15 Tips for Asking Your Lawyer the Right Questions
We all want to follow the law, and try our best every day to make sure we’re doing the right things. However, following the law doesn’t mean you won’t be prone to accidents, crimes, and even lawsuits. This is also true when you consider the fact that there are 17,985 U.S. police agencies in the United States which include City Police Departments, County Sheriff’s Offices, State Police/Highway Patrol, and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. Chances are you might come into contact with some of these agencies on not-so-good terms. If you find yourself caught in a legal battle, what can you do?
Getting in trouble or caught in a legal battle is something very common these days. From car accidents to DUI charges, divorces, separations, and everything in between, you’ll need to know how to deal with legal trouble that comes your way. Luckily, this is a very easy task when you have a good lawyer on your side. It’s not just about getting a good lawyer, however. It’s also about knowing the best questions to ask a lawyer so that they can assist you better in any legal task you are undertaking.
Who to Talk to
In the United States, if you are charged with a crime you are able to be appointed a public defender to represent you. A public defender is another name for a lawyer who works for you, the defendant. However, lawyers are also necessary to obtain if you want to pursue any lawsuit of any kind. You, the plaintiff, would likely sue another business or person known as the defendant. These are simple terms anyone should know, and they will help you if you ever need to take a legal matter to court. Whether you’re facing a lengthy court case, or simply need help with a legal question, having the best questions to ask a lawyer handy will help a long way. Here are 15 questions you can ask your lawyer about issues ranging from marriage to divorce, bankruptcy, crime, and so forth. Always check with your attorney for the best legal advice.
Many lawyers nowadays charge what is known as a contingency fee. This fee is not to exceed 15-30 percent of your settlement offer in some states and is a great way to ensure your lawyer and you have the same goal in mind: a big settlement. One of the best questions to ask a lawyer is how much of a contingency fee percentage they will be charging and if you’ll need to pay them upfront. Most lawyers will not charge you until you’ve one a case, and because of this won’t take a case unless they feel it will win big in court. Some lawyers, such as corporate lawyers, work on retainer and are available to you via your place of work if you ever need help with a case there. In addition, some other lawyers charge fees from anywhere between 100-500 dollars an hour, or more depending on their reputation! Whatever the case, it’s best to always ask upfront for the cost of your lawyer, and decide from there whether it’s worth pursuing a case.
2. Length of Case
Some cases, such as those dealing with simple accidents and settlements, can take less than a year to fight in court. However, certain cases can drag out for years and years before a case is settled. This is especially true for criminal lawyers and even a car accident lawyer that is constantly facing backlash and attacks from a defendant’s legal team. It’s important to understand this beforehand, and know that a case that takes years can drain your bank account, as well as cause unnecessary stress. Because of this, one of the best questions to ask a lawyer is how long your case will take, and some ways to speed your case up even faster. Never give up just because a case will take longer than you expected. A good, solidly built case might take a while to gather, but will guarantee you win big on your settlement.
3. Additional Paperwork
Paperwork can be a headache for most people, and this is including both yourself and your lawyer. From receiving letters from the representatives of a defendant to filling out paperwork that is stacked high, one of the best questions to ask a lawyer is how much time you will need to dedicate filling out paperwork and attending hearings. Luckily, most of the time, your lawyer attends hearings for you, meets with other legal counsel, and overall communicates and does the paperwork on your behalf. A good lawyer won’t stress you out with all the details of a case, but will work to keep you up-to-date and in-the-know with your case.
When you’re dealing with a case that could be a matter of a life behind bars or not, you’ll want to get a lawyer that understands the importance of evidence and what it means for your case. One of the best questions to ask a lawyer is if they know how to go about getting evidence for your case. Whether that’s evidence in support of a child custody case, or a criminal defense lawyer obtaining camera footage of a scene of a crime, the best lawyer will know how and where to obtain evidence to support your case. If your lawyer has no idea how to go about getting evidence or is hesitant to look for extra evidence, get another lawyer who can help go the extra mile for you.
5. What Experts to Choose
If you’re working on a worker’s compensation case, or are consulting the help of a personal injury attorney, one of the biggest things you will need is the help of a medical professional. A medical professional can work to determine if your injuries and pain are related to your accident either at work or at the hands of someone else or if they are just the results of another accident that is not part of a case. The best questions to ask a lawyer revolve around whether they will be able to get you expert help and advice when working on your case. Other experts a lawyer can get to testify for you are private investigators, safety experts, and even law enforcement officials and detectives. Any expert that can take the stand in your defense is a great asset to make a strong case. A great lawyer will know just which experts to call on.
6. Bond Hearings
If you’re committed of a crime, you will need a judge to determine how much of a bond you will need to pay before you can get out of jail and await your court date at home. A bail bond agencies help can ensure you get the cash you need to get out of jail and back to your family while waiting for court. An expert bail bonds attorney can help negotiate an appropriate bond on your behalf. One of the best questions to ask a lawyer is if they have experience lowering and negotiating bonds, and if so, how much have they successfully been able to reduce a bond? A good lawyer will help you as much as they can to ensure your bond isn’t enormously high, and you are able to go to your support system at home instead of spending unnecessary time in jail.
7. Workers Compensation
Workers compensation might seem like a simple and straight-forward case. After all, you were injured on the job and will now get the appropriate compensation you are entitled to right? Well, not exactly. A workers compensation lawyer knows exactly how an insurance company works, and knows what tactics they will use in order to hinder your efforts in obtaining appropriate compensation. The best questions to ask a lawyer when dealing with workers comp issues is if they know how long your case will take, what you should do for work while you are waiting, and what to avoid in order to not worsen your condition or jeopardize your case.
8. DUI Laws
One of the most common crimes you might, unfortunately, unknowingly partake in is drunk driving. Drunk driving is becoming more and more common, and is a serious and sometimes fatal crime that can occur when an intoxicated person gets behind the wheel of their vehicle. However, you don’t just have to be drunk beyond recognition or get into an accident to get charged with a DUI. You might get in trouble for driving under the influence if you take medication that makes you drowsy, tired, and causes you to swerve in and out of lanes while driving. Though you might not think you are in trouble, the best questions to ask a lawyer is if they know what laws are in place for DUI’s, and how you can help lessen your sentencing. You could even get your case thrown out if your lawyer finds that the police officer who stopped your vehicle did so unlawfully.
9. Prior Crimes
Prior crimes can negatively impact your sentencing if you are involved in another legal issue or crime. For instance, having more than 1 DUI can lead to serious jail time and fines. Other states, such as California, have a three-strike law that takes third felony offenses incredibly seriously. One of the best questions to ask a lawyer is how your prior crimes will affect you, and if there’s any way that your prior crimes can be kept out of the courtroom during jury sentencing. On the plus side, if you’ve never committed a crime, your lawyer can use this to your advantage and ask for a lighter sentencing or even a lighter charge when taking your case to the judge.
10. Libel and Slander
Libel and slander are incredibly common lawsuits nowadays, especially if you run your own blog site or Youtube channel, for instance. One of the best questions to ask a lawyer that deals with libel and slander suits are if they have a good track record of keeping the defendants safe from costly settlements. If you’re the plaintiff, ask if your lawyer has been able to get you good settlements and if it’s possible to fight for a redaction of any publication that has defamed you.
Settlements are a big part of any case, as we have mentioned. Don’t beat around the bush, and ask your lawyer upfront if they’ve won big on other cases. If so, how did they do it? Do they think your case has the potential to win big? Any answers to these questions could prove to be a game-changer in your case.
12. Divorce Options
A divorce lawyer is one of the best assets to have when going through a divorce. One of the best questions to ask a lawyer dealing in divorce is knowing your options, and how to go about winning a case quickly. Divorces are extremely stressful, and knowing how to settle a case quickly could be the best defense strategy. Ask your divorce lawyer for advice on settling cases and options such as mediation and even annulments to marriages.
13. Bankruptcy Options
Bankruptcy is a term that no one wants to hear, as it’s a scary thing to go through. However, with the help of a great bankruptcy attorney, you can be sure your bankruptcy case can go smoothly and cause less stress. A good bankruptcy lawyer can lower the amount of debt you owe by negotiating with your team, and also let you know how long it can take to recover once out of debt.
Testimonies don’t have to just come from experts. Testimonies can come from family members, children, and even teachers. A good family law attorneys office will know exactly who to call to the stand if, for instance, you want to testify in order to get your child back into your home. Family law attorneys, criminal defense lawyers, divorce lawyers, and all other attorneys should know exactly who to call to the stand, so ask them who to call on to strengthen your case.
15. Wills and Testaments
You might not think to get a will started now at a young age. However, one of the best questions to ask a lawyer dealing with wills and testaments is how early to get started, and what are the benefits of having a will now? What assets will you need to consider, and how can you ensure your family is safe after your passing? All these questions can be answered at any time, and it’s up to you to get the best lawyer to make a strong will.