No one ever expects to need to hire a compensation lawyer because no one ever expects to get injured. If you are reading this document it is likely that you have been injured, we are sorry to hear that. It is also likely however that you are in the process of doing some research to try to work out whether you have a claim and if so which lawyer you should use. If this is the case then we congratulate you because researching who you use is a very important step.
Given that you have never expected to need to hire a lawyer you probably don’t know where to start. We have prepared this page to help you ask the right questions that you may be considering hiring to help you on your compensation case:
1. How much will it cost?
It is not the most important to ask your lawyer but is certainly one of the cost. The total cost of a claim that a lawyer charges their client in claiming compensation will vary from case to case depending upon:
- The complexity of proving your entitlement to compensation
- The nature and extent of your injuries
- The nature and extent of the losses that you have suffered as a consequence of your injury
Ultimately it is very unlikely that any lawyer will be able to give you a fixed price quote on the total costs of your claim at the first meeting or in an initial consultation. What your lawyer will be able to tell you though is how they charge (including hourly rates), whether they charge you for costs (such as photocopying and phone calls) and whether they will pay for costs on your behalf such as medical reports. Accordingly the better questions to ask any lawyer before you engage them in respect of costs are:
- What is your hourly rate?
- Do you charge anything in addition to your hourly rates such as photocopies, phone calls etc and if so, how much do you charge for them?
- Will you pay for any costs associated with the claim and if so, will you charge me anything extra on top of what those costs actually are
2. Who will handle my claim?
What you probably don’t know is that irrespective of how straight forward your claim is it is likely to take time. In many cases it is not all uncommon for a claim to take between 6 to 12 months and quite often longer in cases where you have suffered more significant injuries. During this time you will need to have a lot to do with your lawyer so it is important to know who you will be dealing with. Many larger firms will speak as their firm as collective rather than talking about their individual lawyers. At the end of the day whilst you will be a client of a firm, you will be dealing with the individual members of that firm so it is important to understand who they are and their level of experiences. Questions that you should therefore ask is as follows:
- What is your role within the firm (ie. are you a partner of the firm, employee lawyer or paralegal)?
- Will you be handling my case from start to finish or will others be involved?
- How long have you been with the firm and how do I know that you will stay with my case from start to finish irrespective of how long it may take?
3. What is your experience?
Again one of the most, if not the most, important question to ask your prospective lawyer. Again many large firms will likewise speak about their firm’s experience rather than the lawyer that you are speaking to. Before hiring a lawyer you need to be confident that the lawyer who is handling your case has the appropriate experience to get you the best outcome.
4. Questions you should consider asking your lawyer are as follows:
- What is your role within the firm (ie. are you a partner, senior associate, associate, solicitor or a paralegal?)
- How long have you been doing injury compensation work form?
- Can you give me some examples of cases similar to mine that you have handled, can you tell me the sort of outcomes you achieved.
5. Do you have any former clients whom I could talk to about what you have done for them?
Lets face it, self praise is no praise at all. Lawyers are very good at telling you how good they are and how wonderful their clients think they are. One of the best tests of what a client really thinks of their lawyer is to simply ask them. Questions you should ask in this regard are:
- Would you have any former clients who I could talk to about their experience with you as a lawyer, if so, can you please give me their contact details.
- Do you have a service guarantee.
It is a fairly simply question to ask but one of the most important ones to ask for. Our service guarantee for example is that:
- Only a partner of our firm (being an owner rather than an employee) will have responsibility for your case.
- You will only deal with one lawyer from the start of your case to the finish.
- The hourly rate that we quote you at the start of the matter will not change at any time irrespective of how long your matter is run for.
- In addition to complying with the Queensland Law Society imposed 50/50 rule in many cases we will offer you “caps and collars” on what your costs will be on a stage by stage basis when we understand more about your claim.
To assist you in choosing a lawyer please feel free to use the attached spreadsheet to “score” any lawyers you may be talking to.