You’ve read your lawyer’s website and know they handle cases like yours. You’ve read the attorney’s reviews and think they sound like a good fit.
Now you’re preparing for that first crucial meeting.
You know the attorney will have plenty of questions for you, and you’ve gathered up all your documentation. Yet you should have questions for the attorney as well.
The purpose of the meeting isn’t just to kick off your case. It’s to help you determine if you and the attorney will work well together.
#1 How will we communicate?
How should you contact them if you have questions or concerns? How often will they keep you updated? Will they call you or email you? Will you need to come into the office, or will most calls be handled over Zoom?
Set expectations here and now so that you’re not disappointed.
Know that most of these cases move very slowly. It won’t be necessary to update you every day because there will be long stretches of time when nothing changes. Nevertheless, you should feel confident that you’ll be able to get in touch with your attorney if you need to and that you’ll receive updates as necessary.
#2 What’s the best-case and worst-case scenario for my case?
If you settle the case instead of going to court, there will be a low number and a high number for your likely settlement. You’ll be aiming for something in the middle.
You aren’t necessarily looking for the highest possible number here. You want a realistic answer that you understand. Have the attorney walk you through why the numbers look like they do.
If you go to trial, the worst case is “you get nothing," so we try to settle cases out of court whenever possible.
Note: if you haven’t reached maximum medical improvement when you meet with your attorney for the first time, they won’t be able to answer this question yet.
#3 Tell me about your fee structure.
Most personal injury lawyers work on contingency, meaning they’ll take a percentage of the case settlement after the case ends. They’ll usually handle upfront costs as well and then charge those costs back to you at the end of the settlement. This benefits you because you don’t have to pay any money upfront.
Average contingency fees in New York hover around 33%. You may be dealing with an inexperienced attorney if they’re too much lower than 33%. If they’re much higher, ask why: what about the attorney’s experience and track record makes it reasonable to charge such a high contingency fee? If they’re sufficiently skilled, working with them may still make good mathematical sense.
Some attorneys offer contingency fees on a sliding scale. If your attorney is one of them, be sure you understand how the scale works.
Other costs include expert witness fees, medical exams and tests, filing fees, and more. These aren’t generally part of the lawyer’s contingent but are itemized and charged later. Know what you’ll be paying for so there are no surprises after your case settles.
#4 Will you be handling my case personally?
Is the lawyer going to pass your case off to a different lawyer?
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Working with a hungry young associate who is willing to go to a partner-mentor for guidance could mean you get a lot of personalized attention and fire.
But you should have a chance to meet with that associate and decide for yourself whether you trust them with your case.
Bonus: Questions to Ask Yourself
You’ll work with this lawyer for the next 18 to 24 months. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable with this person.
Do you feel like they treat you with respect? Empathize with you? Answer your questions?
This person will guide you through one of the most stressful periods in your life. Make sure you have a good rapport with them before agreeing to let them represent you.
Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
Of course, we’d love it if you’d choose us to represent you during your New York personal injury case.
Schedule your free consultation today. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions!