What Questions Should I Ask a Personal Injury Attorney?
Accidents can’t be predicted, they happen unexpectedly and often leave victims feeling unprepared. There can be a lot of uncertainty about how to proceed if you’ve been injured. In some cases, it might be the first time you have considered hiring an attorney. There are a lot of TV, radio, yellow pages, and internet ads out there for personal injury attorneys and services and it can be hard to cut through the noise.
Your attorney should be YOUR advocate so it’s important to find someone you can trust. Someone who will communicate with you openly and honestly about your case. Asking the right questions before you decide to hire an attorney can make all the difference.
We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 questions we’d ask if we were looking for a personal injury attorney. With more than 30 years of experience focusing on just personal injury law, we feel that we’re qualified to come up with these questions.
1. Do you offer a free and confidential case review? Am I obligated to hire you if I do a consultation?
A reputable personal injury attorney should offer a free, confidential consultation to review your case. Also, you should not feel obligated to hire anyone unless and until you are comfortable with that attorney or law firm.
2. How much do I have to pay for attorney fees and costs?
Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis which means that you won’t pay any fees unless compensation is obtained for you. If compensation is recovered, the attorney will take a percentage of the compensation. You should be sure to ask what the percentage amount is before agreeing to hire or signing any documents.
Also, be aware that fees and costs are not the same things. An attorney fee is what the attorney is paid for the services they provide. Costs refer to the expenses that are often necessary in order to pursue a case. Examples of costs include costs for ordering medical records, filing fees, court reporters, experts, etc. Some attorneys will tell you that they work on a contingent fee but will still require you to pay a retainer up front for costs. That can be hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. At VanDerGinst Law there is NEVER any up-front payment. We advance all costs, and neither our fee NOR reimbursement of costs will ever occur unless we get you a financial recovery.
Additionally, a word of caution when encountering an attorney who charges a low contingency fee percentage – they may be charging this due to inexperience. It may seem like a great idea to be able to put more money in your pocket, but you may run the risk of poor representation. There’s an age-old saying, “You get what you pay for.”
You should always be sure to ask the potential attorney what happens if you don’t win. At VanDerGinst Law, if we don’t win your injury case you don’t owe us a dime. It’s that simple.
3. What experience does the attorney/law firm have?
Just like the practice of medicine, the practice of law has generalists and specialists. A generalist may be perfectly capable of handling an occasional personal injury case, just as a family doctor is perfectly capable of handling many injuries and illnesses. But, wouldn’t you feel more comfortable being taken care of by a more experienced, specialized practitioner if you had a heart condition? The same applies to the law. At VanDerGinst Law we have focused on personal injury matters for over 30 years. It is what we do, day in and day out. We have represented tens of thousands of injury victims and have recovered millions of dollars on their behalf. We have also been recognized by our peers as among the best in the country at what we do.
4. Have you or anyone working on my case ever been disciplined by the state bar or an ethics committee? If yes, find out why?
For obvious reasons, you’ll want to hire an attorney who has demonstrated the highest ethics in their practice. Most attorneys will not have had any issues with this. BUT if you do find an attorney you are considering but they have been in trouble, find out what the issue was so you can figure out if it will affect their ability to effectively represent you. At VanDerGinst Law all attorneys have attained a rating from Martindale-Hubbell (an attorney rating service) which reflects high ethical standards. In addition, VanDerGinst Law was awarded the 2019 Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Ethics.
5. Who will be working on my case? What resources does the firm have?
Personal injury cases can be very complex at times. It is not unusual for investigators, legal nurse consultants and other experts to be involved in these cases. So, you need to be sure you have an experienced attorney and staff on top of things for you. At VanDerGinst Law our attorneys and staff are focused almost exclusively on personal injury law matters. We have a team of experts and investigators at our disposal.
6. What percentage of the firm’s caseload are personal injury cases?
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney who works primarily on personal injury cases can be an advantage, especially if you have a complex case. Ask the attorney how much of his or her caseload is made up of personal injury cases. At VanDerGinst Law our practice is focused almost exclusively on all areas of personal injury law.
7. Are there any potential conflicts? Does the attorney/law firm ever represent insurance companies?
Obviously, you want to be sure that your attorney has YOUR best interests in mind when representing you. For that reason, you need to be sure that they have no connection to the potential defendant. Similarly, you want to be sure your attorney is not beholden to the insurance industry for any of their income. Many law firms frequently represent the interests of various insurance companies but will still try to represent an accident victim. At VanDerGinst Law we feel you cannot serve two masters. At VanDerGinst Law we NEVER represent insurance companies, manufacturers of dangerous products, or “big business” interests. Our loyalties are undivided and unquestioned. We only represent people like you, the injured victim. How can you expect an attorney to effectively represent your interests in a personal injury case against an insurance company when much of that year he/she relies on insurance companies to pay the bills?
8. Will my case have to go to trial?
Your personal injury attorney should expect and prepare each case as if it’s going to go to trial. That’s what we do at VanDerGinst Law. However, the goal is always to try to attain a reasonable settlement without having to go to trial. One of the ways that occurs is to have a good track record. At VanDerGinst Law we have such a track record. We always prepare each case as if it may go to trial, and by doing so we rarely have to go to trial.
9. What is your success rate with personal injury cases?
If an attorney were to tell you that they have never lost a personal injury case, they are either:
- Very inexperienced and haven’t handled many
- Only handle very easy cases
On the other hand, if an attorney loses an appreciable percentage of their personal injury cases that raises a red flag as well. At VanDerGinst Law we have been successful with a majority of the personal injury cases we have handled. We feel confident we can help in just about any injury case that comes our way.
10. What is my personal injury case worth?
This is a trick question. If an attorney attempts to tell you the value of your injury case before they are even representing you, that is a HUGE red flag. No reputable attorney can do that. There are simply too many variables that first need to be considered. However, a good attorney can tell you the types of damages you may be entitled to recover, and in some cases very general value ranges. BUT if he or she tries to give you specific figures before the attorney gets involved in the case and is fully familiar with it, they are doing you a disservice. VanDerGinst Law will always be honest with you and will do what it takes to enhance the probability of a favorable outcome to your claim.
11. Do other attorneys and or medical providers refer cases to you? If so, how often?
The mark of many good attorneys is whether their peers and other professionals are willing to refer cases to them. It’s an excellent indicator of their reputation. At VanDerGinst Law each year we accept hundreds of referrals from dozens of different referral sources including doctors, peers, and clients. We do our best to earn the trust of those individuals by ensuring their clients and patients are represented as diligently as possible.
Asking these simple questions could greatly increase your chances of obtaining the right attorney for your case. One of the best places to find an attorney is through a referral from friends, doctors, professional associations, and your state bar. Another way is to know what former clients and other people say about their experience with an attorney. Check out our testimonials page to hear from past satisfied clients.
If you or a loved one have been injured, contact VanDerGinst Law today. We have knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who can help guide you through the complexities of your case and help you obtain the financial compensation you deserve. The consultation is free and there is never a fee unless we win. Call VanDerGinst Law at 800-797-5391. The law is tough, being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.
The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.