- What is your experience in this type of case?
This is such an important question, because it helps to highlight whether the lawyer or their law firm has the necessary experience to handle a particular case. Just like you may see a doctor that is a general practitioner, you also tend to see lawyers that are also general practitioners. A question like this will help you to understand whether the lawyer is a general practitioner or a specialist with key experience in your type of injury. As a follow-up question, you may want to also ask about the law firm’s track record in your type of case.
- Who will be working on my case?
While a solo practitioner is certainly able to handle a case, there may be times when multiple people should be involved. Asking a question like this is designed to determine a few things. For one, it helps to identify the roles that each person involved in the case may have. For example, while the lawyer may be responsible for handling the complex legal aspects, like trial strategy, discussions with the insurance company or another lawyer, and appearing in court, a paralegal or legal assistant might serve as the main point of contact between the client and the law firm. A question like this also highlights the role of the client during the case and helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the attorney-client relationship.
- How will the costs of the case be handled?
This may seem like a simple question, but it makes a big difference down the road. Almost all lawyers and law firms, including personal injury law firms in Mississippi, accept personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not pay anything and the lawyer fronts most, if not all, of the expenses to litigate the case. In exchange for fronting the expenses, the lawyer receives anywhere between 33% to 50% of the damages recovered, with the percentage being based on when the case is resolved. For example, while the average law firm’s contingency fee is 40%, that percentage tends to go up to 50% if the case goes to trial but is then appealed. This question also helps to determine whether the lawyer or their firm has enough experience to understand and appreciate their own value. Generally, the greater the percentage, the greater the confidence of the lawyer and the greater the experience.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
I always tell clients that lawyers have several obligations. First and foremost, a lawyer should always strive to get the best results possible for their clients in a manner that is ethical and legal. In other words, a lawyer should always act in the best interests of their client. In order to do that, as well as maintain a good relationship with the client, a lawyer should always be honest and up front with the client. I tell my clients that this means telling them the good, the bad, and the ugly. In over ten years of practice, I have yet to see a perfect case. Every case has its flaws, but to varying degrees. This question is meant to determine whether the attorney is going to be up front and honest. It’s also meant to help a potential client understand their case and allow the attorney a chance to discuss whether anything can be done to help make the case more valuable for the client.
- What is the expected timeline in this case?
Even if a case may seem like a slam dunk, that does not mean that it will be resolved quickly. It is not unusual for a case to be resolved for a year, and often (especially if it is going to trial), a case could go on for several years. Many factors influence the timeline of a case, such as the type of case, the nature of the injuries, whether a person is still receiving treatment, etc. Generally, a personal injury attorney should be able to give you a rough estimate as far as the expected timeline, but also be able to tell you about those difference things that could influence that timeline. Another important aspect of this question is that it helps both the attorney and the client understand the urgency of resolving the case. For example, while a lawyer may believe that it is beneficial to take his or her time with the case to get a higher settlement, the client may want to have the fastest result possible in exchange for a lower settlement amount. Understanding the timeline and the client’s expectations helps everyone stay on the same page and helps guide the lawyer’s representation in the client’s best interests.