I was in an accident and sustained a traumatic brain injury. What questions should I ask when selecting an attorney to represent me?
Unfortunately, many people with TBI do not receive the specialized legal representation they deserve. A lawyer who represents a person with TBI and his or her family should have specific knowledge, education, and experience in this area of litigation. In most states, injured persons have the ability to retain a lawyer through a contingent fee agreement. The lawyer is paid a fee based upon a percentage of the sum ultimately recovered. The lawyer does not receive any fee until the conclusion of the case. Under this system, an injured person and his family can afford to retain the most qualified legal representative.
Since the results of your lawsuit will have a lasting impact on the quality of your life, it is important to find the most qualified lawyer for your brain injury case.
Here are some questions to ask any attorney you are considering retaining in a brain injury case:
- How many cases similar to mine have you been involved with as the principal attorney over the past three years?
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to representing people with a traumatic brain injury?
- Will you be handling my case personally or will you be referring it to another lawyer or law firm?
- What have been your results in representing people with cases similar to mine?
- Have you written and published any articles on traumatic brain injury?
- Have you lectured to any bar associations, brain injury associations, or other groups about the effective legal representation of people with traumatic brain injury?
- Do you actively participate in your state's brain injury association?
- Do you regularly attend conferences and read textbooks and articles about traumatic brain injury?
- Have you ever received any professional honors and awards concerning your representation of people with a brain injury?
- Does your law firm have the financial resources to advance and properly prosecute my case, if necessary?
Don't be afraid to ask these questions and any others you have. The lawyer will be working for you and you deserve to know that he or she has the qualifications you're looking for.
Michael V. Kaplen, Esq. is a partner in the New York law firm De Caro & Kaplen, LLP. Mr. Kaplen is a professorial lecturer in law at The George Washington University Law School, where he teaches a course in traumatic brain injury law. Mr. Kaplan serves on the board of directors for the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers.