Hiring a personal injury lawyer for your case can be overwhelming. What makes it even worse are the TV ads that are always in our faces telling us to hire hotshot lawyers who only show us their business acumen as opposed to showing us their skills and competence.
There are plenty of settlement mills out there making money because they have a high volume of clients. We’ve already discussed in another post how you can identify settlement mills and avoid them like the plague.
Today we are going to discuss two questions you need to ask your lawyer before hiring them. These are not the typical questions people are always advised to ask. If anything, these typical questions reveal more about the lawyer’s qualifications as opposed to how they’ll handle the case.
For instance, the most common question we are asked a lot is how many years we’ve been in business. This question is mostly asked in order to gauge our level of experience. While having experience is an obvious advantage, you have to look beyond it.
What’s 15 years of experience in doing a mediocre job compared to 10 years of excellence? And does it really matter where a lawyer went to law school? What matters is that they are certified and licensed to practice law in your state.
With that said, this is what you should be asking your lawyer:
Have You Ever Gone To Trial?
The so-called settlement mills rarely take their cases to trial. They have some sort of agreement with the insurance adjusters whereby they already have a set dollar value on different types of cases. So if you were in a car accident, they already know how much you are going to get in damages.
This is usually a bad thing because not all cases are the same and it would be unfair for your lawyer to treat your case as if it was the same as others.
You should be wary of a lawyer who has never gone to trial in the past four to five years because they are most likely operating a settlement mill.
If they haven’t gone to trial in the past one or two years, that isn’t something you should be too concerned about because most personal injury cases settle before trial. You should also not be too concerned if he went to trial and lost the case.
Jurors can be unpredictable and they can make decisions based on the most unusual things. What you should, however, be looking at is the willingness of the personal injury lawyer to take the case to court.
Most lawyers are notorious for making huge verbal promises about taking a case to trial only to pressure their clients into taking a settlement offer.
Read our post about why your lawyer may unexpectedly tell you to settle.
By the way, insurance companies keep records of which lawyer is willing to go to trial and which one is not. The lawyer who is not willing to go to trial will of course receive a more favorable offer.
You should also know that the more a lawyer stays out of the courtroom, the more anxious he gets about taking a case to trial.
When you go for long without doing something, your skills become rusty so a lawyer who hasn’t taken a case to trial in over ten years will be less inclined to take your case to trial because they’d rather not brush up on their trial skills.
After you’ve asked your lawyer whether they’ve gone to trial, you might want to inform them that you won’t push for a trial if the settlement offer is fair but you won’t take a bad offer simply because going to trial will be a hassle for them.
How Many Cases Are You Handling At The Moment?
Once again, we’ll refer to how settlement mills work. They take in huge volumes of clients because they are in it for the money. They have so many clients that they have to buy or rent software to help them organize their cases.
If your lawyer tells you he has 200 active cases, you should move on to the next one. A lawyer with too many cases on his table is less likely to focus on the details of your case. Moreover, they will just let the legal staff handle your case and the quality of their work will suffer.
Perhaps the most important thing you should worry about is a lawyer who has too many cases is the fact that he might drag on your case longer than necessary. Too many cases means that his calendar is full. His calendar might be too full for him to schedule your depositions and hearing, if at all it will be necessary.
So how many cases is too many cases? If he has less than 100 active personal injury cases that’s not a bad sign but it also depends on which types of cases they are. Some cases require more time and paperwork than others. For instance, a workers’ compensation case does not contain as much paper work as a spinal injury case or a car accident case.
Final Thoughts On Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer
The two questions mentioned here are obviously not the only questions you should be asking when hiring a personal injury lawyer but they can save you from a settlement mill. Find a lawyer who isn’t swamped with so much work that they won’t even have time to properly assess your case.
While interviewing your lawyer, make sure that he is the one who is going to handle the case. If he isn’t the one to handle the case, then he should hand it over to another lawyer who is experienced at taking cases to trial. The last thing you want is to end up settling your case for far less than it’s worth. You need to hire a personal injury lawyer who is prepared to take your case to trial if the need arises.
At Kevin P Landry law offices, we dedicate our time to serve our clients in their most challenging time of need. We handle a wide range of personal injury cases in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Cape Cod. We will aggressively pursue the best course of action to fight for your rights in order to receive the maximum settlement amount to alleviate your suffering.
Call us at 800- 200-7752 or visit any of our offices to schedule your free initial consultation.