You’ve been severely burned in an accident that wasn’t your fault. Your medical bills are piling up. You’re missing work and losing income. The insurance companies aren’t being helpful. It is clear that you need an experienced burn injury lawyer on your side. But how do you know which one to hire?
Asking the right questions upfront is key to finding the best attorney for your specific situation. Don’t wait to have these important conversations until after you’ve signed a contract. Do your research early.
We consulted top burn injury lawyers nationwide to come up with this list of five essential questions you should ask any attorney before putting them on retainer:
1. Do You Specialize in Burn Injury Cases?
Not every personal injury lawyer has extensive experience with burn injuries specifically. For example, while the best car accident lawyers in Houston may have some experience dealing with burn injury victims, they are less likely to be intimately familiar with burn injury cases because it is not their specialty.
When you are looking to hire a lawyer for your burn injury case, you want someone who is intimately familiar with the unique legal issues these cases present.
Ask pointedly, “What percentage of your current caseload involves representing burn victims?” Anything significantly less than 50 percent is a red flag.
Dig deeper by questioning them about the most recent burn cases they’ve handled. What were the causes? What types of settlements were they able to obtain? Listen for sophistication and nuance in their answers.
Here are some specific examples of follow-up questions to ask:
- “What are some of the most common causes of burn injuries you’ve seen in your cases?”
- “Have you handled any burn cases involving defective products or equipment? What were the results?”
- “How does the settlement process differ with a burn injury versus other types of personal injury cases?”
Their depth of knowledge and experience with various burn injury scenarios will be telling. If they struggle to provide detailed, insightful responses, they likely don’t have the specialization you need.
2. How Many Burn Injury Cases Have You Tried in Court?
Settlements are usually preferable to protracted litigation. However, you don’t want an attorney who isn’t willing and able to take your case to trial if necessary.
Ask upfront, “Out of the burn injury cases you’ve handled in the past 5 years, how many have actually gone to court?” Then follow up with, “What was the outcome in those trials?”
Ideally, you want someone with multiple seven- and eight-figure jury verdicts specifically involving burn injuries. This track record proves they have the litigation chops to fight for maximum compensation if insurance companies won’t play fair.
Probe them on the details of their biggest courtroom victories for burn victims:
- “What arguments or evidence were most persuasive to the jury in your largest burn injury verdicts?”
- “In cases where you obtained punitive damages, how did you convince the jury the conduct was willful or egregious?”
- “Have you handled any burn cases involving child victims? What unique legal issues did those cases present?”
Their war stories will reveal their courtroom skills and appetite for high-stakes litigation when necessary.
3. Who Will Handle the Day-to-Day Work on My Case?
In many law firms – especially large ones – junior associates fresh out of law school do a lot of the grunt work. That’s fine for some legal matters. But you want your burn case managed by an experienced attorney from start to finish.
Ask point blank, “If I hire your firm, who will be the lead attorney handling my day-to-day case?” Then research that person’s background and qualifications thoroughly.
Insist on face time with the lead attorney early in the process to establish rapport. Having an experienced lawyer managing your case can potentially result in a much larger settlement.
Some key questions to ask once you identify who the lead attorney would be:
- “How long have you been handling burn injury cases specifically?”
- “What’s the most common mistake you see other attorneys make when managing these cases?”
- “What’s your communication style? How often can I expect case updates from you directly?”
Their experience level and communication protocols are telling. Don’t put your case in the hands of a novice.
4. What’s Your Fee Structure?
Every personal injury law firm structures its fees differently. Some common models include:
- Contingency fee – Attorney gets 1/3 of final settlement
- Hourly billing – Rates ranging ~$100-$500/hour
- Flat fee – Set price for a defined scope
Most burn attorneys work on contingency because the cases can be lengthy. Confirm upfront:
- The percentage they’ll take from any settlement
- What case expenses aren’t covered by that fee
- Any costs you’ll be expected to front
Avoid firms that nickel and dime you with lots of surprise expenses. And don’t let them pressure you into accepting an early lowball settlement just to expedite their contingency payout.
Ask questions like:
- “If my case involves filing suit in multiple states, will that increase your contingency percentage?”
- “What out-of-pocket expenses can I expect for experts, court fees, travel, etc?”
- “What is your policy on expenses if we lose the case?”
Their fee structure can impact the net compensation you ultimately receive. Get all the details upfront so there are no misunderstandings later.
5. What’s Your Medical Expert Network Like?
Proving liability and damages in a burn case hinges on expert medical testimony. Ask prospective attorneys:
- “Do you have videotaped testimony from expert burn doctors attesting to how devastating these injuries can be?”
- “What’s your working relationship like with local burn centers and specialists?”
Their responses will reveal how adept they are at leveraging medical evidence to maximize case value.
If they fumble or have no network of go-to burn experts, keep looking. Medical testimony is crucial for connecting your injuries to negligence and justifying the full scope of compensation you deserve.
Dig deeper with questions like:
- “Do you partner with any rehab facilities that specialize in burn recovery?”
- “What testimony have your medical experts provided at trial about burn scarring, grafting, physical therapy needs, etc?”
- “How soon after an accident do you engage medical experts to assess damages?”
Vet their medical expert thoroughly before committing. The strength of clinical evidence supporting your claim is vital.
Schedule Initial Consults with Multiple Attorneys
Finding the right lawyer to pursue maximum compensation takes research. But the payout – both financially and emotionally – makes the effort worthwhile.
Schedule initial consults with at least 3-5 candidates. Come prepared with this list of probing questions. Take notes on their responses. Review your options carefully before deciding.
If an attorney seems evasive, makes promises that seem too good to be true, or asks you to sign something at the initial consult, proceed with caution. Don’t let desperation drive your decision.
Interview multiple top burn injury lawyers until you find one truly dedicated to your case. For extensive burns with disabilities lasting a lifetime, you need an attorney with the experience and resources to build the strongest claim possible.
Warning Signs It’s the Wrong Lawyer
To spotlight the attributes of the right attorney even more, let’s also call out some warning signs that indicate you should keep looking:
- They don’t provide upfront answers about fee structures.
- They ask for money from you before taking any action on the case.
- They make inflated promises of multi-million dollar settlements.
- They don’t have extensive experience handling burn cases specifically. For example, while a pedestrian accident lawyer in Houston may have a history of winning cases in court, they are likely not perfect for your burn injury case because they do not specialize in burn injury cases.
- Past cases have ended in settlement rather than going to trial.
- No references or examples of favorable verdicts in similar cases.
- Vague responses when asked for case examples and medical expert contacts.
Proceed cautiously if any of these red flags pop up in your initial consult.
Ask These Key Questions Before Committing
Finding an attorney you can trust is crucial after suffering life-altering burn injuries. Before you sign a retainer agreement, get clear answers to questions like:
- How many cases similar to mine have you handled successfully?
- Are you willing to take my case to trial if needed?
- Who will be the lead attorney managing my case?
- What are your total fees and expenses?
- What is your network of medical experts and resources?
Vet each prospective attorney thoroughly. Compare their experience, results, and client reviews. Make an informed decision before handing your case over.
If you are looking for an experienced and skilled attorney to help with your burn injury case, you should reach out to us by calling us at (713) 804-8149. With attorneys who are genuinely interested in you and your family on your side, you have your best chance at the maximum compensation you deserve. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.