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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Sep 15, 16

Part of finding the right personal injury lawyer is finding someone who fits your personality and needs. No two personal injury cases are alike, even if many share some similarities. Naturally, this means that you have to do a lot of research, both on your own and with potential attorneys, before you find someone who will work well with you and your case.

The specific questions you ask a personal injury lawyer will vary depending on your own situation, but there are some general go-to questions you should always ask when you’re meeting with a new lawyer.

1. "Do you have an area that you focus on?"

Some lawyers don't have a specific focus area and do a little bit of everything. While this sounds good on paper, you don't want a jack-of-all-trades lawyer representing you in a personal injury lawsuit. A lawyer who focuses mainly on personal injury will serve you far better. That lawyer most likely handles cases in areas such as medical malpractice, car accident or workplace accidents, or suits against the manufacturers of faulty products. It’s important the person you hire as a personal injury attorney should focus mainly on personal injury cases. That person's expertise will be the most useful and beneficial.

2. "How Many Cases Like Mine Have You Taken Before?"

A lawyer may say they focus on personal injury cases, but that doesn't mean a whole lot if they lack real experience. When you ask a lawyer about their area of focus, make sure to ask how many cases like yours they've taken in the past. It is possible to find a brilliant lawyer who hasn't had a lot of courtroom experience yet, and you're generally safer if you go with an attorney who has a handful of successful lawsuits to their name.

3. "Do You Have Time to Properly Handle My Case?"

A good law firm is probably busy with at least a few cases at any given time, so any personal injury lawyer you hire may have a lot on their plate. You will want to make sure they can devote enough time to your case and give it the attention it needs for a favorable outcome. This is a good time to ask about the size of the law firm, the number of attorneys and staff, and who will be working on your case.

4. "What is Your Contingency Fee?"

Most personal injury lawyers work for a contingency fee, which means you don't pay any fees unless there is a monetary recovery. This fee is usually between 25 to 40 percent of your compensation. Larger cases with more severe damages tend to have higher contingency fees. If you cannot afford to pay legal fees out-of-pocket, and the lawyer you are speaking with charges up front, it is definitely in your best interest to find a lawyer who works on a contingency fee basis.

5. "Will I be speaking directly to you regarding my case?"

Ideally, you will want to be speaking directly to your lawyer regarding your case. This sounds like common sense, but sometimes clients speak mostly to someone else in the law firm instead. If this is the case during your initial consultation, you should by all means find a different law firm where you will have direct access to the attorney who will be representing you.

6. "Do You Have References from Past Clients?"

Finally, you should ask if there are any previous clients who can vouch for your potential lawyer and provide some good references. This ties closely with the question of how many cases like yours a lawyer has taken before, and will allow them to provide proof that they can achieve a satisfactory outcome for your personal injury case. It's not always a surefire indicator of quality, but it will definitely help you make your decision.


It is great to work with the attorneys at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah. They always provide excellent advice and service that is second to none.

Mike Miller | former NBA player

The lawyers at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah are consistently ranked as the top business lawyers in the state. Our business can always count on them to aggressively fight for our rights and provide straight-forward advice on complex issues.

Mark McNeary | Primrose Retirement Communities, LLC

Lawyers from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah regularly participate in legal education by judging intramural student skills competitions; helping prepare our nationally competitive litigation skills teams; serving or leading the South Dakota State Bar's Law School Committee; and, from time to time , providing guest lecturers. The Law School is grateful for the generous participation of lawyers like those from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah.

Tom Geu | former Dean, USD School of Law