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Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC
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What Questions Should I Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you have been injured in Los Angeles, California because of the reckless, negligent, or intentional acts of others, getting help from a personal injury attorney is important. However, it is equally important for you to make sure that you hire a lawyer who you can work with and who has strong litigation and negotiation skills. Your attorney should also be experienced and have achieved successful results for his or her clients in the past. Many people are unsure about how they might find the right injury lawyer for their cases. Asking these questions can help you to make certain that the attorney that you choose is the right one for you. (NOTE: Some other pertinent personal injury tips)

How Long Have You Been Practicing Law?

When you are choosing an attorney, you will want to find someone who is experienced. While it is true that there are many good attorneys who haven't been practicing for very long, you likely do not want to choose an attorney who is learning on your case. Ask the lawyers who you interview about how long they have practiced law and when they were first licensed. You might also ask the attorneys about how many cases they have handled and the percentage of cases that have been in your particular legal area.

It is a good idea to ask prospective attorneys how long they have been practicing law. You do not want someone to learn about how to practice law while they are handling your case. Ask the prospective attorneys how long they have been licensed to practice law. You should also ask them specifically how long they have practiced in the area of injury law.

What Areas of Law do You Practice?

Attorneys who do not practice personal injury law may not have the knowledge that your case requires. It is important for you to ask them whether they practice injury law and how much of their practice is focused on it. Attorneys who focus in the area of tort law may be aware of the most recent case decisions and other changes in the law that might impact your case. They may also be experienced in handling claims with insurance companies and with members of the defense bar.

Will You Handle My Case?

At some firms, the lawyers hand off cases to case managers who are not even licensed to practice law in the State of California.  These "managers" tend to be not even certified paralegals or anything more than just hourly paid employees that have little legal expertise or experience.

You should ask the lawyers that you interview if they will personally handle your case or if "case managers" or associates will be handling it. If an associate will handle your case, ask who will supervise him or her and ask to meet the associate as well. You should also ask who you will contact for information about your claim. It is important for you to get this information before you sign a representation agreement with a law firm.

What is the Attorney's Track Record for Past Cases?

If you have extensive injuries, it is important for you to find a lawyer who will be able to obtain a large settlement or jury verdict so that you can be fully compensated for your losses. When you interview personal injury lawyers, ask them about their track record for settlements and verdicts. You can look at an attorney's website to see if he or she is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum or the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates' Forum. These are two exclusive professional organizations that limit their memberships to attorneys who have recovered settlements and verdicts for their clients that exceed seven or eight figures. If the attorney who you are considering is a member of one of these two organizations, his or her website will likely have a badge. You can also simply ask the attorney if he or she is a member of one of these organizations.

How Many Cases are You Currently Litigating?

Some attorneys take on too many cases at once, which leaves them with insufficient time to handle the investigatory work that might be needed to build strong claims. You should ask lawyers about how many cases that they are personally handling so that you can get an idea of whether they will have enough time to handle yours properly.

Firms that typically handle too many cases to provide any one particular client with quality legal representation tend to be large volume practices.  These attorneys usually do extensive advertising on billboards, TV, radio, and on buses. We have an extensive discussion of these settlement mill practices here.

What are Your Legal Fees?

Contingency fees are a type of payment arrangement commonly used in personal injury cases. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff is seeking compensation for damages caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another party. This may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs.

In many cases, the plaintiff may not have the financial resources to pay for an attorney upfront. This is where a contingency fee arrangement can be helpful. Under this arrangement, the attorney agrees to take on the case and advance the costs of the litigation, with the understanding that they will only receive payment if the plaintiff wins or settles the case.

Most attorneys who practice in the area of tort law charge their fees on a contingency basis. This means that the lawyers do not receive money for their work until and unless they successfully resolve their clients' cases through settlements or jury verdicts. The fees that may be charged may range from 33 and one-third percent to 40 percent, depending on the stage of your case when it is settled or won. It is important to understand that lawyers who charge low contingent fees may be inexperienced and not qualified to handle your case properly.

Contingency fees can be beneficial for plaintiffs who may not be able to afford legal representation otherwise. They provide a way for plaintiffs to pursue justice and compensation for their injuries without the burden of upfront legal fees. In addition, contingency fee arrangements can provide an incentive for attorneys to work hard to achieve a positive outcome for their clients, since their payment is tied to the success of the case.

However, it is important to carefully review the terms of any contingency fee agreement before signing. Plaintiffs should understand exactly how the fee will be calculated, what expenses will be included, and what happens if the case is not successful. It is also important to make sure that the attorney is experienced in handling personal injury cases and has a good track record of success.

Will I be Responsible to Pay Costs if My Case is Unsuccessful?

In addition to attorneys' fees, there are expenses that may be associated with injury claims. These may include court filing fees, investigators' expenses, expert witness fees, postage, and other costs. Different law firms handle the expenses that are related to injury cases differently. Some require their clients to pay for the costs as they arise while others collect the expenses out of the settlements or verdicts that they win for their clients. You will want to know how the law firm handles case-related costs. Lawyers should talk to you before they incur costs to get your approval of them. If the law firm waits until cases are settled or won before they collect the case-related costs, you will want to know if you will be billed for them if your case is lost.

What are the Strengths and Weaknesses of My Case?

If attorneys tell you that you have a strong case, ask them to explain why they believe so. Good attorneys should be able to point to some specifics about your case that make them believe that they will be able to help you to recover compensation. It is also a good idea to ask attorneys about the weaknesses of your case. Attorneys who are knowledgeable and experienced should be able to identify weak areas that may need some work.

Can I Speak With a Former Client?

While attorneys may have testimonials listed on their websites, you should not rely on those alone. Ask the lawyers if they can provide you with references from one or more past clients. If you are provided with contact information, follow up with the former client about the experience that he or she had with the law firm.

Asking questions of prospective lawyers is important. When you hire a lawyer, you will be working with him or her for a long period of time. You will want to make certain that you choose someone who is experienced and who you trust to handle your case effectively. Schedule a consultation with the attorneys at our Los Angeles, California law firm by calling the Law Offices of Steven M. Sweat today at 310-592-0445 or Toll free (24/7) at our Injury Help Center 866-966-5240

Client Reviews
I have known Steven for some time now and when his services were required he jumped in and took control of my cases. I had two and they were handled with the utmost professionalism and courtesy. He went the extra mile regardless of the bumps in the road. I can not see me using any other attorney and I would recommend him to any of my family and friends. Josie A.
Steven was vital during our most trying time. He was referred by a friend after an accident that involved a family member. While he was critical and lying in the hospital, Steven was kind, patient and knowledgeable about what we were going through. Following our loss, Steven became a tough and aggressive negotiator and made sure that we receive a huge compensation. I would refer Steven in fact, this happened 2 years ago and I still speak highly of his service. Cheryl S.
Mr. Sweat is a pitbull in the courtroom as well as settlement negotiations - You can't have a better equipped attorney in your corner! It is a pleasure working as colleagues together on numerous cases. He can get the job done. Jonathan K.
Because of Steven Sweat, my medical support was taken care of. Plus, I had more money to spare for my other bills. Steven is not only an excellent personal injury lawyer, providing the best legal advice, but also a professional lawyer who goes beyond his call of duty just to help his clients! He stood up for me and helped me get through the process. I would definitely recommend. I couldn't think of any better lawyer than him. MiraJane C.
I must tell anyone, if you need a great attorney, Steve sweat is the guy! I had an awful car accident and had no idea where to turn. He had so much to deal with because my accident was a 4 car pile up. Not to mention all the other cars were behind me and they were not wanting to settle in any way! He never stopped working for me and had my best interest at heart! Audra W.
I believe I made the best choice with Steven M Sweat, Personal Injury. I was very reluctant to go forward with my personal injury claim. I had a valid claim and I needed a professional attorney to handle it. I felt so much better when I let Steven take my case. His team did everything right and I am very satisfied. Stia P.
I have to say that Steve has been exemplary! I met Steve at a point with my case that I was ready to give up. He took the time and dealt with all of my concerns. Most importantly, he was present and listened to what I was going through. He was able to turn things around, put me and my case on the right track! The results were better that expected! Highly recommend!! Cody A.