If you’ve been injured due to of the reckless or negligent actions of another party, one of the most critical decisions you will make in the near future is the choice of a personal injury lawyer to represent you. Not only are you recovering from an injury, but you are probably concerned about the medical bills piling up and time lost from work. You know your financial future may depend on the quality of your legal representation and chances are you have a lot of questions, including “How do I find the best personal injury lawyer for my needs?”
Fortunately, our trained personal injury lawyers are here for you during this difficult time. At our office, we receive important questions from concerned individuals every single day, and it is our goal to answer all of them thoughtfully and thoroughly, no matter which personal injury practice area you have questions about. These questions to ask personal injury lawyer—and the attorney’s answers—can help you decide which lawyer should take your case.
Regardless of the injury that you have sustained, you should be armed with several key questions during your introductory consultation with a personal injury lawyer. According to AVVO, there are 10 must-ask questions you should inquire of any personal injury lawyer before hiring them. They are:
Here is a breakdown of some of the questions we most commonly hear from new clients:
The term “personal injury” covers a gamut of accidents. Personal injury lawyers often specialize in particular types of cases, such as auto accidents or wrongful death, and it is critical to find a personal injury lawyer with considerable experience in your type of injury. This is especially true if your injuries derived from a defective product or dangerous drug, since these are more specialized areas of law than the more common auto accident or slip and fall cases.
At many firms, your personal injury lawyer may not handle every aspect of your case. Other professionals, such as paralegals and legal secretaries, handle a great deal of the paperwork and research that goes into winning your case. As a result, your legal fees may be lower because your attorney is not doing the work that their subordinates can do well. However, you should also ask about the experience level of any paralegals and others who might work on your case.
Almost all personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they receive a portion of any settlement you receive. In Florida, the general amount of a contingency fee is 33.3% of recovery of up to $1 million if the case is settled prior to filing an answer or demand for arbitrator appointment. If the case is settled after filing an answer or demanding an appointment of arbitrators, the contingency fee amount is usually 40% up to $1 million. Some lawyers may charge an additional 30% of recoveries between $1 and $2 million either through settlement or verdict. For settlements or verdicts above $2 million, your personal injury lawyer may charge an additional 20% on the amount above that threshold.
However, at Vasilaros Wagner, you get our guarantee that we will never make more than you because your life is worth more.
Medical malpractice contingency fees are more limited than other forms of personal injury fees in Florida. A client is entitled to “no less than 70% of the first $250,000 in damages excluding costs, and 90% of all damages over $250,000, excluding costs,” according to the Florida Constitution. For that reason, a lawyer representing clients in medical malpractice cases may charge a higher fee than the constitutional limit only if the client consents, which requires a notarized statement.
Very few personal injury cases go to trial—nearly all are settled before that stage—but that does not mean it is wise to hire a personal injury lawyer with little or no trial experience. If you have an excellent case and the defendant refuses to settle, you do not want an inexperienced trial attorney—or perhaps a lawyer afraid of appearing in court—to represent you.
Our lawyers have experience going to trial. Firm Partner Steven Vasilaros has a trial history in Volusia County Circuit Court, Volusia County Courts, Seminole Circuit Courts, the Ohio State Courts, and the United States District Court before the Middle District of Florida. Firm Partner Josh Wagner was able to hone his trial skills and gain the nickname “trial dog” during his time working as a prosecutor for the State Attorney’s office. He was formally recognized in the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers in 2016.
Ask your personal injury lawyer about their professional background, including:
It is also important to ask if your lawyer has any potential conflicts of interests in representing you, such as representing the other party’s insurance company in prior or current cases. Additionally, you should ask if your lawyer or others at the firm have ever been disciplined by the Florida State Bar and, if so, find out the circumstances.
Just because a personal injury case is taken on contingency does not necessarily mean you will have no out-of-pocket expenses if the case is lost. Find out beforehand if you will be charged court filing fees, costs for evidence gathering, and the like if your case proves unsuccessful. At Vasilaros Wagner, we charge no fees unless we win your case. It’s part of our lawyer guarantees that we provide to every client. However, if you retain a lawyer who does have such fees, you could potentially end up with no financial compensation and a significant bill for filing fees and other costs.
An affirmative answer to this question is a good sign. Much like other professionals, lawyers typically only refer cases to other lawyers who they think can help the client get the best possible result for their legal matter. A positive response to this question indicates that your lawyer has a good reputation in the local legal community and is trusted by their peers to provide top quality representation for their clients.
No one can give you an exact answer to this question, but an experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to provide a rough estimate based on the facts of your case and the degree of your injuries. You will want a realistic number and an explanation of how that amount is broken down, such as lost wages, medical expense payments, property damage, and an approximate amount for pain and suffering.
Every personal injury case is unique. Some are rather cut and dried, while others are more complicated. Your personal injury lawyer should let you know if they foresee any problems regarding your case, and what those problems might be.
For more specific personal injury questions having to deal with individual practice areas, we have taken the most frequently asked questions from a multitude of our areas of expertise and have written helpful, comprehensive blogs to answer them. Here is a brief list of our question-answering personal injury blogs:
Don't see an answer to your specific question yet? We also maintain a YouTube channel, which answers a large number of additional questions you might have. Here are just a few examples:
If you or a loved one have been injured through no fault of your own, it is vital that you speak with an experienced Daytona personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Knowing which questions to ask will help your initial meeting run smoothly and help you get all the information you need to make the most informed decision possible. If you have any questions, we ask that you call us today at 386-777-7777 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form below to schedule an appointment.