05 Oct Six Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
QUESTION 1: HOW DOES THE LAWYER CHARGE THE CLIENT FOR THE LEGAL WORK?
- When hiring a personal injury lawyer you will often be provided with the option of an hourly or a contingency fee arrangement
- In an hourly fee arrangement, you will pay the lawyer for the actual time that the lawyer and his/her assistant spends working on the file. You should inquire as to what the lawyer’s and assistant’s hourly rates are
- In a contingency fee arrangement, you will pay the lawyer a percentage of the damages recovered (the amount that the client is awarded). In a claim involving death or personal injury in a motor vehicle accident the maximum that a lawyer can claim is one third of the damages
- Most clients tend to opt for a contingency arrangement as they don’t have to pay the lawyer’s legal fees if the legal action is unsuccessful
- You should also be aware that any disbursements are typically charged in addition to the lawyer’s fees (even if the action is unsuccessful). Disbursements are the out-of-pocket costs that are incurred by the lawyer including medical reports, expert witnesses, court filing fees, etc.
QUESTION 2: WILL THE FEE CHANGE DEPENDING ON HOW LONG THE ACTION OR CLAIM TAKES?
- If you are paying on an hourly basis, the longer that the action takes, typically the larger the resulting legal bill will be
- In a contingency fee arrangement, sometimes the percentage will vary depending on whether the file settles early or proceeds to court
QUESTION 3: HOW MUCH OF THE LAWYER’S PRACTICE IS DEDICATED TO PERSONAL INJURY?
- Some lawyers will have a varied practice. For instance, one day they may be working on a matrimonial dispute, the next an immigration file and the next a personal injury claim
- You may wish to determine what the lawyer’s area(s) of practice are and the expertise that the lawyer has with personal injury claims prior to retaining or hiring a lawyer to represent you in a personal injury matter
QUESTION 4: WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN THE ACTION AND HOW LONG COULD IT TAKE TO RESOLVE?
- Your lawyer should be able to advise you of the typical steps involved in a personal injury action
- Depending on the severity of your injuries, your lawyer may be able to provide you with a rough estimate of how long each step in your action will take
- It is very difficult to advise on how long the action will take to resolve given that it could settle early, outside of court, or proceed to trial
QUESTION 5: WHO WILL BE THE LAWYER ASSIGNED TO THE CASE?
- When retaining or hiring a law firm, it is not unusual for your file, or certain steps in the action, to be delegated to another lawyer, advisor or assistant in the firm
- You should determine if the lawyer that you initially meet will be the lawyer for the entire action or whether some steps will be delegated
- If the lawyer that is going to be assigned to your file is not the lawyer you are meeting with, you should determine the expertise and experience of the lawyer that will actually be assigned to your file
QUESTION 6: HAS THE LAWYER EVER BEEN DISCIPLINED BY THE BC LAW SOCIETY?
- The BC Law Society sets standards of professional responsibility for BC lawyers and upholds those standards through a complaints and discipline process
- If the lawyer has been disciplined, you may wish to know what for and what the outcome was
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please feel free to contact Sitka Law Group for a free consultation – we would be happy to answer your questions. We are located on Shelbourne Street near the border of Saanich, Oak Bay and Victoria.