Here are some good questions to ask a lawyer you’re thinking of hiring to represent you in a VA or military lawsuit to make sure you get the best representation possible.
1. If I lose my case, will you charge me anything?
The answer to this question should be no. Good medical malpractice lawyers work for what’s known as a contingency fee. Our clients sign a standard contingency fee agreement. This means that the law firm will advance the costs of the litigation. If the law firm wins on behalf of the client, the firm will take a percentage of the recovery as their fee, plus any costs that were incurred in prosecuting the case. If the case is lost, the client pays nothing. Our clients do not have to repay any of the costs of litigation or any attorneys fees.
2. If I win my case, what contingency fee will you charge me?
Good lawyers will tell you up front and will have no problem telling you how the fee works. A fair contingency fee depends on the particular case. Some cases are complex or much riskier and will require a larger contingency fee. The typical medical malpractice or products liability fee usually runs 40% of the recovery. In our Federal Tort Claims Act cases on behalf of military families or veterans, we charge 25% contingency if the case is resolved after lawsuit has been filed. If we can resolve a federal case before lawsuit is filed, we will usually charge 20%.
3. Do you charge interest on costs? If so, how much?
A reputable lawyer will be upfront and will not charge you exorbitant rates. Our firm, for example, charges only the amount of interest our bank charges in financing the cases.
4. Have you or attorneys at your firm handled cases like mine?
Military and VA lawsuits are complicated. Most attorneys, let alone people, do not realize that you have a right to sue the United States for injuries that military or VA hospitals cause. While no two cases are identical, it’s good to know that your attorney has experience in the specific area you need help with.
5. Have you been able to get results in past VA or military lawsuits?
A reputable firm will list their representative verdicts or settlements in one place in an easy to understand manner. They will also break down the amount of the recovery, the amount of fees and expenses, and the amount the client received.
6. How long has your firm been around?
Or are they a fly by night shop? Experience matters. Make sure you’re hiring a firm that’s been trying cases for decades.
7. Do you have actual trial experience?
Or was your lawyer a bench warmer while real trial lawyers did the heavy lifting?
8. When was the last VA or military lawsuit trial your attorney tried?
Trying a case isn’t like riding a bike. Good trial attorneys are also staying fresh on the material: going to continuing legal education classes, teaching continuing legal education, writing and reading books and papers on trial. A good trial attorney cares about the art of trying cases, so make sure your attorney cares. While trials have generally been declining, including in Texas, if your law firm hasn’t tried a case in the last 5 years, it might be good to get a second opinion.
9. Can your law firm afford to finance this case through trial?
VA and military lawsuits are expensive. Litigation expenses can vary widely and can include research, investigation costs, experts fees. For example, in a medical malpractice case, you will often need an expert to review your case and determine whether there is a standard of care violation. Our results page shows the litigation expenses for our verdicts and settlements. You’ll see they reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If your case is a brain or birth injury, those cases will typically require over $200,000 in capital to work up to trial. Not just any firm can handle these cases.
10. Will you be handling my case? Or will you refer it to another firm?
Make sure that when you hire a lawyer, they can take your case through trial and appeal, if necessary.