If you're considering hiring an attorney to help you recover an insurance settlement or sue the property owner after a slip and fall accident, you will likely meet with one or two candidates free of charge to discuss what happened, and to assess the viability of your personal injury claim.
In order to make sure this is time well spent, and to find an attorney who is the right fit for you, you need to ask the right questions. In this article, we'll give you an idea of the different topics to touch on in your first meeting with a personal injury attorney, discussed in the context of a slip and fall case.
Ask About the Attorney's Qualifications and Experience
Any attorney you end up hiring should be experienced with personal injury cases in general. He or she should also be familiar with the statutes and case law in your state (and your city or county) related to slip and fall lawsuits and a property owner's legal obligations to keep visitors safe from injury. Examples of questions to ask in this arena include:
- What law school did you attend?
- How long have you been practicing law?
- How much of your practice is devoted to representing slip and fall plaintiffs?
- How many slip and fall cases have you handled in the past? How many of these cases were over injuries or accidents similar to mine? What were the outcomes of these cases?
- What next steps should I expect if I decide to sue the property owner?
- What sets you apart from other slip and fall attorneys
Ask About Case Management and Legal Strategy
Other areas you should touch on at your initial meeting include how your case will be managed, what the attorney’s legal style tends to be, and his or her typical strategy in slip and fall cases. It may make sense to ask:
- Who will be handling my case on a day-to-day basis?
- How often will I receive updates on progress in my case?
- What is the best way to reach you and how soon can I expect a response?
- Which decisions will you make regarding my case, and what decisions will be left to me?
- What is your philosophy on settling a slip and fall case as opposed to suing and going to trial?
- What questions will I get asked at a slip and fall deposition?
- How long will my slip and fall case take?
The free consultation provides you with an opportunity to discuss the facts of your case and get answers to specific questions. For example:
- What do you see as the strengths and challenges of my case?
- I slipped and fell on my friend’s steps, and she lives in a rental property. Who is liable for the accident?
- Can I sue the government if I slip and fall on a public sidewalk or other public property?
- I took an unauthorized shortcut across private property before I fell and got hurt. Can I sue the property owner even though I was trespassing?
- How does homeowner's insurance apply to a slip and fall case?
- I slipped on a wet spot at the grocery store, and an employee told me that he forgot to put a caution sign up. Will that statement be admissible in court?
Fees and Costs
Finally, you should always make sure you discuss the fees and costs associated with your potential slip and fall case; specifically:
- Do you work under a contingency fee agreement? What is the percentage, and is it fixed or scale?
- Who will be responsible for the costs associated with my personal injury case?
At the end of the consultation, you should have a good feel for whether the attorney is competent and trustworthy, and whether you'd feel comfortable putting your case in his or her hands. You should also have a good sense of whether you and the attorney will work well together. Learn more about Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer.