’ve been in an accident and are thinking about hiring a personal injury attorney. There are a couple of challenges you face, which include:
- How do you find the best personal injury lawyer for your claim?; and
- What questions do I ask to find the best personal injury lawyer (this Article)?
So if you’re interested in hiring a lawyer or wondering if you should hire a lawyer, here is a crash course on what questions to ask before hiring a personal injury attorney. The answer to each of these questions will help you understand your claim and how much it might cost you to pursue your personal injury case.
As an alternative, you can also just use Adidem which does the work for you and obtains all the information in this article for you, and all you need to do is answer our injury questionnaire. Otherwise, here is everything you need to know if you are wondering what questions to ask when interviewing a personal injury attorney.
In short, a lawyer's personal injury compensation rates may vary and there are typically three (3) ways a lawyer charges you for that lawyer’s time:
Contingency Fees (percent of the amount recovered from your claim);
Fixed Price (All-Inclusive Lump Sum Amount); or
Hourly Rates (You pay an Hourly Rate for each hour the lawyer works).
A. Contingency Fees: What does contingency fee mean?
A contingency fee definition can be summarized as an amount you will be required to pay your lawyer after the lawyer wins your case. Said another way, the lawyer's fee (the amount the lawyer charges you) is contingent (dependent) on recovering something for your claim. Payment on a contingency fee basis is the most common method a lawyer uses to charge for their time for personal injury claims.
Typically, a contingency fee is a percentage of the amount a lawyer recovers for you in your personal injury claim. If the lawyer recovers nothing, typically there is no fee owing to the lawyer (there are exceptions to this). Ordinarily, the contingency fee is only paid after your personal injury attorney has recovered a settlement for your claim.
What is CONTINGENT FEE? The way to pay an agent. It is done when they have finished their jobs or a law suit is won. It is used in statutor charges and expenses in the course of the transaction. AKA contingency fee.
How much does a personal injury lawyer cost when charging a contingency fee?
A contingency fee often ranges between 20% — 45% of the amounts you recover in personal injury actions. The amount of the fee often depends on:
■ the nature of the claim,
■ the timing of settlement (contingency fee may change (increase) the longer it takes your claim to resolve); and
■ the experience of lawyer assisting you.
Most jurisdictions also restrict the amount a lawyer can charge you for a contingency fee. However, the fee may vary from attorney to attorney or depending on the nature of your claim.
How does a contingency fee payment actually work?
A contingency is typically fairly straight forward. For example, assume a lawyer charges you a 25% contingency fee and the lawyer recovers $10,000 for your claim. In this example, you owe the lawyer $2,500 for legal fees and you would recover $7,500 (less any disbursements).
B. Payment of a Fixed Price Legal Fees (Pre-Agreed Lump Sum Amount)
Second, you and your lawyer may agree to a pre-agreed fixed lump sum amount for the lawyer's services.
This is the same model as buying a car. You agree to pay ($x) for the lawyer’s services, regardless of whether you win or you lose your claim or regardless of the amount you recover. A lump sum model is not particularly common in personal injury claims.
As an example, assume a lawyer agrees to charge you $3000 to try to resolve your claim. If you recover $10,000 for your claim you would pay the lawyer the $3000 and you would recover $7,000 (less disbursements - dealt with below). If your lawyer can’t recover you anything, you still need to pay your lawyer even though you didn’t receive anything.
When do I pay for fixed price legal services?
It depends, as each arrangement can be different. Payment can depend on the size of your legal claim, your financial circumstances or otherwise when the lawyer wants to be paid. There is no set of rules for when you will need to pay for the fixed price legal services.
C. Payment of an Hourly Rate
Third, is by paying the lawyer an hourly rate for each hour the lawyer works on your claim. Again, you would likely pay your lawyer regardless of whether you win or lose.
Depending on the Town, City or State, legal rates typically range anywhere from $100 per hour to $600 per hour (or even higher at large firms). An hourly rate model is not overly common in personal injury actions.
How does this actually work?
For example, assume a lawyer’s rate is $200/hr and the lawyer spends 20 hours on your claim and you recover $10,000. In this example, you owe the lawyer $4,000 and you would recover $6,000 (less disbursements).
Well there might be. In addition to paying legal fees to your lawyer, often you may have to pay other costs associated with your claim. Before you hire a lawyer, it’s important to ask whether there are any other costs you may incur bringing your claim in addition to legal fees. Below are some other costs you may incur hiring a lawyer and bringing a claim:
■ Disbursements — Disbursements are typically third party costs the lawyer incurs to try to resolve your claim. Examples of disbursements include:
(i) the costs to hire an expert(s) to prove your claim (i.e. an expert may be a doctor who confirms your injuries or a private investigator who confirms how the accident happened); and
(ii) potentially other office charges like photocopying or print charges.
■ Court Fees — If you need to start a court action, there will often be a cost associated with filing documents at the local courthouse. In addition, there may be other costs associated with your lawyer appearing in court for you.
It is recommended you confirm the estimated disbursements and court fees you may have to pay before hiring your lawyer to start a claim.
- Dollars I Can Recover for My Injuries Alone
Personal injury compensation can vary and the nature and severity of your injuries will define what compensation you’re entitled to for your injuries. If you are in an accident caused by someone else, each State will prescribe the personal injury damages you can claim for your specific injuries.
Typically, there is a range to the compensation you may be entitled to recover for your injuries, and the more significant the injury the more you can likely recover. No case is alike, and hiring a lawyer will help define what types of personal injury damages that you are entitled to recover.
- Damages for Employment Related Losses
If your injuries:
☑︎ made you take time off work;
☑︎ impacted your ability to work;
☑︎ changed the tasks you can complete at work;
☑︎ required you to change employers; or
☑︎ ultimately resulted in your salary being reduced,
you may be entitled to more compensation due to your accident. As an example, assume you lost your job due to car accident and now find yourself unable to work. In that case, part of your damages claim will be your employment losses as a result of the car accident.
Many factors may affect how much you can recover if your accident has affected your work (or may affect your job in the future). You should contact a lawyer to discuss what you may be entitled to due to your accident.
- Damages for Impacts to your Personal Life
You may also be entitled to more compensation if you:
☑︎experienced any pain or difficulty completing household tasks (i.e. grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc); or
☑︎can no longer enjoy recreational activities to the same degree as before the accident (i.e. sports, dancing, etc).
Again, many factors may affect how much you can recover if your accident has affected your ability to enjoy recreational activities (or may affect them in the future). A lawyer can help assess if you are entitled to money if your accident had an effect on your personal life.
- Damages for loss of property or other damages
If any of your personal property was damaged or lost in an accident (i.e. car damage), typically insurance reimburses you for that damage. If that does not occur, you may be entitled to recover the value of any property lost or damaged in the accident.
In addition, in certain circumstances you may be entitled to other compensation for your accident. Discussing your accident with a lawyer will help you confirm what amounts you can recover.
- How much do these claims typically settle for?
Typically, a lawyer will give you an estimate of the value of your entire claim, however, that estimate doesn’t factor in what your matter may settle for. According to the Department of Justice, approximately 97% of cases settle.
What does this mean for your claim? Well, your claim is likely going to settle for less than the actual value of your claim and when claims settle and it’s important to ask your lawyer what amount your claim may settle for. See is an example of typical legal settlements in the United States (click here).
Once you hire a lawyer, often people are under the impression that their claim will be resolved quickly. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case and typically claims take much longer to resolve than initially expected. The length of time to resolve your claim depends on many factors, including the speed your lawyer attempts to advance your claim. Some factors that may impact how quickly your claim can be resolved are below:
The nature of your claim — if it is clear who caused your accident and if your injuries are relatively minor or straight forward, your claim could be resolved relatively quickly. If it’s uncertain who is at fault for the accident in question or if your injuries are significant or complex, it may take longer to resolve your claim.
The actions of your lawyer — Some lawyers will progress a file as quickly as possible, while some other lawyers may not. How quickly your claim is resolved is very much dependent on how quickly your lawyer progresses the file and it is one of the most important factors if you want your claim resolved quickly.
The actions of the other lawyer — A claim cannot be resolved without an order of a court or by agreement between two parties. Given that ~97% of cases settle, you’ll obviously need the lawyer representing the other party to agree upon a settlement amount. So, even if your lawyer takes steps to progress your claim as quickly as possible (which is important), you’ll need the other lawyer’s participation to quickly resolve the claim.
Before you hire your lawyer, it’s important to ask how long the lawyer estimates it will take to resolve your claim. This will help set your expectations and hold your lawyer accountable.
You’ve heard lawyers love paperwork? Well guess what’s important to help resolve your claim?? Paperwork…. Paperwork……PAPERWORK! If you’ve been in an accident, it’s important to have the documents required to confirm how the accident happened (i.e. police reports, witness statements, personal statement summarizing what happened, etc) as well as medical and employment records confirming your injuries and how they affected you (i.e. doctor records, payroll records, etc). If your accident and injuries are well documented, this will significantly strengthen your claim.
Like anything in life, experience matters. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer potentially increases the amount you may recover and may reduce the amount of time it takes to settle your case. If you hire a lawyer who has never represented someone on a personal injury claim, it’s unlikely that lawyer will know much about the estimated value of your claim or how much your claim may settle for. So, it’s obviously important to hire a lawyer with experience on claims like yours. It’s prudent and reasonable to ask any lawyer what their experience is on claims like yours before you hire a lawyer.
OK, there is a lot of information in this blog to digest, but why do all this work yourself? You can use Adidem and let Adidem ask lawyers the questions above for you! Adidem lets you compare the information provided by the lawyers so you can hire the best lawyer for you!
Skip the hassle. Use Adidem to find a personal injury lawyer
At Adidem, we know finding a lawyer can be complicated and intimidating. We also know that it's not easy to compare lawyers or know what you are getting into before hiring a lawyer. That is the number one reason why most people do not hire a personal injury lawyer. And that is why we created Adidem. So we can ask injury attorneys the questions for you and bring the legal market in your City to you, so you don't have to do the work.
How do we do it? Adidem use software to simplify the process to hire a personal injury lawyer and to provide you with the relevant information you need to help decide which is the best personal injury lawyer to hire.
We also allow any lawyer to sign-up to use Adidem. No restrictions, no-sign-up fee and no exclusivity with any particular firm or lawyer. Rather than you having to look for the right lawyer, we bring the legal market to you.
This is important, as Adidem:
can provide you with access to the broader legal market in your city without you needing to contact all those lawyers;
allows any lawyer with an opportunity to offer their services for your claim;
allows you to obtain information with respect to your claim to determine which lawyer you may want to hire; and
makes lawyers compete for your work.
Here is how Adidem works.
Complete the injury Questionnaire and tell us about your claim.
You start the process by completing an online questionnaire describing the nature of your claim and you then create an account with Adidem. The Adidem questionnaire is designed to ask you questions similar to those a lawyer would typically ask you before the lawyer agreed to represent you and are the questions the lawyer will need to know to assess whether you may have a claim.
Adidem sends your claim to personal injury attorneys near you
After you complete the questionnaire, we send a notification to all attorneys using Adidem that there is a new claim for them to review. As noted above, we allow any personal injury attorney to use Adidem and attorneys can only see your claim details if they have agreed to keep your information confidential. This is the same process that would apply if you visited the lawyer in person.
Lawyers review your claim and provide you with proposals
If a lawyer would like to offer to represent you, that lawyer will review your claim and provide you with a proposal. We have developed software to conduct this proposal process for you. When submitting a proposal, we ask each lawyer to provide you with the following information:
The lawyer’s credentials and experience with similar injury claims (they can even provide you a video introducing themselves);
The estimated value of your claim. This means we ask lawyers to tell you approximately how much your claim may be worth and the potential settlement amount;
How much the lawyer is going to charge you for their legal services (cost to hire the lawyer). We also ask the lawyer to confirm whether the legal fees are only owing if the lawyer is successful recovering you some money; and
The estimated period of time it will take to resolve your lawsuit.
You review the proposals and select your lawyer
Once you’ve received proposals from different lawyers, you can compare the proposals and decide what is the best lawyer for you.
Let Adidem do the hard work for you.
Types of claims that Adidem can help with
Adidem can be used for any personal injury claim, including accidents involving a vehicle, workplace accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice (injuries resulting from the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional), assaults, exposure to hazardous substances (i.e. asbestos, harmful chemicals), incidents with commercial carriers (i.e. airplanes, taxis, ubers, etc.) or other accidents caused by someone’s fault.