12 Questions To Ask Your Potential Lawyer

Ask the question

Lawyers are no different than other people. There are good ones and bad ones just like there are good cooks and bad cooks. You can tell a bad cook by the taste of the food…how can you tell a bad lawyer? You can’t taste what the lawyer does…with some lawyers you can’t even see what they do…

A lawyer sells skill, experience, knowledge, and time. The lawyer has knowledge from training in law school, from reading about changes in the law, and from experience as a lawyer. Unfortunately, there is no sure way to tell if the lawyer you choose is competent.

One way to select a lawyer is by recommendation of a satisfied client. Be careful though, since no two cases are the same, even if your friend’s case was successful, it is no guarantee that your case will be successful. Also, lawyers have different personalities. The lawyer who works well with your friend may not get along with you. A satisfied client might be a good way for you to know that the lawyer has some knowledge and experience in the particular area of law that you need help with.

Another way to choose a lawyer is by reading advertisements, articles, an Internet Web site, or other information about a lawyer or written by the lawyer. In this way you can find out what areas of the law the lawyer has experience in. If the lawyer has written books or articles, you may want to read them to see how the lawyer discusses situations similar to yours. You might also contact a bar association to ask for a referral to a lawyer. Make sure the lawyer is experienced.

Here is a handy checklist of basic questions to ask before you hire a lawyer:
# What is your experience in this field?

# Have you handled matters like mine?

# What are the possible outcomes of my case?

# What are my alternatives in resolving the matter?

# Approximately how long will it take to resolve?

# Do you recommend mediation or arbitration?

# What are your rates and how often will you bill me?

# What is a ballpark figure for the total bill, including fees and expenses?

# How will you keep me informed of progress?

# What kind of approach will you take to resolve the matter – aggressive and unyielding, or will you be more inclined to reach a reasonable settlement?

# Who else in the office will be working on my case?

# Can junior attorneys or paralegals in the office handle some of the substantive legal work at a lower rate?

Make sure the person in charge of the office is a lawyer. Notaries, consultants, or others who are not licensed as a lawyer will sometimes pretend to be a lawyer. If you are in the office, look for the lawyer’s certificate on the wall. Since some licensed lawyers do not display their certificates, you can ask if the person is a lawyer. Look at the business card from the office. See if it says that the person is a lawyer or attorney.

If you are unhappy with your lawyer, you can change and go to another lawyer asking to have your case transferred. This may not be a good idea unless you are very unhappy since changing lawyers will usually cost additional fees and may increase the time needed finish a case

Do You Really Need a Lawyer?

Need a Lawyer

Sometimes it’s a no-brainer, such as when you get sued or when you’re arrested or charged with a crime. But keep in mind that people hire lawyers for advice and expertise all of the time, in all kinds of situations. While you may be able to get through a legal problem without hiring a lawyer, you should always remember that when you represent yourself, you might have a “fool for a client,” as the saying goes.

One of the first things to ask yourself in deciding if you should consult an attorney is: “What’s at stake?” When your finances or liberties are in serious jeopardy, the obvious answer is to get legal help. But what is serious?

An ordinary parking summons is a brush with the law, but you need not consult with an attorney to pay the fine or even to fight it. However, if you’ve accumulated a number of unpaid parking tickets and a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you would probably want to hire a lawyer to help you best resolve the situation, and perhaps save you money or even keep you out of jail.

In good times as well as bad, individuals and businesses rely on their lawyer’s advice to understand and secure legal rights and financial interests. Lawyers help clients with estate planning and business negotiations, strategies and transactions. With good legal advice, clients are better prepared to comply with and navigate through the complex mazes of governmental rules and regulations.

It is also a lot easier to rest easily after consulting with experienced lawyers for important undertakings such as tax and estate planning, drafting wills and trusts, negotiating business deals and even pursuing personal family matters such as adopting children.

Before You Hire a Lawyer

It never hurts to talk to a lawyer, and it may be the best thing you can do if you think you have a legal problem that you can’t resolve yourself. If you’re persistent, you can probably arrange a free consultation with a lawyer who will talk to you on the matter.

Short of hiring a lawyer, though, you may want to look at alternative sources to resolve your legal issues.

    • Ask for references. You want to talk to people who could comment on the lawyer’s skills and trustworthiness.
    • Ask for a copy of a firm brochure and promotional materials. If they are available, crosscheck these materials against other sources and references.
    • Ask to be provided with a copy of the lawyer’s retainer agreement and have it explained to you before decide on retaining the lawyer or the lawyer’s law firm. You may end up paying a lot of money to the lawyer so make sure you understand what you are signing up for.
    • Use your common sense and gut instincts to evaluate the remaining lawyers on your list. You’ll want to be comfortable with the lawyer you hire. You will also want to choose the lawyer who you think will do the best job for you

Slip & Fall On Snow Or Ice – Can You Get Money For Your Injuries?

Slip & Fall On Snow

Winter time inevitably causes people to slip on snow and ice. They dont wear the right shoes or boots, the driveway wasnt plowed and the street wasnt sanded. If you fall and injure yourself while slipping on snow or ice, can you be compensated (get money) for your injuries?

The short answer is maybe. In any snow and ice case we look to see what the condition was like at the time you fell. If it was the middle of a blizzard and nobody had time to clear the parking lot in the middle of the night, its not looking good to be able to prove that the owner of the property should have taken steps to clear the lot of snow and ice. The key to proving liability in a snow and ice case is whether the owner of the property knew of a dangerous condition and failed to timely act to correct it. This is called notice. If the owner didnt know about a dangerous condition, how can he be held responsible for your injuries? He wont be. But, what if the icy condition existed for a few days or weeks? Everybody who lived nearby always saw the ice and nobody ever salted or sanded the ice. In that situation we would argue that the owner of the property knew, or should have known, that there was a dangerous and icy condition on his property.

What if someone actually tells the owner of the property about an icy area of his lot and he doesnt do anything to fix the problem? Well, as long as nobody gets hurt, hes avoided a lawsuit. However, if someone does get injured at that location, after someone has specifically notified him of a dangerous condition, and he fails to correct the danger, then in all probability he will be held responsible for failing to prevent injuries at that location.

Sometimes, the owner hires a snow removal company (a snow plow) to plow the driveway, street, sidewalk or parking lot. In some cases, these snow plow companies dont do a good job and leave piles of snow in areas where they will melt, re-freeze, and then create sheets of ice throughout the property. If the snow plow or property owner knew that putting all that snow at the top of the hill wasnt a good location, there are some cases where the owner or snow plow operator will be held responsible for your injuries.

If you fall and are injured during the winter months it is very important that you do three things:

(1) Look around to see what you slipped on. Take a mental note about the conditions where you fell and the surrounding conditions.

(2) When possible, get photographs of the condition as soon as possible after you fell. This will preserve evidence of what the area looked like when you fell. Make sure you take at least an entire roll of film, from all different angles. Dont just take a picture of the ice. Look for a street sign, a building, and an address that can also get in the picture. This way you can positively identify the location where you fell, at a later date. If you use a digital camera do not ever make any changes or alterations to your photos when you provide them to your attorney.

(3) If you dont go to the hospital or a doctor immediately, you should report your accident to the owner of the property to put them on notice of your accident.

Injuries from slipping on ice or snow can be very serious and can include broken bones and the need for surgery. Take time to think whether this could have been prevented. Or was your fall simple carelessness that could have been prevented if you were paying attention to where you were walking? The answer is sometimes difficult to answer. Thats why an experienced injury attorney can help guide you and advise you about your legal rights. The longer you wait to speak to an attorney, the greater chance you have of forgetting important information that could help you in a potential case.

The best advice is to be careful while outside and to make sure youre wearing the right winter gear. But even that doesnt always prevent an injury.

Ice skating injuries – They happen. Its a fact. Even to experienced skaters. You will always see big signs posted at every entrance to every skating rink in New York that ice skating is a dangerous sport. The warning will say that you Skate at your own risk. That is the same as saying buyer beware!

What happened? The girl could not control the snowtube and went off the trail, tragically causing her death. Is the resort responsible for her untimely death? In all likelihood the answer is no. She engaged in a dangerous activity, in a prohibited and restricted area. The snowtube is uncontrollable- which is what makes it so much fun. However, snowtubes are typically used in special areas or chutes designed to keep the tubes in a runway style area, so that there is no way to run off a trail.

Many people have tried to sue skating rinks and ski resorts for injuries they suffered while engaging in these fun filled but dangerous activities. Most have failed. On occasion there have been successes, but those are the exceptions. Where you actively choose to engage in a dangerous activity and disregard the hazards and dangers associated with that activity (rock climbing, water skiing, sky diving), you run the risk of injury and the chance that you will not be able to bring a successful lawsuit for your injuries. But remember, every case is different. Let an experienced injury attorney evaluate your own case.

Be careful out there this winter, and have fun while you can.