Before hiring any personal injury attorney, you should always take the time to do your homework and get these important questions answered. Too many times potential clients shy away from asking personal injury attorneys questions that could have a huge impact on your relationship with the attorney and how your case is handled. Never worry about offending a personal injury attorney by asking questions like this. Many potential clients are intimidated or worried about offending an attorney. Remember you, too, are making a very important decision as to whether the attorney is someone you want to hire to handle your case. Any attorney worth hiring should welcome and should be able to easily answer your questions. Before you choose and sign a contract with any personal injury attorney, here are five questions you should ask:
1. Will you be the attorney personally handling my case?
2. Will you take the case all the way to trial if necessary?
3. What results have you obtained in the past for cases like mine?
4. Can I call or email you directly with questions I have about my case?
5. What is my obligation to you if I hire you, particularly if we do not win?
1. Will you be the attorney personally handling my case? Many personal injury attorneys launch huge advertising campaigns to bring in a high volume of cases, with the intent to then “refer” the case out to another attorney at another law firm. Meaning, your case will not be handled by the well-known name and face you saw on the billboard; it will be passed along to another attorney at a different law firm you know nothing about. There is nothing improper about referring cases to other attorneys. The problem for the client is not knowing at the outset that the attorney you are contacting intends to do this. At Taylor, Warren & Weidner, it is uncommon for us to refer a case without being personally involved. If we find that referring the case would provide the best benefit to the client, that is something we discuss thoroughly with the client to be certain the client understands and is comfortable with the decision to refer and the attorney we recommend. We pride ourselves on typically handling each case personally. If the personal injury attorney you are speaking to intends to refer your case out to another attorney for him or her to handle, the attorney should tell you this and disclose their fee-splitting arrangement, i.e., the percentage of the fee the attorney you contacted will receive for the referral. Of course, you should meet with the attorney you are being referred to and ask these same questions and be certain that you are comfortable hiring the referral attorney.
2. Will you take the case all the way to trial if necessary? Not all attorneys are prepared to file a lawsuit and litigate a case all the way to trial. Some attorneys take on personal injury cases hoping they will settle quickly without the need to take on the immense burden and cost of litigating a case all the way to trial. At Taylor, Warren & Weidner, we will not accept a case unless we are prepared to take it all the way to trial. From day one, we handle the case as if that is the only way it will resolve and our actions in dealing with the insurance company on the other side convey that we are willing and prepared to try every case if necessary.
3. What results have you obtained in the past for cases like mine? Results matter. However, each case is unique and it can often be difficult to compare results from one case to another. Understanding what results an attorney has obtained, though, will reveal that the attorney has experience handling these types of cases and has been able to obtain favorable results for clients in the past. The attorney should be able to quickly and easily tell you the settlement and verdict amounts he has obtained for cases like yours. You also have the right to know about the lawyer's education, training and experience. If you ask, the lawyer should tell you specifically about the lawyer's actual experience dealing with cases similar to yours. At Taylor, Warren & Weidner, several of our attorneys:
Are Lifetime Members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (membership is limited to attorneys who have obtained million-dollar verdicts or settlements; less than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members);
Have obtained verdicts recognized in Florida's 2017 Top 100 Car Accident verdicts:
$475,955 Ibarra v. Estate of Smith; and
$182,913 Pennycook v. Garland; and
Have been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the nation's Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyers.
We are proud of the accomplishments of our attorneys and are always happy to discuss the results we have obtained for our clients and what you might expect in your specific case.
4. Can I call or email you directly with questions I have about my case? The biggest complaint made about attorneys is failure to maintain good communications with the client by promptly returning calls and emails and answering the client's questions. You should ask any personal injury attorney at the outset how promptly they return calls and emails and address any concerns you may have about the case. At Taylor, Warren & Weidner, our results speak for themselves and are important to each of our clients. However, we believe there is something that matters more than results. Our relationship with the client and how the client is treated during our time representing the client is paramount, and we take great pride in what our clients have to say about us and the fact that they continue to refer family members and friends to us. We welcome client questions and work diligently to promptly address all questions our clients have. It is our utmost priority to answer any questions you may have about your case in a way that fully explains the issues and makes sense to you. Before you hire an attorney, you should feel from the outset that the attorney listens carefully to your questions and concerns and answers your questions in a way that you understand. Quality customer service is an essential element of a strong attorney-client relationship.
5. What is my obligation to you if I hire you as my attorney, particularly if we do not win? You will want to know upfront what will be required from you out of this attorney-client relationship. Will there be any costs paid by you? Will there be any fees? What time requirements will the attorney expect from you? Will you have to take time away from work to help with the case? These can differ significantly from one personal injury attorney to another. At Taylor, Warren & Weidner we typically handle personal injury cases under what is known as a “contingency fee.” Meaning, we usually do not get paid anything unless there is a recovery. We also typically advance all of the costs incurred in your case. Under this arrangement, if there is no recovery, you owe no costs. That is the risk we take on in agreeing to handle your case. Any personal injury attorney you are considering hiring should be able to easily explain how fees and costs will be incurred and paid in a way that you understand, and you should not hesitate to ask questions about the arrangement if anything is unclear to you.
If you would like to get to know us better and ask us these questions, we would be happy to answer. Give us a call or schedule an appointment. We never charge any fee or cost for an initial consultation to answer your questions and explain your rights. [email protected] or (850) 438-4899.